Books about race: a place to start

As United Methodists are being urged to take action against the sin of racism, one place to begin is to educate ourselves by reading books from a variety of perspectives. Photo by Andrewa Piacquadio from Pexels.
As United Methodists are being urged to take action against the sin of racism, one place to begin is to educate ourselves by reading books from a variety of perspectives. Photo by Andrewa Piacquadio from Pexels.

As United Methodists are being urged to take action against the sin of racism, one place to begin is to educate ourselves by reading books from a variety of perspectives.

No shortage of books exists, so we asked our friends at the United Methodist Publishing House and Abingdon Press and the General Commission on Religion and Race for recommendations. The following list reflects their suggestions.

"Black & White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship at a Time" by John Hambrick and Teesha Hadra“Black & White: Disrupting Racism One Friendship at a Time”
The main message by John Hambrick and Teesha Hadra is that racism can be disrupted by relationships. Forging friendships with those who do not look like you, will change the way you see the world and could change the world.

"Raising White Kids: Bringing Up  Children in a Racially Unjust America" by Jennifer Harvey“Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America”
Jennifer Harvey’s book is for families, educators, and communities who want to equip their children to be active and able participants in a society that is becoming one of the most racially diverse in the world while remaining full of racial tensions. 

"White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo defines “white fragility,” examines how it happens and offers guidance for how to engage more constructively in cross-racial dialogue. The book comes out of DiAngelo's personal experiences in her work as a diversity and inclusion training facilitator.

"Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love" by Will Willimon“Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love”
Will Willimon, a retired United Methodist bishop, invites readers to consider the gospel command to love (and not merely tolerate) those considered to be “other,” while strongly criticizing those who often rush to speak of reconciliation but evade the injustices and inequalities in our culture.

"How to be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi“How to Be an Antiracist”
In his book, Ibram X. Kendi argues there is no such thing as being “not racist.” The author discusses the language we use and don’t use in our society to talk about race, advocating for anti-racist actions to make real progress.

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates“Between the World and Me”
Presented as a letter from a father to his adolescent son, Ta-Nehisi Coates reveals his own experience learning about race and power in the United States, while offering thoughts on how we might move forward to make the world better for future generations.

"Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela" “Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela”
This book, published in 1994, the same year that Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa, recounts the leader’s incredible story and his hard-won struggle for freedom. The book focuses on the human rights icon’s early life, education and 27-year imprisonment.

"Citizen: An American Lyric" by Claudia Rankine“Citizen: An American Lyric”
Claudia Rankine weaves together essays, images and drawings to document racial aggressions in society, while challenging her readers to understand that being a true citizen requires a broader sense of responsibility to others.

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo“So You Want To Talk About Race”
Talking about race is hard. Ijeoma Oluo examines race in America and offers tips to readers of all races on how to have honest conversations about race and racism and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

"Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation" by Miroslav Volf

 

“Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation”
Using the New Testament metaphor of salvation as reconciliation, author Miroslav Volf proposes the idea of embrace as a theological response to the problem of exclusion.

While reading books from this list is a good starting place, we invite you to choose a variety of ways to explore this topic. For books on racism that are kid-friendly, check out this list.

You will find additional information and resources about racial justice here.

Crystal Caviness, who works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications, compiled this list of books based on recommendations by staff at The United Methodist Publishing House and the General Commission on Religion and Race. You may reach her by email or at 615-742-5138.

This article was published on June 9, 2020.