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Publishing and Racial Justice

June 10, 2020 - This week George Floyd is being celebrated in Houston, where he grew up. In our home state of Texas and throughout the country, protestors have raised their voices against the systematic suppression of Black voices, the excessive use of force against protestors, and the murders of named and unnamed Black people. The University of Texas Press joins these condemnations and supports the essential and urgent work of the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Our publishing mission is to serve the people of Texas and knowledge seekers around the world by publishing valuable and relevant information to educate, advance scholarship, and deepen our understanding of history, current events, and contemporary cultures. Our authors reveal the connections between law enforcement along the US-Mexico border and the militarization of the police in this country. They study how cultural trauma is disproportionally inflicted upon and suffered by communities of color, the severity of which is compounded by white systems of power. And they examine the personal histories and the cultural impact of art created, transformed, and advanced by Black creators.

We believe deeply that these kinds of books, and the historical and cultural perspectives they foster, have an important role to play in the broader conversations now taking place. At the same time, we acknowledge that the book publishing industry itself, with a Black workforce of only 5 percent, has a very long way to go. Without the opportunities for meaningful and gainful entry-level jobs, barriers remain for young publishers of color. Unpaid internships; poor oversight of recruitment, promotion, and retainment; and a broad lack of equity training and accountability systems have made publishing an unwelcoming field for Black professionals.

The University of Texas Press is committed to asking difficult questions of ourselves and our institution to purposefully seek solutions. We are committed to the ongoing work of increasing staff diversity while providing professional development opportunities, training all staff to participate in an equitable work environment, and regularly reviewing our acquisitions and peer review practices to ensure broad representation. We are committed to advancing the works and expertise of Black scholars and artists, decentering whiteness when celebrating Black cultural production, and investing deliberately in our outreach to share publishing opportunities and market Black authors.

It is crucial for us to reckon with privilege, gather our peers, and actively protect and advance the rights, lives, and self-determination of Black people. In the coming weeks and months, we will be joining with others in listening, amplifying voices, sharing resources, and centering the work that must be done. In a time of uncertainty, precarity, and division, our ears and our inboxes are open.

As we continue to educate ourselves in efforts to dismantle white supremacy, we also want to do our part to elevate Black voices. We have compiled a list of our staff’s favorite books by Black authors who have made an impact on us, especially at a time when context and deep thinking are necessary.

  • Affrilachia, Frank X Walker
  • The Age of Phillis, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
  • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  • American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assasin, Terrance Hayes
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley
  • The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle
  • Becoming, Michelle Obama
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Birds of Opulence, Crystal Wilkinson
  • BLACK, Volume 1, Kwanza Osajyefo, Jamal Igle (Artist), Robin Riggs (Artist), Tim Smith III (Artist), Derwin Roberson (Artist)
  • Blackberries, Blackberries, Crystal Wilkinson
  • Black Bone: 25 Years of Affrilachian Writers, edited by Bianca Spriggs and Jeremy Paden
  • Black from the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Fiction, edited by Stephanie Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle
  • Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, Cedric Robinson
  • The Black Poets, Dudley Randall
  • Black Skins, White Masks, Franz Fanon
  • Black, White, and in Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, Hortense Spillers
  • The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art, edited by Frances Gateward
  • Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, bell hooks
  • Book of Hours: Poems, Kevin Young
  • The Book of Night Women, Marlon James
  • A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland, DaMaris B. Hill
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
  • The Bridge of Beyond, Simone Schwarz-Bart
  • Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James
  • Broken Earth series, N. K. Jemisin
  • Brown: Poems, Kevin Young
  • Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, Kevin Young
  • Cane, Jean Toomer
  • Can't Escape Love, Alyssa Cole
  • The Century Cycle (plays), August Wilson
  • The Changeling, Victor LaValle
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, Zadie Smith
  • Clotel, or the President's Daughter, William Wells Brown
  • The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  • Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  • Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Michael Twitty
  • Dawn, Octavia Butler
  • Delicious Foods, James Hannaham
  • Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive, Marisa Fuentes 
  • Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems, Danez Smith
  • The Edna Lewis Cookbook, Edna Lewis and Evangeline Peterson
  • Eight Men: Short Stories, Richard Wright
  • Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, Brittney Cooper
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, Ntozake Shange
  • Freedom as Marronage, Neil Roberts
  • Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
  • Gather Together in My Name, Maya Angelou
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Talia Hibbert
  • Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin
  • Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California, Ruth Wilson Gilmore
  • The Good Lord Bird, James McBride
  • The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • Head Off and Split, Nikky Finney
  • The Heart of a Woman, Maya Angelou
  • Heavy: An American Memoir, Kiese Laymon
  • The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter
  • Home, Toni Morrison
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
  • How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, Kiese Laymon
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era, Richard Iton
  • Insurrections, Rion Amilcar Scott
  • Intimate Justice: The Black Female Body and the Body Politic, Shatema Threadcraft
  • Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  • Isaac Murphy: I Dedicate This Ride, Frank X Walker
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson
  • The Known World, Edward P. Jones
  • Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, Dr. Willie Parker
  • Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, Saidiya Hartman
  • Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  • Men We Reaped: A Memoir, Jesmyn Ward
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
  • No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity, Sarah Haley
  • On Beauty, Zadie Smith
  • On the Come Up, Angie Thomas
  • The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration, January 20, 2009, Elizabeth Alexander
  • Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones
  • The Price for Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation, Daina Ramey Berry
  • Pride, Ibi Zoboi
  • Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields
  • Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class, Robin D. G. Kelley
  • Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny, Rebekah Weatherspoon
  • Recyclopedia, Harryette Mullen
  • The Sellout, Paul Beatty
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Maya Angelou
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
  • A Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid
  • Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, Junauda Petrus
  • Sula, Toni Morrison
  • Summer Lightning, Olive Senior
  • Swallow the Fish, Gabrielle Civil
  • Tar Baby, Toni Morrison
  • Texaco, Patrick Chamoiseau
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Thick: And Other Essays, Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • The Thing Around Your Neck, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
  • The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  • The Venus Hottentot: Poems, Elizabeth Alexander
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays, Samantha Irby
  • We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The works of Stuart Hall
  • The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon
  • You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down, Alice Walker
  • Zone One, Colson Whitehead
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