The Reading List: Bay Area Authors on Racial Justice and Equity

A look into the SFMOMA Van Ness museum bookstore, which the museum has had for over eighty years.

“We turn to these titles to gain needed perspectives as we begin to grapple with long-standing inequities in our institution, our city, and our country.”

Many of us at SFMOMA have turned to books and articles to keep us productive and mindful during what feels like a long summer of sheltering-in-place. Written by Bay Area authors, the texts below were recommended by museum staff and center racial justice and equity. We’ve included other readings suggested by our social media community, too. These works give needed perspectives as we grapple with long-standing inequities in our institution, our city, and our country.

This list is a starting place, and we hope to add to it. We’ve been inspired by other institutions’ reading lists, some of which you’ll find at the bottom of this page. Wwelcome your suggestions too, via social media @sfmoma, or through email at digital@sfmoma.orgWhen submitting, please send over a brief sentence about why the book is important to include. 

Black Youth Rising: Activism & Radical Healing in Urban America

Shawn Ginwright, a professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department and a senior research associate at San Francisco State University, details the concept of “radical healing” in this text, while also offering insight and expertise for community institutions serving Black communities.

“The Black Experience in Graphic Design: 1968 and 2020”

Featuring archival material and interviews from Print magazine, this piece in Letterform Archive juxtaposes the experiences of Black graphic designers in 1968 with those working in 2020. What’s changed? Not much when it comes to institutional inclusion and inequality, concludes Richmond-based designer Maurice Woods, founder of Inneract Project. Also from Letterform Archive is this archival dig into The Black Panther’s publishing history, featuring local voices.

“A Brief History of Institutional Racism in San Francisco’s Land Use Choices—and the Impacts That Remain Today”

Did you know that, in 1915, the city of Berkeley pioneered single-family zoning, a policy that effectively shut out Black families from predominantly white neighborhoods? Written by Todd David, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Coalition, and Stevon Cook, a commissioner with the San Francisco Unified School District, this text functions as an accessible introduction to types of land-use policies that have caused or exacerbated segregation within the Bay Area.

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Written by Bay Area author Dr. Monique W. Morris, this book chronicles the experiences of Black girls who are pushed through, and then pushed out of, an education system rife with inequity. Morris also penned Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-First Century and numerous works focused on the juvenile justice system.

We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation

Berkeley-based author Jeff Chang first published this prescient essay collection in 2016. In “On Cultural Equity,” excerpted by the Walker Art Center here, the author asks, “Who has the power to shape culture?,” and, in the process, offers a sobering assessment of inequality in cultural institutions.

Recommendations from our social media community:

Additional Lists: