Race and ethnicity play no meaningful role in our character, and none at all in our intrinsic worth. Yet they have long divided us. Greater knowledge, and a better understanding of the science, history, literature and art about race and ethnicity can help us live more ethically, more fully, and shape a better world.
Race and gender have been the two most prevalent and destructive forms of discrimination within our human family. While gender discrimination is broader, racial and ethnic discrimination have been more systematically brutal. The reasons reside in evolutionary history: historically a female of the same race is more likely to pass on a man’s genes than someone of another race.
I do not propose a contest to decide which group has suffered the worst abuse. The narratives on this subject speak for themselves.
We sailed from New York, and arrived in Liverpool after a pleasant voyage of twelve days. We proceeded directly to London, and took lodgings at the Adelaide Hotel. The supper seemed to me less luxurious than those I had seen in American hotels; but my situation was indescribably more pleasant. For the first time in my life I was in a place where I was treated according to my deportment, without reference to my complexion. I felt as if a great millstone had been lifted from my breast. Ensconced in a pleasant room, with my dear little charge, I laid my head on my pillow, for the first time, with the delightful consciousness of pure, unadulterated freedom. [Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), Chapter XXXVII, A Visit to England.]
Race and ethnicity in history
History contains many uplifting narratives of racial and ethnic acceptance and inclusion. However, because racial and ethnic exclusion has been so pervasive and so destructive, I offer the following as examples of our too-often tragic history. Only time and space prevent a much more extensive catalogue. I will begin with some general treatments of the subject.
- Stephen E. Cornell and Douglas Hartmann, Ethnicity and Race: Making Identities in a Changing World (Pine Forge Press, 2006).
- Stephen Spencer, Race and Ethnicity: Identity, Culture and Society (Routledge, 2006).
- Elizabeth Higginbotham and Margaret L. Anderson, Race and Ethnicity in Society: The Changing Landscape (Wadsworth, 2008).
- Martin N. Marger, Race and Ethnic Relations : American and Global Perspectives (Wadsworth, 2008).
- Raymond Scupin, Race and Ethnicity: An Anthropological Focus on the United States and the World (Prentice Hall, 2002).
- Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982).
- Thomas Chatterton Williams, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race (W.W. Norton & Co., 2019): “Williams married a white woman and both their children were born with blond hair and blue eyes. Are they, too, black by the one-drop rule? In questioning their determinative race, he has plumbed not only his own but also the complexity of racial identity for people outside the prevalent white/nonwhite binary.”
- Daniel Okrent, The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Italians, Jews, and Other European Immigrants Out of America (Scribner, 2019): “Okrent’s is largely an intellectual history — if we can use that term to describe the shoddy thinking of his subjects — of nativist ideology and ideologues from the mid-19th century to the first comprehensive immigration restriction law of 1924.”
- Edward Ball, Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020): “. . . Edward Ball recounts the saga of his great-great-grandfather, an embittered racist, in an attempt to understand the history of white supremacy in America.”
- Seyward Darby, Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism (Little, Brown & Co., 2020): “Seyward Darby spent several years trying to fathom what moves women to support white supremacy, the belief that America should remain a predominantly white country governed by white people.”
- Mia Bay, Traveling Black: A Story of Race and Resistance (The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2021): “. . . the question of literal movement becomes a way to understand the civil rights movement writ large.”
- Clint Smith, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America (Little, Brown and Company, 2021): “. . . Clint Smith visits nine places that memorialize or distort their link to the legacy of slavery, from Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va., to the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. He skillfully braids interviews with scholarship and personal observation, asking, 'How different might our country look if all of us fully understood what had happened here?'”
- Randall Kennedy, Say It Loud!: On Race, Law, History, and Culture (Pantheon, 2021): “. . . Kennedy, as a legal scholar and law professor to the nth degree, is uncompromisingly disinclined to partisanship over reflection.”
- Wil Haygood, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World (Knopf, 2021) “tells the story of Black artists in the film industry, those in front of and behind the camera, over more than a century.”
- Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman and Jake Silverstein, eds., The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story (One World, 2021): “. . . a wide-ranging, landmark summary of the Black experience in America: searing, rich in unfamiliar detail, exploring every aspect of slavery and its continuing legacy, in which being white or Black affects everything from how you fare in courts and hospitals and schools to the odds that your neighborhood will be bulldozed for a freeway.”
Building a post-racial United States:
- Condoleezza Rice, Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family (Crown Archetype, 2010).
- Michael Tesler and David O. Sears, Obama's Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
- Touré, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now (Free Press, 2011).
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (One World, 2017): “ . . . the price of that ticket has been a steady and at times surprising backlash, resulting in what Coates ultimately and provocatively calls ‘America’s first white president’ in Donald Trump.”
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015): “ . . . it is . . . written in the form of a letter to a black teenage boy. The boy is Coates’s 15-year-old son, who — like Baldwin’s nephew — is trying to make sense of blatant racial injustice and come to grips with his place in a world that refuses to guarantee for him the freedoms that so many others take for granted.”
- Margo Jefferson, Negroland: A Memoir (Pantheon, 2015): “In part it’s a history of the upper strata of black society in America. . . . In part it’s also her own story, and a primer on being what she calls a ‘Good Negro Girl’ in the 1940s, ’50s and early ’60s.”
- Mira Jacob, Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations (One World, 2019): “The book lives up to its title, and reading these searching, often hilarious tête-à-têtes — with her parents and brother, confidantes and strangers, employers and exes — is as effortless as eavesdropping on a crosstown bus.”
- Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life (Harvard University Press, 2014): “To be black but to be perceived as white is to find yourself, at times, in a racial no man’s land.”
General histories of genocide
- Ben Kiernan, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (Yale University Press), 2007.
- Jacques Semelin, Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide (Columbia University Press, 2007).
- Frank Chalk and Kurt Johasson, The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies (Yale University Press, 1990).
- Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan, eds., The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press).
- Stanley J. Tambieh, Leveling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia (University of California, 1997).
- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Worse than War: Genocide, Eliminationism and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity (PublicAffairs, 2009).
- the story of a ‘small genocide’ that took place in the city of Torreón, over the course of three days in 1911, during the Mexican Revolution. Three hundred Chinese immigrants were shot and bludgeoned to death in the streets, their corpses mutilated, their belongings, businesses and homes ransacked.
- Scholastique Mukasonga, Cockroaches (Archipelago Books, 2016): “Against the onrush of numbing numbers that often accompany atrocities—100 days, 500,000 to 1,000,000 dead, for instance—Mukasonga’s attention to those granular and indigestible names offers an alternative to the more antiseptic studies of the genocide and leaves us with an intentionally troubling book.”
- Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi, The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894-1914 (Harvard University Press, 2019): “Their narrative offers a subtle diagnosis of why, at particular moments over a span of three decades, Ottoman rulers and their successors unleashed torrents of suffering.”
- Mondiant Dogon, Those We Throw Away are Diamonds: A Refugee’s Search for Home (Penguin Press, 2021): in Dogon’s “memoir of the Rwandan genocide, he reminds himself that for every neighbor who used the post-genocide turmoil as an opportunity to loot and rape, there was a local villager, a stranger on the road, who warned his family members of approaching danger, hid them at great personal risk and treated their wounds.”
Genocide against and oppression of indigenous populations in the Americas during the age of exploration
- David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: Colombus and the Conquest of the New World (Oxford University Press, 1992).
- Ward Churchill, A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present (City Lights Books, 1998).
- John E. Kicza, Resilient Cultures: America's Native Peoples Confront European Colonization, 1500-1800 (Prentice Hall, 2002).
- James Lockhart and Enrique Otte, eds., Letters and People of the Spanish Indies: Sixteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1976).
- Gary Clayton Anderson, The Conquest Of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing In The Promised Land, 1820-1875 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2005).
Genocide against Native American peoples in the United States
- Clifford E. Hafzer and Joel R. Hyer, "Exterminate Them": Written Accounts of the Murder, Rape, and Slavery of Native Americans During the California Gold Rush, 1848-1868 (Michigan State University Press, 1999).
- James Wilson, The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999).
- Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (Henry Holt & Co., 2001).
- Kent Nerburn, Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy (Harper One, 2005).
- Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, Yellow Wolf: His Own Story (Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1984).
- Merrill D. Beal, I Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War (University of Washington Press, 1966).
- Ward Churchill, Since Predator Came: Notes from the Struggle for American Indian Liberation (AK Press, 2005).
- Ward Churchill, Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide, and Colonization (City Light Books, 2nd Revised Edition, 2002).
- Ward Churchill, Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indian (Common Courage Press, 2002).
- James F. Brooks, Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2001).
- Eric E. Bowne, The Westo Indians: Slave Traders of the Early Colonial South (University of Alabama Press, 2005).
- Claudio Saunt, The Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory (Norton, 2020): “. . . describes how the boats functioned as instruments of American expansion and — for the slaves and Indigenous people forced to travel on them — “as floating prisons.” The policy known as Indian Removal was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830. Transporting so many people up western rivers entailed squeezing them into cramped quarters, where diseases proliferated and a burst boiler could scald hundreds to death in an instant.”
Slavery and racial division in the United States
- William L. Andrews and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Slave Narratives (Library of America, 2000).
- Charles Fuller and Donald Yacavone, Freedom's Journey: African American Voices of the Civil War (Lawrence Hill Books, 2004).
- Spencer Crew, Cynthia Goodman and Henry Louis Gates, eds., Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narrative (Bullfinch, 2003).
- Leslie Howard Owens, This Species of Property: Slave Life and Culture in the Old South (Oxford University Press, 1976).
- John Patrick Daly, When Slavery Was Called Freedom: Evangelicalism, Proslavery, and the Causes of the Civil War (University of Kentucky Press, 2002).
- John R. McKivigan and Mitchell Snay, eds., Religion and the Antebellum Debate over Slavery(University of Georgia Press, 1998).
- Paul Finkelman, Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003).
- Drew Gilpin Faust, The Ideology of Slavery(Louisiana State University Press, 1982).
- Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (University of Georgia Press, 1980).
- Shane White and Graham White, The Sounds of Slavery: Discover African American History through Songs, Sermons, and Speech (Beacon Press, 2005).
- Alan Gallay,The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717 (Yale University Press, 2002).
- Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).
- Steven Deyle, Carry Me Back : The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life (Oxford University Press, 2005).
- Sylvanie Diouf, Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America (Oxford University Press, 2007).
- Sylvanie Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (NYU Press, 1998).
- Adam Rothman, Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South (Harvard University Press, 2005).
- Charles T. Davis and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., eds., The Slave's Narrative (Oxford University Press, 1985).
- Frederick Douglass, Autobiographies: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave/ My Bondage and My Freedom / Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Library of America, 1994).
- David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, 2018): a verbal portrait of the man
- W. E. B. DuBois, Writings (Library of America, 1996).
- Works Projects Administration, Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5. part 6, part 7, part 8, in multiple parts, various publishers and publication dates.
- Herb Boyd, Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2017): celebrating “the freedom fighters on history’s margins.”
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow (Penguin Press, 2019): “The book sets the Obama era beside Reconstruction and the Trump era beside the white supremacist terrorism of Redemption, the period beginning in 1877 during which Reconstruction’s nascent, biracial democracy was largely dismantled.”
- Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays (The New Press, 2019): “. . . sociology professor McMillan Cottom offers profound and expansive cultural commentary, in essays epigraphed by figures ranging from Foucault to Malcolm X to Migos — reflecting the author’s skillful interweaving of the academic with the popular, all informed by blackness.”
- Andrew Delblanco, The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War (Penguin Press, 2018): “Delbanco aims to balance his antislavery allegiances with caution about the smugness that can come with historical hindsight.”
- Candacy Taylor, Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (Abrams, 2020) “The Green Book, which was published for 30 years, listed largely black-owned eateries, hotels, gas stations, stores, nightclubs and other businesses where African-Americans were welcome.”
- Gretchen Sorin, Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights (Liveright, 2020) “is more focused on the history of African-American car ownership and travel, exploring why both have been so important to African-American life. She notes that most blacks couldn’t buy homes owing to racist laws and practices, and an automobile was often their most significant purchase.”
