Talking about race isn't easy. It's personal, it's political, it's visceral. That these were two of the most hotly anticipated and talked-about books of the year only underscores the power of literature to provide a window into this most difficult of subjects. Here are twelve books that have changed the way we talk about race in America.
The Odyssey Project, now in its fifth year, is using the arts to combat recidivism for juvenile offenders in a completely unprecedented way: by creating an arts-based "intervention" at that critical point near the end of a juvenile offender's teen years, when, like Odysseus, they have life choices to make that will indelibly determine their future's path.
If you live in Baltimore, or anywhere in the United States, you shouldn't be surprised by the anger, the poverty, the police violence, and the hopelessness. All you have to do is sing the national anthem, written after witnessing the bombardment of Baltimore Harbor by the British during the War of 1812.
Rather than approaching crime from the perspective of restorative justice and public health, seeking to help people to reform and re-integrate, our country has instead not only continued in a model of punishment that can only be described as "medieval", but has grown it to a scale unprecedented in world history.
This move could result in the release of thousands of low-level federal inmates caught up in the drug war. For a president who, hitherto, had the most conservative pardon record in recent history (e.g. in Obama's first term, he pardoned 1 in 50 applicants, while Ronald Reagan pardoned 1 in 3), such a shift is noteworthy.
As prophets did in the days of abolition, the anti-lynching movement, and the Civil Rights movement, modern-day leaders, like Michelle Alexander, have traversed the country shining light on the myth of equal justice in our justice system. And on Tuesday, the unlikely duo of Sens. Cory Booker and Rand Paul joined together to address this myth by introducing the REDEEM Act.