Ep. 250 A Litany of Abuses with Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham

Today we’re joined by two award-winning journalists from the field of criminal justice and police misconduct. Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham have coauthored the book The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption, and Cover-Up in Oakland, an exposé following many years of investigation of The Oakland Police Department. We get into why they wanted to write about the OPD in the first place, and ask whether the police can be reformed. We also discuss how the authors feel their own identities played into their writing of the book.

The Stacks Book Club selection for January is The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey with Michaela Angela Davis. We will discuss the book on January 25th with Chelsea Devantez.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Ali: Twitter Connect with Darwin: Twitter Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

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Ep. 245 The Worst Moments of His Life with Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa

Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa join The Stacks to discuss their book His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice. We talk about giving George Floyd the “presidential” biography treatment, and why they chose to tell his story now. They reveal how they tackled writing such a massive book with over 400 interviews, and what the fact-checking process was like. We also ask, ‘who is the audience for this book?’

The Stacks Book Club selection for December is True Biz by Sarah Nović. We will discuss the book on December 28th with Greta Johnsen.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Toluse: Instagram | Twitter | Website
Connect with Robert: Instagram | Twitter 
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To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The Stacks x The Catherine Coleman Foundation Fundraiser

It’s Giving Tuesday, so what better day to kick off our annual fundraiser? This year, we’re supporting The Catherine Coleman Foundation, founded by MacArthur Genius Award winner and dear friend of the podcast Kiese Laymon in honor of his grandmother.

The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts, Food and Justice Initiative now permanently resides at the Jackson State University Margaret Walker Center after its start at The University of Mississippi in 2020. It gives emerging Mississippi writers new avenues for creativity along with a renewed connection with their community’s historical social justice movements. The initiative will offer programming and writing seminars led by JSU students, faculty and special guests aimed at honing the skills of its young people as readers, writers and editors.

Kiese explained the program’s mission in announcing its move to JSU: “My grandmama sent all her daughters to Jackson State. This initiative will continue to help young folks in Jackson become the next Danielle Buckingham or Leslie McLemore Jr., two of the greatest young artists in Mississippi… Our hope is to ritualize workshops and incredible food for young folks in our community who might not get a lot of time to write and read ‘creatively.’ We also want young people to consider the creativity that gets food from the land to the table in Mississippi.”

Kiese himself plans to match up to $50,000 in donations to the program for the next month.

Our Stacks community goal is to raise $25,000.

If you’re able, please join The Stacks in raising money toward expanding and supporting the literary arts for Mississippi youths. Consider forgoing one new book this month in favor of making a $25 donation to this incredible organization.

Ep. 217 Surviving in the Face of Death with David Dennis Jr.

This episode we hear from cultural critic David Dennis, Jr – Senior Writer at ESPN’s Andscape and author of the new book The Movement Made Us: A Father, a Son, and the Legacy of a Freedom Ride. We talk about the similarities and differences between Black Lives Matter and the Civil Rights Movement, the book that inspired David’s storytelling, and what it means to survive when you’re planning to die.

The Stacks Book Club selection for June is White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue … and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson. We will discuss the book on June 29th with David Dennis Jr.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Connect with David: Instagram | Twitter
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To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

Ep. 180 Fifty Years After Attica with Heather Ann Thompson

Today we are joined by Pulitzer Prize winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, Heather Ann Thompson. We discuss her process in researching and writing this epic civil rights story, and the legacy of the uprising 50 years later.

The Stacks Book Club selection for September is Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson. We will discuss the book with Derecka Purnell on Wednesday September 29th.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes. You can also find everything we talked about on Amazon.

Connect with Heather: Twitter | Instagram | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The Stacks Book Club — September 2021

If you’ve been a fan of The Stacks for a while you may know that there was one book that sparked my desire to start the show. I talk about the book all the time, but have never featured it on the show. The timing never seemed right, I never felt like I had the guest to take on such a transformational book. However, September 2021 marks the 50 year anniversary of the uprising at Attica Prison, and so this month, I am proud to say, we are finally reading Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson for The Stacks Book Club.

In her Pulitzer Prize winning book Blood in the Water, Thompson takes the reader through the history of an event that has shaped the criminal legal system over the last 50 years. The book explains the conditions that led to the unrest in the prison, the five days of negotiations, the violent retaking of the prison, and the years of litigation that followed. The book is a master class in research and storytelling. Blood in the Water gives voice to the people who fought for over 45 years for the truth of Attica to be exposed.

We will be discussing Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson on Wednesday, September 29th. You can find out who our guest will be for that discussion by listening to the podcast on September 1st. If you’d like even more discussion around the book consider joining The Stacks Pack on Patreon and participating in The Stacks’ monthly virtual book club.

Order your copy of our August book on Bookshop.org or Amazon.


To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed. For more information click here.

Ep. 135 The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley– The Stacks Book Club (Marc Lamont Hill)

Today is The Stacks Book Club conversation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told Alex Haley. We are joined again by Marc Lamont Hill, author, professor, activist, podcast host, and bookseller for this discussion of one of the important works on nonfiction in American history. We talk about the ways this book transformed us, the bravery of changing one’s mind, and the ways in which this book still feels relevant fifty-five years later.
There are no spoilers on this episode.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

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Connect with Marc:  Twitter | Instagram | Website | Uncle Bobbie’s | Coffee & Books
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of this show. If you prefer to do a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

The Stacks Book Club — October 2020

On October 29, 1965 Alex Haley published The Autobiography of Malcolm, eight months and eight days after the assassination of the Muslim minister and Civil Rights activist. Fifty-five years later, almost to the day, we will discuss this iconic work of nonfiction for The Stacks Book Club.

