Listen, Learn, Participate: A #BlackLivesMatter Resource Series

Across the country #BlackLivesMatter is inspiring action and conversation. Oakland librarians have compiled some resources to support these conversations.

Across the country, a movement to stop violence and uplift Black humanity -- embodied in the phrase #BlackLivesMatter -- is inspiring action and conversation. To support these conversations I've compiled a series of resource guides.

Whether you're a parent, a student, a community organizer or a concerned neighbor, this Resource Series offers books, articles and videos to prompt discussion and action:

In many ways, these lists are long overdue.

I’ve been a librarian in Oakland for more than five years. Every year students visit the library to research issues of racial profiling, police abuse, mass incarceration and community-based alternatives. Some students want to research causes and solutions for the violence permeating their lives. Some, more insulated by privilege, just wanted to understand what happened to Oscar Grant or Alan Blueford. They have serious questions. Why does this keep happening? How did it get this way? What does this say about our country? Our city?

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow tackles these complex issues incredibly well. But there are many other resources, too.

There are tools for teachers and parents; academic research studies; thoughtful interviews; groundbreaking works on race in America; and incredible poems by youth distilling rage, hope and healing. There are documentary films that chronicle social uprisings against injustice (each generation chipping away at the mortar of racial bias and institutional racism), and books presenting critical analysis or opposing viewpoints on police brutality and a skyrocketing prison population. Most notably, there are dozens of new articles and videos with crucial viewpoints -- from the youth and families most impacted by these issues.

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Young people from Ferguson, Florida, Oakland and New York are leading a national movement to reform policy, demilitarize policing and end racial injustice.

#BlackLivesMatter is an invitation to listen to the lived experiences of Black communities and to value Black life as a fundamental starting point for human and civil rights. Lest we forget one of the most vocal African Americans to raise the clarion of Black dignity and action, Frederick Douglass, who said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Now, the nation is finally paying attention to their questions and their demands for change.

I invite you to join me in learning and listening.


The Resource Series (check back for updates):

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Coming Soon: Resources on Multi-Racial Communities and Collaboration; White Privilege and Implicit Bias; and Surveillance and Security in Social Movements

Many people helped with these guides! We asked library staff and community organizers to share articles, books and research that has resonated for them. We asked teachers what has helped open critical dialogue with their students. We asked parents what has helped them talk to their children.

We welcome your ideas, too. Please comment below.