BOOKS ON WHITE PRIVILEGE, RACISM, & ACTIVISM (with pre-2017 pub dates)
recommended and annotated by Barbara Beckwith
Also see list of new books published in 2017-1018
- White People Look at Their Lives Thru the Lens of Race
- Ethnicity, and White Skin Privilege
- Biracial, Multi-racial, and Bicultural (includes memoirs)
- Seeing Bias at Work in Particular Institutions
- Guides to Understanding Racism and White Privilege
- Role Models of Anti-racist White People
- Inter-racial Friendship and Its Challenges
- How Racism is Learned and Unlearned
- Books on Racism with a Boston Angle
- Wider Lens — Beyond our Borders
- Insight via Fiction & Poetry
- Insight via Poetry
- Testimonies, including by formerly enslaved people
- Deeper Dimensions of Racial Justice Pioneers
- Racism and Anti-Racism in Faith Communities
1) WHITE PEOPLE LOOK AT THEIR LIVES THRU THE LENS OF RACE
The Making of a Racist: A Southerner Reflects on Family, History, and the Slave Trade, by Charles B. Dew (University of Virginia Press, 2016) After telling his Williams College Southern history students personal stories about his racist upbringing, and how a conversation with a Black student on his first day in a New England college started to change him, he wrote this memoir to “help explain the racism that for far too long has poisoned the atmosphere of the place where I was born and raised.” Dew contemplates his racist upbringing, and experiences that allowed him to see past it.
Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving (Elephant Room Press, 2014). Irving looks back at experiences from childhood to reflect on class and race privilege that she’d been unaware of. She’s frank about both her stereotyped thoughts and her activism missteps: “I got all puffy and angry like I thought an anti-racist should.” She writes as if she’s talking directly to you, in effect, asking: “I’ve showed you mine, now you show me yours.” If you’ve been enlightened by Tim Wise’s White Like Me, you’ll like this memoir. Irving is white. Irving has co-facilitated the White People
How I Shed My Skin: Unlearning the Racist Lessons of a Southern Childhood, by Jim Grimsley (Algonquin Books, 2015). This memoir by a white man dovetails beautifully with Irving’s Waking Up White. His story starts in grade school in North Carolina when his school was first desegregated. To impress his friends, he insults a young black girl, who, bolstered even at her young age by the Black Pride movement, insults him right back. Grimsley writes in a nuanced way about how his prejudices persisted in his mind and behavior, even as he made friends. Being unable to do sports because he had hemophilia, and being effeminate (he eventually came out as gay) helped him be open to cross-racial relationships by sparing him macho posturing.
What Was I Thinking? Questions and Quandaries, by Barbara Beckwith. 3rd (2015) booklet of racism-related personal essays follows her first booklet, Reflecting on Everyday Racism (2010) and her second, Digging Deeper Into Everyday Racism, available from Crandall, Dostie and Douglass Books www.cddbooks.com. She was inspired to use a modest booklet format by Janet E. Helms’s A Race Is a Nice Thing to Have, a slim but mind-changing booklet on black and white racial identity, as well as Peggy McIntosh’s 3-page ground-breaking personal essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack.”
The Education of a White Parent: Wrestling with Race and Opportunity in the Boston Public Schools (Levellers Press, 2012). Susan Naimark, the white mother of Boston public school students, describes how she became aware of race and class inequities, and how they are perpetuated by entrenched “this is the way we do it” bureaucracy, and by well-meaning white people, including herself. She becomes a parent activist, and later a school board member, eventually developing her ability to collaborate with parents of color to press for school improvements for all kids. She shares, in her inspiring memoir, her analysis of the dynamics of inequity and strategies that can end it.
White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son, by Tim Wise (Soft Skull, 2005). Wise, who speaks widely on U.S. campuses, looks at his life re: white privilege he received from age three on. See (www.timwise.org) for Wise’s essays and books.
Invisible Privilege: A Memoir About Race, Class, and Gender, Paula S. Rothenberg (Kansas, 2000). Looks at her life (she is white) and privileges through the lens of gender, race and class.
Growing Up White: A Veteran Teacher Reflects on Racism, by Julie Landsman (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). The author’s goal is to show how her white life, from her earliest years, has influenced her teaching and how she deals with this “racial baggage” in the classroom.
