A Bibliography for Critical Black Scholarship and Literature

This annotated bibliography serves to outline some of the most significant books and essays by Black authors and scholars. Within this collection you will find links that enable you to purchase the works from independent bookstores and publishers. Some texts can be found as free PDFs online. Also included is a national and online list of Black owned bookstores, often championing topics such as Liberation, Afro-futurism, Prison Abolition, Multiculturalism, and Radical Histories. 

 

Davis, Angela Y. 2010. Are Prisons Obsolete? 

With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly, the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable.

PDF Available: Here

Morrison, Toni, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. 2017. The Origin of Others. 

America’s foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid? Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. 

Davis, Angela Yvonne, and Frank Barat. 2016. Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.

In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today’s struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine.

Khan-Cullors, Patrisse, Asha Bandele, and Angela Y. Davis. 2020. When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Patrisse Cullors’ first book cowritten by asha bandele, is a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. A New York Times Best Seller – necessary and timely, Patrisse’s story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.

Rankine, Claudia. 2015. Citizen: An American Lyric.

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV–everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named ‘post-race’ society.

Davis, Angela Y. 1983. Women, Race & Class.

A powerful study of the women’s liberation movement in the U.S., from abolitionist days to the present, that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders. From the widely revered and legendary political activist and scholar Angela Davis.

PDF Available: Here

Lorde, Audre, Mayra A. Rodríguez Castro, and Dagmar Schultz. 2020. Audre Lorde: dream of Europe: selected seminars and interviews : 1984-1992.

AUDRE LORDE: DREAM OF EUROPE elucidates Lorde’s methodology as a poet, mentor, and activist during the last decade of her life. This volume compiles a series of seminars, interviews, and conversations held by the author and collaborators across Berlin, Western Europe, and The Caribbean between 1984-1992. While Lorde stood at the intersection of various historical and literary movements in The United States–the uprising of black social life after the Harlem Renaissance, poetry of the AIDS epidemic, and the unfolding of the Civil Rights Movement–this selection of texts reveals Lorde as a catalyst for the first movement of Black Germans in West Berlin. The legacy of this “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” has been well preserved by her colleagues in Germany. These selected writings lay bare struggles, bonds, and hopes shared among Black women in a transnational political context, as well as offering sometimes surprising reflections on the US American counter culture with which Lorde is associated. Many of the poems that were important to Lorde’s development are excerpted in full within these pages, serving as a sort of critical anthology.

hooks, bell. 1981. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism.

A classic work of feminist scholarship, Ain’t I a Woman has become a must-read for all those interested in the nature of Black womanhood. Examining the impact of sexism on Black women during slavery, the devaluation of Back womanhood, Black male sexism, racism among feminists, and the Black woman’s involvement with feminism, hooks attempts to move us beyond racist and sexist assumptions. The result is nothing short of groundbreaking, giving this book a critical place on every feminist scholar’s bookshelf.

Hooks, Bell. 1992. Black Looks: Race and Representation.

In the critical essays collected in Black Looks, bell hooks interrogates old narratives and argues for alternative ways to look at blackness, black subjectivity, and whiteness. Her focus is on spectatorship – in particular, the way blackness and black people are experienced in literature, music, television, and especially film – and her aim is to create a radical intervention into the way we talk about race and representation. As she describes: ‘The essays in Black Looks are meant to challenge and unsettle, to disrupt and subvert.’ As students, scholars, activists, intellectuals, and any other readers who have engaged with the book since its original release in 1992 can attest, that’s exactly what these pieces do.

PDF Available: Here

Snorton, C. Riley. 2018. Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. 

In ‘Black on Both Sides’, C. Riley Snorton identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence. Drawing on a deep and varied archive of materials, Snorton attends to how slavery and the production of racialized gender provided the foundations for an understanding of gender as mutable.

Moraga, Cherríe, and Gloria Anzaldúa. 1981. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.

Through personal essays, criticism, interviews, testimonials, poetry, and visual art, this collection explores, as coeditor Cherríe Moraga writes, ‘the complex confluence of identities–race, class, gender, sexuality–systemic to women of color oppression and liberation.

PDF Available: Here

Angelou, Maya. 1969. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

A phenomenal #1 bestseller that has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three years, this memoir traces Maya Angelou’s childhood in a small, rural community during the 1930s. Filled with images and recollections that point to the dignity and courage of black men and women, Angelou paints a sometimes disquieting, but always affecting picture of the people-and the times-that touched her life.

Sharpe, Christina Elizabeth. 2016. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being.

Using the multiple meanings of “wake” to illustrate the ways Black lives are determined by slavery’s afterlives, Christina Sharpe weaves personal experiences with readings of literary and artistic representations of Black life and death to examine what survives in the face of insistent violence and the possibilities for resistance.

PDF Available: Here

Lorde, Audre. 1984. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches is a collection of essential essays and speeches written by Audre Lorde, a woman who wrote from the particulars of her identity: Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist writer. 

PDF Available: Here

Morrison, Toni. 2019. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations.

One of the most celebrated and revered writers in the history of American literature gives us a new nonfiction collection–a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades. The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass, that are Toni Morrison’s hallmarks. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11, the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Ir., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin.

X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley. 1965. The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination.

