Center for Reflective Action

Resources

Literature, poetry, films, music, art, song, dance,
and food all offer ways to tap into and appreciate the
many blessings of diversity.
Here we offer a list of resources that can add
rich and colorful
threads to the ever expanding tapestry.

Books

Recitatif by Toni Morrison

The story begins in the 1950s when two young girls, Twyla and Roberta, meet at an orphanage although both of their mothers are still alive.  Morrison challenges conventional understandings of race and racism by presenting Mary and Twyla’s racism in a nonspecific way. The reader cannot be sure if they are prejudiced toward white people or black people, a fact that points to the arbitrary social construction of race and racism in the first place. This in turn forces the reader to confront their own assumptions and prejudices about race.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34842610-recitatif

 

THE MINER’S CANARY: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy by Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres. 

Like the canaries that alerted miners to a poisonous atmosphere, issues of race point to underlying problems in society that ultimately affect everyone, not just minorities. Addressing these issues is essential. Ignoring racial differences–race blindness–has failed. Focusing on individual achievement has diverted us from tackling pervasive inequalities. A powerful and challenging book, Lani Guinier and Gerald Torres propose a radical new way to confront race in the twenty-first century.

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by  Cherríe L. Moraga (Editor), Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Editor), Toni Cade Bambara

Originally released in 1981, This Bridge Called My Back is a testimony to women of color feminism as it emerged in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art, the collection explores, as co editor Cherríe Moraga writes, “the complex confluence of identities—race, class, gender, and sexuality—systemic to women of color oppression and liberation.”  edition contains an extensive new introduction by Moraga, along with a previously unpublished statement by Gloria Anzaldúa. The new edition also includes visual artists whose work was produced during the same period as Bridge, including Betye Saar, Ana Mendieta, and Yolanda López, as well as current contributor biographies. Bridge continues to reflect an evolving definition of feminism, one that can effectively adapt to, and help inform an understanding of the changing economic and social conditions of women of color in the United States and throughout the world.

 

Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks. 

Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism is a 1981 book by bell hooks titled after Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech. Hooks examines the effect of racism and sexism on black women, the civil rights movement, and feminist movements from suffrage to the 1970s. She argues that the convergence of sexism and racism during slavery contributed to black women having the lowest status and worst conditions of any group in American society. White female abolitionists and suffragists were often more comfortable with black male abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, while southern segregationists and stereotypes of black female promiscuity and immorality caused protests whenever black women spoke. Hooks points out that these white female reformers were more concerned with white morality than the conditions these morals caused black Americans.

 

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave a passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

 

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

The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States, but Alexander noted that the discrimination faced by African-American males is prevalent among other minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Alexander’s central premise, from which the book derives its title, is that “mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow”.

But Some of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women’s Studies  by Akasha Gloria Hull (Editor), Patricia Bell-Scott (Editor)  

This ground-breaking collection provides hours of enjoyment for the general reader and a wealth of materials needed to develop course units on black women; political theory, literary essays on major writers, guidelines for consciousness-raising about racism, and surveys of black women’s contributions to the blues. “Important and innovative.”–Feminist Bookstore News 

 

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero.  Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous–it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. Review from Good Reads.

 

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Uprooted from their family home in the Dominican Republic, the four Garcia sisters – Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia – arrive in New York City in 1960 to find a life far different from the genteel existence of maids, manicures, and extended family they left behind. What they have lost – and what t hey find – is revealed in the fifteen interconnected stories that make up this exquisite novel from one of the premier novelists of our time. Review from Good Reads

 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

The story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children. Review from Good Reads

 

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Coates balances the horrors of slavery against the fantastical. He extends the idea of the gifts of the disenfranchised to include a kind of superpower. But The Water Dancer is very much its own book, and its gestures toward otherworldliness remain grounded. In the end, it is a novel interested in the psychological effects of slavery, a grief that Coates is especially adept at parsing. . . . In Coates’s world, an embrace can be a revelation, rare and astonishing.”—Esi Edugyan, The New York Times Book Review

 

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet: a deeply moving memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Review from Good Reads

 

The Peace and Justice office has a comprehensive list of other books and articles and websites with other fiction choices.

This link provides a link to a list of 25 Books by Contemporary Black Authors: 25 Books by Contemporary Black Authors

 

Here is a link to a list compiled by the Huffington Post of 23 Books By Latinos That Might Just Change Your Life: 23 Books By Latinos That Might Just Change Your Life

 

 

 

Movies

Hidden Figures      The real-life story of the black women mathematicians that worked at NASA  in the 1960’s and were instrumental to the success of the space program.
When They See Us     The Story of the Central Park Five. Available on Netflix. 
Just Mercy    World-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson works to free a wrongly condemned death row prisoner.