Futures of Black Radicalism: A Reading List

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With white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups gaining power throughout the United States and Europe, it's important to turn to the political lessons to be learned from Black radical thinkers.

In Futures of Black Radicalism, key intellectuals—inspired by the work of Cedric J. Robinson—recall the powerful tradition of Black radicalism while defining new directions for activists and thinkers.

Here we present a list of key reading, featuring Angela Davis, Manning Manning, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Futures of Black Radicalism
Edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin

"Cedric Robinson was a towering intellectual and courageous activist in the grand tradition of W.E.B Du Bois. In these bleak times, it is imperative to keep his legacy alive and build on his work and witness. This book meets this imperative in a powerful way!” – Cornel West, author of The Radical King

“This astonishing gathering of essays and interviews featuring leading and emerging radical intellectuals.” – David Roediger, author of Class, Race, and Marxism

Class, Race and Marxism
by David R. Roediger

“Incisive, provocative, and uncannily timely, Class, Race, and Marxism reckons honestly with the challenges of building class solidarity across the fissures of race, the difficulties of writing about it, and the ways in which the two are entwined. If there is a single lesson here, it is that solidarity is not forever—it is elusive, fragile, and hard as hell.” – Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression

If They Come in the Morning …Voices of Resistance
Edited by Angela Y. Davis

Since the book was written, the carceral system in the US has seen unprecedented growth, with more of America’s black population behind bars than ever before. The scathing analysis of the role of prison and the policing of black populations offered by Davis and her comrades in this astonishing volume remains as pertinent today as the day it was first published.

Featuring contributions from George Jackson, Bettina Aptheker, Bobby Seale, James Baldwin, Ruchell Magee, Julian Bond, Huey P. Newton, Erika Huggins, Fleeta Drumgo, John Clutchette, and others.

Beyond Black and White: From Civil Rights to Barack Obama
by Manning Marable

Looking back at African-American politics and the fight against racism of the recent past, Manning Marable argues powerfully for a “transformationist” strategy that retains a distinctive black cultural identity but draws together all the poor and exploited in a united struggle against oppression.

"This book is important reading for activists and theorists alike, and for all of us who want to be both.” – Angela Davis

Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil
by W.E.B. Du Bois
Introduction by Manning Marable

“Du Bois essentially defined black America in the 20th century with his notion of ‘double consciousness’—the idea that African Americans experience everything in this world both as Americans and as black people. Scholars have come up shaky in their efforts to update Du Bois’s simple, but ingenious formula.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory
by Michele Wallace

First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include recollections of her early life in Harlem; a look at the continued underrepresentation of black voices in politics, media, and culture; and the legacy of such figures as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison,and Alice Walker.

Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History
by David R. Roediger

Whether discussing popular culture, race and ethnicity, the evolution of such American keywords as gook, boss and redneck, the strikes of 1877 or the election of 1992, Roediger pushes at the boundaries between labor history and politics, as well as those between race and class.

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
by Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields

“A most impressive work, tackling a demanding and important topic—the myth that we now live in a postracial society—in a novel, urgent, and compelling way. The authors dispel this myth by squarely addressing the paradox that racism is scientifically discredited but, like witchcraft before it, retains a social rationale in societies that remain highly unequal and averse to sufficiently critical engagement with their own history and traditions." – Robin Blackburn

Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter
Edited by Christina Heatheron and Jordan Camp

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

“This book is the best analytical and political response we have to the historic rebellions in Ferguson! Don’t miss it.” – Cornel West, author of Black Prophetic Fire

The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain
by Ron Ramdin

This is the first comprehensive historical perspective on the relationship between Black workers and the changing patterns of Britain’s labour needs. It places in an historical context the development of a small black presence in sixteenth-century Britain into the disadvantaged black working class of the 1980s. The book deals with the colonial labour institutions (slavery, indentureship and trade unionism) and the ideology underlying them and also considers the previously neglected role of the nineteenthcentury Black radicals in British working-class struggles.

Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race
by Patrick Wolfe

“‘Race is a social construct.’ Sure, but what does that mean? Patrick Wolfe, preeminent scholar of settler colonial studies, tackles this question with theoretical sophistication and vivid historical detail. Spanning four continents and four centuries, Wolfe reveals the operations of race-making in specific historical processes, in the always contingent struggles over land, labor, culture, and power. A magnificent work of erudition and elucidation, Traces of History will change how we talk about the ‘social construction of race.’ – Robin D. G. Kelley, UCLA, author of Africa Speaks, America Answers

Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman
by Michele Wallace

Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman caused a storm of controversy. Michele Wallace blasted the masculine biases of the black politics that emerged from the sixties. She described how women remained marginalized by the patriarchal culture of Black Power, demonstrating the ways in which a genuine female subjectivity was blocked by the traditional myths of black womanhood.

“Courageous, outspoken, clear-eyed.” —Publishers Weekly

The Invention of the White Race, Volume 1 and Volume 2
by Theodore W. Allen

“A monumental study of the birth of racism in the American South which makes truly new and convincing points about one of the most critical problems in US history … a highly original and seminal work.” – David Roediger

“A must read for all social justice activists, teachers, and scholars.” – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie

Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World
by Kumari Jayawardena
Foreword by Rafia Zakaria

In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.

Journalist and human rights activist Rafia Zakaria’s foreword to this new edition is an impassioned letter in two parts: the first to Western feminists; the second to feminists in the Global South, entreating them to use this “compendium of female courage” as a bridge between women of different nations.

De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century
by Elizabeth Martínez
Introduction by Karma R. Chávez
Foreword by Angela Y. Davis

Elizabeth Martínez’s unique Chicana voice has been formed through over thirty years of experience in the movements for civil rights, women’s liberation, and Latina/o empowerment. In De Colores Means All of Us, Martínez presents a radical Latina perspective on race, liberation and identity. She describes the provocative ideas and new movements created by the rapidly expanding US Latina/o community as it confronts intensified exploitation and racism.

Direct Action: Protest and the Reinvention of American Radicalism
by L.A. Kauffman

This deeply researched account, twenty-five years in the making, traces the evolution of disruptive protest since the Sixties to tell a larger story about the reshaping of the American left. Kauffman, a longtime grassroots organizer, examines how movements from ACT UP to Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter have used disruptive tactics to catalyze change despite long odds.

Separate and Dominate: Feminism and Racism After the War on Terror
by Christine Delphy

An examination of how mainstream feminism has been mobilized in support of racist measures

“Christine Delphy cuts through ideology like a knife. Her critical analyses of the justifications for the ‘war on terror’ are sharp, accurate and anger-inducing. Her ability to hone in on the contradictions that sustain racism and sexism and perpetuate exclusion is second to none. Delphy’s insight and materialist approach lends her arguments a rare clarity.” – Nina Power, author of One Dimensional Woman

Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All
by David Roediger

How did America recover after its years of civil war? How did freed men and women, former slaves, respond to their newly won freedom? David Roediger’s radical new history redefines the idea of freedom after the jubilee, using fresh sources and texts to build on the leading historical accounts of Emancipation and Reconstruction.

They Can't Represent Us!: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy
by Dario Azzellini and Marina Sitrin
Foreword by David Harvey

Mass protest movements in disparate places such as Greece, Argentina, and the United States ultimately share an agenda—to raise the question of what democracy should mean. These horizontalist movements, including Occupy, exercise and claim participatory democracy as the ground of revolutionary social change today.