The best books about social justice (that you may not ever have heard about)

Marc Dollinger Author Of Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s
By Marc Dollinger

The Books I Picked & Why

Justice Delayed: The Record of the Japanese American Internment Cases

By Peter Irons

Justice Delayed: The Record of the Japanese American Internment Cases

Why this book?

Peter Irons, at attorney, investigated the incarceration of US citizens of Japanese descent during World War II. He became so upset that he devoted his own legal career to securing a rare Supreme Court reversal of its infamous Korematsu decision. This book tells that story.


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Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia

By Gerald W. Mullin

Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia

Why this book?

A classic, this book was one of the first to challenge prevailing white attitudes about the assimilation and acculturation of Africans and African Americans to life under slavery. Mullin describes how greater levels of assimilation translated into more effective means of protest.


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Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

By William Henry Chafe

Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

Why this book?

By investigating what white liberal Greensboro meant with the word “civility” against what black activists meant by “civil rights,” Chafe dives deep into the limits of white liberalism, undermining the claim that civil rights could be achieved by following a slow, southern, and civil, approach.


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The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America

By Stephen Steinberg

The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity, and Class in America

Why this book?

While many celebrated the ethnic revival of the 1960s and the social justice causes that grew from them, Steinberg offers a powerful and challenging thesis that argues the limits of ethnicity. A sense of ethnic re-birth, he argues, can only occur once ethnicity is gone. Rather than empowering a new generation of social justice youth, ethnicity proves a myth.


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The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics

By George Lipsitz

The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics

Why this book?

Another classic, Lipsitz’s book turns so many white-centered social justice assumptions on their heads. In chapters that explore incidents well known in American popular culture, and a 20th-anniversary edition that brings his subject to the current day, Lipsitz offers a much-needed correction to well-meaning social justice advocates.


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