Anti-Racism Resources

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Media on Policing (Introductory)

We’re responding to a nation wide call for white and non-Black people of color to understand the history of policing, its current form, and ideas for the future. As always, learning cannot exist in isolation – it must be paired with action!

NPR podcast episode “American Police” is a great introduction in the history of policing.

“And so the question that has to be asked in the wake of George Floyd and I think this question is being asked and answered by more white people than I’ve seen in my lifetime is, do white people in America still want the police to protect their interests over the rights and dignity and lives of black and in too many cases brown, Indigenous and Asian populations in this country?”

New Yorker article “The Invention of Policing is another great introduction into the origins of policing.

“To police is to maintain law and order, but the word derives from polis—the Greek for “city,” or “polity”—by way of politia, the Latin for “citizenship,” and it entered English from the Middle French police, which meant not constables but government. “The police,” as a civil force charged with deterring crime, came to the United States from England and is generally associated with monarchy—“keeping the king’s peace”—which makes it surprising that, in the antimonarchical United States, it got so big, so fast. The reason is, mainly, slavery.”

Alex Vitale book The End of Policing (FULL BOOK PDF). You can read or listen to Chapter 1 like a long-form article without engaging with the whole book, if desired.

“The problem is not police training, police diversity, or police methods. The problem is the dramatic and unprecedented expansion and intensity of policing in the last forty years, and a fundamental shift in the role of police in society. The problem is policing itself”

Mariame Kaba article “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police. Because reform won’t happen.”

“Minneapolis had instituted many of these “best practices” but failed to remove Derek Chauvin from the force despite 17 misconduct complaints over nearly two decades, culminating in the entire world watching as he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Why on earth would we think the same reforms would work now? We need to change our demands…But don’t get me wrong. We are not abandoning our communities to violence…We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.”

Abolition Research Group article The Problem with Community Policing

“In practice, neighborhood policing works to extend NYPD surveillance deeper into poor and working class communities. It broadens NYPD contact with neighborhood social networks, beyond the few homeowners, small businessmen, church officials and senior citizens who already attend community meetings at the precinct houses themselves. It encourages neighbors to inform on each other, and expands data collection about local residents. And as with all community policing programs, it does not solve the problems of capitalist inequality. Instead, it expands police presence in daily life, and turns social problems into police problems–which may then be met with state violence.”

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow (PDF introduction and chapter 1)

“More African American adults are under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. The mass incarceration of people of color is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. Thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites.”

“The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.”

***For more advanced reading, we recommend:


Novels, Memoirs and Essays FREE PDFS

Cultural Criticism FREE PDFS

**Library of Free Abolitionist Texts**

** Drive of Critical Black Revolutionary Texts **