PDF Available: Here

Fanon, Frantz, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Constance Farrington. 1965. The Wretched of the Earth

Written at the height of the Algerian war for independence, Frantz Fanon’s classic text has provided inspiration for anti-colonial movements ever since. With power and anger, Fanon makes clear the economic and psychological degradation inflicted by imperialism. It was Fanon, himself a psychotherapist, who exposed the connection between colonial war and mental disease, who showed how the fight for freedom must be combined with building a national culture, and who showed the way ahead, through revolutionary violence, to socialism. Many of the great calls to arms from the era of decolonization are now purely of historical interest, yet this passionate analysis of the relations between the great powers and the Third World is just as illuminating about the world we live in today

PDF Available: Here

Mbembe, Achille. 2001. On the Postcolony.

Achille Mbembe is one of the most brilliant theorists of postcolonial studies writing today. In On the Postcolony he profoundly renews our understanding of power and subjectivity in Africa. In a series of provocative essays, Mbembe contests diehard Africanist and nativist perspectives as well as some of the key assumptions of postcolonial theory. This thought-provoking and groundbreaking collection of essays-his first book to be published in English-develops and extends debates first ignited by his well-known 1992 article “Provisional Notes on the Postcolony,” in which he developed his notion of the “banality of power” in contemporary Africa. Mbembe reinterprets the meanings of death, utopia, and the divine libido as part of the new theoretical perspectives he offers on the constitution of power. He works with the complex registers of bodily subjectivity – violence, wonder, and laughter – to profoundly contest categories of oppression and resistance, autonomy and subjection, and state and civil society that marked the social theory of the late twentieth century. This provocative book will surely attract attention with its signal contribution to the rich interdisciplinary arena of scholarship on colonial and postcolonial discourse, history, anthropology, philosophy, political science, psychoanalysis, and literary criticism

Marriott, D. S. 2012. On Black Men.

Mutilated, dying or dead, black men have a role to play in the psychic life of culture. There is a demand that black men perform a script. This study explores the legacy of that demand on the image of black men, and its effects on how black men have learned to see themselves and one another

Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Kobena Mercer, Pratibha Parmar, Jonathan Rutherford, Andrea Stuart, Simon Watney and Jeffrey Weeks. 1990. Identity: Community, Culture and Difference.

This collection of essays points to ways in which notions of identity can inform changing conceptions of democratic politics. Categories of identity – gender, race, class and sexuality – are re-examined to allow a move away from a fixed moralistic approach to identity politics, towards a recognition of difference, autonomy and interdependence. Contributors include Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Kobena Mercer, Pratibha Parmar, Jonathan Rutherford, Andrea Stuart, Simon Watney and Jeffrey Weeks.

Baldwin, James. 1963. The Fire Next Time.

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters, ” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle…all presented in searing, brilliant prose, ” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.

PDF Available: Here

Moten, Fred. 2003. In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition.

Fred Moten investigates the provocative connections between jazz, sexual identity, and radical black politics. He focuses in particular on the brilliant improvisatory jazz of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and others, arguing that all black performance culture, politics, sexuality, identity, and blackness itself is improvisation.

PDF Available: Here

Robinson, Cedric J. 2000. Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition

In this work, first published in 1983, Cedric Robinson demonstrates that efforts to understand Black people’s history of resistance solely through the prism of Marxist theory are incomplete and inaccurate. Marxist analyses tend to presuppose European models of history and experience that downplay the significance of Black people and Black communities as agents of change and resistance. Black radicalism must be linked to the traditions of Africa and the unique experiences of Blacks on western continents, Robinson argues, and any analyses of African American history need to acknowledge this.

PDF Available: Here

Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta, Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, Demita Frazier, Alicia Garza, and Barbara Ransby. 2017. How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective. 

The Combahee River Collective, a group of radical black feminists, was one of the most important organizations to develop out of the anti-racist and women’s liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s. In this collection, founding members of the organization and contemporary activists reflect on the legacy of its contributions to black feminism and its impact on today’s struggles.

Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. 2016. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.

Activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation

Hartman, Saidiya V. 1997. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America.

In this provocative and original exploration of racial subjugation during slavery and its aftermath, Saidiya Hartman illumines the forms of terror and resistance that shaped black identity. Scenes of Subjection examines the forms of domination that usually go undetected; in particular, the encroachments of power that take place through notions of humanity, enjoyment, protection, rights, and consent. By looking at slave narratives, plantation diaries, popular theater, slave performance, freedmen’s primers, and legal cases, Hartman investigates a wide variety of “scenes” ranging from the auction block and minstrel show to the staging of the self-possessed and rights-bearing individual of freedom. While attentive to the performance of power–the terrible spectacles of slaveholders’ dominion and the innocent amusements designed to abase and pacify the enslaved–and the entanglements of pleasure and terror in these displays of mastery, Hartman also examines the possibilities for resistance, redress and transformation embodied in black performance and everyday practice. 

PDF Available: Here

Hartman, Saidiya V. 2007. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route

In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman traces the history of the Atlantic slave trade by recounting a journey she took along a slave route in Ghana. Following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast, she reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy and vividly dramatizes the effects of slavery on three centuries of African and African American history

Frank B. Wilderson III, Saidiya V. Hartman, Steve Martinot, Jared Sexton, Hortenese J. Spillers, Afro-Pessimism: An Introduction.

