#Charleston syllabus
June 20, 2015 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Here is a list of selected readings that educators can use to broach conversations in the classroom about the horrendous events that unfolded in Charleston, South Carolina this week. These readings provide valuable information about the history of racial violence in this country and contextualize the history of race relations in South Carolina and the United States in general. They also offer insights on race, racial identities, global white supremacy and black resistance.

Check the hashtag #Charlestonsyllabus on Twitter as the list is being continually updated. Note that the list is not exclusive to Charleston; hence another thread.
posted by standardasparagus (18 comments total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
I personally think that the first thing we can do to broach the conversation is to publicly burn that confederate flag flying above the SC statehouse.

As someone happily living in the south, fuck your southern heritage; starting the bloodiest war in the history of the country to try and maintain your right to traffic in human beings is not a symbol any sane human being should be proud of.
posted by WhitenoisE at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2015 [20 favorites]

Mod note: Quick note, there's already a SC/Confederate flag discussion going in the Charleston attack thread, let's keep that over there, and if we're going to have another thread, use this thread for talking about readings on racial history in the wider context.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:43 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also useful to anti-racists, though less specific: I recently stumbled across an excellent collection of articles and resources on all sorts of race, equity, privilege and prejudice issues: Racial Equity Tools.
posted by Miko at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is a fantastic list. Back before Ferguson, I had been thinking of making an ask mefi to try to get more resources of this kind, and I am only sorry that this list is the product of such a terrible, terrible year. (It's been a shit year, right? It's not as though there weren't police murders and freelance racist violence before, but seeing the protests in Ferguson getting put down, and seeing refusal after refusal to indict - seeing that white people in this country really are consciously committed to our racism even when it means excusing the murder of a little boy - that does bring things right down.)

Thanks very much for posting. I'm off to order some books and visit the library.
posted by Frowner at 3:53 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am both pleased and proud that under the list of poetry., the bibliography for works by the great poet Robert Hayden the anthology I did with him is cited.
I suggest t,hat the Renegade History Of the U S might be added, giving a nice perspective on race in the early days of our nation
posted by Postroad at 4:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is a really high quality list. A few weeks ago I asked a couple historians what their favorite books were, and one of them suggested Trouble in Mind by Leon Litwack as the book that changed his area of study. Another overheard and said "oh don't read that it's so relentlessly depressing" (the first said "that's the point") and suggested I read A Nation Under Our Feet by Steven Hahn instead. Both of those appear here, so it looks like I have to bump them up on my own reading list.

I enjoyed Judith Carney's Black Rice so much I design a whole day around it in my high school class. Highly recommend, although since it's about colonial history it might feel a bit far removed. If you want more primary sources, I spent my day yesterday excerpting sections from the South Carolina 1740 slave codes for my students.
posted by lilac girl at 4:26 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is amazing.

*book marked for future reading*
posted by Fizz at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2015

This is a wonderful and much needed project, and this would be a good time to remind everyone that there are those who are actively trying to prohibit teaching US history in schools.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


We will be discussing overly critical "history" books and how to defend the Confederate flag from liberal attacks.

Location: Yucca Flats, AZ, floor -146. Snacks will be provided. Last one in please close and lock the door behind you.
posted by benzenedream at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

This looks terrific--thanks for posting it. I see several of the primary source links come from DocSouth, which also has subject guides (e.g. North American Slave Narratives) as well as summary pages for most texts--I think you can usually just change the link to summary.html, e.g. for Charles Ball's autobiography. Also, Gutenberg has many of the WPA volumes in other formats.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:06 PM on June 20, 2015

If you read just one book from that list, read Black Reconstruction by W.E.B. DuBois. It is a game changer in how history of the Civil War and its aftermath is seen.
posted by graymouser at 5:14 PM on June 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Has anyone seen a similar list of children's books? Finding good resources to introduce the complicated American history of racial relations, but on an appropriate level, is really challenging, and my kids have a lot of questions already. We have a really good kid-book biography of Rosa Parks (which led to two solid weeks of awkward bus-related questions but these things happen), but the Abe Lincoln kid-bio by the same author is crap that more or less manages to avoid talking about slavery.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:42 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Books for kids:
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
+ To Be A Slave + if You Lived When There Was Slavery In America + The People Could Fly + When I Was A Slave + If You Travelled On The Underground Railroad
posted by mmiddle at 6:02 PM on June 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

John Egerton's "Speak Now Against the Day" should be on that list (did I miss it?). It's a little dense in spots, but conveys how very hard many Southerners did try to steer history in a different direction.
posted by mmiddle at 6:30 PM on June 20, 2015

posted by brujita at 1:08 AM on June 21, 2015

I needed this. I just spent an hour writing on how much I needed this. Thanks.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:45 AM on June 21, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates, What This Cruel War Was Over - "The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:36 PM on June 22, 2015

Related: Reading About Racial Boundaries [New York Times]
“I identify as black,” Rachel A. Dolezal told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday. Ms. Dolezal’s resignation of her post as an N.A.A.C.P. official in Washington State after accusations that she misrepresented her racial background is the water-cooler story of the week. Despite having white parents, Ms. Dolezal is sticking by her sense of self.

For those who find her story endlessly fascinating, there are many options for further reading. Passing across racial boundaries is a longstanding theme in American fiction and the subject of several riveting nonfiction books.
The reading list:

- “Mislaid” by Nell Zink
- “Your Face in Mine” by Jess Row
- “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth
- “One Drop” by Bliss Broyard
- “Black Like Me” by John Howard Griffin
- “Passing Strange” by Martha Sandweiss
- “The Invisible Line” by Daniel Sharfstein
- “Loving Day” by Mat Johnson
- “Caucasia” by Danzy Senna
- “A Chosen Exile” by Allyson Hobbs
- “Passing” by Nella Larsen
- “Black No More” by George Schuyler
- “Miss Anne in Harlem” by Carla Kaplan
- “The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man” by James Weldon Johnson
posted by Fizz at 5:40 AM on June 24, 2015

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