October - Assata: An Autobiography

This month Black Bottom Book Club is reading Assata: An Autobiography (with a foreword from Angela Davis). Our monthly e-discussion will be held October 27th @ 7:30 pm on Twitter -- moderated by @phil_cosby_ @sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom. 

Want to write a blog about the book or Assata? Email us today: archives@blackbottomllc.com

 

Happy Reading!

**don't forget to follow the hashtag #blackbottombooks to keep up with the discussion!

Posted on October 1, 2015 .

September - Wrapped In Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston

This month Black Bottom Book Club is reading Wrapped In Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston by Valerie Boyd. Our monthly e-discussion will be held September 29th @ 7:30 pm on Twitter -- moderated by @phil_cosby_ @sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom. 

Want to write a blog about the book? Email us today: archives@blackbottomllc.com

 

Happy Reading!

**don't forget to follow the hashtag #blackbottombooks to keep up with the discussion!

Posted on September 1, 2015 .

August - This Non-Violent Stuff'll Get You Killed By Charles E. Cobb Jr.

This month Black Bottom Book Club is reading This Non-Violent Stuff'll Get You Killed by Charles E. Cobb, Jr. As the Movement continues to build, it's imperative that we look at the methods and mantras of our older civil rights leaders, and we're excited to read this book with you all! 

Our monthly e-discussion will be held August 25th @ 7:30 pm on Twitter -- moderated by @phil_cosby_ @sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom. 

Interested in obtained a free pdf copy of the book? Contact our moderator Phil Lewis on twitter: @Phil_Cosby_ and he'll send one to you!

Want to write a blog about the book and your opinions or perspectives on the Movement? Email us today: archives@blackbottomllc.com

 

Happy Reading!

**don't forget to follow the hashtag #blackbottombooks to keep up with the discussion!

July - Their Eyes Were Watching God By Zora Neale Hurston

Hey Black Bottom Book Clubbers! This month we're reading, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. We will be posting short essays discussing the topics and themes covered in the book. Our monthly discussion will be held May 26th at 7:30 pm on twitter -- moderated by @Phil_Cosby_@sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom, using the hashtag #BlackBottomBooks. We're excited to read with you all this month and look forward to your commentary! 

Interested in writing a post about Their Eyes Were Watching God? Email us at archives@blackbottomllc.com

Posted on July 15, 2015 .

MAY - INVISIBLE MAN BY RALPH ELLISON

Hey Black Bottom Book Clubbers! This month we're reading, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. We will be posting short essays discussing the topics and themes covered in the book. Our monthly discussion will be held May 26th at 7:30 pm on twitter -- moderated by @Phil_Cosby_@sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom, using the hashtag #BlackBottomBooks. We're excited to read with you all this month and look forward to your commentary! 

Interested in writing a post about Invisible Man or one of the book's themes? Email us at archives@blackbottomllc.com

APRIL - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X AS TOLD TO ALEX HALEY

Hey Black Bottom Book Clubbers! This month we're reading, The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. We will be posting short essays discussing the topics and themes covered in the book. Our monthly discussion will be held April 28th at 7:30 pm on twitter -- moderated by @Phil_Cosby_@sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom, using the hashtag #BlackBottomBooks. We're excited to read with you all this month and look forward to your commentary! 

Interested in writing a post about The Autobiography of Malcolm X or one of the book's themes? Email us at archives@blackbottomllc.com

March - The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Hey Black Bottom Book Clubbers! This month we're reading one of our personal favorites, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Starting next week, we will be posting short essays discussing the topics and themes covered in the book. Our monthly discussion will be held March 31st at 7:30 pm on twitter -- moderated by @Phil_Cosby_ @sarah_smileee and @_blackbottom, using the hashtag #BlackBottomBooks. We're excited to read this classic novel with you all and look forward to your commentary! 

Interested in writing a post about The Bluest Eye or one of the novel's themes? Email us at archives@blackbottomllc.com

Private Prisons and the Fallacy of Cost Savings

In honor of The New Jim Crow and Detroit’s shift from public to private governance, this blog post is dedicated to private prisons and the fallacy of cost savings. Dating back to the 1850s, private prisons have a longstanding history in the United States. Though public entities handled the vast majority of imprisonment for most of the 20th century, following The War on Drugs, private prisons gained traction as inmate populations began to soar.

