Race and racism resources

Writers offer resource recommendations

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Reading is one way to expand our understanding of race and racism. Contributing writers Darren Duerksen, Terry Hunt, Mark Isaac and Jamie Mack offer their recommendations for books that can advance your journey and give you a different perspective on the issue.

Books—Nonfiction

Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin, 2017. The colleague in the story I share in this issue lent me her copy of this book. I believe it was the first book I read on the subject of racism. —Mark Isaac

 I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, 2018. This memoir gives readers insights into the author’s experience growing up Black in majority white schools, churches and organizations and celebrates the contributions of Black women. This is one of the first books I read on the subject of racism. —Connie Faber

Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together by Tony Evans, 2015.  I have been a student of Dr. Evans for over 40 years. If there is anyone who can speak words of hope and healing to the body of Christ, it is he—calling the church to action in embracing oneness from the perspective that Christ is not taking sides but taking over. —Terry Hunt

Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity by David W. Swanson, 2020. Our church elders read this book and are still considering ways to engage the conversation with our church family. —Mark Isaac

 The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby, 2019.  This book helped me see that racism would never have taken root in America if the church would not support it. It also has made me more aware of my call as a “minster of reconciliation.” —Terry Hunt

 The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege by Ken Wytsma, 2017.  I had been looking for a white evangelical voice who could speak/write on race and privilege, which could serve as a bridge between those at the forefront of race relations in America.  This book challenges evangelicals to awaken our nation’s racist history and ask more in-depth questions about race, identity and responsibility. —Terry Hunt

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, 2010. How could I not have known about this?! Wilkerson’s book on the migration of 6 million Black Americans from the South to other parts of our nation is a long book but, like a good movie with delightful characters and incredulous situations, you just don’t want it to end. —Mark Isaac

True to Our Native Land: An African American New Testament Commentary by Brian K. Blount (editor), 2007. Biblical commentaries are virtually all written from a white Western perspective. I have owned and read nothing else, until now. I won’t preach a text unless I’ve read about it and understood it from the perspective of my Black brothers and sisters. —Mark Isaac

Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah, 2019.  This book tells the truths that we didn’t learn in school about how the ideology of Christian discovery dehumanized the indigenous people of Turtle Island.  You will learn so many things about our U.S. history that you didn’t know. —Terry Hunt

White Awake: An Honest Look at What it means to be White by Daniel Hill, 2017. Hill provides a very readable, biblical and often personal look at what it means to grow in our understanding of white culture and identity. He presents seven stages that he and most white people move through, illustrating them with stories from over 20 years of lived and pastoral experience in Chicago, including five years with Willow Creek Community Church. — Darren Duerksen

 

Books – Fiction

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee, 2016. Whether or not you read the author’s first acclaimed novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, this recently discovered and published second novel stands on its own. I found myself struggling intensely along with the main character, Scout, a daughter who had come to see the evil of racism very differently from her father’s and her community’s perspective. —Mark Isaac

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, 2011. Ward gives us the story of an impoverished Black family in rural Mississippi and their experience of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath as seen through the eyes of the middle daughter, Esch. Through it all Ward doesn’t tell us about racism. Rather she rather shows us how racism segregates Black communities and makes them highly vulnerable to economic changes and natural disaster, but also how their relationships with each other provide strength and resilience. — Darren Duerksen

 

Books — Children

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Isim. I am embarrassed to say that I did not know who John Lewis was until he died a few months ago. As I did some research of my own to learn about the great work he did during his lifetime, this fun book with gorgeous illustrations tells a snippet of his young life, the beginnings of his calling to be a peacemaker, preacher and civil rights leader. —Jamie Mack

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a fantastic book to help kids talk about feeling anxious, or left out, or different. You can even hear the author read it to you here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDs5d_qFbEs&feature=emb_title (recommended ages 3-8) —Jamie Mack

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Safety by Carol Boston Weatherford. The illustrations in this award-winning children’s book are just as beautiful as the story itself!  This book highlights Harriet Tubman’s deep faith in God and her belief that he was calling and equipping her to do his kingdom work. It caused me to picture Harriet alongside the heroes of faith listed in chapter 11 of Hebrews. (recommended ages 6-14) —Jamie Mack

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. As a 6-year-old, Ruby Bridges was the first black child to attend Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. This true story of courage and kindness reminds us that even the youngest can be trailblazers for change! (recommended ages 4-12) —Jamie Mack

 Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. SO GOOD!! This award-winning memoir is written in free-verse poetry, making it wonderfully accessible to young readers. My teenage daughters and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which was an easy entrance into historical realities of the civil rights movement in the 60s. Buy it, read it, discuss it and pass it on to a friend! (ages 10 and up) —Jamie Mack

Websites that offer more suggestions for anti-racism books —Jamie Mack

https://www.tinkergarten.com/blog/24-books-with-black-protagonists-by-black-authors-all-kids-should-read

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/antiracist-books-for-kids-and-teens/

https://www.wellandgood.com/anti-racist-books-for-kids/

https://www.embracerace.org/resources/we-are-summer-camp-book-list

Other

Common Hymnal – This is a powerful and, I believe, prophetic collaboration of artists whose work is resonating deeply with the heart of God. Their album, Praise and Protest, speaks masterfully and mysteriously as only music can. You can find and follow these artists on Facebook, Instagram, music platforms, even a podcast! Their website is http://commonhymnal.comJamie Mack

Letter from a Birmingham Jail — April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr. (https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html). Like the words of Jesus to his religious leader peers, this primary source document from Martin Luther King, Jr. to his fellow pastors, rabbis and priests in Birmingham confronts with the perspective of a higher kingdom and calling. If I can’t hear and understand my brother, how can I expect to hear and understand the Lord; and vice versa? —Mark Isaac

Lift Every Voice and Sing (Black national anthem) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONgOH_tq7-Q). I was introduced to this song during MLK Jr. celebrations while serving at Fresno Pacific University. It’s melody and meter are peculiar yet compelling, and its lyrics filled with such meaning I can only absorb with the hope of new empathy. —Mark Isaac

Race: The Power of Illusion, 2003. This thought-provoking three-part documentary series produced by California Newsreel investigates the idea of race in society, science and history. It was a primary resource for the recent webinar sponsored by USMB and the Center for Anabaptist Studies and hosted by Darren Duerksen and Dina Gonzalez-Pina. It’s a bit dated but challenges and educates the viewer.

The Porter’s Gate: Worship Project, Lament Songs and Justice Songs – The Porter’s Gate was founded to help worship leaders respond theologically to the pressing questions of our times through the writing of new worship songs and the creation of new liturgical resources. Featuring contributions from musicians, theologians and pastors from a wide range of church traditions and worship styles, these two albums were recorded in July in a “quarantine bubble.” I’m so thankful for the ways they have given voice to the sadness and frustration that I have felt but not been able to express. www.theportersgate.comJamie Mack

CL Staff
This article has been posted by CL staff.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much, Christian Leader, for this article and the list of resources. From my position as ICOMB leader, I felt over and over again the problem of white privilege and power as we related across our international community. Like Mark Isaac, I have made it a point to read outside of white North American authors for a few years.

    I would enthusiastically add two resources by the late Dr. Richard Twiss on an Indigenous approach to Christian faith and theology. “One Church; Many Tribes” and “Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys”

  2. Thank you to Dina Gonzalez-Pina, Saji Oommen, and Darren Duerksen for their articles of Jan. 1, 2021. I intend to look up the books they referenced. I can recommend the following: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

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