- Dawn Turner, Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood (Simon & Schuster, 2021): ". . . a textured portrait of a moment in time in a particular place: the 1970s in Bronzeville, a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago that was the landing place for most of the city’s hundreds of thousands of new Black residents who’d fled the terrorism of the Jim Crow South beginning in the early 20th century."
- Kristin Henning, The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth (Pantheon, 2021): “. . . Kristin Henning believes in the redemptive power of storytelling.”
- Kerri K. Greenidge, The Grimkes: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family (Liveright, 2022), is “a nuanced, revisionist account of an American family best known for a pair of white abolitionist sisters.”
- Edward J. Larsen, American Inheritance: Liberty and Slavery in the Birth of a Nation, 1765-1795 (W.W. Norton & Company, 2023): “A key lesson from Larson’s narrative is that ages past were not benighted by a lack of knowledge of the immorality of race-based slavery. . . . influential white Americans knew — and understood — that slavery was wrong and liberty was precious, but chose not to act according to that knowledge and that understanding.”
The epic disaster of so-called Reconstruction in the United States:
- Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (HarperCollins Publishers, 1988).
- Eric Foner, The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019): the silver lining in a dark sky.
- Hans L. Trefousse, Andrew Johnson: A Biography (1989)
- David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Belknap/Harvard Press, 2001).
- Philip Dray, Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen (Mariner, 2010).
- Michael W. Fitzgerald, Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South (Ivan R. Dee, 2007).
- James Alex. Baggett, The Scalawags: Southern Dissenters in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Louisiana State University Press, 2003).
- J. Langguth, After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace (Simon & Schuster, 2014).
- Heather Cox Richardson, West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War (Yale University Press, 2007).
- Here is a reading list from the U.S. Society for Intellectual History.
Various histories of slavery and oppression
- Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death : A Comparative Study (Harvard University Press, 1982).
- David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (Cornell University Press, 1966).
- David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (Oxford University Press, 1999).
- David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014): completing a trilogy.
- Kevin Bales,Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader (University of California Press, 2005).
- Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Ninõ Famines and the Making of the Third World (Verso, 2001).
- Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East: An Historical Enquiry (Oxford University Press, 1990).
- Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (Cambridge University Press, Second Edition, 2000).
- Joseph C. Miller, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).
- Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern 1492-1800 (Verso, 1997).
- James F. Searing, West African Slavery and Atlantic Commerce: The Senegal River Valley, 1700-1860 (Cambridge University Press), 2003).
- Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade: New Approaches to the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
- Carl N. Degler, Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (Prentice Hall Div., 1971).
- Robert Edgar Conrad, Children of God's Fire: A Documentary History of Black Slavery in Brazil (Princeton University Press, 1984).
- Philip D. Curtin, Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade (University of Wisconsin Press, 1967).
- Walter Johnson, The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas (Yale University Press, 2005).
- Thomas E. J. Wiedemann, Greek and Roman Slavery(Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981).
- N. R. E. Fisher, Slavery in Classical Greece (Duckworth Publishers, 2001).
- Peter Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine(W.B. Stanford Memorial Lectures) (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
- Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten, Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).
- Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration (Belknap Press, 2005).
Genocide against the Jewish people during the Nazi Holocaust
- Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews, Volume 1: The Years of Persecution 1933-1939 (Harper Collins Publishers, 1997).
- Saul Friedländer, The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 (Harper Collins Publishers, 2007).
- David Engel, The Holocaust: The Third Reich and the Jews (Longman, 1999).
- Yitzhak Arad, et. al., Eds., Documents on the Holocaust: Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union (University of Nebraska Press, 8th edition, 1999).
A multi-media presentation is also available on CD-ROM from University of North Carolina Press, entitled "Into That Dark Night: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1939" (2003). Films on the subject include the massive ten-hour documentary "Shoah" (1985), "The Sorrow and the Pity" (1972), and "Night and Fog" (1955).
A great many individual narratives of the Holocaust have been written. They could easily be included here, but I have chosen instead to list them under the heading of resilience.