In the wake of uprisings and public outrage at the continual murder of Black people by the police, discourse is incrementally acknowledging racialized police violence and discrimination in all areas of society. Yet there is a fissure between the prescriptions offered to rectify these issues and the failure to bring that about. Afro-Pessimism offers an analytical lens to examine this gap and the ways in which society is structured through anti-Black racism. Afro-Pessimism: An Introduction is a collection of articles compiled for the purpose of offering an overview of this theory. The collected articles span three decades of thought and cover, in addition to police violence, topics ranging from the labor of Black women and the slave’s transformation following the emancipation to the struggles of the Black Liberation Army and the elements of anti-Blackness in Indigenous struggles for sovereignty

PDF Available: Here

James, C. L. R. 1963. The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution.

This powerful, intensely dramatic book is the definitive account of the Haitian Revolution of 1794-1803, a revolution that began in the wake of the Bastille but became the model for the Third World liberation movements from Africa to Cuba. It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. And it is the story of a barely literate slave named Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the black people of San Domingo in a successful struggle against successive invasions by overwhelming French, Spanish, and English forces and in the process helped form the first independent nation in the Caribbean.

PDF Available: Here

Jones, Claudia, and Carole Boyce Davies. 2011. Claudia Jones: Beyond Containment: Autobiographical Reflections, Essays, and Poems.

Claudia Jones, intellectual genius and staunch activist against racist and gender oppression founded two of Black Briton’s most important institutions; the first black newspaper, the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Times and was a founding member of the Notting Hill Carnival. This book makes accessible and brings to wider attention the words of an often overlooked 20th century political and cultural activist who tirelessly campaigned, wrote, spoke out, organized, edited and published autobiographical writings on human rights and peace struggles related to gender, race and class.

Vitale, Alex S. 2017. The End of Policing.

Recent years have seen an explosion of protest against police brutality and repression—most dramatically in Ferguson, Missouri, where longheld grievances erupted in violent demonstrations following the police killing of Michael Brown. Among activists, journalists, and politicians, the conversation about how to respond and improve policing has focused on accountability, diversity, training, and community relations. Unfortunately, these reforms will not produce results, either alone or in combination. The core of the problem must be addressed: the nature of modern policing itself. “Broken windows” practices, the militarization of law enforcement, and the dramatic expansion of the police’s role over the last forty years have created a mandate for officers that must be rolled back.

Ebook Available: Here

Fanon, Frantz, and Charles Lam Markmann. 1967. Black Skin, White Masks.

Fanon, born in Martinique and educated in France, is generally regarded as the leading anti-colonial thinker of the 20th century. His first book is an analysis of the impact of colonial subjugation on the black psyche. It is a very personal account of Fanon’s experience being black: as a man, an intellectual, and a party to a French education

PDF Available: Here

Black Owned Bookstores

Eso Won Books Los Angeles, CA

Veteran bookshop spotlighting a range of titles about & written by African American people.

semicolon chi Chicago, IL

Semicolon Bookstore is committed to nurturing the connection between literature, art, and the pursuit of knowledge; while also using the power of words to better our community.

Black Pearl Books Austin, TX 

A mysterious rare gemstone symbolizing independence, strength, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, love, and hope

Source Booksellers Detroit, MI

Source Booksellers, an independent bookstore in Detroit’s Midtown district, is a unique niche of non-fiction books. We offer books and unusual sideline items that enhance your life and your lifestyle. 

Harriett’s Bookshop Philadelphia, PA

Named for historical heroine Harriet Tubman, our mission celebrates women authors, women artists, and women activists.

Books and Crannies Martinsville, VA

Books and Crannies is an independent bookstore which opened on September 20, 2016. With the closing of all major book retailers in this area, Books and Crannies has opened a new market in Uptown Martinsville that was at the time unfulfilled.

CAFE CON LIBROS Brooklyn, NY

Cafe con Libros (coffee with books) is an intersectional Feminist community bookstore and coffee shop.  Through our choice of books, programming and great coffee, we endeavor to create a vibrant community space where everyone; specifically female identified folx, feel centered, affirmed and celebrated.  

Sistah Scifi Online 

Founded by Isis Asare, Sistah Scifi is a cauldron of all things afro-futurism; Black mysticism, science fiction noir, and traditional voodoo; casting spells to uplift literature written by Black women

The Key Bookstore Online 

The Key Bookstore is an interactive online bookstore experience curated for Afrocentricity, Spirituality, Environmentalism, and Entrepreneurship

The Lit. Bar The Bronx, NY 

The Lit. Bar opened it’s doors on April 27, 2019 (National Indie Bookstore Day) and is currently the only bookstore serving the 1.5 million people of the Boogie Down Bronx. Our venue encourages curious readers and welcomes literary and community gatherings—while our wine bar connects the great pastimes of social sipping and introverted reading. What better way to loosen our tongues and talk about the books we love? We offer a carefully curated selection of general interest books, gift items, and programming which emphasize local interest and diversity for all ages.

MahoganyBooks Washington, DC

MahoganyBooks is a local independent bookstore that believes in social entrepreneurship. We take a leadership role in the African American community by promoting reading, writing, and cultural awareness as tools to improve self-esteem, self-love and ultimately our communities to enrich the lives of motivated individuals.

