Sunday, August 7, 2022

Treason to Whtieness at Boneshaker Books

On Friday, August 19th at 7pm,  Zhana and I will appear at Boneshaker Books (202 23rd Ave S) in Minneapolis to discuss Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity, our new collection of essays by the late Noel Ignatiev. Our Chicago event went great, and we are looking forward to this one! Hope to see you there.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Treason to Whiteness at Pilsen Community Books

On Friday July 22nd at 7pm, Zhana and I will be visiting our friends at Chicago's Pilsen Community Books (1102 W 18th St.) for a celebration and discussion of our new co-edited collection of Noel Ignatiev's political writing, Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity. Come out and pick up a copy!

Friday, July 1, 2022

Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity

I am thrilled to announce the release of Treason to Whiteness is Loyalty to Humanity (448 pp., Verso), a collection of essays by the late militant historian Noel Ignatiev edited by Zhana, Geert Dhondt, and me, with an introduction by David Roediger and a biography by John Garvey. Noel's 2019 death was a major blow to friends of human liberation, and we hope this collection will help popularize his ideas and the example he set in life.

Pick up the book here.

Check out this advance praise: 

“This book is the gift of a life well-lived—as steelworker, scholar, race traitor, and fierce anti-racist. Noel Ignatiev had a singular and memorable voice, here preserved for posterity. We will need his ideas and example moving forward.”
—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

“This collection of Noel Ignatiev’s writings over the past six decades could not come at a more important time in the struggle against white supremacy; they are as pertinent today as they were when they were written.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

“Noel Ignatiev was a tiller in the field of identity studies long before most of us even knew there was such a field. Beyond that, he located the field at the crossroads of race and class. He was an important, innovative thinker, as well as a committed activist for social justice.”
—Russel Banks, author of Continental Drift and Cloudsplitter

“Noel Ignatiev was a giant in one of the most important fields of research to emerge in recent times: how was it that those who had been warring on the shores of Europe on religious and ethnic grounds were magically transformed upon crossing the Atlantic into the new Identity Politics of ‘whiteness’? As the brilliant Ignatiev correctly suggests, the survival of humanity may very well hang on understanding this phenomenon—then acting decisively.”
—Gerald Horne, author of White Supremacy Confronted: US Imperialism and Anti-Communism versus the Liberation of Southern Africa, from Rhodes to Mandela

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Escape From New York II

I am excited to see "Escape from New York," a selection of excerpts from Captives chronicling the rich tradition of escapes from NYC jails, now available as a zine from my pals at Ill Will. Check it out here, and consider supporting their excellent work.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Captives on Kite Line

I went back to see my friends at Kite Line Radio for a two-part discussion of Captives and the lessons of Rikers history for abolitionists today. Check out Part 1 now, look out for Part 2 next week, and never miss an episode of this crucial program.

Update 7/1: Part 2 is now available here.

Friday, June 10, 2022

A.M. Speaks

Last month I was happy to host the Chicago stop of A.M. Gittlitz's #READTHEGREENBOOK tour at Pilsen Community Books. Now the audio is available for listening here.

We discussed Gittlitz’s book I Want To Believe, the enigmatic Latin American revolutionary J. Posadis, the enduring legacy of twentieth century radicalism, revolutionary politics in 2022, meme culture, internet irony, vibe shifts, and why so many dedicated micro-sects turn into cringey cults.

If you haven't picked up this book yet, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Discussion with David Campbell

I recently sat down with good friend and former political prisoner David Campbell, who spent a year at Rikers during the height of Covid, for a lively exchange now transcribed and available on Truthout. We discussed Captives, captivity, and the lessons we have drawn from our respective experiences. Click here to read it.

David is working hard to rebuild his life post-release. If you enjoy this content, consider pledging to his Patreon.

On WBAI's Equal Rights and Justice

I appeared on Mimi Rosenberg's Equal Rights and Justice radio program on WBAI this morning to discuss Captives. It was wonderful to be able to discuss my history of Rikers with people who have spent time working there. Thanks to Mimi for this opportunity and for having me on the show. You can listen here.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

More Reviews of Captives

I am happy to have seen two excellent new reviews of Captives:

Scott W. Stern, "Rikers Island Has Made Us All Prisoners," in Jacobin

 A.M. Gittlitz, "Rikers, What Good Do You Think You Do?" in The Brooklyn Rail

I thank these readers for their time, attention, and generosity.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Every Fire Needs a Little Bit of Help

I have a piece in the special issue of End Notes commemorating the two year anniversary of the George Floyd Rebellion. Click here to read it.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

It's Going Down

I stopped by the It's Going Down podcast to discuss Captives, Rikers history, and the present horizon for abolition. Check it out here, and be sure to support IGD's important work.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Read the Green Book

I am happy to be hosting my old pal Andy Gittlitz for the Chicago leg of the Read the Green Book Tour, belatedly celebrating the release of his book I Want to Believe: Posadism, UFOs, and Apocalypse Communism (Pluto Press, 2020). I love this book!