Walk With Us: Triplet Boys, Their Teen Parents, & Two White Women Who Tagged Along, by Elizabeth K. Gordon (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass, 2007). White Quaker lesbian couple forms a makeshift family with teenaged Black Muslims & their triplets.
Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, by Melton A. McLauren (U. Georgia Press, 1987, reprinted in 1998). White historian recalls his 1950s boyhood, when rural Southern segregation went unchallenged. Describes the lives of whites and blacks he knew, the moral challenges they faced, and the power of human relationships to overcome the ingrained oppressive systems.
White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness, by Maurice Berger (FSG, 1999). Berger grew up in NYC 1960s with a Jewish liberal father who loved Martin Luther King Jr., and a dark-skinned Sephardic Jewish mother who hated black people: he describes his journey toward understanding racism.
Autobiography of an Ex-White Man, by Robert Paul Wolff (U Rochester, 2005). How teaching in an Afro-American Department changed the way a white philosophy professor saw himself, his university, and his country.
The Education of a WASP, by Lois Mark Stalvey (Wisconsin, 1999, originally published in 1970). Omaha homemaker moved to Philadelphia in the 1960s, discovered racism, and started to stand up to fellow whites as an ally to her African American neighbors. Stalvey also wrote: Three to Get Ready: The Education of a White Family in Inner City Schools (Wisconsin, 1974).
Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin (1962, reprinted with 1996 Afterword). The White author travels through the South as a Black man to document discrimination he encounters. Grace Halsell’s 1999 Soul Sister did the same in Hispanic, Native American, and Black guise to personally experience racism. These books helped open white Americans’ eyes to the reality of everyday racism.
2) CLASS, ETHNICITY, AND WHITE SKIN PRIVILEGE
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, a Journey to the Heart of Our Political Divide, Arlie Russell Hochschild (New Press, 2016). A sociologist challenges herself to understand the values/feelings of white residents of a small Orleans area neighborhood, who despite seeing their water-related way of life being undermined by pollution from oil and other industries, support Republicans, Tea Party, and Trump.
Are Italians White? How Race is Made in America by Jennifer Guglielmo and Salvatore Salerno, (Routledge, 2003). Italian Americans describe complex experiences with race, racism and white privilege.
How Jews Became White Folks & What That Says About Race in America, by Karen Brodkin (Rutgers, 2000). How Jewish immigrants assimilated within the whiteness framework. Counters bootstraps myths.
How the Irish Became White, by Noel Ignatiev, (Routledge, 1995). Shows how the Irish “assimilated” in jobs, unions and government by separating themselves from and excluding Blacks. Ignatiev is white.
3) BIRACIAL, MULTIRACIAL, BICULTURAL (includes memoirs)
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah (Spiegel & Grau, 2016). The well-known comedian (The Daily Show), son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother whose union was at the time illegal, tells a stunning story of privation, gutsy entrepreneurship, and resilience. It shows how much of a “back story” there can be behind someone who seems like simply “a success.”
A Chinaman’s Chance: One Family’s Journey and the Chinese American Dream, by Eric Liu (Public Affairs, 2014). This memoir is about a family trying to balance obligations and relationships of Chinese culture, where being in community is paramount, and the more individualistic values of U.S. culture. Liu writes about how the Chinese language is structured to illuminate relationships , while English, being noun-heavy, tends to classify objects. His describes his young daughter’s fluctuating choices about which aspects of each culture to identify with. Liu identifies as an American born Chinese.
A Cup of Water Under My Bed, by Daisy Hernandez (Beacon Press, 2014). Like Eric Liu, this Latina author, a former New York Times reporter and colorlines.com editor, describes her complicated relationship to Spanish and English cultures and languages. As the daughter of a Cuban and Columbian parent, her memoir describes her gradual recovery of Spanish, and her family’s gradual evolution from mystification to acceptance, of her bisexuality.
My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past, by Jennifer Teege and Nioka Sellmair (2013). At age 38, Teege picked up a library book and discovered a horrifying fact: her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant depicted in the film “Schindler’s List” as the “butcher of Plaszow.” She was raised in Germany by adoptive parents, and she earned a degree from Tel Aviv University. She wrestles with the question: can evil be inherited?