Pyramid Books Boynton Beach, FL

African-American books and authors are our specialty: fiction, nonfiction, self-help, metaphysics, mysteries, Egyptology, Pan African, spiritual, science fiction, self-published and hard to find books. Pyramid Books Editing Services is available to aspiring and published writers. Pyramid Books celebrates Black History Month 365 days a year to educate all people about the African Diaspora. A proud Essence and NY Times reporting store. We stand for Hope and Possibility in the book industry.

Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center Ypsilanti, MI 

Black Stone Bookstore & Cultural Center is an independent African-American bookstore. We are located in the heart of downtown Ypsilanti, Michigan, just a block away from the Eastern Michigan University College of Business. We opened November 2, 2013, in hopes of bringing awareness to true African-American literature and culture.

Hakim’s Bookstore Philadelphia, PA 

“Black people need to read more so that we can establish our cultural identities. We hold ourselves in low esteem due to the brainwashing process of our slavemasters through  their educational system .We are the only people on the face of the earth who allow our oppressor to educate our children. If we change our image of self then we can alter our condition and thereby gain power and respect. Therefore it is imperative for us to read, study and manifest.”-Dawud Hakim (Founder of Hakim’s Bookstore)

Detroit Book City Southfield, MI

Detroit Book City is a small, independent book store that specialize & market books, media & events to the African-American consumer market.  We carry new and gently used adult and children books i.e. self-help, black-consciousness, spiritual, how-to’s, urban-fiction, memoirs, biographies & much more!!! We also sell books written by local and national Indie Authors and rare, hard to find or out-of-print African-American books.

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books Philadelphia, PA

From the Ebony and Jet magazines on the coffee table, to the pictures of Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson on the wall, to the smell of Aunt Bessie’s sweet potato pie emanating from the kitchen, Uncle Bobbie’s was a bastion of unapologetic Blackness.

Frugal Bookstore Roxbury, MA

We are a community bookstore located in Roxbury with a passion of promoting literacy within our children, teens and adults. We’ve got all these great books (and getting more all the time) at incredible prices that we want you to see.

Multicultural Children’s Bookstore, Richmond, CA

Come visit the ONLY multicultural bookstore in the County. Tons of books for Black, Latino, Asian, Native American kids of all ages and adults too!

Underground Books Sacramento, CA

Underground Books opened in the summer of 2003 and is the literary hub of Oak Park. Since the closing of the only library in Oak Park in the 1970’s,  it became the mission of St. HOPE founder, Kevin Johnson, to ensure that the students and the community had access to books.  

Ashay By The Bay Vallejo, CA

Ashay By The Bay is The #1 Black Children’s Bookstore specializing in African American and Multicultural Books for the Home and Classroom!

Marcus Book Stores Oakland, CA

The oldest independent Black bookstore in the country. Books by and about Black people everywhere.

Introducing: The LAND Journal

Hi everyone,

This month we launch the LAND journal, a new online format to share information and resources. At LAND we believe deeply in supporting an artist’s entire process, not just the end result, an exhibition or object. In the way that we hope our public exhibitions and projects can be engaged as part of people’s everyday lives, we recognize that for artists, there is not really a divide between life and work. As such, we are committed to celebrating all parts of the creative process, to hopefully inspire everyone to think about their own lives and work a little differently. We hope this new platform and others that we are developing will allow us to communicate our processes more clearly and promote further engagement with all of the components that inform how we do what we do and why.

Running a public art nonprofit is an inherently collaborative endeavor. Our projects would not be possible without a vast network of community-based partners. We have partnered with every imaginable type of business and organization to realize the visions of artists. In that process, we have built internal systems and resources, that we hope to share widely to assist others.

Here in Los Angeles we have spent the last 6 weeks under social distancing protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seemed like nearly overnight, the world changed. On the one hand, LAND is uniquely positioned to pivot quickly in response to a changing world. LAND was founded in 2009 in the midst of a recession, and built into the organization’s DNA is an organizational structure that is flexible and nimble. We maintain very low overhead, and the lean team works remotely most of the time. But this new time presents unprecedented challenges, and we are faced with asking ourselves, what does it mean to be a public art organization in a time where we are forced to live our lives in private?

Though we don’t have answers for most questions right now, the team has quickly galvanized resources for our community in LA that we hope can be of support. With a barrage of information, we have combed through and will be sharing the most relevant direct resources for artists, mutual aid, and ways to support those most vulnerable and affected by the uncertainty right now. We will be posting those resources and continually updating them as more information and resources become available.

We thank the LAND board, our advisory board and nomadic council, members, supporters, friends and collaborators, for keeping us going right now. Most of all, we recognize and thank the artists that keep working right now and always, that forever inspire us and make Los Angeles such a vibrant and dynamic place to live. We remain committed to finding ways to support you and your work in new and ever-evolving ways.

In gratitude,

Laura Hyatt
Executive Director

Direct Relief Opportunities for LA-based artists

Crenshaw Dairy Mart Open Call – Artist Relief Fund

The Crenshaw Dairy Mart has teamed up with Justice LA, For Freedoms and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) for a one-time artists’ relief fund in support of artists struggling from COVID-19 derived economic hardship.

This open call asks artists to respond to the prompt “Care not cages” with artwork generated through any medium.

By submitting to the care not cages open call, artists consent for submitted artwork to be featured on The Crenshaw Dairy Mart, Justice LA, For Freedoms and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)’s media channels.

