We at Boneshaker have assembled a short list of readings for those who want to learn about policing in the US and to imagine different worlds, ones where George Floyd would still be alive. Bolded text are hyperlinks.
For a historical context on racism, we recommend From #blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation, an account of the roots of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, and A Good Time for the Truth, an introduction to racism within Minneapolis. We also recommend "A Mask and A Target Cart" and “Minneapolis Had This Coming” for their detailed context on the current Minneapolis uprising.
For sharp, data-driven analyses of how policing has failed in the US, we recommend Our Enemies in Blue, Policing the Planet, When Police Kill, and Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? "A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing" is a shorter online introduction, and the MPD150 report is essential reading about the Minneapolis police.
In addition to the names of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbury, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, and too many more, we #SayHerName: Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd -- and again, too many more. Recognizing that Black women are also uniquely targeted by state violence, we recommend Invisible No More and Color of Violence.
George Floyd was murdered after he lost his job due to the pandemic. Black radicals have always known that healthcare, racism, and revolution are deeply intertwined. We recommend Body and Soul to illuminate the lesser-known fight of the Black Panthers for healthcare.
Justice for George Floyd can only mean abolishing prisons and police. We recommend Are Prisons Obsolete? and The End of Policing as crucial abolitionary texts; and Beyond Survival, Turn this World Inside Out, and free zine What About the Rapists? as ways to radically rethink our relationships to justice. The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by local star Juanada Petrus is a shimmering YA book which braids together prison abolition, healthcare struggles, and queer Black adolescent joy.
Where possible, we have linked below to publisher-provided low-cost or free ebook versions of these books. If you have the means to purchase books from our Bookshop, Boneshaker commits to using 100% of our proceeds from sales of these listed books to buy free books for community members to participate in our Abolition Book Club. We urge you to direct further financial support to the Minneapolis organizations on this list curated by Reclaim the Block: bit.ly/fundthecommunity
Change is coming. Minneapolis schools and parks have terminated their contracts with the MPD. On June 7, a majority of our city council took the historic step of pledging to dismantle the Minneapolis Police. We thank everyone who's showed up since May 25 and the tireless organizing of Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block for bringing us so far. A world without police is within our grasp. Let's keep fighting for it.
Reading lists which inspired this one:
Radical History Review's Reading Towards Abolition: A broad and scholarly list, primarily books.
Minneapolis Uprising Syllabus: Books and articles specifically about Minnesota history.
Abolitionist Futures: An accessible syllabus that comprehensively covers prison abolition, emphasizing free articles and videos.
Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective: A thorough introduction to transformative justice, emphasizing free articles, audio, and video.
We also invite you to peruse these related lists from our bookstore:
Abolish Prisons!: https://bookshop.org/lists/abolish-prisons
Black Radical Thought: https://bookshop.org/lists/black-radical-thought
Transformative Justice: https://bookshop.org/lists/transformative-justice
We want to develop this list in dialogue with our community. Please send any feedback or suggestions to [email protected]
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor$17.95 $16.51
Currently backordered. An ebook is available for $5.99 from Haymarket Books: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/778-from-blacklivesmatter-to-black-liberation
Available! An ebook is available for $4.99 from Kobo or any other ebook distributor: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-good-time-for-the-truth-1
Kristian Williams$22.00 $19.80
Available! An ebook is available for $1.99 from AK Press: https://www.akpress.org/our-enemies-in-blue.html
Currently backordered. An ebook is available for $3.00 from Verso: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2107-policing-the-planet
Franklin E. Zimring$19.95
Available! An ebook is available for FREE from Haymarket Books: https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/952-who-do-you-serve-who-do-you-protect
Andrea Ritchie$21.00 $18.90
Available! Available online for FREE: https://manifold.umn.edu/projects/body-and-soul
Angela Y. Davis$15.95 $14.67
Currently backordered. An ebook is available for $5.98 from Seven Stories: https://www.sevenstories.com/books/2907-are-prisons-obsolete
Alex S. Vitale$17.95 $16.51
Currently backordered. An ebook is available for $3.00 from Verso: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2426-the-end-of-policing
Available! An ebook is available for $1.99 from AK Press: https://www.akpress.org/beyond-survival-e-book.html
Nora Samaran$15.00 $13.80
Available! An ebook is available for $1.99 from AK Press: https://www.akpress.org/turn-this-world-inside-out-e-book.html
Junauda Petrus$9.99 $9.19
Paperback currently backordered, hardcover available.
Header image by Jason Armond / Getty Images