“White supremacists are attempting to control our people’s future by erasing our past. But we won't let them. The centuries-long attack on Black history represents a strike against our very worth, brilliance, and value. We’re ready to fight back. And when we fight, we win.”
Since its founding as a discipline in 1969, Black Studies has been under constant attack by social and political forces seeking to discredit and neutralize it.
Florida is the frontline of an increasingly pitched battle taking place in schools and communities across the country. State legislatures are introducing laws to remove work by Black scholars like Angela Davis, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, James Baldwin, and many others from classrooms, libraries, and curricula.
Books are tools—sources of knowledge and inspiration, especially in the hands of young people and organizers—to challenge the world and imagine something better. This barrage of attacks by the state represents something more chilling and insidious than a dismissive “culture war” headline: it's an attempt to hide our radical history from future generations. And Black Studies as a field of knowledge and inquiry is by necessity radical. It came into being in undaunted opposition to the racial status quo. That’s what makes it dangerous. It refuses to accept the world as it is—a world of premature Black death and vulnerability, a world of lethal doses of racial inequity, a world where Black people are rendered less than human. To the contrary, Black Studies has always been integral to the struggle for human liberation.
The assault on Black Studies is an assault on movements fighting for a better future. It signals a disturbing truth about the US political landscape: the so-called “war on woke” is far from over. It’s just beginning, and it needs to be confronted head on.
Co-published by Haymarket Books and Kaepernick Publishing, Our History Has Always Been Contraband collects critical voices from the Black radical tradition. Edited by Robin D. G. Kelley, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Colin Kaepernick, Our History Has Always Been Contraband gives students and non-students alike access to a history and tradition that is being suppressed.