So you want to crack open one of Angela Davis’s brilliant novels, but don’t know where to start? Look no further than this modest introduction to some of her key essays, books, and transcribed interviews. To make it even easier to dip your toe into Davis’s imposing mind, each book will be given a twin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the only series with comparable range to Davis’s literary genius).
Where it all began. Get to know the visionary and activist as she was in the earlier years of the struggle. A kick in the ass for anyone on the fence about doing what’s right, Davis tells her story with “warmth, brilliance, humor, and conviction” amazon summary. Her ideas remain captivating, but the woman behind them is even more so.
Captain America: the first avenger
This classic origin story introduces you to the main character, let’s you settle into her universe and leaves you looking forward to the next. A pretty obvious comparison.
In this compelling read, Davis addresses the question of why movements fail.
Her answer? A lack of intersectionality, or the view of how multiple identities (such as the titular race and class) impact a movement.
While not a recent read, her views of identity and social justice remain influential to this day, and impact the way movements currently ebb and flow, succeed and fade.
Captain America: Civil War
Both of these cultural gems focus on failings and divisions that cause them. Not to say that Iron Man and Captain America ran into the same problems as early social movements, but the harsh lines driven between them seem eerily similar. Reading Davis’s novel, you begin to understand what drives even the most well-intentioned activists apart.
In a series of powerful essays and interviews, Davis stresses the importance of global movements, addressing the ties between police stations in Ferguson and militaries in Israel
While addressing the importance of past movements, she wishes to unite the struggles of those everywhere to defeat capitalist, imperialist, racist regimes.
This book is the perfect combination of all the questions you’ve wanted to ask Davis, hence the comparison to the first appearance of the united Avengers. This culmination of her written and spoken word makes for a read that has you gravitating towards Davis and her ideas.
Using her own experience in prison and years as a top target of the United States government, Davis provides insightful critique of our current democracy and the atrocities it allows to happen in its prisons.
Discussing topics like “resistance and law, institutional sexual coercion, politics and prison” in a series of interviews, Davis seeks to spotlight the racist foundation upon which these practices have been built, and break it down.
Avengers: Infinity War
The gang’s all here: racism, misogyny, imperialism, abolition, and so many more. An almost overwhelming amount of concepts make an appearance in the numerous interviews Davis gives in her scathing critiques. Like Infinity War, you walk away with the sense that there is a lot to fix.
This timeless essay showcases a cutting view of the prison industrial complex and how its history of promised reform ultimately maximized the power of jails everywhere.
Davis highlights the money making machine behind prisons and the labor they dole out every day, and the share of people who make up that labor.
Spoiler alert, they’re majority BIPOC individuals.
She looks to a world simultaneously before and beyond prisons, pushing us to address the systemic issues that turn individuals to crime, mental illness, homelessness, and, eventually, prison.
This long-form essay is short, sweet, and a great read from beginning to end. Like Ragnarok, this book refuses to let you put it down. And it’s super approachable nature and unique insights make it a book you just have to revisit, no matter how many times you’ve read it.
featured image credits: UMKC, SHEILA MCKENCHIE FOUNDATION