We will discuss Posadism and many related themes at Pilsen Community Books on Friday, May 27th at 7pm. Be sure to support this important community space and pick up Andy's awesome book.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Initial Reviews for Captives

A two-page spread in the 5/22 Daily News
There have been some excellent reviews of Captives so far:

Abby Cunniff, "Brutal Island," in Los Angeles Review of Books

Kay Gabriel, "The Island," in The Nation 

Brendan O'Connor, "The Long Crisis on Rikers Island," in The Baffler

Jacqueline Cutler, "Chronicling Rikers Island's Descent from Humane Jail to Lawless Lockup," in the New York Daily News

Thanks to these critics for their time and careful attention. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

States of Incarceration

I had a lively and generative discussion with Zhana and Shemon at Red May's "States of Incarceration" panel!

The panel can be viewed here

Thanks to Shemon for facilitating and the Red May comrades for setting this up. Zhana and my book States of Incarceration will be out in September, and can be pre-ordered here.

Be sure to check out the rest of Red May's excellent programming. All panels are available to view online. And please consider becoming a contributor so Red May can resume in person next year!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Rikers Disliker

I stopped by to see my old friends at the Antifada and talk about Captives and its implications for understanding mass incarceration and reform today. Check out the episode here and consider becoming a patron!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Escape from New York

Captives officially drops today, and I am excited to offer a short excerpt thanks to my pals Ill Will. These two passages offer a glimpse of the rich tradition of ingenious escapes from New York City jails in the 1970s. Check it out here. And if you haven't already, pick up the book from Verso.

Monday, May 16, 2022

How Rikers Island Made New York City

I recently sat down for an excellent discussion with Alana Mohamed of the freshly-launched New York City publication Hell Gate. We discussed the central themes of Captives and their application to understanding Rikers and NYC today. Check it out here, and be sure to keep an eye on Hell Gate!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Community Book Store Event 5/17

On Tuesday May 17th, at 7:30pm ET, Zhana and I will be taking part in an online discussion of Captives hosted by Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We have had some great discussions at our Chicago-area events, and hope to see you there! It can be accessed here. 

Update 5/18: the video of this event can be viewed here. Thanks to Community Bookstore and everyone who attended!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Policing the City

I had a great discussion with some excellent historians at the Red May "Policing the City" panel! 

The panel can be viewed here. 

Thanks to Dan Berger for facilitating, and my co-panelists Donna Murch and Annie Gray Fischer. 

Be sure to check out the rest of Red May's excellent programming, including a panel with my old friends Zhandarka Kurti and Shemon Salam later this month!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Red May 2022

I am excited to be featured on two panels at this year's Red May! These events will be remote and viewable on Red May TV as they happen, and will be available to view afterward.

The first, on Sunday May 8th, is called "Policing the City." It features the excellent historians Donna Murch, Anne Gray Fischer, and Dan Berger. I will be discussing Captives.

The second, on Friday, May 20th, is called "States of Incarceration." It features old friends and activist-scholars Shemon Salam and Zhandarka Kurti. Zhana and I will be discussing our forthcoming book States of Incarceration (Field Notes/Reaktion, 2022).

Both events are at 3pm PT.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Two Chicago-Area Release Events for Captives

I am excited to announce two Chicago-area release events for Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage.

The first event will be at Loyola University (Lake Shore Campus), on Wednesday April 27th, at 5:30pm in room 109 of Cuneo Hall.

The second will be at Governors State University, In University Park, IL, on Monday, May 2nd, at 2pm, in room B1200. 

Both events will be discussions of Captives with my wonderful colleague Zhandarka Kurti.

Copies of the book will be available for the first time. If you cannot make it, and would like to pre-order the book in advance of its May 17th release, you can do so here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Pre-order Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage

I am excited to announce the coming release of my book Captives: How Rikers Island Took New York City Hostage (448 pp., Verso) on May 17th.

Click here to pre-order the book today

From the jacket: "Captives combines a thrilling account of Rikers Island’s descent into infamy with a dramatic retelling of the last seventy years of New York politics from the vantage point of the city’s jails. It is a story of a crowded field of contending powers—city bureaucrats and unions, black power activists and guards, crooked cops and elected leaders—struggling for power and influence, a tale culminating in mass incarceration and the triumph of neoliberalism. It is a riveting chronicle of how the Rikers Island of today—and the social order it represents—came to be."

