Race and Inclusion

Racial Justice and Inclusiveness Committee

The Friends of Roslindale Branch Library have formed a Racial Justice and Inclusiveness Committee to plan educational events, discussions, and presentations related to race, ethnicity, religion, and culture.  We also created a special list of books related to these topics.

If you are interested in joining our committee, email info@friendsofroslindalelibrary.org.


Schedule of Events


thenewjimcrowBook Discussion: The New Jim Crow
September 8, 15, 22 & 29
9:15 - 11 AM
Roslindale Library

We will discuss Michelle Alexander's acclaimed book on the connection between mass incarceration and racism in America. The discussion will be led by local educator Josh Frank and books are available to borrow from the Roslindale Library.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
By Michelle Alexander

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president, and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.

IMG-1242Islam 101 with Hoda Elsharkawi
Thursday, September 27, 6:30 pm
Roslindale Library

The Friends invited Hoda Elsharkawi to participate in an informal community discussion about Islam and women in Middle Eastern culture. This will be followed by a Q & A afterward.

Sister Hoda Elsharkawi is a long-standing and respected member of the Muslim community in Boston. For more than two decades, she has led youth study circles, women support groups, adult Islam 101 classes and has also been involved in interfaith outreach, teaching, and counseling.

Sister Hoda has a degree in communication and journalism from Egypt and has also studied Islamic Studies at the Islamic American Open University and counseling and psychology at the University of Massachusetts. She has worked as the Muslim Chaplain at MIT and is currently an Islamic studies teacher at the Islamic Academy of New England. She is married and has three children.

evictedbookcoverBook Discussion: Evicted
Saturdays, October 13, 20 & 27
9:15 - 11 AM
Roslindale Library

We will discuss Matthew Desmond's Evicted, a book that looks at poverty and housing injustice in America and how we can address these issues better in our community.  The discussion will be led by local educator Josh Frank and books will be available to borrow from the Roslindale Library soon.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
By Matthew Desmond

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.