From Roots to Black People in Britain: 10 key political texts on black consciousness

How the lessons of injustice were drawn from centuries of slavery and colonialism

We are living through something of a Baldwin renaissance, in large part thanks to Raoul Peck’s brilliant documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Any number of Baldwin’s books might earn a place on this list, but The Fire Next Time stands out. Consisting of two essays, one addressed to Baldwin’s nephew, it is a passionate and visceral plea to black and white America. It is the only document I know of that expresses the civil rights case as eloquently as the speeches of Martin Luther King.

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The Fear and the Freedom by Keith Lowe – the moral surprises of the second world war

A highly readable and startling history uses individual testimonies to strip away the layers of myth and misunderstanding that surround this devastating conflictFour generations have been born since the end of the second world war. The infants of today – “Generation Z” in demography-speak – are the great-great-grandchildren of the wartime generation. Since the defeat of Germany and the capitulation of Japan, countless terrible conflicts have been fought, and tens of millions have died in them. Indeed the numbers killed in wars since 1945 will, in the coming decades, inevitably exceed the death toll of the second world war. Yet even as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, and as 1945 slowly slips beyond living memory, it remains the case that when we talk about “the war”, everyone understands that we are referring to the calamitous conflict of 1939-45. The borders between numerous nations, the widespread acceptance of ...

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X Kendi – review

Even abolitionists don’t emerge unscathed from a fearless, brilliant history of racist thinking spanning 500 yearsThere are passages in Stamped from the Beginning that could serve as an obituary to the myth of post-racial America; that fanciful and woefully ahistorical delusion that flowered, briefly, during the early months of Barack Obama’s first term. Ibram X Kendi’s new book, written during Obama’s second term, places that moment within a broad and sobering historical context. Spanning five centuries of racist thought, Stamped from the Beginning both begins and ends with passionate denouncements and dissections of the entrenched inequality, structural racism and racial violence that disfigure contemporary America. How could it not? During the book’s gestation, Trayvon Martin was shot dead, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray were all killed at the hands of the police and the “Charleston nine” were murdered by a white supremacist terrorist. Continue reading...