Some Jewish sources
There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law & Tradition, by Rabbi Jill Jacobs
How can we apply classic Jewish texts to today's pressing social issues? What obligations do we have as Jews to care for poor people, the homeless, abused employees, sick people, the environment, people who do wrong? A great introduction to fundamental Jewish ideas about social justice
Justice in the City: An Argument from the Sources of Rabbinic Judaism, by Aryeh Cohen
Cohen argues that classic rabbinic ethical insights compel Jews to create in our cities communities of obligation. Another good book for people beginning to read basic Jewish texts about social justice.
Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change, by David Jaffe
How the wisdom of the Jewish tradition can help us build the inner traits of trust, patience, and compassion that will make our difficult and tiring progressive political work sustainable. A practical guide with exercises, mediations, and discussion points. A Jewish recipe to build your soul and save your sanity.
Criminal Justice Reform
when they call you a terrorist: a black lives matter memoir, by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
Feminist and civil right activist Patrisse writes about her childhood and adolescence in a poor Los Angles neighborhood. She tells us what led her to co-found Black Lives Matter and what happened next.
Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, by Emily Bazelon
Bazelon shows how the power and lack of accountability of county prosecutors has reduced fairness in the U.S. criminal justice system. She describes how can we reform prosecutors' behavior step by step.
Angels with Dirty Faces by Walidah Imarisha
Imarisha takes us into the lives of two incarcerated people who did terrible harm and asks "Now what?". What might redemption look like?
Start Here: A Roadmap to Reducing Mass Incarceration, by Greg Berman
Berman lists recent U.S. city and state reforms in criminal justice that both political conservatives and liberals have supported. For example, experiments in diversion away from jail toward medical treatment, community-run restorative justice agencies that replace punishment, and eliminating bail. Because these experiments have appealed to both thrifty conservatives and compassionate liberals in a variety of states, progressives might succeed in introducing them to their own communities.
Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform, by John Pfaff
Pfaff's empirical project shows that more people got locked up in the 1980's and 1990's mainly because county prosecutors changed their behavior. They sought and won higher charges and longer sentences. Prosecutors can build their political careers by running "tough on crime". County voters don't pay the price of their prosecutors' severity, because people convicted on those higher charges go to state prison, not county jail. This book supports the electoral strategy to focus on county DAs and replace them with progressives.
Chokehold: Policing Black Men, by Paul Butler
African-American D.C. prosecutor Paul Butler believed in the integrity of the police and the courts until he himself was wrongfully accused of a crime. He saw police officers he had trusted lie on the stand. This experience shook him to the core. He quit the D.A.'s office and now teaches law at Georgetown University. An insider's view of which criminal-justice reforms should be our top priorities.
The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in Amierica's Law Enforcement, by Matthew Horace
Horace is an African-American author who worked for 28 years as a law enforcement officer, in federal and local agencies, in nearly every U.S. state. He discuess in detail many of our most infamous recent police shootings. He reveals the racism, violence, and tribalism inside law enforcement agencies that drive the anger of people of color who are being inexcusably abused.
American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment, by Shane Bauer
Bauer got a job as a prison guard in a privately-owned, for-profit prison in a poor town in Louisiana. He kept a journal about his daily experiences with his poorly educated co-workers, with the inmates--deprived of decent food, books, medical care--and the slow poisoning of his own personality. It reads like a thriller. The cruelty is appalling.
Dismantling White Supremacy
Me And White Supremacy: The Workbook, by Layla F. Saad
An unusual, psychologically deft way for white people to begin to see their white privilege and feel "activated" to challenge our oppressive system of white supremacy. Available: https://laylafsaad.com/meandwhitesupremacy-workbook
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo
Discusses white people's counterproductive reactions when someone challenges their assumptions about race, and how those reactions maintain white supremacy.
Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan
This statistical project purports to show that nonviolent campaigns succeed in overthrowing oppressive regimes more often than armed struggle. What is most valuable about the book are the case studies of creative, nonviolent campaigns from all over the world, using techniques, tactics, and strategies that you might not have considered.
- The Politics of Nonviolent Action, in three volumes, b
- y Gene Sharp
Start with Volume Two: The Methods of Nonviolent Action. This book aims to be a complete list of every method every tried by nonviolent political activists, each method illustrated with at last one historical example: skywriting, mock funerals, sex boycotts, false documents, guerrilla theater, flipping opponents' employees, tax strikes.... Sharp has keen insight into the psychology behind continued, mass compliance and how we can weaken those habits. Fascinating, widely admired.
The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Gripping novel for young and adult readers, about an African-American girl in a mostly white high school who witnesses the police shoot an African-American boy. Teenage readers say it brilliantly captures high school life and teenage racial tensions.
- Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, edited by Adrienne Maree Brown and Walidah Imarisha
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
For middle school readers and older. Two Mexican-American boys in Texas discover the power of their friendship. Authentic teenage Latino dialogue and struggle.
Scholarly Articles Readable by All
- "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics" by Kimberle Crenshaw. University of Chicago Legal Forum, Vol. 1989, Issue 1, Article 8. Crenshaw invented the word "intersectionality" in this article, building on the insights of Black feminist scholars who published before her. In clear prose, she makes plain the urgency of recognizing and acting on intersectional oppressions. Available at: http://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/uclf/vol1989
- "Does 'Ban the Box' Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Workers?" by Jennifer L. Doleac and Benjamin Hansen.
Economic researchers give us lousy news about "Ban the Box" laws. Legislation to help convicts find jobs after release from prison is associated with reduced job-finding prospects for non-offending black and Latino young men without college degrees. We need new ideas and determination to end racial discrimination by employers. Available at: https://www.nber.org/digest/oct16/w22469.html
Movies, Television, Videos
- Dismantling Racism
A rich Web site: http://www.dismantlingracism.org/
- Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo (2017)
Introduction to what "white privilege" means and why white people must dismantle it. Available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwIx3KQer54
- Showing Up for Racial Justice at Sacred Heart, in San Jose
Collection of educational resources about race and class for activists : https://www.surjatsacredheart.org/resources
- The Redemption Project with Van Jones (2019)
CNN on Sundays at 9pm Pacific Time. You may also find it on streaming services such as Netflix, Vudu, or Amazon. Jones takes us inside U.S. prisons to see incarcerated people meet face-to-face with the people they hurt terribly. Deeply moving chance to watch restorative justice in action. Learn more: https://edition.cnn.com/shows/redemption-project-van-jones
- Crime+Punishment (2018)
A documentary: a group of young NYPD police officers blow the whistle on arrest quotas in their police department. Their supervisors told them to boost their arrest numbers by going out and arresting more young, black men.
- 13th (2016)
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits slavery, except as punishment for a crime. Director Ava DuVernay shows the connections between plantation slavery, convict leasing during Jim Crow, and modern mass incarceration with a close look at the "Angola Prison" in Louisiana, still farmed by coerced, unpaid, African-American men.