Suggested Readings

We invite you to join in our conversation.  We'd prefer you to join one of our in-person discussion groups, but you are welcome to get started on line.

Take a look at the books that we have read together. You can read a review from a member of the group and add your comments.

Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

posted Feb 1, 2016, 6:38 AM by Delia McGee

Democracy in Black

"America’s great promise of equality has always rung hollow in the ears of African Americans. But today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police, to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency—at the very moment the election of the first black president has prompted many to believe we’ve solved America’s race problem.
Democracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s impassioned response. Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a “value gap”—with white lives valued more than others—that still distorts our politics today. Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil-rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America--and offers thoughts on a better way forward. Forceful in ideas and unsettling in its candor, Democracy In Black is a landmark book on race in America, one that promises to spark wide discussion as we move toward the end of our first black presidency."

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

posted Jan 10, 2016, 11:31 AM by Delia McGee

The Short and Tragic Life

"An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review)."

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America by Ira Katznelson

posted Jan 6, 2016, 7:32 AM by Delia McGee   [ updated Jan 6, 2016, 7:36 AM ]

When Affirmative Action Was White

"This meticulously-researched study of the landmark programs we thought we knew all about, including the New Deal and The G.I. Bill, shows how the political compromises in passing and implementing these programs, coupled with ingrained institutional and societal racism, acted against the interests of Black Americans, reinforcing Jim Crow and white privilege."

The American Non-Dilemma, Racial Inequality Without Racism by Nancy DiTomaso

posted Jan 6, 2016, 7:30 AM by Delia McGee

The American Non-Dilemma

"The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s seemed to mark a historical turning point in advancing the American dream of equal opportunity for all citizens, regardless of race. Yet 50 years on, racial inequality remains a troubling fact of life in American society and its causes are highly contested. In The American Non-Dilemma, sociologist Nancy DiTomaso convincingly argues that America's enduring racial divide is sustained more by whites' preferential treatment of members of their own social networks than by overt racial discrimination. Drawing on research from sociology, political science, history, and psychology, as well as her own interviews with a cross-section of non-Hispanic whites, DiTomaso provides a comprehensive examination of the persistence of racial inequality in the post-Civil Rights era and how it plays out in today's economic and political context."

Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male by Tim Wise

posted Jan 6, 2016, 7:28 AM by Delia McGee

Speaking Treason Fluently

"In this highly anticipated follow-up to White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, activist Tim Wise examines the way in which institutional racism continues to shape the contours of daily life in the United States, and the ways in which white Americans reap enormous privileges from it. The essays included in this collection span the last ten years of Wise’s writing and cover all the hottest racial topics of the past decade: affirmative action, Hurricane Katrina, racial tension in the wake of the Duke lacrosse scandal, white school shootings, racial profiling, phony racial unity in the wake of 9/11, and the political rise of Barack Obama. Wise’s commentaries make forceful yet accessible arguments that serve to counter both white denial and complacency—two of the main obstacles to creating a more racially equitable and just society. Speaking Treason Fluently is a superbly crafted collection of Wise’s best work, which reveals the ongoing salience of race in America today and demonstrates that racial privilege is not only a real and persistent problem, but one that ultimately threatens the health and well-being of the entire society."

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

posted Dec 2, 2015, 8:09 AM by Delia McGee

"From the sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue to the lavish parlors of New Orleans at the turn of the 19th century, the latest novel from 
New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende (Inés of My Soul, The House of the Spirits, Portrait in Sepia) tells the story of a mulatta woman, a slave and concubine, determined to take control of her own destiny."

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

posted Dec 2, 2015, 8:07 AM by Delia McGee   [ updated Dec 2, 2015, 8:13 AM ]

Go Set a Watchman

"Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic."

Just Mercy by Bryan Steveson

posted Dec 2, 2015, 8:02 AM by Delia McGee   [ updated Dec 2, 2015, 8:10 AM ]

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

"A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time."

Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates

posted Nov 19, 2015, 4:54 PM by Delia McGee   [ updated Dec 2, 2015, 8:15 AM ]

"#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)"

The article below discusses the history of the National Book Award, the reasons for which Coates was selected, and summarizes the purpose of the book.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

posted May 15, 2015, 2:27 PM by Sjm Administrator   [ updated Dec 2, 2015, 8:17 AM by Delia McGee ]

The New Jim Crow

"Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action.""

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