Racism in America: Resources for (White) People

Racism in America: Resources for (White) People August 18, 2017

As a middle-class white kid, growing up in a very white place, I was blissfully and tragically ignorant of the reality of racism in America. The truth is, I was white so I didn’t have to think about it. I was unaware of the historical, institutional, systemic dynamics of racism in America. To my shame, it wasn’t until probably four or five years ago that I began to wrestle through the dark reality of racism in America.

In this post, I am offering some of the resources that have challenged and confronted me personally in a whole host of ways. I’m not condemning anyone from a high horse, my primary hope is to to help give some resources to continue (or even begin) to take racism in American seriously. I’m still very much a work in progress. By no means is this list comprehensive or exhaustive. These are merely some of the things I’ve found to be helpful on my own journey towards loving God and loving my neighbor as myself within the context of racial reconciliation in church and the world.

ARTICLES/ESSAYS

Letter from Birmingham Jail” by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.dated April 16, 1963. This is one of the best essays I’ve ever read. As a master rhetorician and lover of God’s church, MLK skillfully writes a letter to his ‘fellow clergymen’ who have tried to stall the civil rights movement. If you read nothing else, please read this.

White Americans Have to Make a Choice” by Jamelle Bouie from Slate.com. A powerful article published this week that articulates the responsibility white people have and touches on some of the most important dynamics at play: power, history and our moral imagination.

After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously?” by Jemar Tisby on racism in the church with a call to take action. Jemar Tisby is the President and Founder of the Reformed African American Network (RAAN). He is a leading and trusted voice on race, religion and culture.

FILM/VIDEO

TED Talk: We Need to Talk about Injustice” by Bryan Stevenson who is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. His work focuses on battling poverty and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. He is hands down one of the the primary voices in shaping how I think through race and injustice.

A more recent interview of Bryan Stevenson on CBS News focused on Charlottesville and President Trump’s response and our negligence in dealing with the ideology and narrative of white supremacy in America.

A Biblical Theology of Race a short video by Jemar Tisby.

13th” a documentary by Ava Duvernay. Taking it’s name from the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, this powerful documentary focuses on the New Jim Crow, including the public policies that have led to the mass incarceration of African Americans. Eye opening. Here’s a review of the film.

 I Am Not Your Negro” is a documentary by Raoul Peck. It is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscriptRemember This Housewhich is basically a reflection on of Medgar Evers, Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Baldwin was a brilliant writer and speaker, this was one of my first introductions to his work. Here’s a review of the film.

 Get Out” is a film co-produced and directed by the comedian Jordan Peele. It’s probably best classified as a thriller but it kind of defies the genre: it’s a comic-horror-satire. It offers a brilliant and incisive social critique of American culture, especially at it pertains to black and white race relations. Here’s a review of the film and another helpful article.

PODCASTS

Black Lives Matter” an episode from the Pass the Mic podcast. This episode focuses on wrestling through how Christians should think about the phrase and movement of “Black Lives Matter.”

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Christian Complicity with Racism and the Imperative for Immediate Action” another episode from the Pass the Mic podcast. The title says it all. 

Black and White: Racism in America” an episode from The Liturgists podcast.

Bryan Stevenson interview on the New Yorker Radio Hour. Host David Remnick and Bryan Stevenson talk about the legacy of racial terror in America.

BOOKS

Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism by Allan Boesak and Curtiss Paul DeYoung. The authors, a South African anti-apartheid activist and a white theologian from the US, provide a unique and challenging voice that calls for and gives guidance on how to work towards racial reconciliation.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson. This book chronicles the history and legacy of structural racism in America.

 

On My READING LIST…

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie James Jennings

The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone

Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin

Race Matters by Cornel West

Tears We Just Can’t Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

St. Augustine of Hippo, arguably the greatest theologian of the Church once wrote: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” Here are some things I’ve written as I’ve tried to think through some of the issues of race, the gospel and culture. Again, as you’ll see, I’m very much a work in progress. Lord have mercy.

Play this song, DJ, maybe we can change the world” on Transpositions. I wrote this article in the aftermath of the most recent presidential election. I focus on the power of music, hip hop in particular, to make an impact on the world.

The Most Beautiful Thing: Racial Reconciliation and the Credibility of the Gospel” on Transpositions. In this essay, I explore the state of racial reconciliation in the American church and what is at stake.

 


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