I also am highly honored to have the book released to this advance praise from a number of excellent activists and scholars:

Captives is an amazingly detailed journey into a New York City jails system fueled by capitalist greed, political expediency, and racist exploitation. Conditions have deteriorated on Rikers Island even compared to the oppressive and inhumane environment that I experienced detained as a 16-year-old member of the New York Panther 21. Jarrod Shanahan’s incisive history challenges us to thought and action. The longer Rikers stays open and the push for new carceral facilities continues, the longer our collective humanity remains caged.”

“Rikers Island has the same relationship to New York as his picture did to Dorian Gray in the famous story by Oscar Wilde: the notorious super-jail is the grotesque face of the institutional cruelty and racism that lies behind so much of the Big Apple’s preening dazzle. Shanahan, who personally experienced Rikers’ violence, has crafted a masterpiece of synthesized social observation, analytic history and political critique. Now that the city has a new mayor who loudly champions the jailers and bad cops, Captives is urgent and obligatory reading.”

“Shanahan’s lively must-read explains the power politics shaping New York City’s municipal lockup frenzy.”

Captives reveals the long history of racial oppression and unaccountable violence in the Rikers Island jail complex that has been hidden in plain sight … This extraordinary book demonstrates the centrality of jails to life in New York City.”

Captives is more than a history of the notorious Rikers Island; it is a riveting, caged bird’s-eye view of the tumultuous shift from postwar liberal dreams of penal reform to neoliberal punishment, police power, and the rise of the carceral state. Ultimately, it is a book about class struggle—how we got from ‘build better’ to ‘lock ’em up’ to ‘shut it down.’”

Captives is an important and timely book that vividly depicts how decades of class struggle and oppression, especially along the lines of race and gender, shaped the rise of Rikers Island as we know it today. A must read!”

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Death to The Walking Dead

To mark the final season of AMC's blockbuster series The Walking Dead, I have a new essay in Hard Crackers reflecting on the show's political imagination and position in U.S. popular culture. Read it here, and join me in paying final respects to a show I have loved to hate for over a decade.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Carceral Non-Profits and the Limits of Prison Reform

Zhana and I have an article in ACME: A Journal of Critical Geography, entitled "Carceral Non-Profits and the Limits of Prison Reform." In it we follow-up on our 2019 article "Rebranding Mass Incarceration: The Lippman Commission and Carceral Devolution in New York City," by theorizing the social role of the non-profit institutions surrounding the New York City jail expansion plan. Read it here.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Blue Lives Matter and the U.S. Counter-Subversive Tradition

Tyler Wall and I sat down with Political Research Associates to discuss our research into far-right organizing among US police, specifically the Blue Lives Matter movement and the presence of cops in the Capitol siege. Check it out here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Earth II

I wrote a lengthy review of Earth II, the latest instant classic from the pro-Situationist film collective the Anti-Banality Union. Read it here.

Friday, December 10, 2021

On Kite Line Radio

Zhana and I visited our friends at Kite Line Radio to discuss our ongoing research into the nexus of non-profits surrounding the US punishment system. Check out part one of our interview here, and never miss a week of Kite Line!

Update 12/18: part two is now available here.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Dangerous Games on Rikers Island

I have a new piece in Truthout examining the role of the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association in the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

"Tell Everyone"

Zhana and I have a new essay reviewing the Candyman reboot and reflecting on the film's history, the legacy of Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, and the state of political consciousness in the US in the wake of the George Floyd Rebellion.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Acceptable Men Book Release Event Sunday 9/25

I am honored to be speaking alongside Zhana at the Gary, Indiana release event for Noel Ignatiev's memoir Acceptable Men at the Nelson Algren 616 Soundstage (616 S. Lake Street) at 5pm Sunday, September 25th. Gary is an important setting for this excellent book and its a real treat to be celebrating its release there! Thanks to the comrades at Charles H. Kerr for putting this together and doing such a great job on the book.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

America on Fire

Zhana and I have a review of Elizabeth Hinton's new book America on Fire (Liveright, 2021) available to read now in the September issue of the Brooklyn Rail. Never miss an issue!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Covid and the Capitalist World System

Zhana and I will be appearing at this year's annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, as part of a panel called Covid and the Capitalist World System. We are speaking on Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET alongside some excellent scholars, and will be presenting a work in progress about the pandemic and last summer's rebellion. 

