Due to the cororonavirus, Red Emma's worker owners have decided that the safest course of action is to temporarily completely close our space. We are not accepting take out or delivery orders for food, but we are still accepting and shipping online orders for books.
We are in the process of rescheduling events—stay tuned for details.
If you would like to support us in these difficult times:
Red Emma’s has an opening for a new member of our books department. This is a position on our worker-owner track, which means we are looking for someone ready to make a multi-year commitment to growing a democratically self-managed worker cooperative and radical political project, and excited about growing into a role as an equal owner of the business.
Initially, this position is part-time for two regularly scheduled, eight hour shifts, plus additional irregular paid shifts tabling off site events. We anticipate that availability of shifts may grow over time as our sales also grow, but can’t guarantee more than 16 hours/week right now. Our pay starts at $11/hr, with predictable raises based on number of hours worked.
Perks include free food and coffee while on shift, and the ability to order any book we can get deeply discounted to just about cost.
"How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is one of those paradigm-shifting, life-changing texts that has not lost its currency or relevance—even after three decades. Its provocative treatise on the ravages of late capitalism, state violence, incarceration, and patriarchy on the life chances and struggles of black working-class men and women shaped an entire generation, directing our energies to the terrain of the prison-industrial complex, anti-racist work, labor organizing, alternatives to racial capitalism, and challenging patriarchy—personally and politically." —Robin D. G. Kelley
"Marxism is the doctrine which believes that freedom, equality and democracy are today possible for all mankind. If this (book) has stimulated you to pursue the further study of Marxism, we will have struck a blow for the emergence of mankind from the darkness into which capitalism has plunged the world."—C. L. R. James
Just what kind of "persons" are corporations, anyway?
As the Black Lives Matter movement has shown us, the state's contempt of black bodies is only countered by people rising up and demanding something different. Mumia Abu-Jamal—a political prisoner incarcerated in Pennsylvania since 1981—has suffered for decades as a target of this contempt at the hands of the state, and it has been popular mobilizations which have prevented his execution, and which are now needed to secure his freedom. This need is particularly dire given his deteriorating health, and the refusal of the state of Pennsylvania to offer proper treatment. As Johanna Fernandez, editor of the new collection of Mumia's prison writings Writing on the Wall,told us in her talk at the Baltimore Book Festival, Mumia is believed to be suffering from hepatitis C—which the state refuses to diagnose because to do so would involve the possibility of a cure rather than a slow, ostensibly "natural" death in prison, with the disease accomplishing what popular movements ensured the executioner could not.
We were honored to host this incredible panel of folks working in solidarity with the attempts to build a pluralistic, feminist, and directly-democratic society in the autonomous cantons of northern Syria and other areas of what was the Kurdish homeland before its arbitrary partition at the end of WWI. These incredibly inspiring efforts are under attack, not just from the theocratic gangsters of ISIS, but increasingly from the authoritarian Turkish state, where President Edrogan sees the progressive, multi-ethnic, pro-Kurdish HDP as a threat to his grasp on power.
One of the strangest things during the recent Baltimore Uprising was the insane amount of media attention focused on Baltimore City. When we plugged in to help out with the spontaneous network around #BaltimoreLunch, feeding the school children who wouldn't be getting a free lunch since the city locked them out of their school, we found ourselves a little overwhelmed with requests from the national media (probably because unlike a lot of places that were helping make this happen, we had a website with a phone number listed!). We wound up doing a number of interviews, because we felt it was important that the narrative the media was trying to spin about an apolitical moment of healing needed to be corrected: it was important to show local, community-based businesses in Baltimore that were both trying to respond productively to the concrete needs of folks like kids and elders impacted by the unrest, and were being clear that the problem was and is killer cops and brutal systemic racism. We're pretty damn proud, actually, of all the folks in Baltimore who helped keep that kind of discursive space in civil society open, whether by hanging signs on their houses, talking back to CNN, or otherwise refusing to let the law and order narrative demonize the folks whose resistance to oppression in the streets made everything possible.
