Books by ASU authors that illuminate the African American experience
As awareness of racial injustice has broadened this spring and summer, reading lists have been shared to help increase people's understanding of our nation's past and present — including one in Arizona State President Michael Crow's statement on Juneteenth.
English Professor Keith Miller was excited to see Crow's post linking to the Chicago Public Library's Black Lives Matter book list, but he noticed one thing: There were no ASU authors on the list.
He reached out to Kenja Hassan, director of cultural relations in ASU's Office of Government and Community Engagement, to see if such a list might be created — with the goal of increasing awareness within the ASU community of what other faculty are working on.
"During my first years as a professor at ASU, few of us taught courses in African American history and culture. Even though we were scattered in different units, we knew each other and met occasionally," Miller said, pointing out that ASU later initiated its African and African American Studies program in the 1990s. "Since then, ASU has, fortunately, hired numerous additional professors who teach courses in African and African American culture, art, music, literature, rhetoric and history. Many of them have published significant scholarship in these fields. Kenja Hassan works diligently to keep people in touch.
"But, unlike before, not everyone knows everyone else, especially those who teach on different ASU campuses. So I thought it would be useful to compile a complete list of scholarly books, if possible, so that each of us could gain a more complete idea of what everyone else is doing."
Working with Suzanne Wilson of Media Relations and Strategic Communications, Hassan put out a call to faculty for titles, confirming whether the books would help readers "understand some aspect of the current anguish African Americans are experiencing," Hassan said. The authors come from a variety of units across ASU, and the titles include both fiction and nonfiction.
Many of the books on the list also have a gender focus, and it's important not to ignore that intersectionality, Hassan said.
"Being a Black female during slavery and Jim Crow meant a particularly cruel level of abuse without recourse," she said. "Women were expected to produce more slaves from both Black and white men, raise them and often take care of the slave owners' white children, too. Today, disparities in hiring, promotion and pay highlight the relatively lower value placed on Black women in the world of work. Black girls are more harshly disciplined in schools; outspoken Black women are often viewed as threatening rather than assertive."
In addition to the reading list below, Hassan suggests these learning resources:
- Reading about ASU researchers' work shedding light on past and current issues impacting African Americans: https://asunow.asu.edu/topics/news/interests/african-american
- Joining the Black African Coalition mailing list to learn more about how to connect with students: https://eoss.asu.edu/student-and-cultural-engagement/community/black-african-coalition
- Visiting the ASU Black Alumni chapter to support scholarships for students: https://alumni.asu.edu/chapters/asu-black-alumni-chapter
Even if ongoing Black Lives Matter protests don't draw as much media coverage as earlier in the spring, Hassan said it's important for people to keep doing the work of learning about racism and having the conversations.
"Ignoring systemic racism is like ignoring cancer once you have a diagnosis. You may not feel it at the moment, but if unaddressed it will eventually lead to your demise," Hassan said. "Our nation is the most diverse in the world of its size. We must be exemplary in all ways in order to prove to the world that people can collaborate and live peaceably in one nation despite cultural, language and religious differences. In order for us to do that successfully, we must face and uproot our systemic inequalities."
The ASU book list is a place to start — or continue — that work.
Books by ASU authors on the African American experience and race relations
>>>SEARCH: Find these book titles in the ASU Library's special guide.
