Hunger Strikers at California’s Adelanto Detention Center

Miami’s Krome Service Processing Center has a well-deserved reputation for the particular cruelties it has dispensed upon the Haitian asylum seekers detained within its walls. Yet Krome’s notoriety may soon be superseded by a new breed of detention centers in the southwestern United States. A string of private prisons contracted by ICE operate near the US-Mexico border. In Chaparral, New Mexico the Otero County Prison Facility is run by the Management & Training Corporation, as is Calexico, California’s Imperial Regional Detention Facility. San Diego’s Otay Mesa Detention Facility is managed by CoreCivic, a company previously known as the Corrections Corporation of America, while the Adelanto Detention Facility, in Adelanto, California, is run by the GEO Group, formerly Wackenhut. While the majority of detainees locked up in these facilities are from Central America, they also hold increasing numbers of Haitians, non-criminal asylum seekers who journeyed to the US not by sea across the treacherous Florida Straits – but seven-thousand miles overland from Brazil, through South and Central America.

Of these detentions centers, Otero reportedly holds the most Haitian detainees. But Adelanto has the worst reputation. It sits isolated in the bleak desert of San Bernadino County, eighty-five miles northeast of Los Angeles, in a depressed municipality desperate for revenue for its government and jobs for its residents. Adelanto is the largest immigrant detention center in California. It holds some 1800 immigrants, including 240 women. ICE guarantees the Geo Group a minimum occupancy rate, paying the corporation $112 dollars a day per inmate, and allowing them to clear a cool $40 million per year. Adelanto ranks third amongst immigrant detention centers for sexual assaults by guards on inmates and with three detainees dying in custody since the beginning of 2017 (and five since July 2016), it is arguably the deadliest immigrant detention center in the US. Medical care is inadequate and indifferent and has been cited as the direct cause of inmate deaths. When not making $1 a day cleaning, inmates have been used as forced labor. Racism, maltreatment, and abuse is pervasive and inmate suicide is not uncommon. Bond amounts are set at excessively high rates: between $15,000 and $25,000 is the norm though some bonds have been set at $50,000.  The bond rates work to both deny and delay detainee release, keeping cells profitably filled for the GEO Group in the process. In addition to frequent check-ins with ICE officials and parole officers, those detainees who are released must wear electronic ankle monitors – shackles, really – embedded with satellite tracking chips. Provided by BI, Inc, a subsidiary of the GEO Group, the monitors cost close to $500 a month. Those wearing the shackles shoulder their costs.

On the morning of June 12, 2017, a hunger strike was initiated by a group Adelanto detainees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, their solidarity forged through their participation in a Refugee Caravan that carried them to the border. Soon known as the Adelanto 9, the strikers presented a list of demands they wanted delivered to ICE and asked for a meeting with the agency to discuss conditions in the detention facility. They spoke of the costs of bonds, the denial of the right to political asylum, the humiliation and discrimination meted out on the detained by the GEO Group guards, the poor administration of paperwork and processing and the lack of Spanish-language forms, the incompetence of medical staff, and the quality of the food. Their demands included that bonds be set at fair rates for all prisoners, that they be given the right to political asylum, that conditions within the detention center (from new and hygienic underwear to better food to clean water) be improved, and that inmates be given more time for religious services.

The protests were quickly broken up. Communication between the strikers and media outlets Univision and La Opinion was severed. GEO Group employees beat and peppered sprayed the hunger strikers, breaking the nose of one of the group, before throwing them into hot showers, exacerbating the intense burn of the pepper spray. Members of the Adelanto 9 were placed in solidarity confinement. One was deported. Others were threatened by guards who claimed they would inform the immigration judges of their conduct as a way to undermine their asylum cases.

The Adelanto detainees were undeterred. Two days after the first strike, thirty-three women prisoners began a short hunger strike, demanding better medical care, high bond amounts, basic respect from staff and guards, and to reunification with their children and families. On July 4th, another group of Central American inmates began a hunger strike, this time joined by twenty Haitian detainees.

The strikes did not lead to their release but it did alert many in the outside world to the conditions of Adelanto and the collusion of the GEO Group, the City of Adelanto, ICE, the bond companies, and the US Department of Justice in the mistreatment and monetization of asylum seekers. Now, emerging from those efforts, there is a push by a coalition of organizations to raise the bond funds to release the remaining hunger strikers. Led by CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and sustained by a tireless group of activists, academics, lawyers, and most importantly, the detainees themselves, they are trying to raise $60,000 to create a bail fund for the remaining Adelanto detainees. They are also working to help support, settle, and integrate asylum seekers upon their release.

Donations in any amount will help free the asylum seekers imprisoned in Adelanto. And each individual freed helps alert the world to those still detained.

Please donate to: Set the Captives Free: Adelanto Bond Fund.

For further information:

Clergy and Laity United For Economic Justice

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement CIVIC

Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice 

Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Detention Watch Network (DWN) 



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Diagnóstico regional sobre migración haitiana

The International Organization for Migration and the Institute for Public Policies on Human Rights of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) has just released Diagnóstico regional sobre migration haitian, an in-depth study on the recent migration of nearly 85,000 Haitians to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. While the full report (in Spanish) can be downloaded here, the journal Haiti Libre has posted a useful English-language summary of findings. They write:

The study used institutional and normative survey questionnaires on Haitian migrants in each of MERCOSUR countries. Additionally, the field work included qualitative interviews focused on the conditions and strategies of reception and assistance to Haitian migrants in San Pablo, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires.