Mixed: My life in Black and White, by Angela Nissel (Villard, 2006). Nissel recounts growing up bi-racial in Philadelphia; her racial ambiguity and doomed attempts to blend in, a her journey to self-acceptance and belonging.
Is That Your Child? Mothers Talk About Rearing Biracial Children, by Marion Kilson and Florence Ladd (Lexington Books, 2009). Describes various strategies used by parents they interviewed to affirm healthy development of their biracial children and to minimize the effects of race-based rejection. Kilson is white; her husband is Black. Ladd is Black; her husband is white.
Waking Up American: Coming of Age Biculturally, ed, Angela Jane Fontas (Seal Press, 2005). First generation women (Filipina, Haitian, Panamanian, etc.) reflect on identity.
American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, by Maria Arana (Dell, 2001).With an American mother and a Peruvian father, Arana bounced between countries, felt like an imposter, but finally found a way to have a dual identity.
The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey, by Toi Derricotte (Norton, 1997) The African American poet’s personal journal entries, accumulated over 20 years. Her light skin exposes her to covert racism in a way that more identifiable Black people don’t experience.
Notes of a White Black Woman: Race, Color, Community, by Judy Scales-Trent (Pennsylvania State University, 1995). The author, a law professor, uses her own life, including her 1990sjournal entries, to show what it is like to be a “white” black woman and to live simultaneously inside and outside of both white and black communities.
Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity (Anchor, 1996). Mura describes the underside of being the “model minority’ and struggles with desire and race taboos.
4) SEEING BIAS AT WORK IN PARTICULAR INSTITUTIONS
Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine, by Damon Tweedy, M.D. (Picador, 2015). Dr. Tweedy looks at health inequities through the lens of his experiences in medical school and as a doctor treating patients suffering from hypertension, diabetes, childbirth complications, gunshot wounds, and sickle-cell. He faces racial insults large and small: a white professor asks him “Are you here to fix the lights?” and prejudiced patients doubt his competence. He points out how the routine mention of race at the beginning of each case presentation can lead to faulty clinical reasoning and to possible misdiagnosis.
Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors, by Carolyn Finney (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). Finney looks at the low numbers of Black visitors to U.S. National Parks and wilderness areas, and what can be done about it. The major factors: concern for one’s safety as a Black person (a “tree in the woods” can conjure up lynching), and the absence of media showing African Americans enjoying wilderness areas. Outdoor leisure ads in mainstream magazines like Vogue and Essence rarely portray Blacks, nor do Backpacker, Sierra, or Outside. The National Park Service needs to include – even showcase – African American, Native, Latino, and Asian American history and perspectives.
Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America, by Sheryll Cashin (Beacon Press, 2014). The author, a law professor, makes the case for focusing affirmative action efforts on where you live, not on your race. Since the main indicator of both urban and rural poverty is race, not place, the current race-based focus leads to over-advantage for well-off people of color, and resentment in white people who experience place-based disadvantage. A cutting-edge, not reactionary book, praised by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.
Just Mercy – A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, 2014), a memoir of the activist lawyer’s years contesting (often before the Supreme Court) the unjust conviction and/or sentencing of incarcerated people on death row or facing life without parole, especially those who are underage, mentally ill, disabled, and mostly Black and poor.
Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File, by John Edgar Wideman (Simon & Schuster, 2016). The author, who was the same age as Emmett Till, murdered by white racists at age 14, tries to uncover the truth about Emmett’s father, who was executed on the grounds of rape and murder while serving in Italy in World War 11, charges that may not have been valid but which were tainted the trial of his son’s murderers, allowing them to escape justice.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (The New Press, 2010). Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer, shows how the 30-year “war on drugs” has targeted black and brown communities and lead to both soaring imprisonment rates and post-prison punishment. This searing exposé shows how men of color who serve their sentences still face discrimination in ways that are now still legal in many states, where they’re cut out of jobs, housing, education, food stamps, professional licenses, and the right to serve on juries or even to vote. The result: a contemporary system of racial control, exclusion, and social contempt. Alexander is African American.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House, 2010). Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson deserves, in my mind, a second Pulitzer for this compelling and suspenseful saga of African Americans’ “internal immigration” told through individual stories of a sharecropper, a surgeon, and a citrus picker who fled the South between the 1930s and the 1950s, seeking opportunity in the North (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City), although they faced discrimination in the North, as well. Wilkerson, who is African American, shows how their stories parallel those of the Irish who fled famine and the European Jews who fled Nazis. This book is already considered a classic.
