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Black Resistance Knows No Bounds in History: A Reading List

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Photo credit: Adeboro Odunlami

The Sunshine Pearl-Clutching Brigade is back on their BS and doubling down. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida banned a new AP African American Studies course under the pretense that it’s “indoctrination” that “runs afoul of [their] standards.” This is almost a year after the Florida legislature banned the teaching of “the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory” with the Stop WOKE Act. It’s giving unwoke on numerous levels.

Don’t DeSantis and his ilk realize that they’re only proving the great power Black history wields? Why else would they steer such a fear-steeped crusade against it? That power lies in the stories of resistance in all forms against white supremacy, which you’ll find in these books from Beacon Press’s catalog. They have the ingredients the Florida governor and his sandbox bullies find yucky: Black queer theory, intersectionality, calls for the abolition of the police state. It’s all there, it’s all good, and it’s all in the name of Black liberation. Defend Black history by reading and teaching it!


An Afro-Indigenous History of the US

An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States

“Black people are Indigenous North America’s destiny, and Native people are Black America’s destiny. Collective liberation is possible, and we will need everyone.”
—Kyle T. Mays


And the Category Is pb

And the Category Is . . . : Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community

“In house-ball culture, we encounter a freedom, a fearlessness, in walking a category: in deconstructing and reinventing oneself in front of a crowd, in running the risk of being chopped, receiving a low score from a panel of shrewd judges, or being told that your dream of a new or even truer identity is half-baked, even daring to lower the reputation and retail value of your house and subsequently answer to your ‘house mother.’ Or worse still, of being shamed and ‘shaded’ into oblivion.”
—Ricky Tucker


The Birdcatcher

The Birdcatcher

“You see, Catherine sometimes tries to kill her husband. It has been this way for years: He puts her into an asylum, thinks she’s well, takes her out again, and she tries to kill him. He puts her in another one, thinks she’s well, takes her out again, she tries to kill him: on and on. You’d think we’d learn by now; you’d think everybody’d learn, don’t you? But somehow we keep the optimism, or the pretense, bring her out, and wait.”
—Gayl Jones


A Black Women's History of the United States

A Black Women’s History of the United States

“Few things have played a larger role in shaping Black women’s destinies in this country than labor and entrepreneurship. Enslavement forced kidnapped African women into fields and houses, to toil alongside men. Discrimination and poverty would keep many there long after Emancipation, yet society stigmatized Black women for occupying these roles. Working outside the home effectively excluded them from being treated according to any commonly held notions of respectable womanhood. But African American women challenged universal symbols of femininity and virtue that privileged whiteness.”
—Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross


Freedom Dreams

Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

“Every freedom dream shares a common desire to find better ways of being together without hierarchy and exclusion, without violence and domination, but with love, compassion, care, and friendship.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley


Jesus and the Disinherited - Gift Edition

Jesus and the Disinherited

“It is necessary, therefore, for the privileged and the underprivileged to work on the common environment for the purpose of providing normal experiences of fellowship. This is one very important reason for the insistence that segregation is a complete ethical and moral evil. Whatever it may do for those who dwell on either side of the wall, one thing is certain: it poisons all normal contacts of those persons involved. The first step toward love is a common sharing of a sense of mutual worth and value. This cannot be discovered in a vacuum or in a series of artificial or hypothetical relationships. It has to be in a real situation, natural, free.”
—Howard Thurman


Living While Black pb

Living While Black: Using Joy, Beauty, and Connection to Heal Racial Trauma

“Practicing joy must be strategic, and it must be deliberate and like self-care more generally cannot be decontextualized. The ability to create and hold spaces for our joy as individuals and as a group of people is an ongoing struggle. But experiencing joy, even if moments of it, is revolutionary. Joy is a spiritual practice. It connects us to beauty, to wonder, to grace, to pleasure. It is thus an emotion that connects us to life, to the universe, and to ourselves and each other. Black joy disturbs whiteness because it is humanizing, and, because it is humanizing, it is transgressive.”
—Guilaine Kinouani


One Drop

One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

“If we can recalibrate our lenses to see Blackness as a broader category of identity and experience, perhaps we will be able to see ourselves as part of a larger global community.”
—Yaba Blay


School Clothes

School Clothes: A Collective Memoir of Black Student Witness

“African Americans’ deep reverence for education expressed itself in how they showed up to learn. And while rigid social norms about clothing could certainly be limiting, aesthetic and sartorial politics, acts of adorning the body, could also be about soulcraft, cultivating an internal vision and virtues that one might express externally in the world. For a great many of them, education was the starting place for thinking up and creating that world, where everyone could have what they needed to live a life of dignity and human flourishing—a world where they could pursue the desires of their hearts without being barred because of who they were. Knowing beauty to be a method, black students dressed themselves in dreams that emerged over generations of African Americans striving within the veil.”
—Jarvis R. Givens


Soul Culture

Soul Culture: Black Poets, Books, and Questions That Grew Me Up

“I do know the power that other Black poets have given me: Enlightenment. Scrutiny. Camaraderie. Words to subvert fear.”
—Remica Bingham-Risher


Twice As Hard

Twice As Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the Civil War to the 21st Century

“The triumph of black women physicians has etched itself into my memory. Their victories shape the way I walk in medical spaces, and serve as a shield against the physicians, medical students, and patients who have questioned my ability to become a competent physician. I now know that I, a black woman, can have an immense impact in medicine. I may have to work twice as hard as my colleagues with more privileged identities, but eventually I will become a changemaker within medicine, positively impacting patients and aspiring physicians within my reach.”
—Jasmine Brown


A Worthy Piece of Work

A Worthy Piece of Work: The Untold Story of Madeline Morgan and the Fight for Black History in Schools

“Morgan’s demand that Black history receive a place in the school curriculum continues to hold relevance today, almost a century after she began teaching. Her conviction that the history of Black America must be acknowledged in the school curriculum anticipated the demands of civil rights workers in the 1950s, Black Power activists in the 1960s, and multiculturalists in the 1980s and 1990s. More recently, the global protest movement catalyzed by the killing of George Floyd and the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of which have been felt disproportionately in Black and Brown communities, have fueled reawakened calls for racial justice both in society at large and in schools.”
—Michael Hines

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