Best Reads for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Best Reads for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day January 20, 2019

I wonder if the reconciliation paradigm for race relations in the United States is a faulty approach and plays into many of the white racist biases of our culture. Because the experience of various races in the United States is incommensurable, a paradigm based on parallelism of experience simply perpetuates the power dynamics intrinsic to racism as embodied in contemporary North American culture.

A couple of recent books have especially convinced me of this. The first was James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, which illustrates that even white liberal Protestants of the 20th century failed to connect the horrendous lynchings in the south to the crucifixion of Jesus, even while they attempted to address racism theologically.

A second book, Dear White Christians (Prophetic Christianity) makes the most compelling argument I have ever read for reparations as the essential paradigm for race relations, over against reconciliation. It is really a must read.

Of course, the recent movie Selma is also convicting, because it illustrates the degree to which the Civil Rights movements was a Black Church movement, and how infrequently the white church participated in the movement.

Some recent excellent essays on Selma include:

Why the Oscars’ Omission of ‘Selma’ Matters

What went wrong with the Oscar hopes for ‘Selma’?

What the hell happened to ‘Selma’?

Selma and Clergy

Then there is perhaps the most important book ever written in English on race and theology, J. Kameron Carter’s Race: A Theological Account

He and some colleagues have written an essential post that is worth the time on King’s faith as driving his activism.

Finally, this brief post from Huffington Post on MLK Jr.’s name change, includes a podcast with Paul Rauschenbush that is totally worth a listen:
For those who are part of white majority culture, and who want to do the work appropriate to them, I highly recommend White Fragility.
And if you’d like insight into the creation new directions Black authors are taking things in this new century, consider N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ‘Til Black Future Month, or the fascinating New York Times installment, Black Male Writers For Our Time.


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