This is an unrestricted cash prize which will be juried by The Crenshaw Dairy Mart, Justice LA, For Freedoms and Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB).

1st Award: $1,500
2nd Award: $1,000
3rd Award: $500

Deadline is May 1st.

Desert X Artist Relief Fund

The Desert X Artist Relief Fund, funded by the Desert X Board of Directors and the Desert X team, will distribute emergency grants to visual artists living and working in Southern California, including the Coachella Valley and desert environs, who have been directly impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

One-time unrestricted cash grants of $1,000 will be administered on a rolling basis until the fund is complete.

  • Applicant must provide a CV and examples of their sustained commitment to their artistic career, including exhibition history and art education. Visual artists working in all mediums are eligible.

  • Applicant must provide verification of current residence in Southern California*.

  • Applicant must demonstrate direct financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, i.e. an exhibition or commercial opportunity cancelled, supplemental income to support artistic practice ceased, etc.

  • Applicant must be 21 years of age or older.

  • Applicant must be able to receive taxable income in the United States and California.

  • Applicant may not be a current or former artist, employee, contractor, partner, or family member of Desert X.

DCA COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund – Round One, for Performing artists and ensembles in dance, music, or theater

This program provides emergency relief grants to City of Los Angeles-based dance, music, and theatre artists, as well as small ensembles who have had their public performances, shows, or concerts cancelled. Solo artists are eligible for up to $400 and ensembles up to $1,200 to cover losses in time and/or materials that were committed toward events, which were to have taken place at a venue within the City of Los Angeles and were to be open to the general public. Eligible events should have been publicly advertised and scheduled to take between March 16, 2020 and May 16, 2020, AND must have been cancelled (or postponed to after August 30, 2020).

Given the modest amount of monies available in Round One of this Fund, artists who were scheduled to perform pieces within a festival, teach private solo or group lessons, or perform at a private function for an invite-only audience are not eligible; instead, Round One focuses on artists and groups who were headlining an entire public event/evening.

DCA will accept applications until approximately 450 eligible applications are received or until 11:59 PM, Friday, May 1, 2020, whichever comes first.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

For artists that have a working studio and employ at least 2 employees, Facebook has announced a $100 million cash grant program.

Center for Cultural Innovation Relief Fund for L.A. County Artists

California Community Foundation (CCF) together with the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Sam Francis Foundation, and the Shepard and Amanda Fairey Foundation, have launched the Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists, a collaborative effort to support the region’s visual artists who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI) is administering this Fund. The Relief Fund for L.A. County Visual Artists is distributing $655,000 to help the region’s visual artists who represent the various and diverse communities of Los Angeles County. Applications will be accepted from May 4 at 9am PDT until May 25 at 5pm PDT.

  • Must be a full-time resident of Los Angeles County for at least 5 years 
  • Must not be a currently enrolled student
  • Must not be eligible for or currently receiving unemployment benefits (applicants can be receiving CARES benefits)
  • Cannot have a conflict of interest (family or financial relationships) with board, staff, and directors of CCI and Fund funders.

National Direct Relief Opportunities for Artists

This is a great spreadsheet of many national and regional opportunities for Direct Relief (aka grants) available for artists:

Coronavirus 2020 Artist Relief Funds 

Below you will find a list of available national funds for artists. We will do our best to update deadlines and eligibility as it becomes available.

Artist Relief

Weekly, rolling deadline providing $5,000 unrestricted support for artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19. To be eligible for a relief grant, applicants must be: Practicing artists able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to their work, careers, and a public audience; Experiencing dire financial emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic; 21 years of age or older; Able to receive taxable income in the U.S. (e.g. citizen, green card holder, and/or permanent resident who can provide a W9 and SSN or ITIN); Residing and working in the U.S. for the last two years; Not a full-time employee, board member, director, officer, or immediate family member of any of the coalition partners; Not previously awarded a relief grant from this fund. After review, qualifying applications will be selected via a lottery process for funding each week. Artists who do not receive funding are invited to re-apply each month. Cycle I: April 8 – April 23; Cycle II: April 24 – May 21; Cycle III: May 22 – June 18; June 19 – July 23; Cycle V: July 24 – August 20 (all cycles close 11:59pm ET). Each cycle, all non-funded applications will be removed from our system so that artists can reapply the following round. Artist Relief is organized by the Academy of American Poets, Artadia, Creative Capital, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, MAP Fund, National YoungArts Foundation, and United States Artists with support from a number of national foundations. 

The Artists’ Fellowship

Limited financial aid is intended for artists and their dependent families who are in need of assistance due to sickness or distress caused by unfortunate circumstances. Requests for educational or working grants are not eligible, nor do we award scholarship funds or “fellowships” for study, projects, art supplies, schooling, travel, or exhibitions. Awards are made on a monthly basis. From September to June, the Board of Trustees reviews all applications to determine if they have been properly submitted and if they are eligible.  Applicants are encouraged to apply early in the month. Unclear how much amounts are. 

