Social Justice Book Group

When things get rough we turn to books for the lessons our ancestors and elders left for future generations. We study where to begin, from where to pick up, and how to keep from repeating past mistakes. Theory is meant to be read and discussed in community - so different perspectives are shared, so language can be better understood (or evolve) and to imagine together how we can grow and build and fight. Yes, what is generally accepted as theory can often be dense and intimidating, but the purpose of this book group is to tackle some of these books together as well as to shift what books are defined as theory. The topics are decolonization, radical Black feminisms, Black liberation, Indigenous liberation, Indiginizing climate justice, PIC abolition, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism. This is a book group, a study group, and a call to action.

We meet virtually the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. We plan to stay virtual to allow more people the opportunity to attend and to practice safety in what seems to be a never ending pandemic. If you want to be a part of this book club but cannot afford to purchase the book OR if you would like to purchase a copy for someone else, email Ari at: (for questions & zoom link too). All book club purchases are 10% off and 20% off for members.

Staff Pick Badge
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (Gender and American Culture) By Barbara Ransby Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807856161
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: University of North Carolina Press - February 28th, 2005

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Ella Baker & the Black Freedom Movement by Barbara Ransby discussion Monday, December 12, 2022 at 7 PM

This is an organizers BIBLE, okay? What you think you know about the civil rights movement and who gets the credit is wrong if you don't know Ella Baker or if you think she was just somebody's secretary. We should have been taking Ella's lead this whole time - her rejection of cult of personality, her dedication to poor Black southerners at the center of struggle, her commitment to developing well-rounded organizers who understood the importance of collective action over individualism. What an incredible woman that you were not educated about! This book is a staple. It's required reading. 

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Black Marxism, Revised and Updated Third Edition: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition By Cedric J. Robinson, Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword by), Tiffany Willoughby-Herard (Preface by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469663722
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: University of North Carolina Press - February 1st, 2021

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Black Marxism by Cedric J. Robinson discussion on Monday, January 9, 2023 at 7 PM

This is the first book of next year because, by this time, all the books we've read before this point will have given us a decent enough vocabulary and helped us to shed some antiBlackness enough to grapple with this text. It's a dense one, so we'll only be reading a few chapters. But it's a must-read for anyone who considers themselves a Marxist or wants a better grasp on the Black Radical Tradition. Robinson goes hard on Marx and his lack of perspective. He advocates us to think beyond Marx and to center the diasporic, Black Afrikan experience over some white guy who came up with a solid analysis that didn't include or consider people who are not white and living in Europe and depending on industrialization. 

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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa By Walter Rodney, Angela Davis (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Walter Rodney, Angela Davis (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781788731188
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Verso - November 27th, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney discussion on Monday, November 14, 2022 at 7 PM

The discussions around Africa and "3rd world countries" and their lack of "development" are usually not only racist and imperialist, they tend to completely ignore Europe's hand in destabilizing entire countries and halting their progress and development. Don't think much more needs to be said that the title doesn't explain. We're reading this to shed some of our own racist beliefs and eliminate the disconnect between imperialism, capitalism, and racism. 

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Anarchism and the Black Revolution: The Definitive Edition (Black Critique) By Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, William C. Anderson (Foreword by), Joy James (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, William C. Anderson (Foreword by), Joy James (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780745345819
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Pluto Press - October 20th, 2021

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  Anarchism & the Black Revolution by Lorenzo Kom'Boa Ervin discussion on Monday, September 12, 2022

First of all, people get real uncomfortable with anarchism and that's ridiculous because they don't even know anything about it or what they do know they learned from Batman or some self-obsessed, hyper-individualist white boy who likes chaos. That's nihilsm, okay? Cool. Never have I ever been so excited for a book to come back into print. And this one is SO timely when we're considering new ways to move and referencing the knowledge of our elders. Many people reference the Black Panther Party but it's incredibly rare that they actually read the published work of ex-Panthers. They do not read former Panther critiques and the changes that they would incorporate if they were to do it all over again. We have to study the elders and allow the lessons they learned to guide us in the work. We cannot allow ourselves to continue in this cycle of doing the same things over and over again prayin, hopin, and wishin for new results. 

