Racial Justice Educational Resources

This is not an exhaustive list of resources on racial justice but a few recommendations by members of the SMC Community, most notably from Professor Lorrie Smith, Ph.D. who has taught numerous English and American Studies courses on African-American and black authors over her 30+ year career. Two articles below highlight Fr. Maurice Ouellet, SSE ’48 and the Edmundites support of the black community in Selma during Bloody Sunday and the Civil Rights Movement. 

We invite you to share your recommendations by emailing alumni@smcvt.edu.


Dear Saint Michael’s Community,

I don’t need to tell you that we’re living in an extraordinary time, with challenges and changes happening so quickly on so many fronts that it’s hard to make sense of it all.  The widespread protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd have brought long-standing inequities and patterns of racial violence to light and have moved Americans across cultures to stand up and say “Enough. No More.”  One thing I’ve heard many white folks, in particular, ask is “What can I do?”  It’s my belief that one of the most powerful things we can do at this moment is to educate ourselves about the history that has led us to this moment.  As a teacher of literature, I believe that reading is, in fact, a form of engaged action and transformation.

When I was 20 years old, I stumbled upon Toni Morrison’s novel, Sula, and I was shaken to my core by the majesty and truthfulness of her prose.  Since then, I have had the enormous privilege of teaching African American Literature (and related courses on race and racism and history) for over 30 years. I came to this as a beginner with much to learn, and it has been a humbling and enriching journey.  It has taken me to Ghana for study tours and Mississippi to explore the origins of the blues; it has challenged me to teach rap lyrics as poetry; it has led to amazing collaborations with black colleagues who have taught me so much–Dr. Dorothy Williams, Kyle Dodson, Dr. Traci Griffith, Dr. Kathryn Dungy, Moise St. Louis.  I have also had the privilege of working with students—many of you, no doubt!–hungry for this knowledge and open to challenging assumptions and expanding their understanding of the world.  Always at the center of this journey has been the beautiful tradition of black writing in all its diverse forms and styles.  Since I started teaching, the field of African American poetry, fiction, film, drama, and history has exploded.  This is not a marginal or separate tradition to be relegated to a single unit, some token writers, or one month a year.  This is fundamentally American literature that belongs to all of us.  Quite simply, our understanding of American society and history is skewed and incomplete if it does not include this tradition.

So at this crucial moment in our history, I invite you to embark on this journey for yourself.  We offer just a sampling of possibilities. I encourage you to just jump in anywhere, listening to what calls to you.  Find others to talk to about what you read.  Start a book group. Follow links and footnotes. Suggest readings to your friends.  Writing by African Americans and others addressing the deep and pervasive history of racism offers necessary and inspiring perspectives that help us make sense of this time.

This coming semester will be my last at Saint Michael’s, and I’ll be teaching a new version of African American Literature based on the NY Times’ “1619 Project.”  I’m hopeful that at this crucial moment so many people are listening to black voices and reading black writers. Truly, as James Baldwin wrote, “If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.”   I wish you all a fruitful exploration of this important body of writing, and I invite you to write to me any time with your thoughts or your own suggestions!

Professor Lorrie Smith
Saint Michael’s College English Department

Nonfiction Books

The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin

White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism – Robin DiAngelo
(Read and discussed by members of the SMC Community in January/February 2020)

How to be Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America – Ibram X. Kendi

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson, Ph.D.

American Lynching – Ashraf H.A. Rushdy

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century – Dorothy E. Roberts

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think and Do – Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Ph.D.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
(a film adaptation was released in 2019)

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

Between the World and Me, and We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Slavery by Another Name – Douglas Blackmon

Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward

YA Nonfiction

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You – Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

TEDx Talks

It’s Not About Love Afterall | angel Kyodo williams

The path to ending systemic racism in the US | Dr. Philip Atiba Goff, Rashad Robinson, Dr. Bernice King, Anthony D.

An interview with the founders of Black Lives Matter | Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Mia Birdsong

How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time | Baratunde Thurston

Podcasts

“The 1619 Project” – A New York Times audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones.
A critically acclaimed podcast on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling.

“Seeing White.” Scene on Radio: Season 2, hosted by John Biewen of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story.

Articles

“54 miles to freedom: Catholics were prominent in 1965 Selma march.”| Paul Murray, National Catholic Report (March 7, 2015).  This article details Fr. Ouellet’s (and the Edmundites) support of the black community in Selma and the prominent role they played during the Civil Rights Movement.

“45 years after march, Selma priest remembers Bloody Sunday.” | Robert Howell, CNN.com (March 8, 2010).  Another piece on Fr. Ouellet’s and the Edmundites impact during Bloody Sunday and the black community in Selma.

“75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice” –| Corinne Shutack

“America’s Racial Contract Is Killing Us” by Adam Serwer | Atlantic (May 8, 2020)

“Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi | Atlantic (May 12, 2020)

The 1619 Project (all the articles) | The New York Times Magazine

Films and Documentaries

13th (2016) and Selma (2014). Directed by Ava DuVernay. Both films are available on Netflix.

Do the Right Thing (1989). Directed by Spike Lee.

Fruitvale Station (2013). Directed by Ryan Coogler.

Find more films at: https://time.com/5847912/movies-to-watch-about-racism-protests/

Short Videos

The Body of Emmett Till| 100 Photos | Time

Without Sanctuary  (Caution: graphic imagery of lynchings)