Haitian migration flows between 2014 and 2016 to Brazil and Chile and to a lesser extent towards Argentina, have different characteristics compared to Haitian migration that entered between 2010 and 2014. Between 2014 and 2016, Haitian migration flows were mainly composed by direct and indirect relatives of migrants already settled in those countries.

According to the study, Brazil is the country with the highest number of Haitians. By the end of 2016, 67,000 residencies had been granted, including temporary and permanent. In Chile, there were almost 18,000 residencies by the end of 2015, while in Argentina, the number was less than 1,200.

As regards social rights, there is no robust correlation between regular migratory access measures and effective access to health, education, housing and work. However, in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, there is evidence of an acceptable level of guarantee of access to social rights, in particular to education and health. Additionally, in Brazil, the regularization of migrants has significantly contributed to the access to the formal labor market.

The study includes public policy recommendations at two levels of action: 1) entry and visa policies and 2) mechanisms of integration in the destination country.

Explained Matteo Mandrile, the IOM Regional Project Development Officer who coordinated the study: “The dynamism of Haitian diaspora requires designing and implementing integrated public policies of mobility and integration, especially considering that Haitian migrants in South America have settled in, but at the same time part of them continue to move at the intra-regional level.”

This study, funded by the IOM Development Fund and the Government of Brazil, is part of a series of projects that IOM has been implementing in South America in relation to Haitian migration, including a study on Haitian migration to Brazil conducted by IOM in 2014, which analyzed the main migration routes to Brazil, and a research in 2016 on the labor insertion of Haitians in the Southern region and the Federal District of Brazil.

Source: “More than 85,000 Haitians have migrated to Brazil, Chile and Argentina,” Haiti Libre (August 24, 2017).  @HaitiLibre.

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CLR James: Conversations and Interviews, 1938-1989

C.L.R. James, “Six Questions to Trotskyists – And Their Answers,” Controversy, vol. 2 nos. 17–8 (February–March 1938).

Leon Trotsky (with JR Johnson aka CLR James et. al) on Black Nationalism: Documents on the Negro (1933-39), published in Bulletin of Marxist Studies No. 4, George Breitman, ed. (1962).

La Cuarta Internacional en Francia: Entrevista de CLR James a León Trotsky, Abril de 1939. Versión castellana desde “La Quatrième Internationale en France. Interview par CLR James” en Le mouvement communiste en France (1919-1939), textos escogidos y comentados por Pierre Broué, Les Éditions de minuit, París, 1967, páginas 631-638.

Mr. C. L. R. James interviewed by A. Mainame, Herskovits Library of African Studies Audio Collection, Northwestern University, (circa 1960s?).

C. L. R. James lectures and interviews collection, New York Public Library, 1963-1969.

“On Literature, Exile, and Nationhood,” CLR James interviewed by Robert A. Hill for “Towards a New Culture,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, February 13, 1967, transcribed and printed in You Don’t Play with Revolution: The Montreal Lectures of C.L.R. James, David Austin, Ed. (Oakland: AK Press, 2009), pages 217-225.

C.L.R. James: You Don’t Play with Revolution,” McGill Reporter (Montreal), 1 no. 7 (November 4, 1968). h/t David Austin.

C.L.R. James and Studs Terkel discuss the Black Jacobins on WFMT Chicago (1970).

Interviews: C. L. R. James, The Black Scholar, vol. 2, no. 1,(1970) [$$$].

Patrick Griffith, “CLR James and Pan-Africanism: An Interview,” Black World/Negro Digest (November 1971).

Kas-kas: Interviews with three Caribbean writers in Texas: George Lamming, C. L. R. James, [Wilson Harris, edited by Ian Munro and Reinhard Sander (Austin: African and Afro-American Research Institute, University of Texas at Austin, 1972).

CLR James talking to Stuart Hall, BBC, 1976. (Also see this post from the Stuart Hall Library).

A Meeting with Comrade James, New Society, 26 June, 1980.

Tariq Ali, “A Conversation with C.L.R. James,” Socialist Challenge, 3 July 1980, pp 8-9.

Tariq Ali en discussion avec C.L.R. James (French translation of 1980 Socialist Challenge interview), Revue Periode, 14 Janvier 2016.

Radical Pan-Africanism in the 1930s: A Discussion with C.L.R. James, Radical History Review 24 (Fall 1980), 68-75. [$$$].

Extract from transcript of Kenneth Ramchand interviews with CLR James, OWTU Guest House, San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago, September 5th, 1980.

“Interview: James Early, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Noel Ignatiev with C.L.R. James, October 1980 and January 1981,” Urgent Tasks, no. 12 (Summer 1981).

Language and the seizure of power: an interview with C. L. R. James by Chris Searle, Brixton, August, 1982. Published in Race and Class, 50 no. 1 (July 1, 2008), 79-87. [$$$]

Talking History: C.L.R. James and E.P. Thompson (H.O. Nazareth, Dir., 1983).