Staff Pick Badge
Women, Race & Class By Angela Y. Davis Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394713519
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Vintage - February 12th, 1983

 ***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis discussion Monday, August 8, 2022 

When Angela was a member of the Communist Party (no, she was not a Black Panther, she was an honorary member) she dealt with a lot of white men who told her that the only struggle was class struggle. But, being a queer, Black woman in America she knew too well that class is not all there is - especially in a white supremacist settler colonial state where racial capitalism was created. Angela, like most Black people, knew that Marx's analysis was extremely limited to his experience as a white, cis man in Europe - especially since he didn't even see the Afrikan slave as a person. So, we read Angela's take to get a based understanding of class analysis. We don't need to ever center white men in our study. 

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The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century By Grace Lee Boggs, Scott Kurashige, Danny Glover (Foreword by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780520272590
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: University of California Press - May 31st, 2012

 ***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** The Next American Revolution by Grace Lee Boggs discussion on Monday, June 13, 2022 

Boggs was an activist icon. Studying the words of activists with history & experience is crucial to keep from reinventing the wheel over and over again. It's the only way we can move forward. Study elders & ancestors and accept that you are not so special that you'll come up with the solutions on your own. 

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Border and Rule: Global Migration, Capitalism, and the Rise of Racist Nationalism By Harsha Walia, Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword by), Nick Estes (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Harsha Walia, Robin D. G. Kelley (Foreword by), Nick Estes (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781642592696
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Haymarket Books - February 9th, 2021

 ***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Border & Rule by Harsha Walia discussion on Monday, July 11, 2022 

When we discuss social justcie we have to talk about these FAKE, IMAGINARY BORDERS that are so incredibly actively harmful to living people. Imperialism is a death sentence to many and a poison to our minds. Harsha rally helps to break it all down and makes necessary connections to borders and racist nationalism (white men with tiki torches & anti-muslim/anti-Black behavior). 

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Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution By Laurent DuBois Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674018266
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Belknap Press - October 1st, 2005

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Avengers of the New World by Laurent DuBois discussion on Monday, May 9, 2022

What you don't know about the Haitian Revolution is a lot. And that's because white supremacy doesn't really have much interest in celebrating the first and only succesful slave rebellion in history. The Haitian revolution is such an incredible case study on what Black liberation and revolution can look like. The way that the majority of Afrikan slaves involved continued to reject anything less than total freedom and autonomy is so inspiring. The end of the revolution also comes with lessons on the systems and practices we have to reject in order to not recreate the same violent institutions over again. 

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Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot By Mikki Kendall Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525560562
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Penguin Books - February 23rd, 2021

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Hood Feminism discussion on Monday, April 11, 2022 

 We talk a lot about feminism, but not enough about who the feminist movement excludes. Those of us who are not cis white women know from experience. We are also very aware that the feminist movement - though it took a lot of strategy & foundational definitions from non-white groups & cultures - was never actually meant for us. So, reading texts that reject & reverse the practice of excluding & silencing non-cisgendered, non-white women is crucial to us grasping radical feminisms as opposed to feminisms whose goal it is to become "equal to white men". We're not trying to be white men when white, cis-hetero, patriarchal supremacy is the literal problem. We can do better than white feminists, Okay? 

How We Go Home: Voices from Indigenous North America (Voice of Witness) By Sara Sinclair (Editor) Cover Image
By Sara Sinclair (Editor)
ISBN: 9781642592719
Published: Haymarket Books - October 13th, 2020

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** How We Go Home Edited by Sara Sinclair discussion Monday, March 14, 2022 

Last year we read a book on Indigenizing our conversations and understandings of climate struggle. this year we are centering the voices of Indigenous people as we continue our discussion on decolonization and rejecting the erasure and contniued genocide of Indigenous people & Turtle Island. 

