Readings on anti-racism, social justice, and inequity

Readings on anti-racism, social justice, and inequity

By Ideas Editor

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We are devastated by the crimes against humanity caused by systemic racism. As a scholarly publisher, we have a responsibility to change the narrative of human experience through peer-reviewed books, and the collaborations and knowledge that empower them.  

We are grateful to many authors who have entrusted collaborations to PUP and have formed our narrative. We share here a selection of publications on anti-racism, social justice, and inequity, with the hope that they will inform and ignite change.


The Spectre of Race: How Discrimination Haunts Western Democracy
Michael G. Hanchard

The current rise in xenophobia and racist rhetoric is nothing new. Exclusionary policies have always been central to democratic practices since their beginnings in classical times. Contending that democracy has never been for all people, Michael G. Hanchard discusses how marginalization is reinforced in modern politics, and why these contradictions need to be fully examined if the dynamics of democracy are to be truly understood.


White Freedom: The Racial History of an Idea 
Tyler Stovall
Forthcoming January 2021

The era of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to our modern conceptions of freedom and democracy, was also the height of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. America, a nation founded on the principle of liberty, is also a nation built on African slavery, Native American genocide, and systematic racial discrimination. White Freedom traces the complex relationship between freedom and race from the eighteenth century to today, revealing how being free has meant being white.


Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America
Kirk Savage

The United States began as a slave society, holding millions of Africans and their descendants in bondage, and remained so until a civil war took the lives of a half million soldiers, some once slaves themselves. Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves explores how the history of slavery and its violent end was told in public spaces—specifically in the sculptural monuments that came to dominate streets, parks, and town squares in nineteenth-century America.


Southern Nation: Congress and White Supremacy after Reconstruction
David BatemanIra Katznelson, and John S. Lapinski

Southern Nation explores how white southern members of Congress shaped national public policy and American institutions from Reconstruction to the New Deal—and along the way remade the region and the nation in their own image. Drawing on an innovative theory of southern lawmaking, in-depth analyses of key historical sources, and congressional data, the book traces how southern legislators confronted the dilemma of needing federal investment while opposing interference with the South’s racist hierarchies, a problem they navigated with mixed results before choosing to prioritize white supremacy above all else.


Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics
Avidit AcharyaMatthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen

Despite dramatic social transformations in the United States during the last 150 years, the South has remained staunchly conservative. And Southern whites harbor higher levels of racial resentment than whites in other parts of the country. Why haven’t these sentiments evolved? Deep Roots shows that the entrenched views of white southerners are a direct consequence of the region’s slaveholding history and demonstrates how social beliefs persist long after the formal policies that created those beliefs have been eradicated. 


Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law
James Q. Whitman

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler’s American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racist repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.


Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial
James A. Miller

In 1931, nine Black youths were charged with raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama. Despite meager and contradictory evidence, all nine were found guilty and eight of the defendants were sentenced to death—making Scottsboro one of the worst travesties of justice to take place in the post-Reconstruction South. Remembering Scottsboro explores how this case has embedded itself into the fabric of American memory and become a lens for perceptions of race, class, sexual politics, and justice. James Miller draws upon the archives of the Communist International and NAACP, contemporary journalistic accounts, as well as poetry, drama, fiction, and film, to document the impact of Scottsboro on American culture. 


F.B. Eyes: How J Edgar Hoover’s Ghost Writers Framed African-American Literature
William J. Maxwell

Drawing on nearly 14,000 pages of FBI files—and illuminating both the harms of state surveillance and the ways in which artistic production can withstand and exploit it—F.B. Eyes shows how over the course of five decades, from the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance in 1919 to J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972, the FBI’s hostility to Black protest was energized by fear of and respect for Black writing.


The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom
Eddie R. Cole
Forthcoming September 2020

Focusing on the period between 1948 and 1968, Eddie Cole shows how college presidents, during a time of violence and unrest, strategically, yet often silently, initiated and shaped racial policies and practices inside and outside of the educational sphere. With courage and hope, as well as malice and cruelty, college presidents positioned themselves—sometimes precariously—amid conflicting interests and demands. Black college presidents challenged racist policies as their students demonstrated in the streets against segregation, while presidents of major universities lobbied for urban renewal programs that displaced black communities near campus. Some presidents amended campus speech practices to accommodate white supremacist speakers, even as other academic leaders developed the nation’s first affirmative action programs in higher education.