College of Integrative Sciences and the Arts
- "The Token Black Guide," by Donald Guillory
- "Bastards of the Bayou," by Donald Guillory
- "Colluding, Colliding, and Contending with Norms of Whiteness," by Jennifer Chandler
- "Black Brother, Black Brother," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- "Douglass' Women: A Novel," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- "Ghost Boys," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- "Magic City: A Novel," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- "Ninth Ward," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
- "Sugar ," by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Department of English, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- "My Life with Charles Billups and Martin Luther King: Trauma and the Civil Rights Movement," by Renee Billups Baker and Keith Miller
- "Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution," by Lois Brown
- "Postcolonial Love Poem," by Natalie Diaz
- "Beyond Hashtags: Racial Politics and Black Digital Networks," by Sarah Florini
- "Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents," by Neal Lester
- "Racialized Politics of Desire in Personal Ads," by Neal Lester and Maureen Daly Goggin
- "Watching Slavery: Witness Texts and Travel Reports," by Joe Lockard
- "Racism and Sexism: A Collaborative Study," by Vernon McClean and Cornelia Wells
- "Martin Luther King’s Biblical Epic: His Final, Great Speech," by Keith Miller
- "Voice of Deliverance: The Language of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Its Sources," by Keith Miller
- "Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance," by Ayanna Thompson
- "Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America," by Ayanna Thompson
Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- "Centering Ourselves: African American Feminist and Womanist Studies of Discourse," by Marsha Houston and Olga Idriss Davis
School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- "Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic: Tuskegee, Colonialism and the Shaping of African Industrial Education," by Andrew E. Barnes
- "Religion Around Billie Holiday," by Tracy Fessenden
- "History of African Americans: Exploring Diverse Roots," by Thomas J. Davis
- "Plessy v. Ferguson," by Thomas J. Davis
- "Race Relations in America: A Reference Guide with Primary Documents," by Thomas J. Davis
- "Race Relations in the United States, 1940-1960," by Thomas J. Davis
- "Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South," by Calvin Schermerhorn
- "The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860," by Calvin Schermerhorn
- "Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery," by Calvin Schermerhorn
School of Music, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
- "Music Therapy in a Multicultural Context: A Handbook for Music Therapy Students and Professionals," edited by Melita Belgrave and Seung-A Kim
School of Social Transformation, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- "Black Feminism in Contemporary Drama," by Lisa M. Anderson
- "Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit," by Marlon M. Bailey
- "The Specter of Sex: Gendered Foundations of Racial Formation in the United States," by Sally Kitch
- "From Trafficking to Terror: Constructing a Global Social Problem," by Pardis Mahdavi
- "Lynching: Violence, Rhetoric, and American Identity," by Ersula Ore
- "Cedric J. Robinson: On Racial Capitalism, Black Internationalism, and Cultures of Resistance," by H.L.T. Quan
- "Spatializing Blackness: Architectures of Confinement and Black Masculinity in Chicago," by Rashad Shabazz
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- "Black Men Can’t Shoot," by Scott N. Brooks
- "Working-Class White: The Making and Unmaking of Race Relations," by Monica McDermott
Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
- "Race, Gender, Class and Media: Studying Mass Communication and Multiculturalism," by Sharon Bramlett-Solomon
Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions
W. P. Carey School of Business / Global Sport Institute
- "In Black and White: Race and Sports in America," by Kenneth Shropshire
- "Sport Matters: Leadership, Power and the Quest for Respect in Sports," by Kenneth Shropshire
- "The Miseducation of the Student Athlete: How to Fix College Sports," by Kenneth Shropshire
- "Basketball Jones: America Above the Rim," by Kenneth Shropshire
- "Being Sugar Ray: The Life of Sugar Ray Robinson, America's Greatest Boxer and the First Celebrity Athlete," by Kenneth Shropshire
Barrett, the Honors College
- “Defining Blackness Through Lived Experiences” (Chapter 2, page 20 in "Navigating Borderland Communities in a Monolithic Paradigm"), by Kevin Wright and Brianna Miloz
Hugh Downs School of Human Communication
- " 'I Rose and Found My Voice': Claiming 'Voice' in the Rhetoric of Ida B. Wells," by Olga Idriss Davis (pp. 193–228 in "Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds," edited by K. Waters and C. Conaway)
- "The Kitchen Legacy: The Health Experience of Black Female Slaves in Pre-Emancipatory North America," by Olga Idriss Davis (pp. 234-260 in "Legacy of the Crossing: Life, Death and Triumph Among Descendants of the World’s Largest Forced Migration," edited by T.A. LaVeist)
- "Vigilance and Solidarity in the Rhetoric of the Black Press: The Tulsa Star," by Olga Idriss Davis (pp. 135-154 in "Oppositional Discourses and Democracies," edited by M. Huspek)
School of Politics and Global Studies
- “Slavery in the Fields,” by Daniel Rothenberg (pp. 154-180) in "With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today"
W. P. Carey School of Business / Global Sport Institute
- "Sports and the Racial Divide: African American and Latino Experience in an Era of Change," foreword by Kenneth Shropshire
Top photo from Pixabay