Hidden Figures

Margot Lee Shetterly, 2016

This book documents and highlights the work of Black women who worked as mathematicians at NACA (which eventually becomes NASA post-WWII). Shetterly chronicles the personal and professional lives of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden as they navigate the plethora of challenges that come with being Black women during the 1940s-70s. Hidden Figures shows how this racism and sexism affected their professional goals of entering the white, male-dominated STEM field. Not ones to bow to societal pressures, these women built successful careers while having fulfilling and busy family lives as well. It beautifully blends rich, flowing prose with historical analysis and insight, making this a perfect introduction for those who haven’t read historical nonfiction before. It also challenges the dominant “white” image of NASA, ensuring that these “Hidden Figures” aren’t relegated to the shadows of history and rightfully brought into the spotlight.

Get this book at Loyola University Chicago Library.

Review by Erin Witt

Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America

Kristian Williams, 2007

A book on the history of police violence. “In this extensively revised and updated edition of his seminal study of policing in the United States, Kristian Williams shows that police brutality isn’t an anomaly, but is built into the very meaning of law enforcement in the United States. From antebellum slave patrols to today’s unarmed youth being gunned down in the streets, “peace keepers” have always used force to shape behavior, repress dissent, and defend the powerful”. 

Get this book at Loyola University Chicago Library.

Racism: A Short History

George M. Fredrickson, 2002 and 2015

Racism: A Short History explores the roots and manifestations of racism in the western world. Frederickson takes the time to break down the definition of “racism” and analyzing it in its different contexts. Frederickson examines western racism by focusing mainly on three “overtly racists regimes:” Nazis, American slavery, and South African Apartheid. Racism often utilizes elements of sociology to examine why racial hierarchies were formed the way they did.