These institutions reduce the value of human life to dollar signs with lofty claims of cost savings. In reality, prison populations have risen over 500% while crime rates remain stagnant.

After researching their own finances, private companies have themselves concluded they don’t save money. Executives become rich by stripping inmates of all human rights. Cutting education programs, guard protection, even leaving cells covered in blood and fecal matter. When a person is released from one of these prisons they have gained nothing but an increased criminal network.

Currently, Michigan operates no private facilities but from 1997-2005 Wackenhut Corporation, now known as the GEO Group, opened a juvenile detention center called North Lake Facility. Following a series of contract violations and underperformance, the state of Michigan terminated its contract. These violations include: 3 times more violence than the state average, a failure to provide counseling or adequate staff levels, and almost $10 per person/ per day over the state average.

Our tax dollars are making private prison executives millionaires even though they provide subpar service. These millionaires lack an incentive to lower crime rates. In order for them to sustain operations they rely on a steady influx of criminals. Decreasing crime at any rate completely undermines the purpose of a competitive market - profit and growth.

We’ve been primed to continue this cycle indefinitely through our “Do the crime, do the time” mindsets. Under retributive law punishment seeks to deter crime, not compensate it. If punishing people for crimes does not deter them from committing said crimes, it makes no sense to employ punishment. Why do the time if it doesn’t stop the crime? Why punish Black and Latino people at higher rates with harsher sentences? Michelle Alexander attempts to answer these and several other questions in her groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow.

Join us February 24th @ 7:30 pm on twitter as we discuss the purpose and efficacy of retributive punishment, the problematic private prison system, racially charged mass incarceration, and many more topics raised and addressed in The New Jim Crow.

The book discussion will be moderated by @sarah_smileee @phil_cosby_ and @thenewjimcrow. Follow the hashtag #blackbottombooks and @_blackbottom to keep up with the conversation!

Contributed by Sarah Johnson

Posted on February 22, 2015 .

Where are the Black men?

Soooo. . .where dey at doe?

Where are the Black men? Some point to interracial dating, while others may say, "As long as you love yourself and have enough self-respect, you will eventually find your husband."

First, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 3 million more Black women than Black men in the United States. Let's do the math - if every Black man in America married a Black woman today, 1 out of 12 Black women still wouldn't make it down the aisle. So what exactly is happening here? Although this appears to be one of our generation's most persistent questions, we simultaneously know and do not know the answer to this question. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander hopes to shed light on the topic.

There has been much research focused on society's will to turn a blind eye towards racial oppression taking place both now and in the past. In noted criminologist Stanley Cohen's book States of Denial, the researcher examines how one can concurrently understand yet oppression - even when it is occurring right in front of us. Mass incarceration, functioning as a caste system within our country's legal framework, is largely ignored as a cause of the disappearance of Black men. It is odd that while we both know and do not know the effect mass incarceration has had on our communities, we still tend to ignore it. 

If facts aren't enough, then here's a little bit of real word perspective: the real issue is race. Seventy-five percent of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been Black or Latino; In some states, up to ninety percent. Yet we still still hear cries of a post-racial society. The War on Drugs has single-handedly contributed to drugs arrests tripling in number since 1980, and the majority of these individuals arrested have no history of violent crime. The number of people arrested for drug offenses as you read this today is more than the number of people jailed for any reason in 1980. 

The War on Drugs is not necessarily focused on lethal drugs either; the majority of drug arrests in 1980 were on account of marijuana possession (even though science has proven marijuana to be less harmful than alcohol). Knowing these facts, one must understand how the sharp increase in drug-related arrests coincides with the disappearance of Black men. The legal system disproportionately targets Black men and sentences Black men for minor offenses at a much higher rate than it does white men. We have witnessed a prisoner boom that has resulted in more than 7 million Americans behind bars or on probation - with a large number of the 7 million being people of color.

Black Americans have been implicated as the main targets of the War on Drugs through literature, media, stereotypes and suspicions, even though Black men are not significantly more likely to sell or use drugs than white men. We both know this and don't know this. So where have all the Black men gone? Look no further than America's prisons and jails. 

Contributed by Phil Lewis

Don't forget to join us on Twitter on February 24 @ 7:30 pm for our e-discussion of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander! The discussion will be moderated by @PhilCosby @sarahsmileee and @thenewjimcrow

Follow @_blackbottom and #blackbottombooks to follow the discussion and stay in the know!