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Books That Matter: Social Issues and Policies

An anti-racist social justice bookshelf that highlights specific books as a way to increase visibility and include everyone!

Social Issues and Policies

This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto by Suketu Mehta

Call Number: JV6465 .M45 2019

ISBN: 9780374276027

Publication Date: 2019

Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants. Mehta juxtaposes the phony narratives of populist ideologues with the ordinary heroism of laborers, nannies, and others, from Dubai to Queens, and explains why more people are on the move today than ever before. As civil strife and climate change reshape large parts of the planet, it is little surprise that borders have become so porous. Impassioned, rigorous, and richly stocked with memorable stories and characters, This Land Is Our Land is a timely and necessary intervention and a literary polemic of the highest order.

Disability Politics and Theory by A. J. Withers

Call Number: HV1568.2 .W58 2012

ISBN: 9781552664735

Publication Date: 2012

An accessible introduction to disability studies, Disability Politics and Theory provides a concise survey of disability history, exploring the concept of disability as it has been conceived from the late 19th century to the present. Further, A.J. Withers examines when, how, and why new categories of disability are created and describes how capitalism benefits from and enforces disabled people’s oppression. Critiquing the model that currently dominates the discipline, the social model of disability, this book offers an alternative: the radical disability model. This model builds on the social model but draws from more recent schools of radical thought, particularly feminism and critical race theory, to emphasize the role of intersecting oppressions in the marginalization of disabled people and the importance of addressing disability both independently and in conjunction with other oppressions. Intertwining theoretical and historical analysis with personal experience this book is a poignant portrayal of disabled people in Canada and the U.S. – and a radical call for social and economic justice.

The Health Gap: the Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot

Call Number: RA418.5.P6 M385 2015

ISBN: 9781632860781

Publication Date: 2015

In a Baltimore inner-city neighborhood, a man's life expectancy is 63; in another neighborhood not far away, it's 83. The same 20-year avoidable disparity exists in nearby neighborhoods of cities around the world. In Sierra Leone, one in 21 fifteen-year-old women will die in her fertile years of a maternal-related cause; in Italy, the figure is one in 17,100; but in the United States, which spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world, it is one in 1,800. Dramatic differences in health are not a simple matter of rich and poor; poverty alone doesn't drive ill health--inequality does. Suicide, heart disease, lung disease, obesity, and diabetes are all linked to social disadvantage. In every country, people at relative social disadvantage suffer health disadvantages and shorter lives. Author Marmot emphasizes that the rate of illness of a society as a whole determines how well it functions: the greater the health inequity, the greater the dysfunction. We have the tools and resources to improve levels of health for individuals and societies around the world, and not to do so would be a form of injustice. 

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong

Call Number: HV1552.3 .D57 2020

ISBN: 9781984899422

Publication Date: 2020

Disability Visibility brings together the voices of activists, authors, lawyers, politicians, artists, and everyday people whose daily lives are, in the words of playwright Neil Marcus, "an art ... an ingenious way to live." According to the last census, one in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some are visible, some are hidden--but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together an urgent, galvanizing collection of personal essays by contemporary disabled writers. This anthology gives a glimpse of the vast richness and complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. 

UNDOCUMENTS by John-Michael Rivera

Call Number: E184.M5 R583 2021

ISBN: 9780816540037

Publication Date: 2021

How do you document the undocumented? UNDOCUMENTS both poses and attempts to answer this complex question by remixing the forms and styles of the first encyclopedia of the New World, the Florentine Codex, in order to tell a modern story of Greater Mexico. Employing a broad range of writing genres and scholarly approaches, UNDOCUMENTS catalogs, recovers, and erases documents and images by and about peoples of Greater Mexico from roughly the first colonial moment. This brave and bracing volume organizes and documents ancient New World Mexican peoples from the Florentine Codex (1592) to our current technology-heavy age, wherein modern lawmakers and powerful global figures desire to classify, deport, and erase immigrants and their experiences.

Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert: La vida no vale nada by Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith, Celestino Fernández, Jessie K. Finch, and Araceli Masterson-Algar

Call Number: JV6475 .M52 2016

ISBN: 9780816532520

Publication Date: 2016

Migrant Deaths in the Arizona Desert addresses the tragic results of government policies on immigration. The contributors consist of a multidisciplinary group who are dedicated to the thousands of men, women, and children who have lost their lives while crossing the desert in search of a better life. Each chapter in this important new volume seeks answers to migrant deaths, speaking to the complexity of this tragedy via a range of community and scholarly approaches. Despite numerous changes in the migration processes and growing attention to the problem, many people who attempt border crossings continue to disappear and die. This book offers a timely exploration of the ways that residents, scholars, activists, and artists are responding to this humanitarian crisis on their doorstep.

