Policing and race

This guide brings together materials and links to support students and others doing research on police, policing, and race.

Example keywords and search terms

Tips for searching in library databases:

  • Use quotation marks to search for terms or concepts made up of multiple words as phrases. For example, search "Black Lives Matter" instead of Black Lives Matter.
  • Use "and" to connect two or more concepts. For example: "civil rights" AND police

Keywords and concepts for this topic:

(This is not an exhaustive list, but it will help you get started.)

  • Black Lives Matter
  • Civil rights
  • Criminal justice
  • Criminalize
  • Decriminalize
  • "Defund the police"
  • Law enforcement
  • Police/policing
  • Police brutality
  • Police-community relations
  • Police misconduct
  • Police reform
  • Police violence
  • Prejudice
  • Race relations
  • Race riots
  • Racial bias
  • Racial profiling (in law enforcement)
  • Racism (and the United States)
  • Social control
  • Use of force or excessive force
  • White privilege
  • White supremacy

Keywords for racial groups:

  • African American
  • American Indian
  • Asian American
  • Hispanic American
  • Indians of North America
  • People of color
  • White

Not finding what you need? Contact the University Libraries for help using the Chat 24/7 button.

Find sources -- for background, history and framing the issues

Other Online Resources

Looking for more? A Matter of Facts: Defunding the Police is a blog post by several University of Minnesota Librarians that pulls together an array of information resources specifically on the topic of defunding police departments.

Legal & government documents

Law Enforcement and Racial Justice Research Guide from the UMN Law Library.

This research guide brings together a variety of resources for researching issues related to policing and racial injustice. Other sections of this guide focus on more specific issues such as police tactics and use of force; police/community relations, community policing and community activism; police oversight/accountability, and efforts/proposals to reform, defund and abolish police departments. Note: some of the resources (primarily books) listed under a particular topic (e.g. police tactics) may also contain content that address other topics such as police oversight. The guide has a separate section devoted to law enforcement and racial justice issues in Minnesota. It also includes a section with useful links to federal government publications and resources for researching law enforcement and racial justice issues in other states.

Sample of online books

Below are a selection of online books and readings on the broad topic. We have more online books, journal articles, and sources in our Libraries Search and article databases.

Mapping Prejudice Project

Map from Mapping Prejudice"This research is showing what communities of color have known for decades. Structural barriers stopped many people who were not white from buying property and building wealth for most of the last century.

In Minneapolis, these restrictions served as powerful obstacles for people of color seeking safe and affordable housing. They also limited access to community resources like parks and schools. Racial covenants dovetailed with redlining and predatory lending practices to depress homeownership rates for African Americans. Contemporary white residents of Minneapolis like to think their city never had formal segregation. But racial covenants did the work of Jim Crow in northern cities like Minneapolis.

This history has been willfully forgotten. So we created Mapping Prejudice to shed new light on these historic practices. We cannot address the inequities of the present without an understanding of the past."

Last Updated: Jun 7, 2024 1:38 PM