BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS TO EDUCATE

Books are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind.

Toni Morrison

Here are some book recommendations that focus on the subject of Black Lives Matter and Black History.

*note I have taken the summaries from websites like goodreads and amazon

  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

This book has been turned into a film, and you can watch the trailer here.

  • When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter MemoirPatrisse Khan-Cullors

A poetic and powerful memoir about what it means to be a Black woman in America—and the co-founding of a movement that demands justice for all in the land of the free.

Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi.

Condemned as terrorists and as a threat to America, these loving women founded a hashtag that birthed the movement to demand accountability from the authorities who continually turn a blind eye to the injustices inflicted upon people of Black and Brown skin.

Championing human rights in the face of violent racism, Patrisse is a survivor. She transformed her personal pain into political power, giving voice to a people suffering in equality and a movement fueled by her strength and love to tell the country—and the world—that Black Lives Matter.

  • An American Marriage – Tayari Jones

Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward- with hope and pain- into the future.

  • The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

This book has also been turned into a movie. You can watch the trailer here.

WHO IS JACOB BLAKE?

Yesterday, August 23rd, a police officer shot Jacob Blake 7 times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While his 3 children were in the car watching. Attorney Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer retained by Blake’s family, said Blake was attempting to de-escalate a fight between two other people when officers arrived at the scene, drew their weapons, and tased him. Currently, he is alive and in the ICU fighting for his life. However, he shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place. His kids should not be traumatized from watching their own father being shot repeatedly in the back by the police. We must have an immediate and transparent investigation and the officers involved should be held accountable for their actions. We must demand justice. #JusticeForJacobBlake

Here are some resources to help demand justice for Jacob Blake:

  • Sign the petition calling for justice for Jacob Blake here.
  • Donate to the official gofundme for Jacob Blake’s family here
  • Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund which is assisting protestors in Kenosha with bail funds here
  • Call/Email Kenosha state officials from this list created by @ankita_71 on twitter https://twitter.com/ankita_71/status/1297805867455307777

If you go to the next page, there will be footage of the whole ordeal. Please do not click if you are triggered by gunshots.

BLACK WOMEN I WISH I LEARNED ABOUT IN SCIENCE CLASS

Let’s be real, students are continuously lectured on the groundbreaking experiments and discoveries that white men have made. Black women, particularly Black woman in STEM, aren’t given the recognition and honor that they deserve. This is why I have created this post to honor the Black women who have impacted and shaped medicine/science.

Dr. Gladys West

Image result for dr gladys west
Dr. Gladys West, an American mathematician. The hidden figure behind the GPS; 1930-?

Dr. Gladys West is an American mathematician known for her contributions in a device that is essential to everybody all over the world: the GPS. Prior to her mathematical model of the earth, the precise measurement of distances over the Earth’s surface was nearly impossible. The imperfect shape of the earth and the variation of sea levels make calculating these distances challenging. Dr. West used the information from satellites to refine an increasingly detailed and accurate mathematical model of the actual shape of the earth, a “geoid.” Her work wasn’t officially recognized until early 2018 when the United States Military recognized her in a press release issued by the Air Force Space Command. She was later commended by the Virginia State Senate and inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson - Wikipedia
Katherine Johnson 1918-2020

Katherine Johnson was a person who pushed the limits. Despite being both African-American and a female, she excelled both academically (graduating with highest honors and one of three black students to be integrated into West Virginia’s graduate school) and in her workplace (NASA, referred to as NACA at the time). In 1962, the United States decided to send people to the moon; Johnson was one of the members on the team that figured out the calculations and math surrounding the trip. Johnson figured out the paths for the spacecraft to orbit Earth and to land on the moon. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights.

Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks and Her Remarkable Cells Will Finally See Some ...
Henrietta Lacks circa 1945-1951; pic creds. The Wall Street Journal; 1920-1951

Henrietta Lacks visited The Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of only a few hospitals that treated poor African-Americans, in 1951 due to vaginal bleeding. Upon examination, the doctor discovered a large, malignant tumor on her cervix and immediately began radium treatment on her. As standard procedure, they got a sample of her cancer cells and sent it to another doctor, Dr. George Gey. Typically, each sample quickly dies in Gey’s lab. However, Lacks’ cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours. Today, these cells—nicknamed “HeLa cells”— are used in a variety of ways including studying the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones without experimenting on humans. Her cells were the first immortal human cells ever grown in culture. They were essential to developing the polio vaccine and went up in the first space missions to see what would happen to cells in zero gravity. Between the years 1953-2018, HeLa cells have been used by researchers from 142 countries and in 110,000 publications.

Dr. Angella Dorothea Ferguson

Dr. Angella Dorothea Ferguson; 1925-?

Dr. Angella Ferguson is an American pediatrician known for her groundbreaking research on sickle cell anemia, a hereditary disease that causes improper folding of red blood cells. The folding results in improper blood flow to organs and deprive the affected organs of blood and oxygen. Dr. Ferguson’s research focused on the development of the sickle cell disease among African American infants. She developed a blood test to detect sickle cell at birth which eventually became the standard for forty U.S. states by 2010. Her research set the guidelines on how to diagnose and treat sickle cell anemia.

Alice Ball

Alice Ball - Death, Facts & Leprosy - Biography
Alice Ball; 1892-1916

Alice Augusta Ball was an American chemist who developed the “Ball Method,” the most effective treatment for leprosy at the age of 23. In 1915, an infection with leprosy—a chronic disease causing skin lesions and nerve damage—was a death sentence. If infected, patients were commonly sent into mandatory quarantine in “leper colonies,” never to return. Prior to the Ball Method, a somewhat-effective treatment for leprosy was the use of an oil extracted from the chaulmoogra tree. However, that oil wasn’t readily water soluble, making it difficult for the human body to absorb. Ball was able to discover a method for extracting compounds from the oil and modifying them to become more soluble (ester ethyl form) which led to the development of an injectable treatment for leprosy.

THE RACIST HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN POLICE

History of police in the US: How policing has evolved since the ...
The evolution of a police officer. Picture creds: Bettman & Anadolu Agency/ Getty

When people say abolish the police or ACAB, it’s necessary to know why exactly they are saying this. You might say, “but not all cops…” However, this is not what they are referring to. Rather, they are referring to the fact that cops uphold a racist and corrupt system that should be changed and abolished in order to create a new one.

The American police originally started as slave patrols and has since evolved into the American police force that we know today. It has set its foundation as racist and broken. It was created to protect white wealth at the expense of Black people, immigrants, and minorities. In the South, after slavery was abolished and slave patrols became uncommon, police took on new forms such as sheriffs who enforced segregation or groups like the KKK. In the North, police were used to control the increasing numbers of immigrant workers and would block labor strikes to suppress poor Americans.

In the 1800s, centralized white, male police departments formed in big cities like Boston, NYC, and Chicago. Springing from these police departments were patrols like Mounted Guards (now the Border Patrol) who maintained minority quotas and prevented illegal crossings. This was due to the increasing fear of labor uprisings and xenophobia. During Jim Crow, the police would enforce laws called “Black Codes” which upheld racism and segregation. The police would suppress protests during the Civil Rights movement, much like what they are doing right now. Black Americans would protest police abuse and racial profiling and would be met with violence–tear gas, high pressure hoses, and attack dogs.

Now, you might be wondering, would abolishing the police actually work? It has before! Several cities like Durham have implemented successful no-cop zones and harm-free zones where communities self-protect. Police abolition is not a new idea. It has been around since the 18th century. Additionally, the USA today spends approximately $100 billion a year on policing and a further $80 billion on incarceration. Defunding the police could result in more focus on education and health.

If you are still on the edge, I have included a story that I found on twitter about the corrupt police system. Adrian Schoolcraft went into the police force because he thought that he, along with the other police, would make the world a better place. So when he realized that some of his colleagues were lying and fudging numbers in order to meet their quotas, he reported them to his higher ups. The higher ups responded by saying that if he didn’t like it, then he could find a different job. Schoolcraft woke up on October 31, 2009 to the NYPD entering his home and forcibly interring him into a mental hospital. After he was discharged, he released the tapes of the conversations he overhead by officers about the faulty arrests, the clear issues in stop and frisk, and the general corruption of the NYPD. The Village Voice published them in their series “The NYPD Tapes.” The good cops are otracised, abused, and kidnapped by the “bad apples.”

https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/05/04/the-nypd-tapes-inside-bed-stuys-81st-precinct/

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE USPS?

Currently, the USPS is facing a huge financial crisis. To save its services and continue delivering the mail throughout the country, the agency has asked Congress for $89 billion. The Democrats want to give the USPS money; however, the Trump administration and Republicans have blocked them in hopes to privatize the agency. Privatizing the postal service would result in an increase in shipping prices and hurt small businesses. Another reason for this block is a way for the Trump administration to increase the chance of Trump’s reelection. Among those who say they will vote by mail, 81% support Biden and 19% support Trump.

