Faith & Inspiration, Racial Justice

Racial Justice Reading List (a start!)

In my last post, I wrote about some first step we can take as white people when it comes to working for racial justice. I explained how it is important we do work on ourselves without expecting Global Majority people to always invest their emotional energy in explaining the issues to us.

The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there. Before I present you a list of some helpful readings, could I also encourage you to have a critical look at your social media use. Who do you follow or like? What podcasts do you listen to? How many of these are by white people talking from a Western frame, how many of these are written from a Global Majority perspective? What is the gender and sexuality of these people? You could start by intentionally following some people who will bring different perspectives and insights to your newsfeed.

(Addition 8/6/2020: Emma Watson just put together an excellent Spotify playlist of podcasts, writing, analysis and discussion to help people better understand systemic racism and white supremacy!)

When it comes to books, here’s a list which will be a good start to help you understand the concept of white privilege and why we need to talk about race. (To truly do this work we should not just read books written by those from the Global Majority on race, but make sure our readings on all topics are from a diverse set of writers. I am aiming to do a more general reading list on spirituality and theology at a later time. For those of us raising children, there’s the wider issue of making sure what our children read and play with shows diversity, I wrote more about this here.).

I will start with a few recommendations written from a UK perspective, because it is important to understand the issues from within our own context (and realise it is not just the USA who struggles with issues of racism and inequality). I have included a few from the USA context, just because they are excellent and very practical resources of which I haven’t found the equivalent within our UK context.

From a UK perspective:

We need to talk about Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches, by Ben Lindsay (2019). An easy to read book on a difficult topic. It gives a good history lesson and highlights how the Church has a lot to answer for when it comes to race relations. It comes with helpful questions for personal reflection at the end of each chapter. A perfect book to read and discuss as a group.

Natives: Race, Class in the Ruins of Empire, by Akala (2019). ‘From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today…

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race – Reni Eddo-Lodge (2018). ‘The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.

From the USA context

Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World, Layla F Saad (2020) – This is a workbook spread out over 28 days. It is practical with questions to work through at the end of each day: ‘Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.’

So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo (2020). I have only just started reading this book, but even the first two chapters have been so helpful. It addresses a lot of questions I get thrown at me when talking about race with fellow white people, so this is a good tool to increase understanding and make me more articulate in doing anti-racist work. Though focused on an American audience, it is easily transferable to the UK context. From the book description: “Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don’t dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.”

Christ our Black Mother Speaks: a collection of art, essays, questions and practices to deepen our connection to the Dark Divine Feminine, Christena Cleveland (2019). This book is slightly different from the ones above, and focuses on our image of God. It includes stories of Christena’s personal experience of racism. It asks what God’s femaleness and blackness means for us. It includes reflection questions and interfaith spiritual practices and is a wonderful tool for personal and/or community exploration.

For teenagers:

This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How To Wake Up, Take Action and Do The Work, Tiffany Jewell (2020). If we really want to make a difference we also need to educate our children (that asks for a whole other blogpost!). It is important to have conversations about race at home. This is a helpful resource to get you started. (It could also work in the context of a youth group!)

For children

Antiracist Baby, Ibram X Kendi (2020).
Take your first steps with Antiracist Baby! Or rather, follow Antiracist Baby‘s nine easy steps for building a more equitable world. With bold art and thoughtful yet playful text, Antiracist Baby introduces the youngest readers and the grown-ups in their lives to the concept and power of antiracism. Providing the language necessary to begin critical conversations at the earliest age, Antiracist Baby is the perfect gift for readers of all ages dedicated to forming a just society.


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