Tag Archives: Biteback Publishing

Titles for the Times: Ten Books On Race, Police, and Black Lives Matter

52 years ago, Bob Dylan first recorded his monumental “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”

Come gather ’round people wherever you roam

And admit that the waters around you have grown

Accept it soon, you’ll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth savin’

Then you better start swimmin’, you could sink like a stone

For the times, they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

And don’t criticize what you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters, beyond your command

Those lyrics are eerily current, as the people around you and I are protesting with signs that say BlackLivesMatter, as police violence continues to be peeled back and exposed by social media, as “privilege,” “gentrification,” “racist,” and “immigrant” become either fighting words or words of conversation, depending on the circles in which you find yourself.

As par for the course, many independent publishers have been producing books for these conversations for years, and even more have been published this year. No matter what circle you find yourself in, these can help to soothe the argument and continue the conversation.

Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, Tim Wise, City Lights Publishers, January 2012: Ydearwhiteamericaou could say that Tim Wise was “woke” before that term was around. In this provocative work, Wise speaks out against the assumption that white culture is the norm. Written with Obama in his first term, this book is perhaps even more relevant now w
ith the current political and social environment. As Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow says, “What Tim Wise has brilliantly done is to challenge white folks . . . to see that they have a responsibility to do more than sit back and watch, but to recognize their own role in co-creating what is either a fair, inclusive, truly democratic society or a society that is predicated on indifference towards those who are labeled as ‘others.'”

freedom

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle, Angela Davis, Haymarket Books, February 2016: Need your racial justice titles with a heavy dose of feminism and historical context? Look no further
than Angela Davis’s most recent title, where she digs into the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughought history and around the world in her essays, interviews, and speeches. BUST says of the title that, “Davis delivers a rooted history with directives for seeing modern events in context. Yes, freedom is a constant struggle, and here, Davis reminds us we have the tools to act, react, and keep pushing onward.”

 

From #BlackfromblackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books, February 2016: Where haven’t Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and her timely book been in the past year? Salon, Democracy Now!, the Los Angeles Times, and now required reading at Virginia Union University for all incoming students this fall are just a handful. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor teaches at Princeton University, and she analyzes the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and structural inequality, including mass incarceration and Black unemployment. She argues for the necessity of BlackLivesMatter for Black liberation.

 

Picturing Children: National Museum of African American History and Culture, Marian W. Edelman, D Giles Limited, July 2016: picturingchildrenThe Smithsonian is getting in on the conversation too: The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens to the public on September 24, and as part of the launch, the museum’s founding director, Lonnie Bunch, is overseeing the publication of a special series of photography books with photos from the museum’s collection. The fourth title in this series is Picturing Children, and it features stunning images of America’s past and present racial tension and hope are reflected in the faces and actions of children, as NPR’s All Things Considered reported on July 30.

Michelle Obama herself referenced one of the photos (a child touching President Obama’s hair) in her speech to the DNC on July 25, saying “We know that our words and actions matter not just to our girls, but to kids across this country. Kids who tell us, ‘I saw you on TV,’ ‘I wrote about you at school.’ Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered ‘is my hair like yours?’”

Talking Black, Talking Back, John McWhorter, Bellevue Literary Press, January 2017: Finally, we have a title that is a celebration of Black English and an argument for its legitimacy. talkingbackAs James McWhorter says, “To me, Black English is like a clockwork or an engine, a system every bit as coherent as Latin or Chinese. But to most Americans, Black English Means error.” McWhorter fights the stereotype, gives you some approachable grammar lessons, and changes our definitions of “correct language” in the process. Look for Talking Black, Talking Back from Bellevue Literary Press in January 2017.

 

The Black History of the White House, Clarence Lusane, City Lights Publishers, January 2011: Once again hitting thblackhistorye right notes, first lady Michelle Obama ruffled feathers in her DNC speech, noting that “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” Subsequently, NPR called in Clarence Lusane, author of The Black History of the White House to comment on the first lady’s speech: “. . . what Michelle Obama was attempting to do was to draw that link to show that it isn’t just what’s going on in the White House now and isn’t it great that there’s a black family there, but there’s a much longer history that needs to be appreciated.” If you want to know the underbelly of American history that likely wasn’t blared in your high school textbook, take a look at The Black History of the White House.

The Breakbeat Poets, Edited by Kevin Coval and Quraysh A Lansana, Haymarket Books, April 2015: Spoken word and hip hop inspired poetry has sparked the BlackLivesMatter Movement with creativity and passion. As Danez Smith says in his provobreakbeatcative “Dear White America,”

“I have left earth to find a land where my kin can be safe. I will not rest until black people ain’t but people the same color as the good, wet earth, until that means something, until our existence isn’t up for debate, until it is honored & blessed & loved & left alone, until then I bid you well, I bid you war, I bid you our lives to gamble with no more.”

With poems by Ocean Vuong, Danez Smith, Kevin Coval, Chinaka Hodge, Aracelis Girmay, and so many more, The Breakbeat Poets is your anthology for the times. They can’t stop, nor will they.