Foundation for Contemporary Arts

One-time $1,500 grants to artists who have had performances or exhibitions canceled or postponed because of the pandemic. Eligibility Requirements: In accordance with our mission, FCA will continue to focus its support on artists making work of a contemporary, experimental nature. If you are unsure about whether your work is experimental, you can see other artists we have supported on our Instagram and our website. Relief will be provided to artists who can demonstrate that they have had an engagement canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicants must be individual artists, or an individual representing an artist collective, ensemble, or group. Curators, producers, workshop organizers, organizations, or arts presenters are not eligible to apply. 

Currently, this fund cannot support performers, ensemble members, or designers who were working on a project that was canceled; we recognize the vital contributions that performers, artist assistants, designers, and others make to the field and have listed other resources that offer more targeted support to those artists below.

Applicants must be living in the United States or U.S. territories and have a U.S. Tax ID Number (SSN, EIN, ITIN, or other)

For the purpose of providing COVID-19 relief, we are temporarily suspending the three year waiting period between grants. If you have received a grant from the Foundation in the past three years you may apply for COVID-19 relief.

ILYSM 4 ARTISTS

We will be giving a weekly $500 grant to an artist with financial need whose main source of income has been affected by COVID-19 shutdowns. We are committing to offering this grant through the week of 5/14 and for as long as we are able to after that.

CERF+ Emergency Assistance

CERF+ emergency assistance is available to established artists working in a craft discipline that meet the following eligibility requirements. In light of the anticipated volume of requests for assistance, for the time-being, CERF+ ‘s emergency relief grants related to Covid-19 will focus on those infected with the virus that require intensive medical care.

The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant program 

is intended to provide interim financial assistance to qualified painters, printmakers, and sculptors whose needs are the result of an unforeseen, catastrophic incident, and who lack the resources to meet that situation. Each grant is given as one-time assistance for a specific emergency, examples of which are fire, flood, or emergency medical need. The program does not consider requests for dental work, chronic situations, capital improvements, or projects of any kind; nor can it consider situations resulting from general indebtedness or lack of employment. The maximum amount of this grant is $15,000; an award of $5,000 is typical. To be eligible for this program, an artist must be able to demonstrate a minimum involvement of ten years in a mature phase of his or her work. Artists must work in the disciplines of painting, sculpture or printmaking. Each application will be reviewed by the Directors, who will exercise their discretion in considering it, and will determine the amount of each award. Applicants should note there is a set amount appropriated for these grants each fiscal year; once this budgetary limit has been reached, the Foundation will not be able to judge any additional requests on their merits. There are no deadlines. 

RAUSCHENBERG EMERGENCY GRANTS

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) is proud to partner with the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation to administer a new emergency grant program called Rauschenberg Emergency Grants. This marks the first phase of a program that will be in the tradition of Change, Inc., a non-profit foundation established in 1970 by Robert Rauschenberg to assist professional artists of all disciplines in need of emergency medical aid.

Artist Relief Project

Eligibility: Any artist in any discipline who has been impacted by COVID19-related cancellations and closures may apply for assistance. Stipends and support will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the only limitation being how much money we are able to raise. The only requirements are (1) you demonstrate you’re an artist by sharing your resume and website, where applicable, and (2) you share this fundraiser with your own networks and provide a screenshot of that activity. Unclear how much funding amounts are. 

The Creator Fund

ConvertKit has established a $50,000 fund to help creators in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read details below and then submit your information if you are in need.

The Soze Foundation

This fund, created by The Soze Foundation, TaskForce and Invisible Hand, supports artists + activists whose work has been impacted by COVID-19. We have received 6,148 applications and have already distributed $90,000 in grants to over 250 artists + activists.

PEN America’s Writers Emergency Fund

PEN America will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000 based on applications that demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. We have developed a new streamlined process for the duration of this crisis, and expect to be able to review and respond to applications within 14 days. To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that this one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation. The fund is limited, and not every application can be supported. Deadline: 4/20.  

The Artists’ Fellowship Financial Aid

The Artists’ Fellowship provides emergency aid to professional fine artists and their families in times of sickness, natural disaster, bereavement or unexpected extreme hardship. At this time, we are temporarily limiting relief and assistance applications to those qualified applicants who are dealing with immediate MEDICAL emergencies and their aftermaths. Meeting monthly from September to June, the Board of Trustees reviews all applications to determine if they have been properly submitted and if they are eligible.  Applicants are encouraged to do this early in the month. The Board does not meet in July and August.

Twenty Summers Emergency Arts Fund

TWENTY SUMMERS is dedicated in engaging with leading and emerging artists and cultural figures while fostering the creation of new work. Though our mission has typically been achieved through distinctive programs at the infamous Hawthorne Barn — where Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Tennessee Williams and other icons once created or presented new work — we know that drastic times call for drastic measures, and sometimes new initiatives as well.

That is why Twenty Summers is launching an Emergency Arts Fund (EAF) for artists and arts organizations facing unmanageable financial loss as a result of the Coronavirus. EAF is the first nationwide initiative that supports both artists and arts organizations, gives artists a chance to promote their work from home, and stimulates and connects art-lovers during a time of social isolation. 

 

Ways to Support LA Artists

If you are able right now, we highly encourage anyone to support the organizations, museums, galleries and artists that they already have relationships with. Check in with them and ask how you can help most. For most organizations that means making direct, unrestricted gifts. Join as a member! Buy art! Know that however you support you are investing in the future of this community.

In addition, here are some fundraising efforts that are worthy of supporting:

ArtistRelief.org

Support ongoing $5,000 relief grants for artists across the country.