"Ethnic cleansing" in Eastern Europe in the 1980's
- Michael A. Sells,The Bridge Betrayed: Religion and genocide in Bosnia (University of California Press, 1996).
- Thomas Cushman and Stepjan Mestrovic, This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia (New York University Press, 1996).
- Norman Cigar, Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of "Ethnic Cleansing" (Texas A&M University Press, 1995).
- Norman E. Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe (Harvard University Press, 2001).
Genocide among the Tutsis and Hutus in Rwanda
- Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda ( Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998).
- Jean Hatzfield, Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak (Picador, 2006).
Genocide in Darfur and the Sudan
- M. W. Daly, Darfur's Sorrow: A History of Destruction and Genocide (Cambridge University Press, 2007).
- Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen, eds., Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan (Routledge, 2006).
This could be a much longer list. I will spare the reader of that.
Graphic images of racial and ethnic violence are linked below. I caution you, dear reader, of the graphic content of this material:
Histories on ethnicity
- Edward Berenson, The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town (W.W. Norton & Company, 2019): “In the fall of 1928, the Republican Herbert Hoover ran against the Democrat Al Smith, a flamboyant former New York governor who had the effrontery to be Catholic and a son of immigrants. Hoover was too cautious to bash Catholics himself, but his Protestant supporters — ministers, politicians, journalists — had no such qualms. The wrath of the antipapists soon poured out on immigrants in general, including Jews.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, about a black teenager from Chicago who dared to speak to a white woman in the American South
- The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, on the Jewish home run hitter of the segregated America of the 1930s
- 4 Little Girls: Spike Lee’s documentary on four young black girls killed in a church bombing in Alabama, and the deplorable, hypocritical attitude of then-governor George Wallace
- Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later
- Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
- The Murder of Fred Hampton: a documentary about the killing of a Black Panther by Chicago police
- Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football: this story about a high school football team “proudly affirms the American dream, reclaiming it for Muslims who see no conflict between their patriotism and their faith.”
- I for India: this documentary film about an Indian physician who emigrates to Great Britain explores the “often rocky road for Indian expatriates in the United Kingdom”
- Shoah, a nine-part documentary on the Holocaust
- The Order of Myths, a documentary on racial segregation at Mardi Grasin Mobile, Alabama
- A Film Unfinished: a documentary on a Nazi propagandaintended to portray Jews as callous and immoral
- The Cats of Mirikitani: an elderly manwho was interred in a Japanese resettlement camp in the United States during World War II reflects on the discrimination and abuse he experienced.
- race and ethnicity: panel discussion
- race and ethnicity in the Ecuadorian Andes
- beyond the 11th
- The myth of the post-racial society
- politics of immigration in the European Union
- Idlewild's Rapture
- Japanese-American internment
- I Am Not Your Negro, documenting the extraordinary frank and courageous statements of James Baldwin
Technical and Analytical Readings
· Amy Chua, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations (Penguin Press, 2018): “Chua’s message: Ethnocultural rivalry powerfully shapes both international relations and domestic policy. Ethnocultural rivalry will not be reasoned away. Its divisions are hard-wired into the human brain. The American reluctance to recognize this truth, Chua continues, derives from the country’s own unique inheritance, which optimistically insists that the nation’s internal divisions can and must be melted down into a shared ideology of Americanism.”
- Gordon D. Schmidt, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Scholastic, Inc., 2005).
- Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee (Little, Brown Young Readers, 1990).
- Ysaye Maria Barnwell, No Mirrors In My Nana's House (Harcourt Children's Books, 1998).
- Alaksandr Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead, 2008).
- Andrea Levy, The Long Song: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2010), about a “high-spirited, ambitious” woman who “works on a plantation in the final days of slavery in Jamaica.”
- Steve Sem-Sandberg, The Emperor of Lies (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011): “a chilling and illuminating look at a period of history that has been analyzed and reconstructed before but rarely in quite so three-dimensional a fashion.”
- Amy Waldman, The Submission: A Novel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011): the author imagines “what would happen if a jury in charge of selecting a ground zero-like memorial were to choose, from among the many anonymous submissions, a design that turns out to have been created by a Muslim-American architect.”
