Writers Read | Chris Tomlinson

Article by debut-author

In TOMLINSON HILL, Houston Chronicle columnist Chris Tomlinson investigates his family's past as slaveowners and tracks the history of those slaves, also named Tomlinson, many of whom still live in the same area where the white Tomlinson family owned its plantation. It's a powerful investigation of heritage and race that points toward a future of healing. He will read at Brazos Bookstore on July 30, at 7pm.

For this installment of #writersread, Tomlinson recommends four books that influenced his staggering work.

Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385722704
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - January 13th, 2009

Blackmon takes a deep dive into the Jim Crow era from Reconstruction through World War II to reveal the extent of involuntary servitude that pervaded the South. His research into how the states used forced prison labor is especially illuminating. His work helped inform me as I looked into the history of Falls County and needed to read between the lines.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Cover Image
By Michelle Alexander, Cornel West (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781595586438
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: New Press - January 16th, 2012

Taking a more academic approach, Alexander painstakingly dismantles any illusions that the American legal system treats minorities fairly. Starting with discriminatory policing, manipulative prosecutors and a brutal prison system, Alexander uses social science to not only reveal the devastating statistics, but demonstrates how the system works to produce them. This book is particularly important in Texas where, in the name of discipline, we have created a school-to-prison pipeline for African American boys that is decimating that community.

Gone to Texas: A History of the Lone Star State Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9780199779406
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - April 11th, 2012

There is certainly more to Texas history and society than the racism that general history books have long ignored. In this imminently readable book about our state, Campbell sheds the neo-Confederate bias that older books carry and still tells a story we can take pride in. Particularly for our most recent arrivals, Gone to Texas provides a straight up, rollicking story of why we are who we are today.

Are We Born Racist?: New Insights from Neuroscience and Positive Psychology Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807011577
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Beacon Press - June 29th, 2010

This collection of essays about the latest neurological experiments into racism was perhaps the most fascinating title I read, and led me to read many of the scientific papers cited. The more we understand how our brains work, and how they can mislead us, the easier it is to understand where racism comes from and to show compassion for those afflicted with this horrible behavioral problem. This book gives me hope that one day we can get past our prejudices.

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