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Racial Capitalism: A Reading List

In the midst of an international pandemic and an economic crisis, a powerful anti-racist movement has spread across the world, demanding the defunding, disarming, and abolition of police and, in many cases, situating those aims in a critique and rejection of racial capitalism. In an effort to help arm this important movement with ideas and analysis that can help bolster its demands, we've put together this reading list on the historical development and dynamics of racial capitalism, as well as examples of resistance.

All of these books are currently 30% off.

In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.

How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is a classic study of the intersection of racism and class in the United States. It has become a standard text for courses in American politics and history, and has been central to the education of thousands of political activists since the 1980s. This edition is prsented with a new foreword by Leith Mullings.

In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.

A compelling case for reparations based on powerful, first person accounts detailing both the horrors of slavery and past promises made to its survivors.

A perfect introduction to one of the most influential figures in the fields of post-colonial studies, critical theory, and Marxism.

The Combahee River Collective, a path-breaking group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the antiracist and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection of essays and interviews edited by activist-scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to Black feminism and its impact on today’s struggles.

Racism is about more than individual prejudice. And it is hardly the relic of a past era. This scholarly, readable, and provocative book shows how the persistence of racism in America relies on the changing interests of those who hold the real power in society and use every possible means to hold onto it.

In this groundbreaking study David McNally reveals the true story of money’s origins and development as one of violence and human bondage. Money’s emergence and its transformation are shown to be intimately connected to the buying and selling of slaves and the waging of war. Blood and Money demonstrates the ways that money has “internalized” its violent origins, making clear that it has become a concentrated force of social power and domination. Where Adam Smith observed that monetary wealth represents “command over labor,” this paradigm shifting book amends his view to define money as comprising the command over persons and their bodies.

This sweeping look at the history and politics of the US child welfare system exposes the racist system—from the “orphan trains” and Indian boarding schools to current practices in child protective investigations, foster care, and mandated services—arguing that it constitutes a mechanism of control exerted over poor and working-class parents and children. Don Lash reveals the system’s role in the regulation of family life under capitalism and details the deep and continuing consequences of what happens “when the welfare people come.” Including first-person vignettes of parents, children, and workers in the US child protection system, Lash also offers practical and cogent ideas for its improvement and transformation.

C. L. R. James was one of the most influential Marxists of his generation. His important contributions ranged from the subjects of Black liberation to contemporary philosophy and even touched on the anticolonial potential of cricket. In this collection of hard-to-find articles and essays, his towering intellect and engaging style touch on a diverse array of topics.

Detroit: I Do Mind Dying tracks the extraordinary development of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers as they became two of the landmark political organizations of the 1960s and 1970s. It is widely heralded as one the most important books on the black liberation movement.

In this classic account, historian Philip Foner traces the radical history of Black workers’ contribution to the American labor movement.

In an era of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In My People Are Rising, he traces the course of his own radicalization, and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.

In this gripping political biography—the first written in English—Mike Gonzalez introduces readers to the inspiring life and thought of the Peruvian socialist José Carlos Mariátegui. As one of the first modern thinkers to discuss what Marxism has to offer, and to learn from, the struggles of Indigenous peoples, his ideas have an immediate relevance in the context of Standing Rock and other native-led fights challenging pipelines across North America.

A piercing historical explanation for poverty and inequality in African societies today, and social impact of resource-driven growth.

For as long as there have been rich nations and poor nations, debt has been a powerful force for maintaining the unequal relations between them. Treated as sacrosanct, immutable, and eternally binding, it has become the yoke of choice for imperial powers in the post-colonial world to enforce their dominance over the global south. In this ground-breaking history, renowned economist Éric Toussaint argues for a radical reversal of this balance of accounts through the repudiation of sovereign debt.

In this critical new work, sociologist William I. Robinson offers an engaging and accessible introduction to his theory of global capitalism. He applies this theory to a wide range of contemporary topics, among them, globalization, the trans-national capitalist class, immigrant justice, educational reform, labor and anti-racist struggles, and the rise of a global police state. 

Collecting, for the first time, source materials from a diverse array of writers and organizers, this reader provides a new perspective on the complex history of revolutionary debates about fighting anti-Black racism. Contextual material from the editor places each contribution in its historical and political setting, making this volume ideal for both scholars and activists.

Black Toldeo is a documentary history of the African American experience of resettlement focusing on the particular experience of Toledo, Ohio.

"In The American Road to Capitalism, Charles Post offers a brilliant reinterpretation of the origins and diverging paths of economic evolution in the American north and south. The first systematic historical materialist account of US development from the colonial period through the civil war in a very long time, it is sure to be received as a landmark contribution." ––Robert Brenner

An engaging, wide-ranging, and groundbreaking reexamination of the relationship between African American writers and the communist movement in the US.

The two founding texts of the analysis of capitalism and imperialism in one volume, with annotation.

For further reading, check out Haymarket Books on the Struggle for Black Liberation and Socialism 101: A Reading List

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