Recommended Texts

Discourse on Colonialism: Aimé Cesairé (1955) 
“First, we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism; and we must show that each time a head is cut off or an eye put out in Vietnam and in France they accept the fact, each time a little girl is raped and they accept the fact, each time a Madagascan is tortured and they accept the fact, civilization acquires another dead weight, a universal regression takes place, a gangrene sets in, a center of infection begins to spread; and that at the end of all these treaties that have been violated, all these lies that been propagated, all that have been violated, all these punitive expeditions that have been tolerated… at the end of all the racial pride that has been encouraged, all the boastfulness that has been displayed, a poison has been distilled into the veins of Europe and, slowly but surely, the continent proceeds towards savagery.”

A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, Kathryn Yussof (2018)
"The Anthropocene might seem to offer a dystopic future that laments the end of the world, but imperialism and (ongoing) settler colonialism have been ending worlds for as long as they have been in existence.  
If the Anthropocene claims a sudden concern with the exposures of environmental harm to white liberal communities, it does so in the wake of histories in which these harms have been knowingly exported to black and brown communities....
The Anthropocene ... is just now noticing the extinction it has chosen to overlook in the making of its modernity and freedom.”

An Indigenous People’s History of the United States: Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz (2014)
“But there are funds available, a federal pot now worth more than a billion dollars.  That sits here in the U.S. Treasury Department waiting to be collected by nine Sioux tribes.  The money stems from a 1980 Supreme Court Ruling that set aside $105 million dollars to compensate the Sioux for the taking of the Black Hills in 1877, an isolated mountain range rich in minerals that strectched from South Dakota to Wyoming.  The only problem:  The Sioux never wanted the money because the land was never for sale.”

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa: Walter Rodney (1972)
“The European slave trade was a direct block in removing millions of youth and young adults who are the human agents from whom inventiveness springs.”

“… ivory [made from killed elephants] was an asset that was rapidly exhausted in any given region, and the struggle to secure new supplies could lead to violence comparable to that which accompanied the search for human captives.  Besides, the most decisive limitation of ivory trade was the fact that it did not grow logically from local needs and local production. Large quantities of ivory were not required by any society inside Africa, and no African society turned to elephant hunting and ivory collection on a big scale until the demand came from Europe or Asia.  Any African society which took ivory exports seriously then had to restructure its economy so as to make ivory trade successful.  That in turn led to excessive and undesirable dependence on the overseas market and external economy.  There could be growth in the volume of commerce and the rise of some positive side effects, but there was decrease in the capacity to achieve economic independence and self-sustaining social progress.  Besides, at all times one must keep in mind the dialectical opposite of the trade in Africa: namely, production in Europe or America under European control.  The few socially desirable by-products of elephant hunting within Africa were chicken feed in comparison with the profits, technology, and skills associated with the product in Europe. In that way, the gap between Africa and Europe was widening; and it is on the basis of that gap that we arrive at development and underdevelopment.”

Pollution is Colonialism: Max Liboiron (2021)
“I began this chapter by saying we would start with the basics: Land, Nature, Resource and Property.  I’ve attempted to denaturalize how these terms are universally used so the land relations that allow them to make sense become apparent.  I hope I’ve explained it so that when you’re on a call with the federal government and someone says that we should set a quantifiable limit to plastics in an environment, you can know this is about enclosure, access, private property, and whiteness.”

Audre Lorde: Sister Outsider (1984)
“My response to racism is anger.  That anger has eaten clefts into my living only when it remained unspoken, useless to anyone.  It has also served me in classrooms without light or learning, where the history of Black women was less than a vapor.

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.  That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.  I am standing here as a Black lesbian poet, and the meaning of all that waits upon the fact that I am still alive, and might not have been.”

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine: Ilan Pappe (2007)
“This book is written with the deep conviction that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine must become rooted in our memory and consciousness as a crime against humanity and that it should be excluded from the list of alleged crimes.  The perpetrators here are not obscure - they are a very specific group of people: the heroes of the Jewish war of independence, whose names will be quite familiar to most readers.  The list begins with the indisputable leader of the Zionist movement, David Ben-Gurion, in whose private home all early and later chapters in the ethnic cleansing story were discussed and finalized.”

Return the to the Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral (1972)
“On one side the [indigenous] petite bourgeoisie is the victim of frequent if not daily humiliation by the foreigner, and on the other side it is aware of the injustice to which the masses are subjected and of their resistance and spirit of rebellion.  Hence arises the apparent paradox of colonial domination; it is from within the indigenous petite bourgeoisie, a social class which grows from colonialism itself, that arise the first important steps towards mobilizing and organizing the masses for struggle against colonial power.”  