Malcolm X is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. His life was cut short but his message lives on and is as relevant now as it was over fifty years ago. The Autobiography of Malcolm spans Malcolm X’s life, from his youth in Michigan to his hustling days in Boston to his murder in Harlem, all in his own words. The reader follows along as Malcolm X undergoes multiple transformations to become one of the most important leaders for Black empowerment.

We will be discussing The Autobiography of Malcolm on the podcast on Wednesday, October 28th. You can find out who our guest will be by listening to the podcast on September 7th. If you’d like even more discussion around the book consider joining The Stacks Pack on Patreon and participating in The Stacks’ monthly virtual book club.

Order your copy of our July book on Bookshop.org or Amazon.


To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed. For more information click here.

Ep. 115 Heroes Walk Among Us with Bakari Sellers

In 2006, at the age of 22, Bakari Sellers made history as the youngest person ever elected to the South Carolina state legislature, and the youngest African American elected official in the country. He is now a CNN analyst and the author of a brand new memoir, My Vanishing Country. We talk today with Bakari about the civil rights movements of the past and present, how he hopes we move forward as a nation, and the perseverance it took to get his book published.

The Stacks Book Club selection for June is Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe, we will discuss the book with Emma Copley Eisenberg on June 24th.

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Everything we talk about on today’s episode can be found below in the show notes and on Bookshop.org and Amazon.

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Connect with Bakari: Twitter | Instagram | Website
Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of this show. If you prefer to do a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.


The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.

Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino

A0C03263-3AE9-4F0F-8046-13CEA93858A3I am lucky to have really smart and interesting friends, and they often share smart and interesting books with me. Thats how Covering found its way into my life. Here is a little more about this book:

Everyone covers. To cover is to downplay a disfavored trait so as to blend into the mainstream. Because all of us possess stigmatized attributes, we all encounter pressure to cover in our daily lives. Racial minorities are pressed to “act white” by changing their names, languages, or cultural practices. Women are told to “play like men” at work. Gays are asked not to engage in public displays of same-sex affection. The devout are instructed to minimize expressions of faith, and individuals with disabilities are urged to conceal the paraphernalia that permit them to function. Given its pervasiveness, we may experience this pressure to be a simple fact of social life.

Against conventional understanding, Kenji Yoshino argues that the work of American civil rights law will not be complete until it attends to the harms of coerced conformity. Though we have come to some consensus against penalizing people for differences based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and disability, we still routinely deny equal treatment to people who refuse to downplay differences along these lines. 

At the same time, Yoshino is responsive to the American exasperation with identity politics, which often seems like an endless parade of groups asking for state and social solicitude. He observes that the ubiquity of covering provides an opportunity to lift civil rights into a higher, more universal register. Since we all experience the covering demand, we can all make common cause around a new civil rights paradigm based on our desire for authenticity—a desire that brings us together rather than driving us apart.

There are books that come into your life and change the way you understand your own identity and place in society. For me, this is one of those books. I have always been familiar with the concepts of passing, code switching, and assimilation, but had never heard of covering until starting this book. Yoshino does a masterful job of articulating the subtleties and nuances of covering. He clearly explains and gives examples to illustrate what it is, how it functions, and why it can be harmful (and at times helpful).

Something that makes this book unique is that Yoshino mixes his own personal stories of covering, both with his identtity as a homosexual and a Japanese American, with case law from his life as a law professor at Yale. We see covering as both something specific to the author and a much bigger part of the national conversation. While this book is focused on American law and experiences, it is easy to see that covering can be universal. While I generally dislike when an author of nonfiction tries to incorporate memoir, I think for the purposes of this book, it really works. The writing is so smart and nuanced, the parallels to his private life and the world of the courts seem well matched.

It is refreshing to watch as someone work through complicated issues of sexuality, race, gender, ableness etc., with a sense of compassion and a rigorous commitment to critical thinking. One particularly wonderful moment comes up during his discussion on the demands of covering as it pertains to women. Yoshino checks his own privilege and lens of maleness, pulling back to note how he may miss covering demands that women face. This self-awareness gave me as a reader an even deeper confidence in his point of view.

The book does lose some of it’s clarity toward the end as Yoshino looks toward the future of civil rights. He gets caught up a little in that vision, and I could have done without a lot of the ending. I understand why he speculated, but I’m not sure it was needed. This book was published in 2006, and so with 12 years of knowledge that Yoshino didn’t have at the time about the United States, some of his predictions felt wildly and naively optimistic (but I again have the luxury of hindsight).

Covering  is not a definitive text on assimilation or discrimination, it is more of a starter kit for anyone interested in understanding the more subtle world of marginalized people and the behaviors they exhibit to get by. While there are times that Yoshino seems to be flexing his massive vocabulary muscle, for the most part this is a straightforward and accessible read. There is a lot to learn from this book. I would suggest it to folks who are interested in human behavior as it pertains to discrimination and civil rights. This is great option, for teenagers going off to college or starting work after high school.

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (January 17, 2006)
  • 3/5 stars
  • Buy Covering on Amazon

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.