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

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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