The Question of Palestine: Edward Said (1992)
“There is an awareness in the nonwhite world that the tendency of modern politics to rule over masses of people as transferable, silent, and politically neutral populations has a specific illustration in what has happened to the Palestinians- and what in different ways is happening to the citizens of newly independent, formerly colonial terrorizes ruled over by antidemocratic army regimes.  The idea of resistance gets content and muscle from Palestine; more usefully resistance gets detail and a positively new approach to the microphysics of oppression from Palestine.  If we think of Palestine as a place to be returned to and of an entirely new place, a vision partially of a restored past and of a novel future, perhaps even a historical disaster transformed into a hope for a different future, we will understand the world’s meaning better.”

A History of Pan-African Revolt: C.L.R. James  (1939)
“The only place where Negroes did not revolt is in the pages of capitalist historians.”   pp. xi

Some of Us Did Not Die: June Jordan (2002)
“If I can trust you still to hear my grief for Danny, and to share my grief for Issa Faraj-
If we refuse double standards churning to deform friends into enemies-
How I wish Issa Faraj could continue playing with his children!
How I wish Daniel Pearl could hold his first born in his arms!
My heart is sick from all demonic machinations neither one of us would ever condone.
Your Danny is dead.
And how can we honor his heroic wish: “to change the world”?

Letter from June Jordan to a dear Jewish friends of hers - who’s son has just died -
on why Jewish people should also care that Palestinians are dying.

Collected Essays of James Baldwin, edited by Toni Morrison  (1998)
“At bottom, to be colored means that one has been caught in some utterly unbelievable cosmic joke, a joke so hideous and in such bad taste that it beats all categories and definitions.  One’s only hope of supporting, to say nothing of surviving, this joke is to flaunt it in the teeth of one’s own particular and invincible style.”

Angela Davis an Autobiography: Angela Davis (1974)
“When I expressed my initial hesitancy to begin working on an autobiography, it was not because I did not wish to write about the events of that time and generally in my lifetime, but rather because I did not want to contribute to the already widespread tendency. To personalize and individualize history. And to be perfectly candid, my own instinctive reserve made me feel rather embarrassed to be writing about myself. So I did not really write about myself.  This is to say, I did not measure the events of my own life in accordance with what I considered to be the political significance of my experiences.  The political manner of measurement emanated from my work as an activist in the Black movement and as a member of the Communist Party.

When I was writing this book, I was vehemently opposed to the notion, developed within the young women’s liberation movement, which naively and uncritically equated things personal with things political.  In my mind, this idea tended to render equivalent such vastly disparate phenomenon as racist police murders of Black people and the sexist-inspired verbal abuse of white women by their husbands.  Since I personally witnessed police violence on a number of occasions during that period, my negative response to the feminist slogan ‘the personal is political’, was quite understandable.  While I continue to agree with all easy attempts to define these two dimensions as equivalent, I do understand that there is a sense in which all efforts to draw definitive lines of demarkation between the perusal and political inevitably misconstrue social reality.  For example, domestic violence is no less an expression of the prevailing politics of gender because it occurs within the private sphere of a relationship.  I therefore express my regrets that I was not able to also apply a measuring stick which manifested a more complex understanding of the dialectics of the personal and political.”  

All-Owning Spectatorship” Trinh T. Minh-Ha (1991)
Activities that aim at producing a different hearing and a renewed viewing are undifferentiatingly confused with obscurantism and hastily dismissed as sheer incompetency or deficiency … when the initiating source of these activities happen to be both female and “articulate” of  “intellectualism” - the unvarying target of attack of those for whom thinking (which involves reflection and reexamination and moreover thinking differently within difference remains a male ability, and justifiably, an unwarranted threat.  As the proverbial line goes, He only hears (sees) what he wants to hear (see), and certainly, there are none so deaf (blind) as those who don’t want to hear (see).

Belonging: a Culture of Place,  bell hooks (2008)
Certainly in graduate school and beyond it was the culture of enterprise that mattered, what we were taught would determine our success in life.  At no point in my liberal arts education was farming ever mentioned… No one mentioned black farmers at Stanford University in my classes.  Everywhere I journeyed the world of environmental activism was characterized by racial and class apartheid.

Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality and Blackness, Nicole Fleetwood  (2001)
Non-Iconic is an aesthetic that resists singularity and completeness in narrative; one that exposes the limitations of its framing and the temporality and specificity of the moment documented.  A non-iconic image cannot stand in for historical processes in the way that the photograph of Rosa Parks [famous black U.S. civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat to a white person] on the bus has come to do.”

Black Looks: Race and Representation, bell hooks  (2014)
“Fierce critical interrogation is sometimes the only practice that can pierce the wall of denial consumers of images construct so as not to face that the real world of image-making is political- that politics of domination inform the way the vast majority of images we consume are constructed and marketed.”