Seeing Patients: Unconscious Bias in Health Care, by Dr. Augustus A. White III (Harvard University Press, 2011). Dr. White shows how unconscious bias persists and leads to gender, race and age health disparities. His well-documented book cites double-blind studies. In one, although men and women report similar heart symptoms and stresses in their lives, the doctors treating them were more likely to believe that the men have organic heart disease but that the women’s stress is due to psychological disorders. In another, doctors were observed calling white hospital patients “Mr.” or “Mrs.” and drawing curtains to protect their privacy during breast exams, while calling Black patients by their first names or not bothering to draw privacy curtains. Dr. White, the first African American department chief at Harvard’s teaching hospitals, describes bias he faced in the course of his career. His co-author, David Chanoff, is white.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (Crown, 2010). The author t unearthed the compelling story of an African American woman whose cells, after she died of cervical cancer, were reproduced by scientists who went on to develop the polio vaccine and other medical advances. It’s also the shocking history of unethical medical practices, and of some scientists’ incompetence at communicating with non-scientists. But it is also the story of a daughter’s determination to understand the science to which her mother’s “HeLa” cells contributed, and to have that contribution honored. Skloot is white.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, by Harriet A. Washington (Doubleday, 2006). Abusive experimentation, and the rationalizations used to justify them, from slavery to today. The author is African American, as is James, H. Jones, author of Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphillis Experiment about experiments on, and non-treatment of, African Americans that went on between the 1930s and 1975.
Uncovering Race: A Black Journalist’s Story of Reporting and Reinvention, by Amy Alexander (Beacon Press, 2011). Alexander describes the challenges she faced as a Black journalist, including risks she took to report on the 1991 L.A. “riot” (some called it an “uprising”) for the Sacramento Bee, only to have a copyeditor insert “savage” and “rampaging” into her otherwise carefully reported article. She went on to write for the Miami Herald, Washington Post and Boston Globe and explains how a few publishers diversified their staffs by tying news managers’ raises and bonuses to their record on minority hiring and retention. Alexander is also co-author with Dr. Alvin Poussaint of Lay My Burden Down: Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African-Americans.
Between Women: Domestics and Their Employers, by Judith Rollins (Temple, 1985). Draws on 40 in-depth interviews and the sociologist’s own experience as a domestic worker for employers in the greater Boston area (Brookline), to show the social psychology of relationships of domination. Rollins is Black.
Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, edited by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jennifer Frank of the Hartford Courant, (Ballantine, 2005). Reveals how essential slavery was to New England’s economy, with chapters on specific industries.
Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower, edited by Deborah Gray White (U. North Carolina, 2008). A Black historian gathers 17 narratives by Black women historians that describe how they entered and navigated an academic world dominated by whites and men. Reveals the barriers, both internal and external, that can prevent such scholars from writing and teaching freely and well.
Race in the College Classroom edited by Bonnie Tusmith and Maureen T. Reddy (Rutgers, 2002). College professors who teach about race describe the impacts on their careers of their teaching about race and racism. Tusmith is Asian American; Reddy is white.
Highway Robbery: Transportation Racism & New Routes to Equity, ed, Robert D. Bullard, et al. (South End, 2004). How LA, NYC, San Francisco, Atlanta transportation systems deprive people of color of opportunities. Bullard is African American.
Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, by Sara Evans (Vintage, 1980). Based on Evans’ personal experiences, discusses problems with racial tension in SNCC and explores how patriarchal social structures, fierce racial tension, and socio-economic differences pushed issues of racism within both the organized Civil Rights and with the Women’s movements it gave rise to. Evans is white.
Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, by Jeff Wiltse (U. North Carolina, 2007). How mixed-gender use of urban pools led to segregation; decades of protest won desegregation but also a shift to private club pools. Wiltse is white.
Killing Rage: Ending Racism, by bell hooks (Holt, 1995). A black and feminist perspective on psychological trauma among African Americans, friendship between black women and white women, anti-Semitism and racism, internalized racism in movies and the media. Title essay is about the fierce anger of people stung by repeated instances of everyday racism, and finding strength for love & positive change.