- James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books, 2013): irreverence as “a new kind of homage” for abolitionist John Brown
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah: A Novel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013): examining blackness in America, Nigeria and Britain
- Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black: Stories (Riverrun, 2018): “Black Americans and other Americans of color are already carrying the weight of cruel, unreckoned-with histories on their shoulders; so to live amid unmitigated, too often racially motivated violence with little to no accountability on the horizon feels a lot like abandonment.”
- Sam Graham-Felsen, Green: A Novel (Random House, 2018): “Bridging the Divide in a Middle School Relationship”
- Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys: A Novel (Doubleday, 2019): Whitehead “learned through The Tampa Bay Times about archaeology students at the University of South Florida who were digging up and trying to identify the remains of students who had been tortured, raped and mutilated, then buried in a secret graveyard, at the state-run Dozier School for Boys in the Panhandle town of Marianna.”
- Tope Folarin, A Particular Kind of Black Man: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 2019): “Folarin is attentive to the ways in which mental illness and the particular crises of poverty, immigration and Blackness can dovetail, and how communal silence and shame can magnify one rupture into many.”
- Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown: A Novel (Pantheon, 2020): “. . . Yu explores in devastating (and darkly hilarious) fashion Hollywood’s penchant for promoting clichés about Asians and Asian-Americans.”
- Zakiya Dalila Harris, The Other Black Girl: A Novel (Atria Books, 2021): “The book explores how the dynamics between Black and white people potentially distort the Black relationship . . .”
- Afia Atakora, Conjure Women: A Novel (Random House, 2020): “Cleverly ricocheting her chapters between the 1850s and the 1860s, Atakora shows how the legacy of bondage is played out in the aftermath of war.”
- Gayl Jones, Palmares: A Novel (Beacon Press, 2021): “Set in Brazil in the late 1600s, 'Palmares' is an unveiling of the brutal enslavement and degradation of various African peoples who were kidnapped by the warring factions of Europe — the English, the Spanish, the Dutch, the French, but most of all the Portuguese — in their ravenous quests for land, resources, power and destruction.”
- Percival Everett, The Trees: A Novel (Graywolf, 2021): “Humor may seem ill placed in a novel about lynching, but Everett has mastered the movement between unspeakable terror and knockout comedy, so the reader covers a laughing mouth with one hand and stifles a gasp with the other.”
- Resoketswe Manenzhe, Scatterlings: A Novel (HarperVia, 2022), “witnesses the dissolution of a young family in the wake of South Africa’s Immorality Act, which outlawed interracial relationships.”
- Kai Thomas, In the Upper Country: A Novel (Viking, 2023), “is a fresh and propulsive novel, set in 1859 in the all-Black Canadian town of Dunmore, a hub on the Underground Railroad. The town serves as safe haven and utopia both, hacked into the swampland by those seeking freedom.”
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko, "Babi Yar"
- Robert Frost, “The Vanishing Red” (analysis)
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Yee Bow”
Books of poems:
- Jericho Brown, The Tradition (Copper Canyon, 2019): “. . . Brown creates poetry that is a catalog of injuries past and present, personal and national, in a country where blackness, particularly male blackness, is akin to illness.”
Film and Stage
- West Side Story: the brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” set on New York City’s upper West side in the 1950s
- Romeo and Juliet
- To Kill a Mockingbird, about decency in a bigoted Southern town
- In the Heat of the Night, about murder and bigotry and “the corrosiveness of prejudice” in a small Southern town in the United States
- Twelve Years a Slave, dramatizing the true story of Solomon Northrup, an African-American man from upstate New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery, then freed twelve years later
- The Hate U Give: a gripping account of racism and police violence
- Sweet Country, in which racism in Australian outback in the 1920s looks eerily similar to racism in the United States’ south during the same era
- Remember the Titans, about integration at a school in Virginia in 1971
- Cry, the Beloved Country, about racism in South Africa (there is an updated version)
- A Soldier's Story, about racism in the United States military
- Sayonara, a lovers’ tragedy about racial bigotry in the United States military
- Chocolat, recalling “the last years of French West African colonialism through the memory of a young white woman”
- White Material, an extension of Chocolat
- The Brother from Another Planet, about racial issues in New York City in the 1980s
- Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a film about race relations in a society undergoing a transition away from racism
- Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here: a young man murders a tribal elder and is pursued by a decent sheriff along with a group of vigilantes
- Ulzana’s Raid, an “American” perspective on some Apache Indians
- Zootopia, an animated film about bigotry and discrimination in a fantasy world of animals, divided by background into predators and prey.