Ultimately, we wound up with a ton of coverage (like everyone else in the city----D. Watkins in the New York Times!) But we didn't really share any of this coverage on social media; while we're proud of the food we distributed, the street medic organizing we housed, and the homeless youth center we gave a temporary home to for a few days, we didn't think the story needed to be about us, and because we wanted to make really sure the voices that we were amplifying were the folks like Bmore United organizing on the frontlines in Baltimore's Black communities. (And trust us, it's really hard to be a bookstore and not retweet it when Publishers Weekly does a story on you!) So we're collecting it all here for posterity. Please don't share :)
Johann Hari's talk at the store on his new book was an incredible trip through the origins of the drug war and the glimmerings of its end, brutally assessing its costs and highlighting the courage of the people who have dared to stand against it. Here's video of the night, courtesy of Book TV:
From Athens to New York, recent mass movements around the world have challenged austerity and authoritarianism with expressions of real democracy. For more than forty years, Murray Bookchin developed ideas and democratic aspirations into a new left politics based on popular assemblies, influencing a wide range of political thinkers and social movements. The Next Revolution brings together Bookchin’s essays on freedom and direct democracy for the first time, offering a bold political vision that can move us from protest to social transformation.
Jay Gillen, Educating for Insurgency: The Roles of Young People in Schools of Poverty (AK Press, 2014)
"It is hard to imagine, for example, that watching "The Wire" is actually a very good form of preparation for teachers who are about to begin teaching in Baltimore's segregated schools. They would be better off reading King Lear or As You Like It . . . "
It's not hard to imagine a book where a line like this could come off as smug, entitled, insufferable. It's more difficult to imagine a book - and this is really our problem, and not the author's - where such a claim can be seen for what it is: a radical truth.
The "radical" here is important - there are, at this point, numerous books testifying to the dismal state of American public education in the communities, primarily of color, that have been marginalized and abandoned by our increasingly austere system. And beyond the exposés of the moral scandal of de facto educational apartheid in the contemporary United States, there are many detailed critiques of the particular neoliberal history of the test-obsessed epistemological apparatus that undergirds this system. But what Jay Gillen offers in Educating for Insurgency is something vital and missing - a rigorous analysis of the terms of student struggle in what he calls "schools of poverty."
Others can see the tragedy of squandered educational opportunities and the unfortunate pathological consequences of poverty that render poor children of color "unable" to learn - but Gillen has more rigorous eyes. He sees, even in the most aggressive acts of refusal on the part of the "worst" students, not the unfortunate and pathological reactions of ultimately passive victims, but the strategies active in historical subjects coming into historical self-consciousness, collectively doing the work of the "old mole," whose burrows undermine the foundations of the current system and presage the irruption of revolt that will inaugurate something new. Deftly, Gillen weaves together this kind of subterranean articulation of autonomous power with:
Jay Gillen, adult mentor for the Baltimore Algebra Project, was joined by leaders from an entire generation of Baltimore City youth organizers for a launch of his new book, out this year from our friends at AK Press:
While we have a lot of great events coming up in September, including the Radical Bookfair, we thought it'd be a good idea to specifically highlight three events we have coming up in October and November that focus on different aspects of our exceptionally problematic criminal "justice" system. The police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson is, sadly, not an exceptional case—and we thought bringing authors to town who could address some of the larger questions around the systemic dysfunction and structural racism in the American systems of policing and incarceration would be a helpful contribution we could make as a bookstore.
Thanks to the historical investigations of Baltimore labor activist and educator William Barry, whose new book The 1877 Railroad Strike in Baltimore examines the origins of the first national strike in Baltimore, we now have this remarkable document of 19th century capitalism at work.
In the letter, Edgar T. Welles of the Gatling Gun Company writes to John Garrett, the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, whose unvarnished greed had helped spark the massive wave of labor unrest that shook the country in the summer of 1877, and suggests that the company's machine guns are just the thing to help manage labor relations in the future.
We are really excited for Bill Barry's upcoming book talk on his new history of the great railroad strike of 1877—a national wave of proletarian revolt that kicked off right here in Baltimore. In the meantime, here's a song to get you riled up and ready for some radical history, courtesy of Red Emma's collective member Ryan Harvey...