A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1988). Kincaid writes about growing up in Antigua, a tiny British West Indies island about the palpable and personal impact of European colonialism and tourism on Antiguans. She writes in the 2nd person (you) to American and European tourists.
5) GUIDES TO UNDERSTANDING RACISM & WHITE PRIVILEGE
“All the Indians Died Off” and 20 Others Myths About Native Americans, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio Whitaker (Beacon Press, 2016). An accessible book that may inspire you to tackle An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Dunbar-Ortiz hard-hitting perspective that U.S. settler-colonial policy intended to seize the land of original inhabitants, displacing or elimination them (“The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them”).
John L. Hodge, Overcoming the Lie of “Race” by John L. Hodge (www.JohnLHodge.com, 2015). Combining personal experience with history of cross-group mixtures, Hodge describes his own coming to self-awareness in childhood despite being surrounded by societal delusion around the idea of “race,” which persists. “We have to find a way to talk about false ideas without reaffirming them. Every time we say “white,” “black,” or “African American,” we are reaffirming that “races” exist – unless, that is, we make clear that we are using these terms to refer to the false concepts that people believe” – despite scientific data to the contrary. One step would be to always write “racial” terms in parentheses.
The Myth of Race, by Jefferson M. Fish (Argo-Navis, 2013). This slim book clearly explains how the idea of race took hold, and answers questions asked even by people who understand that “race” is social constructed. If race is not real, why do people such as Norwegians, Nigerians and Japanese look different? Are Latinos a race? What does it mean to “look Jewish”? The author is a white psychologist, married to an African American anthropologist whose research took the family to Brazil, where raised their daughter. Fish writes about lessons about race that we can take from Brazilian “tipos,” from Indian castes. He reflects on President Obama’s family and on his own family.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask, by Anton Treuer (Borealis Books, 2012). The Ojibwe author, who speaks widely on Native history and culture, has collected the 127 most often asked questions: “Why the long hair?” to queries about casinos, mascots, foster care, alcoholism, blood quantum and U.S./tribal jurisdictional complexities. His answers are pithy, informative, wise, and often humorous.
What If I Say The Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People, by Verna A. Myers (American Bar Association Publishing, 2013). A book that can be read in an hour but enlighten for a lifetime. Myers shares her own prejudices as well as those of others, many observed as a diversity and inclusion consultant. These “bit-sized” examples are deeply sympathetic, but eminently do-able. She helps people practice habit such as: get familiar with your biases, look for your blind spots, and use your mistakes to grow, avoid in-group favoritism, acknowledge your unearned advantages, be an active bystander and expand your comfort zone. Order from www.shopABA.org
Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race (Wiley, 2015), by Derald Wing Sue. Why we see race as a taboo discussion topic, how our silence harms us, and what we can do to change uncomfortable conversations into productive dialogues. Sue is a psychologist, first president of the Asian American Psychological Society. Also Microaggressions in Everyday Life.
Lifting the White Veil: A Look at White American Culture, by Jeff Hitchcock (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books). Hitchcock wrote this book to explain “white culture” to readers who can’t “see: it. His jargon-free guide is full of anecdotes from the author’s personal experience. He cites studies, as well, but sets them aside in sidebars so that readers can read or skip them. He shares his own cultural assumptions, misunderstandings, and missteps, as a diversity trainer, and as the white husband of an African American woman and father of biracial children. Hitchcock publishes anti-racist books (cddbooks.com).
Moving Diver(sity Forward: How to Go From Well-Meaning to Well-Doing, by Vernā A. Myers (American Bar Association, 2011). A consultant on diversity and inclusion, wrote this engaging book for “well-intentioned white people.” She uses a party as her core image: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being invited to dance.” She writes as if she is having an in-person conversation with her readers, and she shares her personal experiences throughout the book. Meyers is African American.
Talking About Race: A Workbook About White People Fostering Racial Equality in Their Lives, by Kaolin (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2010). The author, who uses her first name as her professional name, adapted her successful University of Massachusetts college course into this book for use by individuals, small study groups, and secondary or higher education classrooms. It consists of 140 self-study questions for readers to ponder, along with space to write responses, and an array of honest, sometimes conflicted, thoughts and feelings that her students were willing to share. Kaolin is white.
Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, by Paul Kivel (New Society, 3rd edition, 2011). Helps white people see dynamics of racism in society, institutions, daily lives. Stories, exercises, advice for working together. So useful that it’s now in its 3rd edition. Kivel is white.
The Anti-Racist Cookbook: A Recipe Guide for Conversations About Race that Goes Beyond Covered Dishes and “Kum-Bah-Ya“ by Robin Parker and Pamela Smith Chambers (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, 2005). Conversational guide to frank inter-racial dialogue. Authors are Black. www.cddbooks.com.
35 Dumb Things Well-Intentioned People Say: Surprising Things We Say that Widen the Diversity Gap, by Dr. Maura Cullen (Morgan James, 2008). Ever heard yourself of someone else say “Some of my best friends are…”? Here’s a readable guide to becoming more inclusive and diversity-smart. Cullen is white.
A Race is a Nice Thing to Have: A Guide to Being a White Person or Understanding the White Persons in Your Life, by Janet E. Helms (1994, available from Amazon.com). Psychologist’s exercises for self-understanding. Helms is African American.
6) ROLE MODELS OF ANTI-RACIST WHITE PEOPLE
Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice (Oxford, 2011). Mark R. Warren interviewed 50 progressive white activists about how their eyes were opened to racial injustice and about what made them commit themselves to combatting it. He explores the challenges they face: how to address fellow whites’ racism without creating defensiveness; how to recognize times when they themselves are undercutting the leadership of people of color by dominating decision making, and how they stay committed to multi-racial work despite such mistakes and inevitable tensions that arise. Warren is white.
Accountability and White Anti-racist Organizing: Stories From Our Work, eds, Bonnie Cushing et. al. (Crandall, Dostie and Douglass Books, www.cddbooks.org, 2011). Seasoned white anti-racist activists offer personal stories and lessons of organizing in accountable relationships with anti-racist people of color.
Refusing Racism: White Allies in the Struggle for Civil Rights, edited by Cynthia Stokes Brown (Teachers College Press, 2002). Portraits of white American activists (Durr, Waring, Braden, Kohl etc.) and their struggles for civil rights. Stokes is white.
White Men Challenging Racism: 35 Personal Stories, edited by Cooper Thompson, Emmett Schaefer, and Harry Brod (Duke, 2003). Narratives by white men for whom combatting racism is central to their lives.
A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism, by Becky Thompson (U. Minnesota, 2001) describes white people who have fought racism, often at great risk. Thompson is white.
Whites Confront Racism: Anti-racists and Their Paths to Action, by Eileen O’Brien, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). How groups like People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond help people undo racism.
7) INTERRACIAL FRIENDSHIP AND ITS CHALLENGES
Can We Talk About Race? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Beacon, 2007). Chapter 3 “‘What Kind of Friendship is That?’ — The Search for Authenticity, Mutuality, and Social Transformation in Cross-Racial Relationships,” explores the dynamics and possibilities of friendships in an increasingly segregated world via a personal account of Tatum’s own deep friendship with a white colleague, and its many complications. Tatum is African American.
Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendships, edited by Emily Bernard (Amistad, 2004). Personal stories show the complexities of interracial friendships: Latino and white, black and Asian, black and Jewish. Bernard is African American.
Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend, by Bill Russell with Alan Steinberg (Harper, 2009). How friendship evolved from caution, to admiration, to trust and respect, to an enduring friendship between African American basketball star Russell and his white, Jewish coach.
My First White Friend: Confessions on Race, Love and Forgiveness, by Patricia Raybon (Viking Penguin, 1996). Raybon traces her sense of rage and powerlessness growing up in the 1950s as an African-American in white Colorado, where her eagerness to please left her acceptable to white people but an angry stranger to herself. Years later, she realized her rage wouldn’t be remedied by stoking her hatred for whites but by learning to love herself and then them, inspired by God, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.