- Get Out is a science-fiction-horror film, and a spoof about racial perceptions and attitudes.
- Lore explores anti-Semitic bigotry in a young German girl just after World War II.
- BlacKKKlansman is a fictional story, interspersed with documentary footage, about a young African-American police officer who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, facing opposition within his department.
- Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With (1964)
- David Alfaro Sequeiros, Allegory of Racial Equality (1943)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Albums on racial inclusion, focusing on a black liberation period in United States history:
- Jimi Hendrix, “Are You Experienced” (1967) (60'): an African-American electric guitarist re-invented an idiom with this musical statement about freedom.
- Miles Davis, “A Tribute to Jack Johnson” (1971) (52'): “He achieved exactly what he wanted for the soundtrack of the documentary devoted to the black boxer Jack Johnson by creating the effect of a train going at full speed (which he compared to the force of a boxer).”
- Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On” (1971) (45'): “The album’s intro sets the tone for the artist’s new direction, with subjects like togetherness, acceptance and anti-violence all being touched upon. As calming as the sound could be, Gaye does not lull from this point forward—articulated flawlessly through the singer’s control and power in voice, he continues this message of a much-needed reunion of people on tracks like 'What’s Happening Brother' and 'Save the Children.'”
- Isaac Hayes, “Shaft” (1971) soundtrack (70'): “. . . the success of his two-LP soundtrack album assured that every Black action-adventure film for the next several years would be scored by a major artist of color.”
- Ray Brooks & The Artistic Truth, “Ethnic Expressions” (1973) (48'), is notable for “the focus of its vision reinventing the unity of African-American self-determination through music.”
- The Descendants of Mike and Phoebe, “A Spirit Speaks” (1974) (30'): “The album is a prime example of an early fusion record combining elements from jazz, gospel, soul and blues as well as a great sign of the times, the early seventies when musical experimentation and coalition was all abound.”
- Harry Whitaker, “Black Renaissance” (1976) (39’), is “a tone poem reflecting on the state of African American music in the 1970s.”
- Oneness of Juju, “African Rhythms” (1970-1982) (129'): “African Rhythms 1970-1982 documents a crucial chapter in the history of Black American music and the movements it soundtracked. There are links to the era’s anti-war and anti-colonialist political activism . . .”
- Solange, “A Seat at the Table” (2016) (52'), is “a thematically unified and musically adventurous statement on the pain and joy of black womanhood.”
- Burna Boy, “African Giant” (2019) (60'): “Burna’s compositions are all based in something he’s dubbed Afro-fusion—blending pop, American hip-hop and R&B, Jamaican dancehall, and hard UK rap with Nigerian music—and he puts Africa at the root of that expanding lineage while also pushing the more traditional sounds forward.”
- Angel Bat Dawid & tha Brothahood, “Live” (2020) (80'): in this live performance at a jazz festival, the artist, who thought the festival’s administrators had disrespected her as a black artist, practically begs for respect for black people. She has said: “I look at the totality of the black experience. I don’t see my sister who has a crack addiction for 40 years as not being successful. Because of the lineage she’s coming from, this is the best she can do. When you’re black, being alive is a success.”
- William Grant Still, Symphony No. 1 in A-flat Major (“Afro-American”) (1930) (approx. 24-26’): “It combines a fairly traditional symphonic form with blues progressions and rhythms that were characteristic of popular African-American music at the time.”
- Still, Symphony No. 2 in G minor (“Song of a New Race”) (1937) (approx. 37-39’): “Still saw the G Minor as representing 'the American colored man of today, in so many instances a totally new individual produced through the fusion of White, Indian and Negro bloods' (his own mix.)”