The U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region: Cultural Dynamics and Historical Interactions by Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and Josiah Heyman

Call Number: F787 .U67 2017

ISBN: 9780816536269

Publication Date: 2017

The book, influenced by the work of Eric Wolf and senior editor Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, centers on the greater Mexican North/U.S. Southwest, although the geographic range extends farther. This tradition, like other transborder approaches, attends to complex and fluid cultural and linguistic processes, going beyond the classical modern anthropological vision of one people, one culture, and one language. With respect to recent approaches, however, it is more deeply social, focusing on vertical relations of power and horizontal bonds of mutuality. In the final section, Judith Freidenberg draws general lessons from particular case studies, summarizing that “access to valued scarce resources prompts the erection of human differences that get solidified into borders,” dividing and limiting, engendering vulnerabilities, and marginalizing some people.

Border Brokers: Children of Mexican Immigrants Navigating U.S. Society, Laws, and Politics by Christina Getrich

Call Number: JV6600 .G47 2019

ISBN: 9780816541096

Publication Date: 2019


Based on ethnographic fieldwork in San Diego over more than a decade, Border Brokers documents the continuing deleterious effects of U.S. immigration policies and enforcement practices on a group of now young adults and their families. Getrich identifies how these individuals have developed resiliency and agency beginning in their teens to improve circumstances for immigrant communities. Despite the significant constraints their families face, these children have emerged into adulthood as grounded and skilled brokers who effectively use their local knowledge bases, life skills honed in their families, and transborder competencies. Refuting the notion of their failure to assimilate, she highlights the mature, engaged citizenship they model as they transition to adulthood to be perhaps their most enduring contribution to creating a better U.S. society.

Border Spaces: Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Frontera by Katherine G. Morrissey and John-Michael H. Warner

Call Number: N72.S6 B58 2019

ISBN: 9780816539468

Publication Date: 2019

The built environment along the U.S.-Mexico border has long been a hotbed of political and creative action. In this volume, the historically tense region and visually provocative margin—the southwestern United States and northern Mexico—take center stage. From the borderlands perspective, the symbolic importance and visual impact of border spaces resonate deeply. In Border Spaces, Katherine G. Morrissey, John-Michael H. Warner, and other essayists build on the insights of border dwellers, or fronterizos, and draw on two interrelated fields—border art history and border studies. Border Spaces is prompted by art and grounded in an academy ready to consider the connections between art, land, and people in a binational region.

Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms by Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law

Call Number: HV9304 .L389 2021

ISBN: 9781620976975

Publication Date: 2021

Electronic monitoring. Locked-down drug treatment centers. House arrest. Mandated psychiatric treatment. Data-driven surveillance. Extended probation. These are some of the key alternatives held up as cost-effective substitutes for jails and prisons. Maya Schenwar and Victoria Law reveal that many of these so-called reforms actually weave in new strands of punishment and control, bringing new populations who would not otherwise have been subject to imprisonment under physical control by the state. Prison by Any Other Name exposes how a kinder narrative of reform is effectively obscuring an agenda of social control, challenging us to question the ways we replicate the status quo when pursuing change, and offering a bolder vision for truly alternative justice practices.

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson

Call Number: JK1924 .A54 2019b

ISBN: 9781635571394

Publication Date: 2019

With One Person, No Vote, Anderson chronicles a history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Known as the Shelby ruling, this decision effectively allowed districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice. Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping detail, she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.

Tell Me Who You Are: A Road Map for Cultivating Racial Literacy by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi

Call Number: E184.A1 G945 2021

ISBN: 9780593330173

Publication Date: 2021

Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. Spurred by the realization that they had nearly completed high school without hearing any substantive discussion about racism in school, the two young women deferred college admission for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country every day—and often in unexpected ways. In Tell Me Who You Are, Guo and Vulchi reveal the lines that separate us based on race or other perceived differences and how telling our stories—and listening deeply to the stories of others—are the first and most crucial steps we can take towards negating racial inequity in our culture. Featuring interviews with over 150 Americans accompanied by their photographs, this intimate toolkit also offers a deep examination of the seeds of racism and strategies for effecting change.

A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A. Washington

Call Number: GE230 .W37 2019

ISBN: 9780316509435

Publication Date: 2019

From injuries caused by lead poisoning to the devastating effects of atmospheric pollution, infectious disease, and industrial waste, Americans of color are harmed by environmental hazards in staggeringly disproportionate numbers. These deadly environments create another insidious and often overlooked consequence: robbing communities of color, and America as a whole, of intellectual power. Washington takes apart the spurious notion of intelligence as an inherited trait using data that instead point to a different cause of the reported African American-white IQ gap: environmental racism--a confluence of racism and other institutional factors that relegate marginalized communities to living and working near sites of toxic waste, pollution, and insufficient sanitation services. She investigates heavy metals, neurotoxins, deficient prenatal care, bad nutrition, and even pathogens as chief agents influencing intelligence to explain why communities of color are disproportionately affected—and what can be done to remedy this devastating problem.