Viral Justice wins 2023 Stowe Prize

“A book as urgent as the moment that produced it.” —Jelani Cobb  

We’re thrilled to share that Ruha Benjamin’s Viral Justice: How to Grow the World We Want has won the 2023 Stowe Prize.

Growing from Benjamin’s decades long work on race, technology, and justice, Viral Justice is a sweeping, personal exploration of how we can transform society through the seemingly small choices we make every day. Throughout the book, Benjamin recounts personal experiences to illuminate both the social failures wrought by systemic inequities in healthcare and criminal justice and the counterweight of vital and vibrant networks of support and healing found in mutual aid groups, grassroots organizations, and our own communities, among others. Praised as “a true gift to our movements for justice” (Michelle Alexander), “heartbreaking, inspiring, and hopeful” (Science), and “an openhearted, multilayered work that vibrates with ideas” (New York Magazine), Viral Justice is a passionate, inspiring, and practical vision of how to build a more just and joyful world. Princeton University Press published Viral Justice in October 2022 in cloth, ebook, and as an audiobook, narrated by Benjamin and featuring an exclusive interview with bestselling author Ibram X. Kendi.

In discussing the book’s selection for the 2023 Stowe Prize, Karen Fisk, Executive Director of the Stowe Center, notes: “In her book Viral Justice, Ruha Benjamin calls to each and all of us to reckon honestly with the many injustices that shape our world and work with others to make positive change. Like Harriet Beecher Stowe, Dr. Benjamin writes to prompt action. Viral Justice is a revelation of hope—if social inequities rely on our individual complicity to maintain harmful systems then social justice requires individuals to participate. We can’t wait for top-down change. Even seemingly small actions add up! We are so honored to invite Dr. Benjamin to share her message with us.”

Awarded annually by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and now in its ninth year, The Stowe Prize recognizes a work of fiction or nonfiction that “illuminates a critical, contemporary social justice issue in the tradition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Prior winners include books by Clint Smith, Eddie Glaude, Alfred Woodfox, Matthew Desmond, Bryan Stevenson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, and Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn.

About the Author

Ruha Benjamin is a professor of African American studies at Princeton University and founding director of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab. In addition to Viral Justice, she is the author of Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code and People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier and the editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. Benjamin teaches, writes, and speaks widely on the relationship between innovation and inequality, knowledge and power, race and citizenship, and health and justice.

What is viral justice? Read an interview with Ruha Benjamin in Ideas.