Pamela Beshoff, Conversation with CLR James, Jamaica Journal (February-April 1986).

CLR James and British Trotskyism (interviewed by Al Richardson, Clarence Chrysostom & Anna Grimshaw on Sunday 8th June & 16th November, 1986 in South London. Originally published as a pamphlet by Socialist Platform Ltd in 1987.

“The Making of a Literary Life: C. L. R. James Interviewed by Paul Buhle, May and September, 1987, Brixton,” in C.L.R. James’s Caribbean, P. Henry & P. Buhle, ads (London: Macmillan, 1987),  56-62.

Black struggles in Britain: interview with CLR James, Critical Social Policy 7 no. 21, (December 1, 1987), pages 49-55 [$$$]

John Fitzpatrick, “You never know when it’s going to explode (CLR James interviewed in Brixton, April 1989),” Living Marxism (April 1989). Podcast available here.

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Pan-Africanists and Black Anarchists: An Interview with Philip A. Howard

Dr. Philip A. Howard is a historian who researches the Afro-Cuban and African influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chair of the Department of History at the University of Houston, Howard is the author two books: Changing History: The Afro-Cuban Cabildos and Societies of Color in the Nineteenth Century (LSU Press, 1998) and the recently published, Black Labor, White Sugar:  The Caribbean Braceros Struggle for Power in the Cuban Sugar Industry, 1910-1935 (LSU Press, 2015). Black Labor, White Sugar examines the migration of the thousands of Haitian and Jamaican laborers who came to Cuba in the early twentieth century to work on U.S. controlled sugar plantations. For Howard, the story of these Black migrants is one of abuse and subjugation by the racialized, corporate structures of the sugar industry. It is also a story of survival and resistance. The Haitian and Jamaican braceros, as they were called, drew on Caribbean cultural identities and spiritual worldviews for sustenance and strength. And they turned to both Pan-Africanism and anarcho-syndicalism for political organization and ideological grounding.

The Public Archive: Could you start by saying something about your own intellectual lineage and the Caribbean texts that have shaped your thinking about the region? Additionally, what is it that first brought you to Cuba – to the study of Black populations in Cuba –and how did you move from your research on the nineteenth century cabildos to twentieth century braceros?

Philip A. Howard: I received both my M.A, and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University (Bloomington). Latin American History was my primary field of graduate study. African American History and African History were my secondary fields of study. With the guidance of my professors John V. Lombardi, William Harris, Phyllis Martin and later Richard J. Blackett, I designed a graduate program so that I could examine African slavery, culture, and resistance as well as the role race, ethnicity and color played in the Americas.

The monographs that have influenced my approach and thoughts about the experience of blacks in the Caribbean include Roger Bastide’s The African Religions of Brazil, Edward Brathwaite’s The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, Lydia Cabrera’s El Monte, Jorge and Isabela Castellanos’ Cultura afrocubana, Melville Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past, Franklin Knight’s and Margaret Crahan’s edited study Africa and the Caribbean, Rebecca Scott’s Slave Emancipation in Cuba, and Sterling Stuckey’s Slave Culture: Nationalist Theory and the Foundations of Black America. I could mention many more historians and cultural anthropologists that have helped me understand better the experience of people of African descent in the Caribbean.

Rebecca Scott’s guidance played a critical role in my decision to become a Cuban historian. In brief, John Lombardi sent Prof. Scott my research seminar paper on the abolition of slavery in Cuba. The paper underlined the role played by the cabildos de naciones de afrocubanos and societies of color in the abolition process. When she sent it back to me, she recommended that the topic of my dissertation should be about these black Cuban benevolent organizations since no book-length study existed. The “Cold War” between Cuba and the U.S., however, meant that I had to use colonial documents from the Spanish archives to write the dissertation. It was not until after Prof. Louis Pérez Jr. introduced me to Dr. Oscar Zanetti of the Instituto de Historia de Cuba that I was invited by officials and members of the Cuban academy to come to Cuba so that I could use the archives and libraries to revise the dissertation into Changing History: Afrocuban cabildos and Societies of Color in the Nineteenth Century.

Because Changing History ended in 1895 and after black Cubans had used the judicial system to compel Spanish colonial officials to end racial segregation in the schools, transportation and the public spaces of the island, I wanted to examine the socioeconomic and political experiences of black Cubans during the first decades of the Republic. The monographs written by Aline Helg, Ada Ferrer, Alejandra Bronfman and later Alejandro de la Fuente were all excellent contributions to our knowledge about black Cubans. Since my first book argued that the resistance of the cabildos and later the societies of color to slavery, colonialism and their marginalized status could be described as expressions of pan-African nationalism, with the help of Prof. Tony Martin’s work on Marcus Garvey, I decided to examine how Garvey’s ideology influenced black Cubans. After doing archival research in Cuba for three summers, I discovered that black Cubans found Garvey’s ideology irrelevant to their experiences. But that was not the case among the thousands of black Haitian and Jamaican braceros that were recruited by Cuban and North American sugar cane companies to cut and haul sugar cane.

For readers who aren’t familiar with the story of Black labor in Cuba in the first quarter of the twentieth century, can provide a historical and demographic outline describing who they were and from whence they came?