Friday, July 30, 2021

New Issue of Race & Class

Race & Class Volume 63, Number 1 is now available. It contains Tyler Wall and my article "'Fight the Reds, Support the Blue': Blue Lives Matter and the US Counter-subversive Tradition," in addition to a number of articles by some excellent scholars. You can get it here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Hard Crackers Issue Eight

Issue Eight of Hard Crackers: Chronicles of Everyday Life is now available!  It features writing from Kadeem Johnson, Marty Brown, and lots of regulars, including an editorial taking stock of the year 2020. Order your copy and read the editorial here.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Racism on a Global Scale

I had the honor of participating in the two-day conference Racism on a Global Scale at Singapore University of Social Sciences. You can view the panel here. Anyone interested in further reading on the history I discuss should begin with David Roediger and Elizabeth Esch's The Production of Difference, the main book I was drawing from in my prepared remarks.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Friday the 1312

I wrote a review of the 2020 Blue Lives Matter horror film Body Cam, which is up now on Hard Crackers. Be sure to check it out. The review, that is. Can't say I recommend the film.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Support Your Local Police

Tyler Wall and I have a new article in Race & Class examining the Blue Lives Matter movement and its precursors in US history, namely the John Birch Society's Campaign to Support Your Local Police. We also attempt to make sense of the presence of police officers among the insurgents at the Capitol on January 6th. You can read it here.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Here We Go Again

Zhana and I have a new piece in Truthout about the recent history of reform in the Minneapolis Police Department and how the Justice Department cannot be counted on to stop police violence. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Tribute to Noel Ignatiev

The eight print issue of Hard Crackers is now available! We assembled a special issue honoring our late founding editor Noel Ignatiev. It features remembrances and reflections by some of the folks who knew him best, including John Bracey, Beth Henson, M. Treloar, Don Hamerquist, Jay Caspian Kang, numerous Hard Crackers collaborators including yours truly, and other comrades and friends of Noel. The issue also features an excerpt from Noel’s forthcoming memoir Acceptable Men, out soon from Charles H. Kerr Press. You can order it here.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

"Didn't it look like so much fun?"

Red May's Cinder Bloc podcast is back with part two of Zhana and my dialogue with Hinterlands author Phil Neel. This episode combines a discussion we had back in December with a follow-up interview we did in the immediate aftermath of the Capitol insurrection. You can listen here, and be sure to check out Red May's consistent stream of quality content!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Thin Blue Line

Tyler Wall and I have a new short piece on the Institute of Race Relations blog, reflecting on the presence of cops among the Capitol insurgents. This is a preview of a longer piece of historical analysis that will be out soon in the Race & Class journal. Check it out here.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Abolition and Survival

I sat down with Asia Art for a substantive discussion of the Floyd rebellion, the resurgent US right, and the strengths and weaknesses of the abolitionist movement. Check it out here, and be sure to follow their incisive coverage of world politics.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Race in America Series

I'm honored to be featured in Governor State University's Race in America series. You can see my section here, and be sure to check out the rest of my excellent colleagues here.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Police Story


I have a new piece on Ill Will Editions exploring the NYPD's response to the George Floyd Rebellion and what it teaches us about the divide between state agents promoting a soft counterinsurgency strategy and those who favor a hard one namely, the cops.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

On the Antifada

Zhana and I paid a visit to our pals at the Antifada podcast for a lively discussion of the George Floyd Rebellion, the Capitol insurrection, and the Hard Crackers project. Check out the episode here, and consider becoming a subscriber!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Introducing Cinder Bloc.

Last month Zhana and I sat down with Phil Neel and the comrades at Red May for a wide-ranging discussion of the George Floyd Rebellion, the US election, the resurgent far right, and the prospects for struggle in post-Trump America. Part one of our discussion is now available as the inaugural episode of Red May's Cinder Bloc. podcast. Check out part two next week, and be sure to follow all of Red May's exciting programming!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

"The Big Takeover" on Three-Way Fight

There is an excellent short feature about my new artice "The Big Takeover" from the comrades at Three-Way Fight. I have learned a lot about how to understand the US far-right from reading TWF, so this is a big honor.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Big Takeover

I have a piece on yesterday's wild Capitol takeover, and what it augers for the future of the US far-right, up now on Hard Crackers.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Best of the Worst

Happy 2021! I am honored to learn that my appearance on the Labor Wave podcast, to discuss the life and legacy of the late Noel Ignatiev, was voted their top episode of 2020.

I also landed a spot alongside some great comrades and friends on the Hard Crackers Top 20 of 2020 list.  

Here's to causing trouble in 2021!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Thankful for President Trump

I attended a "Stop the Steal" rally in Chicago on Thanksgiving and wrote about the rally and the state of the MAGA movement in the final days of Trump's presidency. You can read it now on Hard Crackers.