What We’re Reading: The Fight for Racial Equity, Justice and Black Lives

Since demonstrations against anti-Black racism and police brutality began in late May, Pocket has recommended dozens of articles, essays, and interviews on the fight for racial justice and Black lives — from the history of anti-Black racism in America to reflections on Black resilience and remembrances of those lost. Below is a small sampling of these recommended reads.

The Protests

The Minneapolis Uprising in Context

Elizabeth Hinton • Boston Review

A proper understanding of urban rebellion depends on our ability to interpret it not as a wave of criminality, but as political violence.


Getting it Twisted

Jabari Asim • The Yale Review

“What could be more American than pretending truths were self-evident when they seldom were?”

The Endless Call

David Montgomery • The Washington Post

Demands for racial equity and justice have always been part of the American story. While the images here span the past two weeks, the words paired with them span the past 100 years.

In Memoriam

Twelve Minutes and a Life

Mitchell S. Jackson • Runner’s World

Ahmaud Arbery went out for a jog and was gunned down in the street. How running fails Black America.

Essays and Reflections

The Trayvon Generation

Elizabeth Alexander • The New Yorker

“I call the young people who grew up in the past twenty-five years the Trayvon Generation. They always knew these stories. These stories formed their world view. These stories helped instruct young African-Americans about their embodiment and their vulnerability.”

The American Nightmare

Ibram X. Kendi • The Atlantic

To be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.


Erica Dawson • The Paris Review

Black lives matter and so do the characterizations of those lives that lead to their demise.

What Didn’t Kill Her

Bernice L. McFadden • Longreads

Bernice L. McFadden ruminates on all the things her mother has endured only to find herself spending her golden years in the midst of a deadly plague and state-sanctioned racism.

Walking While Black

Garnette Cadogan • LitHub

“I wasn’t prepared for any of this. I had come from a majority-black country in which no one was wary of me because of my skin color. Now I wasn’t sure who was afraid of me.”

Long Time Woman

Niela Orr • The Believer

On the eve of her birthday, in a moment of extraordinary darkness, a critic explores questions of aging and visibility through two exceedingly different works of art.


From Soldier to Worker

Maya Dukmasova • Chicago Reader

Police unions were born of resistance to discipline for brutality. Do they belong in the labor movement?

Black Resilience, Art, and Joy 

Refusing to Give Death the Last Word

Nyle Fort • Boston Globe

Between the coronavirus and police killings, Black communities are coping with seemingly endless grief. The absence of funerals during the pandemic has been particularly devastating to a culture in which collective mourning plays a vital role.

On Carefree Black Boys

Doreen St. Félix • MTV

Understanding the appeal of the ‘carefree’ aesthetic to black male musicians from Young Thug to Chance the Rapper.

The Role Publishing Plays in the Commodification of Black Pain

L.L. McKinney • Tor.com

“Black readers need to see themselves in narratives outside of racism, slavery, Jim Crow, police brutality. As do non-Black readers. In order to create a safe world for Black people, books that don’t focus on “issues” need to be given just as much space.”

Going It Alone

Rahawa Haile • Outside

What happens when an African American woman decides to solo-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine during a summer of bitter political upheaval? Everything you can imagine, from scary moments of racism to new friendships to soaring epiphanies about the timeless value of America’s most storied trekking route.

Just Don’t Forget That Black Pain Isn’t All We Have

Panama Jackson • The Root

“I don’t know exactly when I decided to stop writing about whiteness and focus purely on blackness. What I do know is that for the past few years I specifically made a decision to write about the celebration of blackness and black culture and whatever comes with it.”

Dear White People

The Least You Could Do

Emmanuel Dzotsi • Reply All

Black people all across the US are receiving the world’s weirdest form of reparations: Venmo payments from white people. In this podcast, producer Emmanuel Dzotsi investigates.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

Emmanuel Acho • YouTube

Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with white America, in order to educate and inform on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting & the hurt African Americans are feeling today.


The Long View

Zak Cheney-Rice • New York

John Lewis, congressman and civil-rights legend, will never lose hope.

Why Ta-Nehisi Coates is Hopeful

Ezra Klein • Vox

The author of Between the World and Me on why this isn’t 1968, the Colin Kaepernick test, police abolition, nonviolence and the state, and more.


Black Fatherhood In The Wake Of George Floyd

Under The Radar Staff • WGBH Radio

In Black families, it’s known as “The Talk”: the discussion Black parents have with their kids about what to do should they end up in an interaction with a police officer.

What’s Next?

How Do We Change America?

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor • The New Yorker

The quest to transform this country cannot be limited to challenging its brutal police.

Get fascinating articles like these directly in your inbox.

Join millions and sign up for Pocket’s daily newsletter.