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The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 By Rashid Khalidi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250787651
Published: Picador - January 26th, 2021

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** The Hundred Years'  War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi discussion February 14, 2022


Palestine must be free. Palestine WILL be free. And Palestine gets closer to becoming free every time people take the time to learn its history. Many confuse an aversion to Zionism with anti-semitism. But they are two very different things. And we refuse to be silenced on Palestine and the ethnic cleansing of its children because some people don't know and refuse to educate themselves on that difference. Hop in, we're learning actual facts and not allowing ignorance to hold us back from the world we deserve. We're developing ACTUAL, ROBUST political analyses, okay? 

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity By Julia Serano Cover Image
ISBN: 9781580056229
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Seal Press - March 8th, 2016

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Whipping Girl by Julia Serano discussion January 10, 2022

Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It By Shane Burley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781849352949
Published: AK Press - November 28th, 2017

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Fascism Today by Shane Burley discussion Monday November 8, 2021 


As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock By Dina Gilio-Whitaker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807028360
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Beacon Press - March 31st, 2020

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  As Long As Grass Grows by Dino Gilio-Whitaker discussion Monday October 18, 2021

Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880 By W. E. B. Du Bois, David Levering Lewis (Introduction by) Cover Image
By W. E. B. Du Bois, David Levering Lewis (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780684856575
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: Free Press - December 1st, 1999

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  September 13, 2021

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  Discussion Monday, August 9, 2021

The Wretched of the Earth By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator), Homi K. Bhabha (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Frantz Fanon, Richard Philcox (Translator), Homi K. Bhabha (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780802141323
Published: Grove Press - March 12th, 2005

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Monday July 12, 2021 via zoom.
Email for notes

What Color Is Your Hoodie? By Jarrett Neal Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937627225
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Chelsea Station Editions - September 10th, 2015

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***What Color Is Your Hoodie? Sunday, September 20, 2020 via Zoom

An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago By Alex Kotlowitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804170918
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Anchor - March 31st, 2020

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, August 22, 2020 via Zoom

The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America's Law Enforcement By Matthew Horace Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316440097
Published: Legacy Lit - August 6th, 2019

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, July 19, 2020 via Zoom

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side By Eve L. Ewing Cover Image
ISBN: 9780226526164
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: University of Chicago Press - April 10th, 2020

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, June 21, 2020 via Zoom

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes By Dan Egan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393355550
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 10th, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, May 17, 2020

Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago By Linda Gartz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631523205
Published: She Writes Press - April 3rd, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION***  Sunday, April 19, 2020 via Zoom

How to Read the Constitution--and Why (Legal Expert Series) By Kim Wehle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062896308
Published: Harper Paperbacks - June 25th, 2019

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

Kindred By Octavia Butler Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807083697
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Beacon Press - February 1st, 2004

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, October 20, 2019 


Sick: A Memoir By Porochista Khakpour Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062428738
Availability: On our shelves recently
Published: Harper Perennial - June 5th, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, September 15, 2019 

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities By Rebecca Solnit Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608465767
Published: Haymarket Books - March 15th, 2016

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, August 18, 2019 

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America By Jill Leovy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385529990
Published: One World - October 27th, 2015

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, July 21, 2019

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America By Ari Berman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250094728
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2016

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, June 23, 2019

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back By Elisabeth Rosenthal Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143110859
Published: Penguin Books - March 13th, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, May 19, 2019 

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America By Ibram X. Kendi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781568585987
Published: Bold Type Books - August 15th, 2017

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, February 17, 2019

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism By Dr. Robin DiAngelo, Michael Eric Dyson (Foreword by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807047415
Availability: We can order this for you!
Published: Beacon Press - June 26th, 2018

***PREVIOUS SELECTION*** Sunday, January 20, 2019