The Kerner Report: The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders; introduction by Julian Zelizer

Commissioned by President Lyndon Johnson, the 1968 Report provides a powerful window into the roots of racism and inequality in the United States. Hailed by Martin Luther King Jr. as a “physician’s warning of approaching death, with a prescription for life,” this historic study provides a devastating account of the polarization of American society, racism, economic inopportunity, and other factors, arguing that only “a compassionate, massive, and sustained” effort could reverse the troubling reality of a racially divided, separate, and unequal society. 


American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland
Robert O. Self

As the birthplace of the Black Panthers and a nationwide tax revolt, California embodied a crucial motif of the postwar United States: the rise of suburbs and the decline of cities, a process in which black and white histories inextricably joined. American Babylon tells this story through Oakland and its nearby suburbs, tracing both the history of civil rights and black power politics as well as the history of suburbanization and home-owner politics. 


White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism
Kevin M. Kruse

During the civil rights era, Atlanta thought of itself as “The City Too Busy to Hate.” But over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, so many whites left the city for the suburbs that Atlanta earned a new nickname: “The City Too Busy Moving to Hate.” In this reappraisal of racial politics in modern America, Kevin Kruse explains the causes and consequences of “white flight” in Atlanta and elsewhere and finds that segregationist resistance, which failed to stop the civil rights movement, nevertheless managed to preserve the world of segregation and even perfect it in subtler and stronger forms. 


The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Post-War Detroit
Thomas J. Sugrue

In this reappraisal of America’s racial and economic inequalities, historian Thomas Sugrue asks why Detroit and other industrial cities have become the sites of persistent racialized poverty. He challenges the conventional wisdom that urban decline is the product of the social programs and racial fissures of the 1960s. Weaving together the history of workplaces, unions, civil rights groups, political organizations, and real estate agencies, Sugrue finds the roots of today’s urban poverty in a hidden history of racial violence, discrimination, and deindustrialization that reshaped the American urban landscape after World War II.


Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America
Julilly Kohler-Hausmann

In 1970s America, politicians began “getting tough” on drugs, crime, and welfare. These campaigns helped expand the nation’s penal system, discredit welfare programs, and cast blame for the era’s social upheaval on racialized deviants that the state was not accountable to serve or represent. Getting Tough sheds light on how this unprecedented growth of the penal system and the evisceration of the nation’s welfare programs developed hand in hand.  


The Hero’s Fight: African-Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State
Patricia Fernández-Kelly

Baltimore was once a vibrant manufacturing town, but today, with factory closings and steady job loss since the 1970s, it is home to some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in America. The Hero’s Fight provides an intimate look at the effects of deindustrialization on the lives of Baltimore’s urban poor, and sheds critical light on the unintended consequences of welfare policy on our most vulnerable communities.


Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matter in Criminal Court
Matthew Clair
Forthcoming November 2020

The number of Americans arrested, brought to court, and incarcerated has skyrocketed in recent decades. Criminal defendants come from all races and economic walks of life, but they experience punishment in vastly different ways. Privilege and Punishment examines how racial and class inequalities are embedded in the attorney-client relationship, providing a devastating portrait of inequality and injustice within and beyond the criminal courts.


Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race
Jennifer Carlson
Forthcoming September 2020

The United States is steeped in guns, gun violence—and gun debates. As arguments rage on, one issue has largely been overlooked—Americans who support gun control turn to the police as enforcers of their preferred policies, but the police themselves disproportionately support gun rights over gun control. Yet who do the police believe should get gun access? When do they pursue aggressive enforcement of gun laws? And what part does race play in all of this?  Rethinking the terms of the gun debate, Jennifer Carlson shows how the politics of guns cannot be understood—or changed—without considering how the racial politics of crime affect police attitudes about guns.