The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World, Dave Zirin and John W.
Carlos, Haymarket Books, February 2013:
With the Rio Olympics over and American media obsessing over the embarrassment of Ryan Lochte, a johncarlosbook about an Olympian taking a stand decades ago, doing something that matters, might be what you need. From the 200-meter run medal podium in 1968, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s Black Power Salute incited controversy, career fallout, and stirring visual reminder of the times. In his book co-written with Dave Zirin, John Carlos gives the details behind that moment and how it affected his life. And Carlos is still talking today. On August 18, he told NPR’s Morning Edition, “If you’re famous and you’re black, you have to be an activist.”

racismThe ‘R’ Word, Kurt Barling, Biteback Publishing, May 2016: Is the word “racism” even something we can continue to use? What good is it doing us? Kurt Barling, professor of journalism at Middlesex University in London explores the notions of racism and oppressor language in our changing world.

 

 

Writing On The Wall: Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Edited by Johanna Fernandez, Mumia Abu Jamal, City writingonLights Publishers, June 2015: The last title to round out our list comes from a writer currently serving his time in prison for being convicted of the murder of a police officer in 1981. Journalist and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal has perhaps the most unique perspective on violence, racism, and the police force. In Writing on the Wall, he delivers 100 previously unpublished essays on community, politics, Rosa Parks, Ferguson, and more. In the words of Cornel West, “[Mumia Abu Jamal’s] writings are a wake-up call. He is a voice from our prophetic tradition, speaking to us here, now, lovingly, urgently. Black man, old-school jazz man, freedom fighter, revolutionary—his presence, his voice, his words are the writing on the wall.”

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

#YesAllWomen: A Women’s History Month Round-up

In math and science, literature and art, in every field imaginable and in every era, women have been shaping history. Too often, the achievements of women from Ada Lovelace to Bessie Coleman are shoved under the rug, hidden from the history books and credited to men. In a time when women (especially women of color) are still underpaid and underrepresented, even the toughest of the tough need a reminder that anything is possible.

In honor of their spectacular accomplishments and important histories, we’re featuring a round-up of books celebrating women all around the globe. From prose-poetry depicting a magical island of matriarchy to a feminist alphabet book (for you and your kids), there’s sure to be something for everyone in this week’s Bookslinger!

quotasWhy Women Need Quotas (Biteback Publishing), by Vicky Price, is a hard-hitting argument for socioeconomic gender equality in the United Kingdom. According to Price, an economist, the United Kingdom has a poor record on gender parity, both in Parliament and in business, where most companies are run by men. The United States and Scandinavian countries have quotas for women in top jobs, but it’s time to take the change to Britain and get tough on sexism.

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreadirtyriverming Her Way Home (Arsenal Pulp Press), by Leah L. Piepzna-Samarasinha, is an intersectional, tragicomic memoir told with wild abandon. It tells the story of Piepzna-Samarasinha, a queer disabled brown femme poet and abuse survivor, as she navigates the dirty river of the past and, as the subtitle suggests, “dreams her way home.”

feministutopiaThe Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future (The Feminist Press at CUNY), edited by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, is a groundbreaking collection of essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, short stories, and more. Over fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine: what does a truly feminist world mean?

Men Explain Things to Me (Haymarket Books) is the menexplaincritically-acclaimed essay collection from Rebecca Solnit, including the title essay (first published in the L.A. Times) which went viral, spawning fierce arguments and coining the term “mansplaining.” In this book, Solnit takes on the conversations between men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t. With scathing wit, she elaborates and uncovers why men still explain things to her.

africanamericanwomenAfrican American Women (GILES), a collection of photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with a foreword by Lonnie G Bunch, is the third book in the NMAAHC’s “Double Exposure” series. This volume contains stunning photographs which demonstrate the dignity, joy, heartbreak, commitment, and sacrifice of women of all ages and backgrounds, from midwives at work in the rural south to students jailed for civil rights protests.

Almond Garden: Portraits from the Women’s Prisons in Afghanisalmondgardentan (Daylight Books) is a collection of photographs paying homage to women prisoners in Afghanistan and exploring the corruption in the country’s prison system. Over four years, photographer Gabriela Maj traveled across the country collecting portraits and stories. Almond Garden is a “reassuring portrait of the resilience of these powerful women,” according to Vice UK.

Why God Is A Woman (BOA Editions, Lwhy godtd.) is a collection from celebrated prose poet Nin Andrews written about a magical island where women rule and men are the second sex. It is also the story of a boy who, exiled from the island because he could not abide by its sexist laws, looks back with both nostalgia and bitterness and wonders: Why does God have to be a woman? Andrews creates a world both fantastic and familiar where all the myths, logic, and institutions support the dominance of women.

RadAmericanWomenRad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! (City Lights Publishers) by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, is a New York Times bestselling alphabet book of everyone’s favorite feminists. The list of great women spans several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. Author Lemony Snicket raved, “This is not a book. This is a guest list for a party of my heroes. Thank you for inviting us.”

Find out where to buy Why Women Need Quotas, Dirty River, The Feminist Utopia Project, Men Explain Things to Me, African American Women, Almond Garden, Why God is a WomanRad American Women A-Z, and many more books here at the Consortium website.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized