Tish Hayes

Actions for Creating Safe Communities

If you’ve been paying attention to the protests calling for an end to police violence towards the Black community, you may have seen “Defund Police” or “Abolish Police” on posters and hashtags. These ideas might sound new or even outrageous–the police and the criminal justice system are one component of our social structure that seems fundamental–but questions about the role of policing to keep communities safe have been asked by communities of color for a long time. 

The current movement to shift government funds from police to communities grew out of the prison abolition movement that began in the 70’s. The concern with both prisons and policing stem from the deep racial inequities that are revealed in who is imprisoned and policed. Are Prisons Obsolete by Angela Davis is a good and short place to start. Davis introduces and explains the term Prison Industrial Complex which is used “to describe the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems” (Critical Resistance). Activists have charted the way this collusion of interests has led to over-policing and the criminalization of minority communities

Abolitionists, like Mariam Kaba, see alternatives to the Prison Industrial Complex and policing in transformative justice and community accountability. One example of how this might look is presented by Chain Reaction: Alternatives to Calling the Police a project from Project Nia

Below you’ll find readings that explain both the concern with prisons and policing as status quo as well as the potential for creating real systemic change.  

“Abolition is not about destruction and anarchy—it’s about building alternatives…”You can’t just focus on what you don’t want, you have to focus also on what you do want”

Abolish the police? Organizers say it’s less crazy than it sounds

The War on Neighborhoods : Policing, Prison, and Punishment in a Divided City by Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper–When the main investment in a community is policing and incarceration, rather than human and community development, that amounts to a “war on neighborhoods,” which ultimately furthers poverty and disadvantage. Longtime Chicago scholars Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and Daniel Cooper tell the story of one of those communities, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side that is emblematic of many majority-black neighborhoods in US cities.

Invisible No More : Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie–A timely examination of how Black women, Indigenous women, and women of color experience racial profiling, police brutality, and immigration enforcement…it documents the evolution of movements centering women’s experiences of policing and demands a radical rethinking of our visions of safety—and the means we devote to achieving it.

Freedom is a Constant Struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis (Audiobook)–Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles-from the black freedom movement to the South African antiapartheid movement. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. 

Additional research options include the library’s databases:

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A Reading List for Learning How to be Antiracist

No one becomes “not racist,” despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be “antiracist” on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.

Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Antiracist, created this Antiracist Reading List in the summer of 2019. It was useful then and feels especially necessary right now. Kendi describes the reasons why he recommends each book rather than just summarizing each title. He chooses books that may be difficult or challenging because they force us to encounter the world from a different perspective. Read through his Reading List and come back to this post to see what the library has available either in print or online. You can access print books from the library through our new curbside service (use the request it button in the catalog and you’ll be contacted to schedule a pick up time), and if you need help accessing the online versions, please ask a librarian.

The Condemnation of Blackness : Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, also available as an Ebook or Audiobook

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, also available as an Ebook or Audiobook

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

Dying of Whiteness : How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland by Jonathan M. Metzl, also available as an Ebook

Black Marxism : The Making of the Black Radical Tradition by Cedric J. Robinson available as an Ebook

How We Get Free : Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited and introduced by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor available as an Ebook

Well-read black girl : finding our stories, discovering ourselves : an anthology edited by Glory Edim available as an Ebook

Redefining Realness : My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock, also available as an Audiobook

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, also available as an Ebook or an Audiobook

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Keep listening! Episode 2 of the MVCC: POV podcast series is available

Last week we highlighted the launch of the library’s new podcast series–MVCC:POV, and this week we are continuing the conversation.

In this two part ep, Episode 2 – Class, Culture, Clothing, and Stereotypes, the MSA dig into issues that concern them in their day-to-day lives. Each part of the episode is compiled from two conversations recorded about a month apart during the spring of 2018.

PART ONE: The MSA discuss issues related to class, culture, and clothing.

PART TWO: The MSA share insights about the stereotypes they encounter and how they respond.MSA Recording Sessions 4_19_18

For more episodes check out the MVCC:POV Homepage


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Thinking about Charlottesville

Are you struggling with how to process the hate and violence committed in Charlottesville this past weekend? One step you can take is to better understand the history and ideology of the groups involved. American Swastika: Inside the white power movement’s hidden spaces of hate, by criminology professor Pete Simi and sociology professor Robert Futrell, draws on a decade of research and interviews to reveal how white power groups recruit,organize, and perpetuate their ideology. You can follow this up with a short interview on NPR with ex-FBI agent, Michael German, who explains how although the group names have changed since the 1990s, the underlying ideologies and tactics are the same. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has also just published a guide for students to understand and counter the alt-right on campuses. And finally, if you want to take a stand against hate in your own community, the SPLC has an excellent guide for recognizing and responding to every day bigotry. If you’d like more recommendations, just ask a librarian.

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Colleges address needs of transgender students

This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education has a special report on transgender issues on college campuses. The related articles include perspectives from students, faculty, and administration all weighing in on what can be done to make campuses more inclusive and safe, and what barriers still remain. Definitely worth a read as we move forward in efforts to make our own campus more welcoming to students, staff, and faculty who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming.
From one of the included articles:
‘Ask Me’: What LGBTQ Students Want Their Professors to Know

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When something as violent, hateful, and tragic as the June 17th shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church takes place, it can be difficult to know how to respond and move forward. For many, this act of terrorism evoked a long history of racial conflict and violence, and to engage in conversations about the current state of race relations, we all need to have this historical perspective. Within days of the massacre, academics, educators, librarians, and activists were sharing resources on social media connected with the hashtag CharlestonSyllabus. Chad Williams, Associate Professor of African and African-American studies at Brandeis University and one of the founders of the hashtag, speaks to the value of this movement:

What quickly emerged in just two days was a diverse community of people from a variety of professions, with divergent levels of historical expertise, all sharing a desire to educate, learn and challenge the prevailing discourse about race stemming from the Charleston tragedy…This endeavor is a work of serious historical scholarship firmly rooted in the African American intellectual tradition.

These resources have been collected by the African American Intellectual History Society, an organization founded in January 2014 to foster dialogue about researching, writing, and teaching black thought and culture. The #Charlestonsyllabus page is an extraordinary collection that includes many primary sources available online as well as books and articles you can find or order through the Moraine Valley library.

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Recognizing an Important Legal Scholar

I stumbled across this article today and thought it was a perfect read for Black History Month as well as a good complement to our discussion earlier this week about James Baldwin in the Civil Rights movement. Ruth Bader Ginsburg credits Dr. Pauli Murray for the hard legal work that brought about one of her most important legal cases, the 1971 case Reed vs Reed.

Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you’ve likely never heard of

Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you've likely never heard of

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Necessary Conversations

Talking about race and the way it impacts our lives, our neighborhoods, our schools, our jobs, and our relationships can be hard and complex. It’s a conversation that is often avoided in both inter-personal relationships and our larger culture. The recent grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers that killed two black men–Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and Eric Garner, in Staten Island, NY–have made the conversation necessary and urgent on a local and national scale.

There’s a lot of information about both cases in the media, but getting some background information about the issues might  be the best way to start. This CQ Researcher article about race and ethnicity (MVCC login required) is a good place to acquainted with the issues that are coming up in the discussions around the grand jury decisions.

Social media is one way to keep up with immediate responses to these issues by activists, the media, and regular people like you and me. Take a look at the hashtags #blacklivesmatter #ferguson and #ericgarner on Twitter or Facebook.

Colorlines, an online news source focused on race issues, is rounding up the news related to Ferguson as well as Eric Garner at http://colorlines.com/ferguson/

The reporting on these cases in the mainstream media  has reflected a wide range of biases–take a look at a number of sources to get a well rounded picture.

There are also lots of organizations working for change. If you’re interested in activism in your neighborhood or nationally, you might want to take a look at this list of organizations compiled by the Black Youth Project Chicago.

Here in the library we’ve started having some conversations about race in relationship to our One Book, One College author, James Baldwin. His work in the civil rights movement, and the essays he wrote about being a black man, the racially motivated violence he saw in his own Harlem neighborhood, and the larger power dynamic at play in the country during the 50s and 60s, still resonate. His Collected Essays are worth reading.

If you’re looking for more information about the issues brought up in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, we have a number of books about racism, police accountability, and racial profiling here in the library. Here are a few titles to get you started, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for in this list, please ask a librarian!

Race and ethnic relations : American and global perspectives / Martin N. Marger

Racism without racists : color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America / Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Revealing whiteness [electronic resource] : the unconscious habits of racial privilege / Shannon Sullivan

The harms of crime media : essays on the perpetuation of racism, sexism and class stereotypes / edited by Denise L. Bissler and Joan L. Conners

Blue vs. Black : let’s end the conflict between cops and minorities / John L. Burris ; with Catherine Whitney

Cop watch : spectators, social media, and police reform / Hans Toch

Racial profiling : research, racism, and resistance / Karen S. Glover

Racial profiling / Fred C. Pampel



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The 26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners

The Lambda Literary Foundation has been recognizing the best of LGBT writing since 1987, providing visibility to often marginalized writers and literature. This year’s award winners represent a wide range of genres and come from major publishing houses as well as independent presses. All of the selections look like fantastic additions to a summer reading list.

One of the features of this year’s ceremony was this video compilation from the “What LGBTQI Book Saved Your Life” campaign. It’s a powerful testament to the importance of LGBT literature. Look for the short clip that features Giovanni’s Room, this year’s One Book, One College selection.

Lambda Literary Awards 2014 from melanie larosa on Vimeo.

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Laverne Cox on the cover of Time

The June 9 issue of Time magazine features Orange is the New Black star and transgender rights activist, Laverne Cox. The cover story, “The Transgender Tipping Point”, isn’t yet available on our databases yet (look for full-text next week on Academic Search Complete), but an excerpt of Cox’s interview is available on Time’s website. I also recommend the short video below–a great behind the scenes look at her photo shoot.

We are in a place now where more and more trans people want to come forward and say ‘This is who I am.’ And more trans people are willing to tell their stories. More of us are living visibly and pursuing our dreams visibly, so people can say, ‘Oh yeah, I know someone who is trans.’ When people have points of reference that are humanizing, that demystifies difference.

If you’re not quite sure what transgender means or how gender identity is different from sexual orientation, you might also want to take a look at this glossary we’ve included on the One Book, One College site.

If you’re interested in learning more about transgender issues, the library has a variety of resources you can find through our catalog.

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