Tools to build an equitable justice system

Jun 2, 2020

The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor only further illustrate the systematic racism and injustice that exists in this country. They tragically show the reality that many across the country have always known—that you can be judged and sentenced to death before receiving a fair trial.

Their stories are reminders of the trauma that constantly threatens Black Americans and exacerbates the disproportionate impact of COVID-19. We stand with the protesters in cities across the nation who are speaking out to demand justice at a time of great peril, and we promise to continue to fight to end racial bias by creating a fairer, restorative and accountable justice system.

If you want to learn more, or looking for places to donate to, here are some resources we’ve compiled.

TO READ

On Mass Incarceration and Policing: 

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Since it was first published in 2010, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” 

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis — Free pdf or purchase from AK Press
A short, impassioned, argument for abolition. Davis eloquently points out that mass incarceration has had little or no effect on crime, how disproportionate numbers of the poor and minorities end up in prison, and the obscene profits the system generates.  

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
A collection of Jackson’s letters from prison, Soledad Brother is an outspoken condemnation of the racism of white America and a powerful appraisal of the prison system that failed to break his spirit but eventually took his life.

Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson
Historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: incarcerated people, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. 

We Want Freedom: A life in the Black Panther Party by Mumia Abu Jamal
In We Want Freedom, Mumia combines his memories of day-to-day life in the Black Panther Party with analysis of the history of Black liberation struggles. The result is a vivid and compelling picture of the Black Panther Party and its legacy. 

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández
A leading scholar’s powerful, in-depth look at the imprisonment of immigrants addressing the intersection of immigration and the criminal justice system

The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale  — Free ebook
Vitale shows how the expansion of police authority is inconsistent with community empowerment, social justice—even public safety. Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

Assata by Assata Shakur
With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. 

Becoming Mrs. Burton by Susan Burton
Becoming Ms. Burton is the remarkable life story of the renowned activist Susan Burton. She movingly recounts her own journey through the criminal justice system during the War on Drugs and her transformation into a life of advocacy as a leader transforming the lives of formerly incarcerated women.


On History:

Dark End of the Street, Danielle L. McGuire
Danielle L. McGuire  gives us the never-before-told history of how the civil rights movement began; how it was in part started in protest against the ritualistic rape of black women by white men who used economic intimidation, sexual violence, and terror to derail the freedom movement; and how those forces persisted unpunished throughout the Jim Crow era when white men assaulted black women to enforce rules of racial and economic hierarchy. 

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
From the era of slavery to the present day, Medical Apartheid is first full history of black America’s shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment.

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
The Combahee River Collective was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the antiracist and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection of essays and interviews, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to Black feminism and its impact on today’s struggles.

The 1619 Project in the New York Times
Launched by The New York Times Magazine in 2019, on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia, The 1619 project is a feat of journalism that re-examines the legacy of slavery in the United States and the vast, vital contributions Black Americans have made to this country and our democracy. 

A Timeline of Events that Led to the 2020 ‘Fed Up’ Uprising in The Root

 

On Allyship:

White Fragility by Robin D’Angelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

How to be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. 

Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Racist thought is not just alive and well in America — it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

Unpacking your white privilege by Peggy McIntosh
Anti-racism advocate and scholar Peggy McIntosh examines the function of privilege, and highlights 50 examples of the advantages white people experience in everyday life.

Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History and Culture


For Children:

All Because You Matter by Tami Charles, illustrated by Bryan Collier
A lyrical, heart-lifting love letter to black and brown children everywhere: reminding them how much they matter, that they have always mattered, and they always will.

I Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier
I, Too, Am America blends the poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality

Something Happened in Our Town by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children’s questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. 

The Boy and the Wall by Palestinian refugee children in the Aida Refugee Camp
The writers and illustrators of this English/Arabic bilingual picture book are Palestinian refugee children in the Aida Refugee Camp near the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank. They created a story that focuses on a boy in a refugee camp whose experiences reflect those of many Palestinian refugee children.

The Skin You Live In by Micheal Tyler
With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. 

 

FOR FAITH COMMUNITIES

Be the Bridge
Offers trainings for people and organizations, tailored to their background and race, to be agents of reconciliation in their communities. Twitter: @BAbridgebuilder

AND Campaign
Educates and organizes Christians for civic and cultural engagement that results in better representation and more just and compassionate policies. Twitter: @AndCampaign

Sojourners
Faith-based social justice magazine that has launched an organizing and action group called SoJoAction. Their racial justice leader is Rev. McKinley. Twitter: @sojourners@sojoaction@jimwallis@mckinleyrevtm

Faith for Justice  
Faith for Justice is a coalition of Christian activists pursuing the biblical call to action in the public sphere, specifically by challenging systems that oppress, and destroying barriers that divide. Twitter: @FaithJusticeSTL and @AfroRising

Truth’s Table Podcast

Popular faith-based podcast hosted by three black women. Twitter: @sista_theology@AfroRising@DrCEdmondson

Brenda Salter McNeil
Author of Roadmap to Reconciliation, runs workshops and trainings to equip people to advocate for justice and facilitate conversations towards racial reconciliation. Twitter: @RevDocBrenda

Faithfully Magazine
News and culture publication centering on Christian communities of color. Our mission is to amplify conversations, issues, and events impacting diverse communities. Twitter: @faithfullymag

TO WATCH:

13th — streaming on Netflix and on YouTube.

The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison — available for rent on iTunes

Just Mercy — now available to watch for free

Innocence Filesstreaming on Netflix.

When They See Usstreaming on Netflix.

I Am Not Your Negro — streaming on Amazon Prime

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution — available for rent on Amazon and iTunes

Fruitvale Station — available for rent on Amazon Prime and Youtube

The Force — streaming on Netflix

 

WHERE TO DIRECT YOUR RESOURCES 

Thousands of people across the country are putting their bodies on the line to push for an end to systemic racism in this country, and are facing incredible suppression by law enforcement while doing so. Protesters are being arrested and detained in a time while jails continue to be hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. They need our support. 

Donating to bail funds is a crucial way to offer support in this moment and beyond, as the funds can be used well after these protests to help the hundreds of thousands of people who remain in jail after they are arrested simply because they cannot afford bail. 

You can donate through this link to simultaneously donate to up to 40 bail funds across the country. Or, you can donate directly to these funds and more through this community-sourced google doc for a list of national resources.