The black Caribbean workers that arrived after 1910 to labor on the sugar cane enclaves left their homes after realizing that they simply could not make a living wage to support their families. The political, and economic characteristics of the post-emancipation societies of the British, Dutch, and Spanish islands marginalized and exploited the workers. They were denied access to land by the plantocracy that believed that if they could prevent blacks from owning land, then they had to work for them on the estates or plantations as they had done as slaves before the abolition of slavery. Although, some British islands saw the emergence of a reconstituted peasantry, demographic pressures or growth resulted in fewer blacks having the opportunity to own land. The school system was underfunded as the political and commercial elites often sent their children to England for their education. Finally, black workers from the British islands also equated being free with emigrating throughout the Caribbean. During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, many left their respective islands for Central America, especially Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica to find work.

Workers from the French Caribbean, specifically from Haiti, immigrated to Cuba for many of the same reasons as those who left from the British Caribbean islands. The opportunity to own or even rent land became more difficult as the Haitian population continued to increase. In addition, the concepts of race, ethnicity and color tended to subjugate and exploit dark-skin Haitians. Color became such a divisive factor that the country’s political culture became characterized by intra-racial violence. Light-skin blacks fought dark-skin blacks for power at the national level throughout the nineteenth century. And this political instability led to the immiseration of the workers.

Although thousands of workers throughout the Caribbean found their way to the sugar cane producing regions of Cuba, the close geographical proximity of both Jamaica and Haiti meant that the majority of braceros that arrived did so from these two countries.

In The Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers (1931), George Padmore described the labor migration of Haitians and Jamaicans to Cuba as a “slave trade” and the Haitians and Jamaicans as “black slaves.” How accurate was that description? What was the nature of the conditions that they lived and worked under?

Padmore’s description is correct up to a certain point. The recruitment of Haitian and Jamaican workers never entailed some type capture and march to a port to be sold to representatives of the sugar cane companies. In fact, many Haitians, paid labor agents or brokers a great deal of money to take them to Cuba. Meanwhile, Jamaican braceros purchased their travel documents and passage to Cuba. Nonetheless, once they arrived, they tended to undergo similar experiences as their enslaved ancestors. For example, upon landing they underwent physical examinations to check their general health. It seems that the brokers who accompanied the workers to Cuba selected the finest specimens in Haiti and elsewhere, according to the Cuban immigration officials who admitted them. After they had passed their physicals, the workers boarded that took them into the sugar producing regions of the island. It is interesting that these trains usually carried the harvested cut cane to the ports. The managers and foremen of the mill companies met them and gave the braceros a number to were or hold. The officials of the mills addressed the workers by their numbers. Some mills had established sites in nearby towns or used the estates bateyes or main plazas to select and hire a gang of braceros who had been physically pushed around and ordered to line up. The eyewitness testimony of s few officials led me to conclude that these images resembled a slave market of the nineteenth century.

The daily grind of cutting and hauling cane sugar also resembled slavery. Accompanied by a group of foremen on horseback, the braceros marched into thousand of acres of cane to cut and haul. The companies expected that their field workers to cut and haul three to four tons a cane daily. They did so from sun up to sun down. In exchange the workers were paid a little more than a dollar for each ton of cane that they cut or between $3.50-$4.50 per day. They performed such work for approximate 150 days or from January until June. It is important to note that many of the Haitians who paid a broker a fee to take them to Cuba usually had to work 125 days to earn enough to repay their debt to the labor agent. It was this type of labor arrangement that Padmore may have been referring to when he suggested that the braceros’ lives resemble slavery.

The economic impact of the returns and remittances of the West Indian “Silver Men” who travelled to Panama to build the canal are well known. Was there a comparable impact on Haiti and Jamaica of labor returning from Cuba?

The reasons why thousands of Caribbean workers arrived to Cuba were to obtain and save enough wages to remit to their families and communities in which they left. They hoped to make to send their children to school, or to buy a small piece of land to build a home. The Haitians who left Les Cayes returned home with enough money to help refurbish the town’s infrastructure and roads that connected it with Port-au-Prince, according to a U.S. diplomatic official. More importantly, the braceros returned home with enough of their wages to convince the other members of their families and friends to go to Cuba. The wages that the mill companies paid also encouraged thousands of West Indians living in Panama to leave for Cuba.

You assert a relationship between the rise in Cuba of both anarchist and pan-Africanist politics in Cuba in the 1920s. Can you say a little about the importance of each and how they came together? What appeal did anarcho-syndicalism have for Haitians and British West Indians that Garveyism, for instance, did not?

Since the last quarter of the nineteenth century, anarcho-syndicalism had been an important ideology among white and black Cuban workers. The most important principle was universalism. This notion underlined that all workers, regardless of ethnicity, race color and nationality were exploited by capitalism. Between 1900-1912, it had guided workers’ activism and protest, particularly in the sugar and railroad industries. After a number of strikes failed in the sugar industry during WWI and as the sugar industry expanded to meet the demand of the allied nations, anarcho-syndicalist leaders took the lead in mobilizing and organizing sugar cane workers. Guided by “universalism,” they would include the braceros in their recruitment efforts.

