Stay Woke in 2018

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But we will only succeed if we reject the growing pressure to retreat into cynicism and hopelessness. … We have a moral obligation to "stay woke," take a stand and be active; challenging injustices and racism in our communities and fighting hatred and discrimination wherever it rises.
 —Barbara Lee

WOKE \ ˈwōk \

Noun

aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).

In the wake of one of the deadliest school shooting in American history, students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School--and, indeed, all over the United States--are rising up. We at the Houston Public Library are inspired by their courage, their action, and their determination to ensure no more children die of gun violence in America. And so, we present this literary guide to staying "woke" in 2018. Tune in to the most pressing issues of our time with these hard-hitting books examining race, gender, culture, class and beyond.


The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

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. 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."

Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Could Change Everything by Becky Bond

Rules for Revolutionaries is a bold challenge to the political establishment and the "rules" that govern campaign strategy. It tells the story of a breakthrough experiment conducted on the fringes of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign: a technology-driven team empowered volunteers to build and manage the infrastructure to make seventy-five million calls, launch eight million text messages, and hold more than one-hundred thousand public meetings--in an effort to put Bernie Sanders' insurgent campaign over the top. Bond and Exley, digital iconoclasts who have been reshaping the way politics is practiced in America for two decades, have identified twenty-two rules of "Big Organizing" that can be used to drive social change movements of any kind. And they tell the inside story of one of the most amazing grassroots political campaigns ever run. Fast-paced, provocative, and profound, Rules for Revolutionaries stands as a liberating challenge to the low expectations and small thinking that dominates too many advocacy, non-profit, and campaigning organizations--and points the way forward to a future where political revolution is truly possible.

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú

For Francisco Cantú the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehesi Coates

"We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, the author of the ground-breaking book Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time, examining the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective -- the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president. We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. With vivid, intimate prose, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, to provide a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality; and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

 The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

Why can't our political leaders work together as threats loom and problems mount? Why do people so readily assume the worst about the motives of their fellow citizens? As America descends deeper into polarization and paralysis, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has done the seemingly impossible—challenged conventional thinking about morality, politics, and religion in a way that speaks to everyone on the political spectrum. Drawing on his twenty five years of groundbreaking research on moral psychology, he shows how moral judgments arise not from reason but from gut feelings. He shows why liberals, conservatives, and libertarians have such different intuitions about right and wrong, and he shows why each side is actually right about many of its central concerns. In this subtle yet accessible book, Haidt gives you the key to understanding the miracle of human cooperation, as well as the curse of our eternal divisions and conflicts. If you're ready to trade in anger for understanding, read The Righteous Mind.

Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images, in this groundbreak work of sociocultural study. The hurtful and dishonest stereotypes about black women that persist in contemporary American life force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. But as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized. In Sister Citizen, readers will find themselves re-evaluating and recontextualizing what they see, and be made all the better for it.

White trash: the 400-year untold history of class in America by Nancy Isenberg

In White Trash, Nancy Isenberg upends assumptions about America's supposedly class-free society and shows how poor whites have been deeply ingrained in the country's history for the past 400 years. They were central to the both the Civil War itself and the rise of the Republican Party, and still today feature in reality TV as entertainment. White trash have always been an integral part of the American identity, and here their history in both culture and politics in explored in depth. White Trash will upend notions you didn't realize you have, in a timely look at the public debate about rich and poor.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Americans like to insist that we are living in a postracial, color-blind society. In fact, racist thought is alive and well; it has simply become more sophisticated and more insidious. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, racist ideas in this country have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. In shedding much-needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose them--and in the process, gives us reason to hope.

Democracy in Action: Community Organizing and Urban Change by Kristina Smock

In cities across the United States, grassroots organizations are working to revitalize popular participation in disenfranchised communities by bringing ordinary people into public life. By engaging local residents in collective action to achieve common goals, community organizing expands the democratic process and enables people to create strong communities that serve their needs. This book examines the techniques these organizations use to achieve their goals. Through the stories of ten organizations working in economically and racially diverse urban neighborhoods (in Chicago and Portland, Oregon) the author explores the strengths and limitations of the five dominant models of community organizing in use today: power-based, community-building, civic, women-centered, and transformative. Based on original empirical research, the book combines in-depth analysis with invaluable lessons for practitioners.

The Second Amendment: A Biography by Michael Waldman

By the president of the prestigious Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights. At a time of renewed debate over guns in America, what does the Second Amendment mean? Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation

--Carrie R., Central Library

Comments

Very interesting article. This is really good information I have visited this blog to read something fresh and I really admire you efforts in doing so.

Excellent selection of "woke" literature. I live that you have such a we section, I have read some of these books, I plan to read many more, thank you HPL.

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