LA Art Workers Relief Fund

A coalition of LA-based art workers has created this fund which will award $1,000 to local art workers.

Women’s Center for Creative Work Emergency Health Grants for Artists

Only fund in LA of its kind that provides $1,000 grants for female-identifying, trans or nonbinary artists. They quickly reached capacity with the funding they had and are looking to raise additional funds to reissue more grants.

Mayors Fund LA 

Resources/Articles

Americans for the Arts

Americans for the Arts calls on our nation’s public and private sector grantmakers and individual philanthropists in the arts to help respond to the impact of COVID-19 on the infrastructure of our nonprofit cultural organizations and artists.

Article: Funder? Here are 7 things you can do to support your arts community, March 18, 2020. Americans for the Arts.

 

 

COVID-19 Resources for Arts Nonprofits and Arts Workers

Center for Nonprofit Management COVID-19 Resource Center

Includes webinars on how to navigate relief options, grant opportunities, planning and HR resources

 

Center for Nonprofit Management

As we get information you can trust, we will update this page with opportunities and information that keep emerging regarding government funding, employee assistance, pooled funding through local funder collaboratives, and strategies for leading your organization over the next several months. Updated daily. 

 

Nonprofit Finance Fund

Information for the national support of nonprofits. These resources include insights into maintaining stability as well as financial relief for nonprofits during these trying times. Updated often.

Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund

 

LA Art Workers Relief Fund

Compilations of COVID-19 Resources for Artists

COVID-19 & Freelance Artists

 This list is specifically designed to serve freelance artists, and those interested in supporting the independent artist community. This includes, but is not limited to, actors, designers, producers, technicians, stage managers, musicians, composers, choreographers, visual artists, filmmakers, craft artists, teaching artists, dancers, writers & playwrights, photographers, etc.

 

Los Angeles County Arts & Culture 

The Department of Arts and Culture is continuing to support LA County’s Arts and Culture community in any way we can. Find a multitude of resources below from a variety of sources including LA County officials, local municipal arts and culture agencies, and state and federal agencies. Also find resources for nonprofit organizations, funders, and freelance artists.

 

DCA Arts Resources During COVID-19

List compiled by the LA City Department of Cultural Affairs, continuing to empower LA’s vast arts community. 

 

California for the Arts

COVID-19 resources compiled by California for the Arts including letters, petitions, surveys, and information on government subsidized aid. 

 

Creative Capital

Includes local and national grants and other resources 

 

Artists Fellowship

Compilation of emergency aid resources for artists

 

Women in Sound 

An ongoing list of free and discounted educational resources, software licenses, webinars, online courses, and enjoyable media for these uncertain times.

 

LA County Arts

As information about the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Department of Arts and Culture is continuing to support LA County’s Arts and Culture community in any way we can. Find a multitude of resources below from a variety of sources including LA County officials, local municipal arts and culture agencies, and state and federal agencies. Also find resources for nonprofit organizations, funders, and freelance artists.

 

California for the Arts

Information about the CARES act, letters, petitions, and surveys, and the latest news on artist grants and support for artists in California.  

 

Hyperallergic

A Daily Report on How COVID-19 Is Impacting the Art World As international governments take increased precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus, museums, fairs, and festivals are facing closures and delays.

 

Authority Collective 

Authority Collective is organizing mutual aid to connect donors with artists and journalists who need it. This compilation highlights resources for freelance creators of color. Updated on April 8th.  

 

Cultured Mag

In our continued support of the community that helps make CULTURED what it is, we’ve compiled a list of emergency grants and funds for artists, activists and freelancers of all stripes—often those who make their own hours are facing a one-two punch of no work and no fallback. Because efforts to support those in need will be ongoing, we’ve also included a list of other such lists, as well as additional resources. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you might find it at one of the other links. Most grants apply to artists living inside the U.S. 

 

NAVEL

We invite you to consult and share widely our compiled list of mutual aid/emergency resources, funds and petitions for artists, art organizers, freelancers, and others who are impacted by the COVID-19 closures. 

 

Booooooom 

A giant list of helpful resources for artists within the U.S. and internationally. Contains everything from emergency grants to inspirational outlets to pass the time. 

 

Fountainhead Residency

National resources as well as resources specific to the Miami area for artists and freelancers. 

 

handheld handmade 

Emergency relief for artists and small businesses nationally. 

 

Care if You Listen

We are compiling a round-up of as many emergency funding sources and additional resources for artists as we can find. We will continue to add to this listing as more resources become known and available. Updated 4/19

 

Artwork Archive

We, like many other arts organizations right now, have compiled a list of emergency resources for artists as well an ongoing list of crowdfunding efforts to provide financial relief for artists. If you have a resource that we haven’t mentioned, please send us an email and we will add it to the list. This is an evolving list that we will be over the next few weeks.

 

Creative Capital

In times of crisis, artists are often among those most affected. In addition to health concerns, this is a challenging moment for many in our community as we deal with cancelled income and trying to make plans during uncertain times. Creative Capital has always been anchored by a rich spirit of community and mutual generosity, and we believe that continuing communication and exchange are crucial for all of us. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, we have created a list of resources for artists working in all disciplines, as well as arts philanthropists, and arts professionals. Updated daily.

