American Univesity of Beirut

Resources for Thinking About Current Events

​2020 Black Lives Matter Protests

In order help the AUB community understand the current outbreak of protests across the United States, members of the CASAR team have written a dispatch to the community which can be viewed here in its entirety. We encourage you to take a look, and circulate to anyone who is looking for context and resources to help them interpret the contemporary and historical significance of these protests. It is important to proclaim that #BlackLivesMatter everywhere, and to see how the current movement in the US is linked both conceptually and materially to Lebanese and global fights for racial and economic justice. At CASAR we will continue to commit to social justice through our course content, our programming, and our mission.​

Bou Aoun kifala.pngImage credit: Corinne Bou Aoun, Instagram: @corrineba​

Recommended readings/viewings:

1. Elizabeth Hinton, “The Minneapolis Uprising in Context," Boston Review  (May 29, 2020)

Hinton, a professor in Harvard University's History Department and African American Studies Department, places current events in a larger historical perspective. She outlines how the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests are not incidental, but rather a perennial occurrence in the United States. The reason? Political violence. (Available online at Boston Review website)​

2.  Keeanga-Yahmatta Taylor, Commentary for DemocracyNow (May 2020)

Taylor is a scholar, writer, and activist who writes about the inextricably links between race, property, and economic disenfranchisement. She builds connections between working class struggles and anti-racist activism, and shows how the government has long used economic policies to hold back or undermine black social participation and equality. For DemocracyNow, Taylor addresses the financial roots of racism in the context of the current uprising. In the first video, she talks about the uprisings as a class rebellion: In the second video, Taylor addresses the necessity of defunding the police.

3. Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, 2016. Winner of the National Book Award.

This compelling and accessible book investigates how racist ideas informed the very foundation of the United States. Nearly every 'grHow To Be An Antiracist, also comes highly recommended (Available online via AUB libraries)

4. Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, 2016 

The media disproportionately focuses on black rage. Today, too, much of the attention has been on looting, property destruction, and the behavior of protestors. Anderson, a historian, asks us to flip this frame—protests are not an expression of black rage, but a response to white rage. It is white rage that has animated consistent attempts to limit or roll back Black progress in the United States, as she shows by case studies from the Civil War until today.
(Available online via AUB libraries)

5. Angela Y. Davis. Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, 2016

Davis, a political activist, professor, and an icon of the Black Panther Party, illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that "Freedom is a constant struggle."(Available online via AUB libraries)

6. Jesmyn Ward, ed. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Talks About Race, 2016

Jesmyn Ward is a two-time winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, and a luminous voice about Black life in the United States. In this collection, she has amassed some of the best writers of today to respond to James Baldwin's 1963 essays about race in America. The Fire This Time includes both essays and poems, by writers such as Claudia Rankine, Kiese Laymon, and Kevin Young. (Available online via AUB libraries)

​7. Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof," winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Feature Writing

In 2015, Dylann Roof entered a Black church in Charleston, SC and killed 9 parishioners. A white supremacist, Roof hoped his unthinkable act would ignite a race war. Ghansah's profile investigates what made Dylan Roof into a killer. She speaks with his family, teachers, friends, as well as those left devastated by his acts. In the process, Ghansah lays bare important truths about the poison of white supremacy, the influence of online alt-right chat rooms, and the deep roots racism has in U.S. society. (Available online at the GQ website)​

8. Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States Eds. Joe Macare, Maya Schwenwar, and Alana Yu-Ian Price, 2016

What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police.
(Haymarket Books has made the e-book available for free via their website)

9. Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric, 2014 

In this book-length poem, Rankine recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society. An especially powerful segment (see image below) is a two-page poem commemorating the victims of police brutality. With each new printing of the book, the names of new victims are added. One day George Floyd will be there, too. A haunting reminder of structural violence. (Available online at AUB libraries).

10. Ava DuVernay, director. 13th

In this essential documentary, filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States. She examines the economic roots that underlie racism, from slavery until today, before focusing on the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This look into the prison industrial complex is condemning and reveals the myriad ways in which racism is written into the law. (Available for streaming on Netflix)

citizen rankine.png Excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s award-winning volume Citizen: An American Lyric 

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