Seeking the Beloved Community

A Feminist Race Reader

By Joy James
Foreword by Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Subjects: Politics, African American Studies, Feminist, Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series, Philosophy and Race
Paperback : 9781438446325, 352 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446332, 352 pages, May 2013

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Table of contents

Foreword by Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Part I. Feminist Race Theory
1. Teaching Theory, Talking Community
2. Politicizing the Spirit: Toni Morrison
3. Black Feminism in Liberation Limbos
4. Resting in Gardens, Battling in Deserts: Black Women’s Activism
5. Radicalizing Black Feminism
6. Angela Y. Davis: Liberation Praxis
7. Assata Shakur and Black Female Agency
Part II. Democracy and Captivity

8. Democracy and Captivity
9. Black Suffering in Search of the “Beloved Community”
10. American Prison Notebooks
11. Violations
12. War, Dissent, and Social Justice
13. Academia, Activism, and Imprisoned Intellectuals
Part III. Sovereign Political Subjects
14. Activist Scholars or Radical Subjects?
15. Campaigns Against Blackness
16. Sovereign Kinship and the President Elect
17. The Dead Zone
18. Racism, Genocide, and Resistance
19. “All Power to the People!”: Arendt’s Communicative Power in Racial Democracy

Selected essays on radical social change.


Written over the course of twenty years, the essays brought together here highlight and analyze tensions confronted by writers, scholars, activists, politicians, and political prisoners fighting racism and sexism. Focusing on the experiences of black women calling attention to and resisting social injustice, the astonishing scale of mass and politically driven imprisonment in the United States, and issues relating to government and civic powers in American democracy, Joy James gives voice to people and ideas persistently left outside mainstream progressive discourse—those advocating for the radical steps necessary to acknowledge and remedy structural injustice and violence, rather than merely reforming those existing structures.

Joy James is Presidential Professor of the Humanities at Williams College. Her many books include Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy; The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings, also published by SUNY Press; and Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion.


"…this Joy James reader is at its core a portrait of 'the making of a dissident voice' … What we most desperately need in a world that fears and silences opposition—or worse—are revolutionaries who speak truth to power and beckon us to stand with them in solidarity. A luta continua. The struggle continues. " — from the Foreword by Beverly Guy-Sheftall

"These broad-ranging essays circle around the topic of building community under siege. Communities can be 'thorny ties,' as Joy James notes, yet are vital for developing a critical consciousness on one's society. James also provides an astute analysis of the antirevolutionary trends in social theory today. Herein one will find the voice of a dissident humanist in full flower. " — Linda Martín Alcoff, coeditor of Constructing the Nation: A Race and Nationalism Reader