This man has a Crass tatoo, was the mayor of Iceland's largest city, and says things like "Surrealism is our best weapon against fascism."
Video from Topside Press' Trans Women Writers Summer Tour! With Imogen Binnie, Casey Plett, Annie Mok and Sybil Lamb:
This being my first venture into the “Anarchist Utopian Fiction” realm I was rather excited to see what this story was made of. I’d have to admit that as far as fiction goes while horror mysteries, romantic love stories, futuristic sci-fi, tales of james bond like spies, and street fiction are all the craze, I was interested in seeing a story told from a place that I’m personally struggling to help create everyday. The future seems bleak but in this story the future of anarchist principles and everyday praxis thereof have arrived and are espoused through the story in the different situations the characters find and have found themselves in.
Incredible talk with recently released political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway:
The audio on the video is a little rough, so we've also included the recording Marc Steiner broadcast of the event:
Posted by John Duda
Red Emma's recently had the pleasure of hosting an event with Saskia Sassen, centered around her new book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. The video from her talk—focusing on the way a financialized global economy has rendered the large-scale violence it engenders more or less invisible—is available below:
Public schools are one of the last bastions of the commons in the US, and they're under attack from all sides. In the middle of the fray stand teachers, rank and file members of some of the biggest unions left in the country. Unfortunately, the leadership of those unions has been working harder to stay in power than to fight for better schools.
In his quick, accessible, 130 page book Strike for America, Jacobin online editor and labor journalist Micah Uetricht shows us the years of planning, progress and pitfalls that predated the miraculous events of September 2012. It's an important book for those who believe in public education, those who believe in worker's rights, and those who want to understand how to make things happen.
Watch the video of his talk at Red Emma's:
There are seldom books you come across that change your perspective. Sifting through lots of reading material you may every once in a while happen upon a gem of a book that alters your perspective in a seemingly permanent and life changing way. For me, this book found it’s way on the list of books that have changed my outlook in particular on the effects of patriarchy on men. After reading Feminism is for Everybody by the same author I was left with a general framework and historical context on the subject but genuinely missed how this concept could relate to my role as a self identifying “Man”.
In this wide-ranging and intense discussion, two critical urban scholar/activists invite us to imagine a city decoupled from the engines of gentrification and displacement, and challenge us to articulate what such a vision would concretely include: it's easy to say what we are against, but sometimes much harder to understand what we are for! An amazing event, especially given the utter necessity of asking precisely these kinds of questions in the Station North neighborhood.
Alondra Nelson's talk on March 7th was pretty incredible: looking behind the received representations of the Panthers that privilege camera-friendly armed—and often exclusively male—militancy, she explored the incredible story of the Party's committments to a grassroots vision of public health practice. From their community health clinics and scientifically sophisticated efforts to address sickle cell anemia, to their relationship to Fanon's anticolonial work and the way they attempted to construct their own media narrative around medical injustice before and after the Tuskegee revelations, Alondra placed the Panther's work on bringing medical care to their communities in a long subterranean tradition of health activism among black communities in the United States. As she noted, these stories of resistance are key counterpoints to the vital but incomplete narratives of medical oppression to be found in books like Medical Apartheid and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Watch the video now:
Last year, during our "New Histories of the Civil Rights Movement" panel featuring his book We Will Shoot Back, we asked scholar and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement founding member Akinyele Umoja to explain the history and organizing behind the then fresh victory of Chokwe Lumumba in the mayoral race in Jackson, Mississippi:
We were ecstatic to hear earlier today that Marshall "Eddie" Conway was released from prison today after 44 years of incarceration. We've been honored to have been able to use Red Emma's to provide support and space to the people who have worked tirelessly to secure Eddie's freedom since opening in 2004—the struggle to free the political prisoners held in the United States is simultaneously one of the most important and the most thankless struggles one can be engaged in, second perhaps only to the struggles of those political prisoners themselves to endure.
Marc Steiner, Baltimore radio host and a long time supporter of freedom for Eddie Conway, had some important words to say earlier tonight marking this important moment:
I'm delighted to report that this afternoon my friend and brother Marshall "Eddie" Conway was released from prison after almost 44 years as a political prisoner. As part of COINTELPRO's war against the Black Panthers, Eddie was accused of killing a police officer. There was never any evidence that linked Eddie Conway to this crime. Even one of the prosecutors who sent him to prison later came to believe in Eddie's innocence. While he was awaiting trial, a known informant was placed in Eddie's cell and clearly lied about him. Eddie was a victim of COINTELPRO, as was Martin Luther King, Jr., Leonard Peltier, SDS, and everyone who was part of the movement at that time.
As a Panther, Eddie continued to organize in prison. He taught literacy classes, led conflict mediation, and worked with young people. Eddie was a voice of peace for everyone he encountered.
When I saw him walk out of the courtroom today, he looked stunned, surrounded by the people who had loved and supported him the entire time. Eddie has vowed to continue his fight for justice, liberation and reconciliation. I am elated to see him walking the streets of Baltimore again as a free man.
As part of our fundraising campaign to open the new store, we hosted a talk across the street in MICA's graduate center last summer with the amazing Vijay Prashad, one of the foremost critics of global neoliberalism, and the author of a pair of important books examining the trajectory of the Third World/Global South—The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations—the latter of which he speaks on in the video below, after thanking Red Emma's collective member Kate Khatib for her work editing his book Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, and explaining why you should give money to Red Emma's instead of NPR:
We had a packed house for Sarah Richardson's talk about her new book "Sex Itself: The Search for Male and Female in the Human Genome." Couldn't make it? Here's the video, with a special introduction given by Sarah's sister Alexa:
The indispensable Marc Steiner welcomed George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici into the studio on the occasion of their recent visit to Red Emma's to talk about their new books (as well as financialization, crisis, debt, labor, feminism and more!) Listen to the interview below:
We're really excited about Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis' upcoming January 30th visit to Baltimore, where they'll be giving a joint presentation on "Debt, Financialization and the Production of the Common." This will be the fourth time we've brought them both to Baltimore---the first time was for the 2007 Midatlantic Radical Bookfair (which also featured Joy James, Dahr Jamail, Ashanti Alston, Muhammad Ahmad, and a call-in from political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway), the second was for our mammoth 2009 City From Below conference, and the most recent visit was for a 2011 Baltimore Free School seminar, where a packed room of people sat for six hours straight while Silvia Federici laid out the essential connections between feminism, the commons, and the refusal of work.
If you're looking for a place to start with their work to get ready for the event later in the month, we've laid out a few options below:
Not one, not two, but three reading groups starting soon from Red Emma's at the brand new Baltimore Free School, relaunched in its new home inside our space at 30 W. North Ave. Follow the links below for more info or to sign up!
Review by John Duda.
Let's start with a website. Visit ebdi.org and you'll find a glowing description of responsible urban development, of a large institution acting benevolently, even munificently, to lift up a troubled neighborhood, mired in generations of poverty, and bringing prosperity back to a decaying city. This is a good story, and one that postindustrial cities, clinging to their “anchor institutions,” are increasingly vocal in telling.
In Baltimore, however, this website and its reassuring story leaves something out: the real history of struggle, led by the residents of the Middle East neighborhood who have been fighting the East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI) for over a decade. These were the residents who learned that the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (JHMI), through its quasi-public proxy EBDI, would be taking their homes through eminent domain: one morning when they woke up to the story in the Baltimore Sun. These were the residents who refused to go quietly and agree that the public good would be served at the cost of uprooting their community, and who dared to fight back against the very powerful institutions who wanted to decide the future of the Middle East. And these are the residents whose story is told in Dr. Marisela Gomez's new book, Race, Class, Power, and Organizing in East Baltimore.
Here, David Harvey, speaking at the opening event of the 2009 "City From Below" conference, revisits his canonical essay on Baltimore urban history "A View From Federal Hill."
The essay appeared in The Baltimore Book, one of our all-time best sellers and still one of the best introductions to the people's history of Baltimore.