It was in this context that Marcus M. Garvey arrived in Havana to turn his pan-Africanist movement into a transnational one. Garvey did not realize, however, that because black Cubans had interpreted their history and identity in a different manner than blacks had in America, black middle and professional Cubans saw themselves as Cuban rather than as members of the diaspora, Garvey’s ideology was not relevant. As a result, they welcomed and thanked him for coming. The rebuff of black Cubans allowed Garvey to travel to the sugar producing regions to meet the braceros. They greeted him warmly. As subjugated and exploited workers, Haitians and Jamaicans interpreted Garveyism not only in racial terms, but also in economic terms. The braceros obtained a class analysis of their circumstances and status in Cuba from Garveyism. They added it to the anarcho-syndicalism to create a radical worker consciousness. These black immigrant workers then participated in a number of strikes that challenged the power of the sugar companies owned predominately by Americans and Cubans.

Can a line be drawn between the state violence directed at Haitians and Jamaicans in Cuba in the 1920s and 1930s and that directed towards Haitians in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s – in particular during the 1937 Parsley Massacre?

I do not think so. It is clear, however, that the rhetoric of difference, based upon the race, ethnicity and color of the Haitians was employed to transform them into undesirable migrant workers in Cuba and after they arrived in the DR. In fact, the light-skinned leaders of the Dominican Republic had historically used rhetoric of difference to portray Haitians as uncivilized heathens, criminals and carriers of infectious diseases.

By the end of the 1920s, the prolonged crisis of the Cuban sugar industry had sparked a wave of nativism, xenophobia, and racism directed at Blacks, especially at Black migrant labor. Was Cuba able to recover from that moment? Can lessons be drawn for the present from the Cuban experience of the twenties and thirties?

It was not until after the revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro, that Cuba was able to reject these concepts that had become elements of Cuban nationalism. This was reflective in Castro being named leader of the non-aligned movement of developing nations.

As I witnessed the campaign for the U.S. presidency, I was surprised to see the Republican Party candidate, his surrogates and supporters use the same rhetoric of difference to make immigrants from Mexico, Central American as well as Muslims from different nations of the Near and Middle East into the undesirable ones. In Cuba, it resulted in not only state sponsored violence again black Haitians and Jamaicans but some private Cubans took it upon themselves to use violence toward these workers to show them that they were not welcome. The braceros’ race, ethnicity and color disqualified them from being considered as citizens of Cuba. Many confronted nativism, xenophobia and racism after have lived in Cuba for ten to fifteen years. They had married a Cuban and had started a family. They had learned to speak Spanish also. Some had purchased some land to farm or had started a small business. When the global depression of the 1930s reached Cuba, these braceros were asked to leave or were deported. Those who supported this immigration policy cried out “Cuba is for Cubans.” I am worried that what happened Cuba could take place in the U.S.


Prior interviews on The Public Archive can be found here.

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Reading Against Fascism

Soon after The Public Archive launched in 2010, we began featuring reading lists. Syllabi, some might call them, though regardless of the name, they were critically annotated compilations of texts grouped together under a number of general themes. “Reading Haiti,” for instance, gathered recently-published books that challenged mainstream media representations of the Black Republic and offered serious, non-voyeuristic readings of its history, politics, and culture. The initial “Reading Haiti” list was posted in 2011. Subsequent versions followed in 2012 and 2014. “Radical Black Reading” surveyed the contemporary literature on Black radical thought and politics, broadly conceived. Editions of Radical Black Reading appeared in 2011, 2012, 2013, and  2014. Two versions (in 2012 and 2015) appeared under the banner of “Radical Black Cities,” and focused on architecture, urbanism, and Black rebellion. Another examined the question of Blacks and Palestine. We also offered year-end round-ups featuring ten books, some new, some not, that had caught our eye and spoke to the contemporary political and cultural moment. These lists can be found here, here, and here.

In all cases – in all our lists – we attempted to highlight the work of writers from the Black World. We tried to avoid, as much as was possible, both commercial publishers and academic presses – as well as titles from the imperial, Anglophone centers of knowledge production. We strove to foreground the incredible work of Black-owned presses in North America, of independent imprints from the Caribbean and Africa, and of alternative and radical publishers from around the world, especially those publishing in languages other than English. (Of these presses, our recurring favorites include Mémoire d’encrier of Montreal, Présence Africaine of Paris, Peepal Tree Press of London and Ediciones Cielonaranja of Santo Domingo).

Our book choices have been shaped less by the marketing teams of white corporations or by the taste-making mandarins of white academic presses than by a belief that Black literary and political culture should be shaped autonomously and independently. Our sense is that Black readers are poorly served by the mainstream press. We suffer intellectually and politically in the absence of a truly pan-African, Black World review whose editorial policy is guided by a spiritual and critical commitment to the deep traditions of Black radicalism. To that end, we hoped out lists would be read for their juxtapositions and counterpoints and that readers would see the works talking to each other across time and space and genre and discipline.

We’ve been a little late offering another reading list. We’ve been reluctant to add to the incessant din of this extended season of syllabi. And we’ve been stricken with something of an existential doubt about the valence of the proliferation of lists. Lists without context. Lists without foundational evaluative principles. Lists of friends and colleagues. Lists for vainglorious self-promotion. Lists for the mere sake of listing. Moreover, our sense is that a list is not a course, a syllabus does not imply a pedagogy, and that reading without communal practice is not really reading at all.

