Black History Month 2023: Celebrating Black resistance

What does it mean to resist?

For Black History Month 2023, we consider this year’s theme, “Black Resistance.” Resistance can look like many things: like a hashtag, a sit-in, or a protest; or like all these methods combined. Explore several MIT Press titles on Black resistance and resilience below.

Cover of #HashtagActivism, featuring 5 hashtags in red, blue, orange, black, and pink.

#HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice by Sarah J. Jackson, Moya Bailey and Brooke Foucault Welles

The power of hashtag activism became clear in 2011, when #IranElection served as an organizing tool for Iranians protesting a disputed election and offered a global audience a front-row seat to a nascent revolution. Since then, activists have used a variety of hashtags, including #JusticeForTrayvon, #BlackLivesMatter, #YesAllWomen, and #MeToo to advocate, mobilize, and communicate. In this book, Sarah Jackson, Moya Bailey, and Brooke Foucault Welles explore how and why Twitter has become an important platform for historically disenfranchised populations, including Black Americans, women, and transgender people. They show how marginalized groups, long excluded from elite media spaces, have used Twitter hashtags to advance counternarratives, preempt political spin, and build diverse networks of dissent.

Cover of Power On!, featuring comic drawings of young people holding up their fists in the air at the top of the cover; the bottom showing a group of 4 young people looking animatedly at one another, gathered around a laptop.

Power On! by Jean J. Ryoo and Jane Margolis

This lively graphic novel follows a diverse group of teenage friends as they discover that computing can be fun, creative, and empowering. Taylor, Christine, Antonio, and Jon seem like typical young teens—they communicate via endless texting, they share jokes, they worry about starting high school, and they have each other’s backs. But when a racially-biased artificial intelligence system causes harm in their neighborhood, they suddenly realize that tech isn’t as neutral as they thought it was. But can an algorithm be racist? And what is an algorithm, anyway?

Cover of #You Know You're Black in France When..., featuring a headshot of a Black person from the shoulders up looking up toward the sky. They wear a gold crown made of miniature Eiffel Towers.

#You Know You’re Black in France When…: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness by Trica Keaton

What does it mean to be racialized-as-black in France on a daily basis? This study responds to that question. Under the banner of universalism, France messages a powerful and seductive ideology of blindness to race that disappears blackened people and the antiblackness they experience. As Keaton notes, in everyday life, France is anything but raceblind.

Cover of Still Black, Still Strong, featuring four lines of newsprint text in white text on a black background. A drawing of a crouching black panther sits at the center in a blue circle.

Still Black, Still Strong: Survivors of the U.S. War Against Black Revolutionaries by Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal

Distributed for Semiotext(e)

Still Black, Still Strong is partly based upon the 1989 videotape Framing The Panthers by producers Chris Bratton and Annie Goldson. It recounts the stories of Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur, all of whom were arrested and jailed during the COINTELPRO probe of the Black Panther Party. Bin Wahad, Shakur and Abu-Jamal offer a little-known history and an incisive analysis of the Black Panthers’ original goals, which the U.S. Government has tried to distort and suppress. As one confidential, 1969, memo to J. Edgar Hoover put it, “The Negro youth and moderates must be made to understand that if they succumb to revolutionary teaching, they will be dead revolutionaries.”

Cover of Knowledge Justice, featuring an image of a greyish-green cement-like abstract wall.

Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory edited by Sofia Y. Leung and Jorge R. López-McKnight

In Knowledge Justice, Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Color scholars use critical race theory (CRT) to challenge the foundational principles, values, and assumptions of Library and Information Science and Studies (LIS) in the United States. They propel CRT to center stage in LIS, to push the profession to understand and reckon with how white supremacy affects practices, services, curriculum, spaces, and policies.

Cover of 50 Years Since MLK, featuring an old photograph of a crowd of young Black people, a young Black woman with her mouth open at the front of the group.

Fifty Years Since MLK edited by Brandon Terry

Distributed for Boston Review / Forum

Since his death on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King’s legacy has influenced generations of activism. Edited and with a lead essay by Brandon Terry, this 2018 volume explores what this legacy can and cannot do for activism in the present. With a critical eye on both the past and present, this collection of essays explores that moment of promise, and how, in the fifty years since King’s death, historical forces have shaped what we claim as a usable past in fighting the injustices of our time. Contributors include Christian G. Appy, Andrew Douglas, Bernard E. Harcourt, Elizabeth Hinton, Samuel Moyn, Ed Pavlić, Aziz Rana, Barbara Ransby, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Brandon M. Terry, Jeanne Theoharis, and Thad Williamson.

Cover of The Vanishing Middle Class, featuring the title against a black background. The word "Middle" is written in a grey sans serif text, while the rest of the title is written in white sans serif.

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy by Peter Temin

The United States is becoming a nation of rich and poor, with few families in the middle. In this book, MIT economist Peter Temin offers an illuminating way to look at the vanishing middle class. Temin argues that American history and politics, particularly slavery and its aftermath, play an important part in the widening gap between rich and poor. Temin employs a well-known, simple model of a dual economy to examine the dynamics of the rich/poor divide in America, and outlines ways to work toward greater equality so that America will no longer have one economy for the rich and one for the poor.

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