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HST 352: American InJustice (Deno): The Prison as a Social History of the US: Black Lives Matter

This guide serves to assist HST 352 students in navigating various media in order to execute social justice research. It will also support students in various assignments throughout the semester.

Black Lives Matter

What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter (BLM) Global Network Foundation, Inc. was founded in 2013 as a result of the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's murderer. BLM is now a global organization that is present in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. BLM"s primary mission is to eliminate white supremacy and to build a network of local power to intervene in violence and oppression inflicted on Black communities.

The movement gained more traction in 2020 as a result of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. This recent event caused a great spike in the popularity of the BLM movement causing 67% of adult Americans to express support for the BLM movement, per a June 2020 Pew Research Center poll.

Black Lives Matter Reading List

What is Racism?: A Glossary

Racism: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.

Racism: The marginalization and/or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges white people.

Systemic Racism: A combination of systems, institutions and factors that advantage white people and for people of color, cause widespread harm and disadvantages in access and opportunity. One person or even one group of people did not create systemic racism, rather it: (1) is grounded in the history of our laws and institutions which were created on a foundation of white supremacy;* (2) exists in the institutions and policies that advantage white people and disadvantage people of color; and (3) takes places in interpersonal communication and behavior (e.g., slurs, bullying, offensive language) that maintains and supports systemic inequities and systemic racism.

White Supremacy: The systematic marginalization or oppression of people of color based on a socially constructed racial hierarchy that privileges people who identify as white. It does not refer to extremist ideologies that believe that white people are genetically or culturally superior to non-whites and/or that white people should live in a whites-only society.

Definitions provided by “Racism.” Anti-Defamation League, 

Race & Racism Reading List

What is the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC)?

The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) describes the overlapping interests of government and industry that use surveillance, policing, and imprisonment as a way to solve economic, social, and political problems. Additionally, it maintains the authority of people who have privileged identities over individuals with marginalized identities. This occurs largely through not only issues within the system itself, but also the media creating and fostering stereotypes that people of color, poor people, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, youth, and other oppressed communities are criminal, delinquent, or deviant.

Power is maintained in PIC by the generation of profits for private companies that oversee prisons and police forces.

What is Abolition?

Abolition is the goal of eliminating imprisonment, policing, and surveillance, while also creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment. Through re-envisioning this system, we have the power to help break up cycles of systemic oppression and reshape lives.

Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) Reading List

Police play a key role in the safety of the community; however, the role of law enforcement has been overemphasized, overfunded, and shifted in dynamic to no longer serve the goal of community safety and security. Policing has been historically tied to the systemic oppression of people of Color, and LGBTQ+ people. In 2020, the role of police was called into question by many local, regional, state, and federal governing bodies causing the role of policing to be called into question. i

Policing Reading List

Significant Court Cases

Works of Fiction

Works of Nonfiction


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