Even so, given current political conditions we would be remiss if we did not in some way add a voice – and our list – to the ongoing appraisal of the present. So here, then, another list: a deliberately selected, briefly annotated, critically compiled list of books that try to apprehend the mistakes and missteps of the past, to assess the contorted terrain of the now, and to offer some guidance towards a radical, liberated future.

The Public Archive


Kwakwakaʼwakw writer, artist, and activist Gord Hill’s 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance offers a compressed, incendiary account of the incessant history of Native resistance to colonialism in the Americas. Beginning in 1492, Hill’s history also provides the deep historical background to background to the ongoing struggles for indigenous sovereignty against settler colonialism represented by Idle No More, NoDAPL and MMIWG. Also see The Winter We Danced: Voices From the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement edited by The Kino-nda-niimi Collective, the late Métis writer Howard Adams’, Prison of Grass: Canada from a Native Point of View and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States.

Jennifer Morgan’s Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery offers a fierce riposte to those white patriarchal revisionists who still write of slavery – and of capitalism – as if Black women were somehow marginal to both. Building on the historiography of Black feminism while mining the archives of colonialism, Laboring Women writes the history of the doubled practices of reproduction burdening Black women in slavery while proving, decisively, the centrality of Black women’s bodies to the history of capitalism. Also see Kamala Kempadoo, Sexing the Caribbean: Gender, Race and Sexual Labor; Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women the Body and Primitive Accumulation.

Arguably the most important book on Reconstruction since W.E.B. DuBois’ Black Reconstruction, Nell Irvin Painter’s Exodusters: Black Migration to Kansas after Reconstruction recounts in harrowing detail the forms of state violence – lynching, terrorism, bulldozing – meted out on Blacks in the US that spurred the late nineteenth century flight from the South. A forensic accounting of white supremacist violence, Exodusters is also a moving history of Black autonomy as Painter describes attempts to found free Black communities in Kansas, and recounts African American hopes of return to Africa.

Victor Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary is a fast-paced, eye-witness account of the political tribulations of early twentieth-century Europe told from the perspective of a radical activist and a gifted writer. Serge is a keen-eyed witness who never succumbs to sentimentalism and never compromises with despotism and the Memoirs offer a severe accounting of the failures of liberalism in the face of fascism. Also see: Claude McKay, A Long Way from Home.

The Man Who Cried Genocide, the autobiography of San Francisco-born Black Communist and lawyer William L. Patterson, describes not only Patterson’s own political awakening, but also the origins of the strategies and tactics of the Civil Rights movement – and their roots in Communist activism. From the Sacco-Vanzetti trial to the Scottsboro campaign to the presentation of the “We Charge Genocide” petition to the United Nations, Patterson demonstrates how local struggles were energized by international support, how class solidarity was energized through inter-racial alliance, and how the critique of capitalism means little without that of white supremacy. Also: Gerald Horne, Black Revolutionary: William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle.

With all the talk of the false consciousness of the white worker and the racial fractures amongst the proletariat its worth remembering those radical, inter-racial attempts at organizing against capitalism and the state. Revolt Among the Sharecroppers, Howard Kester’s account of the struggles of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union and during the Great Depression recounts one such struggle. It is a study labor insurgency that deserves a place alongside those other great histories of rebellion from the 1930s, including George Padmore’s Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers  and CLR James’ A History of Pan-African Revolt.

Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism is the classic polemic on the foundational barbarity that marked the birth of the West. Locating the origins of European fascism in the gulags and concentrations camps of the colonies, Césaire argues that fascism at home was forged in the furnaces abroad. Alongside Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Discourse on Colonialism remains critical to our understanding of race and empire. Also: Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui, Sovereigns, Quasi Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-Determinatino in International Law.

If there’s been a tendency in certain quarters to reduce the work of radical poet, librarian, and essayist Audre Lorde to a single slogan – that of “self-care” – a return to Lorde’s  Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches serves as a reminder of Lorde’s intellectual range and brilliance and of her absolutely uncompromised, resolutely ethical vision. Sister Outsider contains the deservedly famous “Master’s Tools” talk.  But it also has a stunning account of the US intervention in Grenada (and, with it African American complicity in US imperialism), urgent meditations on the meanings of the Sixties and the politics of anger, and an empathetic assessment of the legacy of Malcolm X. A rare, radical assertion of intersectional politics.

The reach and possibilities of the total surveillance society have radically expanded since the 1960s and with the emergence of information powerhouses like Alphabet and Facebook. But that doesn’t mean that some of the tactics and politics haven’t changed. To that end, Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall’s Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement is as relevant now as it was when it was first published almost two decades ago. Churchill and Vander Wall’s documenting of the efforts by J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO to wipe out a generation of Black and Indian activists remains unsurpassed.

The Black Atlantic is certainly the most debated book by British sociologist Paul Gilroy but There Aint No Black in the Union Jack”: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation has always been our favorite. Gilroy provides a trenchant reading of the maelstrom of race, class, and nation in Britain and the rise of dangerous registers of populism, authoritarianism, and absolutism. But There Aint No Black is also buttressed by some deep-digging in the archives of Black music as Gilroy demonstrates how diaspora culture chants down racial capitalism. Also see: A. Sivanandan, Communities of Resistance; No Sizwe, One Azania, One Nation: The National Question in South Africa.