- Florence Price, Symphony No. 1 in E minor (1932) (approx. 39’): “Price based the first movement of her Symphony on two freely composed melodies reminiscent of the African-American spiritual. . . . The second movement is based on a hymn-like melody and texture no doubt inspired by Price’s interest in church music. . . . The jovial third movement . . . is based on characteristic African-American ante-bellum dance rhythms.”
- Price, Mississippi River Suite (1934) (approx. 28’), is “obvious in its allusions to the African-American musical experience . . .”
- Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Symphony in A minor, Op. 8, (1896) (approx. 37’)
- Coleridge-Taylor, Symphonic Variations on an African Air, Op. 6 (1906) (approx. 21’), “is based on an African-American song, 'I'm troubled in mind.'”
- Coleridge-Taylor, Violin Concerto in G minor (1912) (approx. 32’): “Coleridge-Taylor originally set out to write a concerto based on spirituals but was unhappy with his first attempts and eventually wrote the present concerto using original thematic material. Yet there are melodic and harmonic resonances of Dvorák’s American works about it, not least in the first movement.”
- Nathaniel Dett, “The Ordering of Moses” (1943) (approx. 54’): “The text, 'from scripture and folklore,' is a retelling of Moses leading his people out of captivity and into the promised land. Certainly for Dett, an African-Canadian, the biblical parable resonated, and fed the drama and passion heard in the oratorio.”
- Ulysses Kay, “Once There Was a Man” (1969) (17’)
- William L. Dawson, “Negro Folk Symphony” (1934) (approx. 36’): “Dawson said he wasn't out to imitate Beethoven or Brahms, but wanted those who heard it to know that it was "unmistakably not the work of a white man." He found inspiration for the piece in traditional spirituals, which he preferred to call 'Negro folk-music.'”
- Kukuruz Quartet, “Julius Eastman Piano Interpretations” (2018) (77’): “He was proudly and provocatively Black and gay.”
- Margaret Bonds (composer), “The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs” (2019) (35’)
- Ma Rainey, recordings in chronological order: Vol. 1 (64’); Vol. 2 (70’); Vol. 3 (58’); Vol. 4 (63’); 1928 sessions (approx. 56’): “Singer Ma Rainey was the first popular stage entertainer to incorporate authentic blues into her song repertoire and became known as the 'Mother of the Blues.'”
Owiny Sigoma Band brought together Kenyan Luo tradition and digital vibes from London. It produced the following albums:
- “The Lost Tapes” (after its founder’s death) (2021) (47’)
- “Nyanza” (2015) (45’)
- “Power Punch!!!” (2012) (45’)
- “Owiny Sigoma Band” (2010) (53’)
- “Chingaa Attack” (2015) (19’)
- “Tafsiri Sound” (2011) (19’)
John Adams' opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" (1991) (libretto) tells the story of a Jewish man who was shot and killed by Palestinian terrorists who had boarded an Italian cruise ship. Performances have conducted by Nagano (1992) (135’) and Nagano.
- Parade (1999) (79’), is a musical play about the murder of Mary Phagan in Atlanta, Georgia, and how the town framed a Jewish man for it because they “could lynch a nigger anytime in Georgia but when do we get the chance to hang a Yankee Jew?” The case outraged many people but in Georgia at the time, most people supported the bigotry and the lynching.
- Moses Pergament, Den Judiska Sången (The Jewish Song) (1944) (approx. 76’)
- Vítězslav Novák, Slovenské spevy (Slovak Songs) (1951) (approx. 160’)
- Bosnia: “Echoes from an Endangered World”
- Ireland: “Andy Irvine & Paul Brady” (1975) (46’)
Music from a few of the world’s ethnic regions:
- Moravian folk songs
- Irish folk music
- Russian traditional music
- Chinese instrumental music
- Persian folk music
- Greek folk music
- Indian folk music
- Afghan folk music
- German folk music
- Polish folk music
- Scandinavian folk music
- Spanish guitar music
- Portuguese folk music
- Ethiopian music
- Egyptian folk music