The realities of racism and its impact on our society are complex and little understood by most Americans. Here are some books, videos, articles, websites, and other resources we recommend to help you enhance your own understanding of our nation's troubling racial inheritance. These resources can also be powerful tools for church congregations and community groups that want to educate themselves about racial injustice and what we can do about it.
BOOK: Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman
Theologian Howard Thurman was a friend of Dr Martin Luther King, Sr., and King's son, America's most admired civil rights leader, is said to have carried this book with him throughout his years of struggle and triumph.Jesus and the Disinherited reminds us that Christ was a poor Jew living in a land conquered by a wealthy invading empire, and helps us see how Christianity teaches a set of social and spiritual strategies for surviving oppression without losing our humanity. A thought-provoking book with important lessons for both the powerful and the powerless.
For generations, the DeWolfe family was one of the wealthiest and most respected clans in New England, its members pillars of the community and of the Episcopal church. This documentary film tells what happened when filmmaker
Katrina Browne--a DeWolfe descendant--realized that the family fortune had been built on the largest slave-trading business in American history. It recounts the journey of ten DeWolfe family members as they retrace the "triangle trade" on which much of the U.S. economy was built and strive to deal with the legacy of injustice and suffering for which their ancestors are responsible.
VIDEO: White Like Me
Author and educator Tim Wise explores how racial identity and whiteness influence the lives of white Americans, by examining how they have impacted his own life. Wise examines what it means to be white in a nation created for the benefit of those who are “white like him,” and how privilege seeps into every institutional arrangement, from education to employment to the justice system. Through personal storytelling and convincing analysis, Wise makes the case that racial inequity and white privilege are real and persistent threats to personal and collective well-being, but that resistance to white supremacy and racism is possible.
MULTIMEDIA: Resources for Talking to Kids About Racism
The ChurchNext site for online Christian learning offers a variety of materials, especially online resources, that parents, educators, and youth group leaders can use when discussing racism with children. The offerings include books, games, crafts, activities, and thoughtful tips for adults about how to talk honestly about racial issues in a productive, sensitive fashion.
Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. As civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
In this provocative book, a professor of religion challenges the predominant approach to racial issues taken by white Christians--the "reconciliation" model, which assumes that whites and blacks have roughly similar tasks of peace-making and forgiveness to undertake. In fact, as Harvey shows, this model is sadly inadequate to American reality, with its on-going history of oppression and exploitation of blacks by whites--for which no true acknowledgment, repentance, and restoration has ever been undertaken. Harvey says that reconciliation must follow reparations, and she explains what this means and describes some of the exploratory steps being taken in this direction by a number of American Christians.