As heart-wrenching as it is searing, Brother I’m Dying, Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat’s memoir of citizenship, migration, and the intimate violence of the state, is a stunning account of one family’s encounters with the cruel bureaucracy of the post-911 US immigration authority. Perhaps more relevant now than when it was first published.

We don’t think Butch Lee and Red Rover use the terms “neoliberalism” or “racial capitalism” but in many ways, Night-Vision: Illuminating War and Class on the Neo Colonial Terrain, is a vertigo-inducing critique of both. Lee and Rover historcize the rise of imperial- and corporation-friendly multiculturalism, seeing its emergence in the radical push back against the movements for decolonization and Black and Third World sovereignty. They also map the landscapes of the new modes of global, neocolonial capital accumulation, identifying, in the process, its historical subject. “Our primary question,” they write, “is who is the modern proletariat and what role does it play as a class? The answer is simple: it is primarily women, children, and alien labor. Those who are colonized.”

From here we should begin.

Mentions: Sergio González Rodríguez, The Femicide Machine. Abdourahman A. Waberi, Transit. Amitava Kumar, A Foreign Carrying in the Crook of his Arm a Tiny Bomb. Dana D. Nelson, Bad for Democracy: How the Presidency Undermines the Power of the People. Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being.


Image: Evil Buildings, Reddit.



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Citadelle du Christophe, Haiti, June 29, 1935.

Frederick G. Clapp, Citadelle du Christophe (1816-1820). Haiti, June 29, 1935. American Geographical Society Library, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries.

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“The Black Jacobins” to Appear in Fall

To the Editor of the AFRO:

My book, “The Black Jacobins,” will appear this fall in England (Secker and Warburg) and America (The Dial Press).

The book deals with the story of Toussaint L’Overture and the San Domingo Revolution, a subject on which in have already written a play performed by the State Society in London with Paul Robeson in the leading part.

I have written other books: “The Case for West Indian Self Government,” a novel, “Minty Alley,” and “World Revolution” (Secker and Warburg) which has been published in America under the title of “The Rise and Fall of the Communist International” (Pioneer Press) and has been widely reviewed both in the English and American Press.


59 Boundary Road, N.W. 8

London, England.

C.L.R. James to The Baltimore Afro-American, October 29, 1938.

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An incomplete bibliography of the writing of Suzy Castor

Une étape du nationalisme haitien (1929-1934). Diss. tesis de licenciatura ens, 1958, mimeo.

Política y Sociología en Haití y la República Dominicana: Coloquio Dominico-Haitiano De Ciencias Sociales, México, Julio De 1971. (México: UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, 1974)

“El Impacto de la Ocupación Norteamericana en Haití.’ Política y sociología en Haití y la República Dominicana. Coloquio Domínico-Haitiano de Ciencias Sociales (1974): 42-64.

Castor, Suzy, and Lynn Garafola. “The American Occupation of Haiti (1915-34) and the Dominican Republic (1916-24),” The Massachusetts Review. 15 (1974): 253-275

“Crisis del 29 y la instauración de un nuevo sistema de dominación y dependencia en Haití,” America latina en la arios treinta (1977): 25-51.

La Ocupación Norteamericana de Haití y sus Consecuencias, 1915-1934 (La Habana: Casa de las Américas, 1978).

Algunas consideraciones sobre la estructura agraria de una sociedad postesclavista: el caso de Saint Domingue. Vol. 29. Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos, 1978.

Algunas consideraciones sobre la estructura agraria de una sociedad postesclavista: el caso de Saint Domingue. (México: Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos, 1978).

Puerto Rico, Una Crisis Histórica (México: Editorial Nuestro Tiempo, 1979).

Castor, Suzy, and Sergio Vega. “Caribe Trimestral.” (1979): 144-145.

“El espacio estratégico: Caribe-Centroamérica en la coyuntura actual,” El Caribe contemporáneo (1980): 14-38.

Etudiants et Luttes Sociales dans la Caraïbe (Port-au-Prince, Haïti: Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le developpement, 1980).

“La politica de Reagan, peligro para el Caribe.” El Caribe Contemporáneo 6 (1982): 13-26.

Etudiants Et Luttes Sociales Dans La Caraöbes. (Port-au-Prince: (Centre de Recherche et de Formation Economique et Sociale pour le Développement, 1983).

“Dictadura y resistencia en Haití: la instancia Cultural.” Rev. Tareas, Nº55, Panamá (1983).

“El campesinado haitiano: su pontencial revolucionário.” Historia política de los campesinos latinoamericanos. (Ciudade do México: Siglo XXI, 1984): 93-141.

Castor, Suzy, and Gérard Pierre-Charles. Echec du Pouvoir Olgarchique et Alternative de Changements en Haïti. (New York: Hunter College, 1984).

Castor, Suzy and G Pierre-Charles. Haiti: Pouvoir, Oligarchie Et Alternative De Changement. (New York: Hunter College, 1984)

“El Campesinado Haitiano: Su Potencial Revolucionario.” Historia Política de los Campesinos Latinoamericanos. (1984).