 

Los Angeles Times

The Times has compiled resources for entertainment industry workers, those in the music industry, food industry and parents. Here are more resources specifically for artists. List compiled April 3rd. 

 

Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund

The Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Emergency Fund is intended to help those pursuing careers as artists or arts administrators whose income has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund is for those who self-identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). If you fit this description and you are in need of short-term, immediate financial assistance – we would like to help. Please answer the questions below, and we will contact you if needed.

 

New York Foundation for the Arts Emergency Grants

Comprehensive listing of national and localized grant opportunities. This compilation is updated daily. 

 

Artnet News

Artists will qualify for the federal government’s CARES Act and a stimulus package will be making direct payments in the weeks to come. Plus, organizations are springing up to help connect artists to employment opportunities and grants every day. So if you’re an artist who needs help bridging the gap, here is a list of resources to help with rent payments, medical bills, and more (and a few for art writers, too).

 

Common Field

This list is for arts organizers – please add resources, ideas, thinking and information surrounding best practices during pandemics and other emergencies. This is an OPEN document. Please add information and link URL’s to text. Feel free to add a brief description of the resource you are adding. This is an open, crowd-sourced list. Please add information by category and add new  categories if you have them. Please be mindful not to change the open sharing settings so everyone can continue to have edit access. As you add to and use this document, try not to remove resources that others need.

 

One Degree

At One Degree we always strive to provide comprehensive, updated and accurate community resource information. During the COVID-19 outbreak we maintain that same commitment and are happy to provide this guide as a quick and effective reference to resources you might need during this period. Updated daily. 

 

Ongoing Google Doc of opportunities by region

A comprehensive spreadsheet of national and international relief funds for artists, writers, performers, and much more. This list precisely details whether the grants are ongoing, their location, and the amounts offered.

Healthcare Resources

Health & Mental Health Resources

a comprehensive list of resources including high risk communities, addiction/harm reduction, domestic violence, prep for people with chronic illness, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, management of stress and anxiety, and much more. A national and international resource. 

 

Healthy LA

We are a network of 250+ advocacy organizations, worker centers, labor unions, service providers, religious congregations, community groups, affordable housing developers, public interest lawyers, public health and safety organizations, and many more uniting across lines of race, class, and geography to propose concrete solutions to the many hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Cancercare

Assistance is available for people with cancer in active treatment to help with costs including food, medications, general household expenses, transportation, home care and child care. 

 

Free Dental

We also now display low cost, affordable clinics for the needy. Yes, our website name is FreeDental.org, but we now provide more. We are as specific as possible on the listing pages. It is the website users responsibility to contact the clinics listed to confirm whether the clinics is free, low cost, affordable, etc. Do not take it for granted that the clinic is free since it is listed on the website. We provide listings to help those with dental practices and services to help the needy.

 

Free Clinics

Since the start, we have worked hard to put together one of the most comprehensive lists of free clinics on the Internet. Our list of free clinics includes both dental and medical clinics.

Mutual Aid and Other Opportunities For Artists

Los Angeles Mutual Aid Facebook Group

Share resources and local updates, to keep each other safe and informed during the coronavirus epidemic 

 

LA County COVID-19 

Resource Guide Compiled by One Degree, including food, health, housing resources and more.

 

Mutual Aid Project to Support Independent Artists in Response to COVID-19

We are a DC-based arts platform and network uplifting the autonomy, safety, wellness, and creative development of Black and non-white trans and gender expansive people. What is mutual aid? Mutual aid is the voluntary exchange of services and resources for mutual benefit.  With music shows and other events being cancelled at a large scale as a response to COVID-19, we understand the astounding affect this has on the livelihood of independent artists – from musicians and DJs to graphic designers and photographers. Combating COVID-19 requires a cross community and collective effort.

 

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Directory

This is a growing directory of independent artists impacted by COVID-19. Most of this list identify as QTBIPOC. 

 

COVID-19 RESOURCES + MEDIA: AN ONGOING LIST

We are standing with everyone who is experiencing the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Frankly, we are in the thick of it ourselves. Here is an ongoing list of free and discounted educational resources, software licenses, webinars, online courses, and enjoyable media for these uncertain times.

 

COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Resources  compiled by Authority Collective

As the new coronavirus continues to spread, we recognize that freelance visual journalists and artists are losing significant income for the immediate future, and that many folks in this position will be facing this shortfall without a financial buffer. Volunteers — mainly other photographers who have the capacity — have offered to donate money to those who need it.

 

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the particular vulnerability of queer, transgender, non-binary and/or intersex Black, Indigenous folks and other LGBTQI+ people of color (QTIBIPOC folks). Due to our community disproportionately experiencing a lifelong arc of violence and discrimination, many of our community members are impoverished and housing unstable.

 

Financial Strategies for Freelance Artists in a Time of Crisis 

Presented by HowlRound

Perspectives for the Pandemic

Sharing some of the articles and resources we have found helpful as we think about what it means to create and be productive in these unprecedented times:

Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure By Aisha S. Ahmad , The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2020

9 Ways to Help Others During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Alexis Perrotta, The Idealist, April 21, 2020

3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout, Laura M. Giurge and Vanessa K. Bohns, Harvard Business Review, April 3, 2020

How to Create Screen-Life Balance When Life Has Shifted to Screens, Catherine Price, New York Times, April 24, 2020