The USPS is an essential part of the United States’ infrastructure. It is the most popular government agency and employs 600,000 people. In addition, it is the most cost-efficient way to send packages and letters, with one letter costing only 55 cents. If the USPS is forced to close down, it doesn’t only mean 600,000 people are out of work. As former President Barack Obama said, “Everyone depends on the USPS. Seniors for their Social Security, veterans for their prescriptions, small businesses trying to keep their doors open. They can’t be collateral damage for an administration more concerned with suppressing the vote than suppressing a virus.” Also, the postal service is one of the largest employers of veterans in the country, employing more than 97,000, employing three times their share of the national workforce.

The USPS does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses. It solely relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. To help fund the USPS, I encourage you to buy stamps and send letters to people you love and can’t see because of the pandemic. Also, text “USPS” to 50409 and a letter will be generated to your local reps urging them to save the post office. Please help the USPS! It not only encourages the chances of a fair election, but also helps the majority of Americans that use the USPS for medications/prescriptions, taxes, Social Security, and other miscellaneous things.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?

Image credit: lawyers weekly

DONATE

  1. GEORGE FLOYD MEMORIAL FUND
  2. MINNESOTA FREEDOM FUND
  3. RECLAIM THE BLOCK
  4. BLACK LIVES MATTER
  5. BAIL PROJECT
  6. BLACK VISIONS COLLECTIVE
  7. CAMPAIGN ZERO
  8. NATIONAL BAIL FUND NETWORK
  9. THE INNOCENT PROJECT
  10. RUN WITH MAUD
  11. JUSTICE FOR BREONNA
  12. ANTI POLICE-TERROR PROJECT
  13. COMMUNITY READY CORPS

If you don’t have money, watch this playlist of videos that I’ve curated that donates money to various organization. Make sure that your adblock is off as these videos use the money that it garners through Adsense and then the creator donates the money to organizations that help.

EDUCATE YOURSELF

READ:

  • BLACK FEMINIST THOUGHT – PATRICIA HILL COLLINS
  • ME AND WHITE SUPREMACY – LAYLA F. SAAD
  • HEAVY: AN AMERICAN MEMOIR – KIESE LAYMON
  • I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS – MAYA ANGELOU
  • WHITE FRAGILITY: WHY IT’S SO HARD FOR WHITE PEOPLE TO TALK ABOUT RACISM – ROBIN DIANGLO
  • BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME – TA-NEHISI COATES
  • BELOVED – TONI MORRISON

Also, if you click on this link, there are hundreds of free liberation documents from activists like Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Toni Morrison.

PROTEST (peacefully and safely!)

Currently, the police are acting violently and arresting protesters. This includes using tear gas, shooting rubber bullets, driving vehicles through crowds, and macing children. Stay safe and be careful! Some supplies you should bring are: a backpack, water, face masks, hats/sunglasses, snacks, signs, change of clothing, walking shoes, cash (instead of credit cards). DO NOT WEAR CONTACTS! If tear gas gets into your eyes when you have contacts, you could be blinded. WRITE DOWN EMERGENCY NUMBERS ON YOUR ARM. Here is a link to a website that has a lot of information on how to protest safely: https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-protest-safely-gear-tips/

EMAIL/CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND A CHANGE IN THE SYSTEM

SIGN PETITIONS

BECOME AN ALLY
HIRE, PROMOTE, AND SUPPORT BLACK PROFESSIONALS
RAISE AWARENESS BY POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
RECOGNIZE YOUR PRIVILEGE

Additional ways you can help can be found at this link

Originally posted June 5

WHY ARE THE PROTESTS HAPPENING?

On May 25th, a white Minneapolis policeman named Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes while George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was handcuffed face down. Despite Floyd repeatedly saying that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. The other policemen involved in the scene were Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane. The other officers further restrained Floyd and one prevented onlookers from intervening. Despite the fact that during the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, the policemen made no efforts to revive him, and Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck even as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him. This ordeal arose because Floyd had been suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a market.

The next day, after videos of this event circulated the internet, the four officers were fired. On May 29th, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. However, at this point, the other police officers had not been charged. On June 3rd, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison amended Chauvin’s charges to include second-degree murder along with the other officers.

Protests have ensued across the country, in all 50 states, to protest against police brutality. This event isn’t unheard of in the USA. Throughout history, countless people have been murdered as a result of police brutality and ‘accidents.’ However, the policemen involved in the murders are not always held accountable. This is evidenced by Tamir Rice and his killer, who still is free while Rice is dead. If you are reading please take a look at the list of names of people that have died under the hands of a policeman. On the list is 343 names. 343 innocent people. Also, if you are able to, please donate to George Floyd’s memorial fund.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

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originally posted June 4