Joey Bada$$‘ grip on social issues and race relations has been constant throughout his rap career. Most of us first heard the innocuous teenager back in 2012 when he waxed poetically about spirituality and poverty that overpowers ambition on his breakout single, “Waves.” Today, the Flatbush, Brooklyn native is 22 years young. Despite the springtime of life, Joey’s sagaciousness continues to captivate curious minds of all ages.
With a bigot acting as commander-in-chief of the United States of America, a punctual Bada$$ fittingly delivered his latest album titled All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, the follow-up to his 2-year-old B4.Da.$$. With 12 songs totaling 49 minutes, the rapper born Jo-Vaughn Scott digs deep into America’s grotesque history and clutches onto themes of systemic and overt racism, poverty, mass incarceration, among other unpleasantries. Bada$$ even throws well-deserved shots at the misogynistic Donald Trump, who has publicly used (what’s historically deemed racist) coded “law and order” rhetoric.
One of the most impressive and deeply profound tracks on All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ is the emotional letter that Joey pens to his country titled, “Y U Don’t Love Me (Miss AmeriKKKa).” Here, the Pro Era founding member questions the un-nurturing energy that AmeriKKKa passes off to black people. Bada$$’ entire sophomore album runs through a checklist of wrongdoings like racial profiling, police brutality, subjecting blacks to second-class citizenship, among other insults.
Joey’s hip-hop elders like Ice Cube, Nas, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Talib Kweli, and Wu-Tang Clan have also fed the streets analytical and well-read stories about the history of racism. Now, it’s Joey’s turn to inform a generation of young boys and girls about white supremacy. As a result, All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ inspired VIBE to compile the following short list of books that expose both legal and covert racism in America.
1: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (Anchor Books)
Independent historian and journalist Douglass Blackmon shows how slavery did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation. After slavery was abolished, blacks were pulled back into forced labor with the Black Codes; laws that subjected newly freed blacks to certain areas. Under this system, many blacks were arrested—in most cases for no crime at all—and forced to work in the prison system.
2: The Strange Career of Jim Crow (Oxford University Press)
Even at 91, C. Vann Woodward was one of the nation’s most captivating historians. In his award-winning study of Jim Crow, Woodward offers a clear and concise examination of the Jim Crow South. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to “The Strange Career of Jim Crow” as the “Bible of the Civil Rights Movement.” This is an excellent book to get a basic understanding of Jim Crow.
3: Red Summer: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Awaking of Black America (Henry Holt)
Cameron McWhirter tells a comprehensive story of the turbulent 1919 fall season where a number of race riots exploded in cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C. and Elaine, Arkansas. But more disturbing than the race riots that took place in 1919 were the number of blacks that were lynched by racist whites. Many argue that the lynchings of 1919 set off the first wave of the Civil Rights Movement.
4: At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance-A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power(First Vintage Books)
Common knowledge about Rosa Parks details her defying segregation laws. But her activism started long before her refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger. Danielle McGuire, in “At the Dark End of the Street,” tells the story of the rape of the 24-year old sharecropper, Recy Taylor. President of the NAACP sent his best investigator, Rosa Parks, to decipher the case. With this, Parks helped expose a history of rape against Taylor and other black women.
5: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press)
In this brilliantly researched book, legal scholar Dr. Michelle Alexander sheds light on America’s prison system. the “War on Drugs,” and shows how the former is similar to Jim Crow. Alexander also uses evidence from the “War on Drugs” to show how convicted felons are basically disenfranchised.
6: Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret Wars against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (South End Press)
The FBI’s creation of COINTELPRO is one of the most disturbing creations from the U.S. government. Ward Churchill and Jim Wall put together this historical account of COINTELPRO’s establishment, their siege on Wounded Knee, as well as their campaigns against the Black Liberation Movement.
7: The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of how Our Government Segregated America (Liveright Publishing)
Here, Richard Rothstein shows how laws and housing policies—by local, state and federal—promoted segregation in metropolitan cities. Rothstein, a leading authority on housing, picks apart the myth that segregation results from individual practice.
8: Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880 (The Free Press)
Sociologist, intellectual and activist, W.E.B. Du Bois played an instrumental role in shaping black culture with the founding of the NAACP. In his groundbreaking book, “Black Reconstruction in America, 1860-1880,” the Harvard graduate tells the story of the role that blacks played in rebuilding America after the Civil War.
9: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America (Nation Books)
Prof. Ibram Kendi researched the entire history of white rage. Kendi also shows readers that racist ideas came from the minds of some of the world’s most highly intellectual men.
10: Ku Klux: The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction (University of North Carolina Press)
Elaine Parsons pens the first comprehensive history of the Ku Klux Klan’s rise. Here, she explores reasons behind the formation of the KKK. Although its origins can be traced back to Pulaski, Tenn., Parsons shows how the KKK’s influence also reached political and mass media circles in northern cities.
11: Ghetto: The Invention of a Place (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Mitchell Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its sixteenth-century origins, to its resuscitation by the Nazi to the dilapidated black ghettos in today’s America. Dunier shows how poverty is often met with prejudice and discrimination.
12: From War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (President and Fellows of Harvard College)
Elizabeth Hinton examines the rise of mass incarceration in America and connects its ascension to former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Yes, the Great Society promoted economic equality, but these strategies were rooted in the belief that African Americans are mostly responsible for their own economic equality, according to Hinton’s research.