“La primera guerra caco en Haití o la resistencia popular a la ocupación norteamericana (1915),” Revista Caribe Contemporáneo 10. (1985): 111-121.

Castor, Suzy, and Gérard Pierre-Charles. El Fracaso del Poder Oligárquico En Haití y Las Alternativas De Cambio. (1986).

“El combate por la democracia en la América Latina” Revista Casa de Las Américas 155-156 (1986): 25-34.

“Haití tras la caída de Duvalier: Presente y perspectivas,” Revista Caribe Contemporáneo (1986): 35-45.

“Haití: de la ruptura a la transición,” Revista Nueva Sociedad 82 (1986): 12-17.

Migraciones y relaciones internacionales: El caso haitiano-dominicano (Santo Domingo: Editora Universitaria UASD, 1987);

Le Massacre de 1937 et Les Relations Haitiano-Dominicaines. (IMPRIMERIE LE NATAL S.A, 1988).

Castor, Suzy, Monique Brisson, and Morna McLeod. Femme: Société Et Législation. Port-au-Prince, (Haïti: Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement, 1988).

Théories Et Pratiques De La Lutte Des Femmes. (Port-au-Prince, Haiti: Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement, 1988).

Haïti: À L’aube Du Changement. Port-au-Prince (Haïti: Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement, 1991)

Hai͏̈ti: à l’aube du changement  (Centre de recherche et de formation économique et sociale pour le développement, 1991).

“Democracy and Society in Haiti: Structures of Domination and Resistance to Change,” Social Justice. 19 (1992): 126-137

Les Femmes Haïtiennes aux Élections de 1990 (Port-au-Prince: CRESFED, 1994).

“Democracy and Society in Haiti: Structures of Domination and Resistance to Change.” In Latin America Faces the Twenty-First Century: Reconstructing a Social Justice Agenda, edited by Susanne Jonas and Ed McCaughan, pp. 158–169. (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1994).

“Haití: El reto de una nueva policía,” Nueva Sociedad. (1995): 6-13.

La Formation De La Police: Un Enjeu De La Transition (Canapé-Vert [Haiti: CRESFED, 1995)

Décentralisation Et Processus De Démocratisation (Canapé-Vert [Haiti: CRESFED, 1997).

“Décentralisation et processus de democratization,” Journal of Haitian Studies (1997): 4-14.

“Décentralisation et processus de démocratisation en Haïti.” Alternatives Sud 4.3 (1997): 161-178.

Les Origines De La Structure Agraire en Haïti. (Port-au-Prince: Centre de Recherche et de Formation Économique et Social pour le Développement, 1998).

Pouvwa Lejislatif. (Pòtoprens, Ayiti: CRESFED, 1998).

Castor, Suzy, and Levelt Delva. La Justice au Quotidien. (Port-au-Prince, Haïti: CRESFED, 2000).

Suzy, and Levelt Delva. Lajistis Toulejou (Port-au-Prince, Haiti: CRESFED, 2000).

Castor, Suzy, Nicole Edouard, and Rith Rathon. Le Pouvoir Judiciaire (Port-au-Prince, Haïti: CRESFED, 2003).

“Significado Historico De La Revolucion De Saint-Domingue,” Casa De Las Americas  44.234 (2004): 3-10.

“La cuestión migratoria en el Caribe an los albores del siglo XXI,” Alternativas sur 1 (2004): 159-170.

Collectivités Territoriales: Superficie, Population, Localisation. (Port-au-Prince, Haïti: CRESFED, 2005).

“La difficile sortie d’une longue transition,” in Haiti: Hope for a Fragile State, edited by Yasmine Shamsie and Andrew S. Thompson, (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2006), pp. 111–128

“La transición haitiana: entre los peligros y la esperanza.”Revista OSAL (2008).

“A Transição haitiana: entre os perigos e a esperança,” Cadernos de Pensamento Crítico LatinoAmericano 2 (2008): 11-24.

Mémoire et Droits Humains: Enjeux et Perspectives Pour les Peuples D’afrique et Les Amériques : Actes Du Colloque Organisé Par Action De Carême En Collaboration Avec Aide Fédération Et L’iued Les 23 Et 24 Novembre 2006 Au Palais Des Nations Unies (genève). (Lausanne: Action de Carême, 2009).

Castor, Suzy, et al. “Les Impacts du Tremblement de Terre du 12 Janvier 2010,” CRESFED Recontrer (2010): 22-23.

“Le racines séculaires d’une difficile construction nationale,” Haïti, Réinventer L’avenir. (2012): 35-43

Rainhorn, Jean-Daniel, Michaëlle Jean, Michèle Pierre-Louis, and Suzy Castor. Haïti, Réinventer L’avenir (2014).

Castor, Suzy, Sabaiz L. Gómez, Anthony Barbier, Louis R. Thomas, Fritz Jean, Sauveur P. Étienne, Alain Gilles, and Rémy Montas. État De Droit En Haïti: Les Grands Défis (2014).

Castor, Suzy, Sabaiz L. Gómez, and Jean R. Élie. Aménagement Du Territoire Et Décentralisation (2014)

Castor, Suzy, Sabaiz L. Gómez, and Roody Edmé. Éducation De Qualité Un Droit Pour Tous (2015).




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