8) HOW RACISM IS LEARNED AND UNLEARNED
White Women Getting Real About Race: Their Stories About What They Learned Teaching in Diverse Classrooms, edited by Judith M. James and Nancy Peterson (Stylus Publishing, 2013). White teachers frankly share their ineptness when teaching students of color for the first time. They must get over their own patronizing thoughts, “savior” attitudes, and feelings of guilt. Advised to “get mean or get run over,” they eventually learn to achieve discipline through empathy, respect, and integrity. Not every parent or student wants (or trusts) a white teacher: they must learn to be allies to parents and students. They learn to go beyond conventional multicultural curriculum, to find strategies (bilingual books, pair and group work) that engage students, and to incorporate issues of justice and liberation.
Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief About Racism, edited by Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell (Potomac Books, 2013). Two therapists, one white and one Black — the mother of NAACP president Todd Jealous – have collected 54 brief but eye-opening personal stories by white people who share how racism has led them to lead lives of sameness and separation (from caregivers, family members, acquaintances, friends and lovers) and of silence, guilt and shame. Recognizing the ways that racial injustice harms everybody, the editors demonstrate, can free white people to take action to promote racial justice. Foreword by Julia Bond and Pam Horowitz.
The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, by Debra Van Ausdale and Joe R. Feagin (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001). Ausdale spent a year observing a racially diverse daycare center, where pre-school children experienced racial diversity in their own ways, but also in the light of adult world ideologies. Authors are white.
The Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Hurts: How Children Learn and Unlearn Prejudice: A Guide for Adults and Children by Caryl Stern-LaRosa and Ellen Hofheimer Bettmann (Scholastic, 2000). Strategies, role plays, and sample dialogues to help children of all ages value the differences they perceive relating to race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Tackles adolescent name-calling, exclusion, and tools for countering bias in schools, media, books, online. For adults & high school readers.
Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (Basic Books, 1997). African American psychologist explains the development of racial identity in this much-read book, a must for high school teachers. Also: Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation, especially chapter 3 is “What Kind of Friendship is That?”
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen (Simon & Schuster, 1995). “Every teacher, every student of history, every citizen should read this book,” says Howard Zinn, “It is both a refreshing antidote to what has passed for history in our educational system and a one-volume education in itself.” Loewen is white.
Because of the Kids; Facing Racial and Cultural Differences in Schools, by Jennifer E. Obidah and Karen Manheim Teel (Teachers College Press, 2001). An African American teacher and a white teacher set out to collaborate in a middle school classroom, but find themselves grappling with distrust, anger, and fear, eventually building trust and understanding. Shows both the importance and the challenges of interracial collaborations. Keen insights into how race and culture matter in teacher-student interactions.
Dream Not of Other Worlds: Teaching in a Segregated Elementary School, 1970, by Huston Diehl (University of Iowa, 2007). The white author reflects on her inexperience and the low expectations she brought to her teaching of “Negro” 4th graders in Virginia, and how she was repeatedly surprised and challenged by her students, causing her to question her prejudices and middle-class assumptions.
She Would Not Be Moved: How We Tell the Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, by Herbert Kohl (New Press, 2005). Looks at an array of mainstream textbook simplistic accounts of the Rosa Parks story, tells the real.
Light of the Feather: A Teacher’s Journey into Native American Classrooms & Culture, by Mick Fedullo. (Anchor, 1992). A white teacher describes his experience teaching writing on various Indian reservations. To cross the cultural divide, he had to learn to respect his students’ values and their determination to hold onto their heritage while striving to succeed in the larger society.
9) BOOKS ON RACISM WITH A BOSTON ANGLE
The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America, by Charles Ogletree (Palgrave/McMillan, 2010). Argues that the Harvard professor’s arrest on the front porch of his own home was not an isolated incident but part of a pattern of bias in the criminal justice system. The second half of the book consists of similar personal accounts by 100 African American men.
To Free a Family: The Journey of Mary Walker, by Sydney Nathans (Harvard University Press, 2012). Newly unearthed true story of a mother who flees slavery and spends the next 17 years trying to recover her family. Also the story of the ways she is helped by white people, including those who bought a house for her (now the Blacksmith House, part of the Cambridge Center for Adult Education).
The Other Busing Story: What’s Won and Lost Across the Boundary Line, by Susan E. Eaton (Yale, 2001). Harvard Civil Rights Project researcher shares both the positive and the negative views of “graduates” looking back at their METCO experience of being bussed to the suburbs. Eaton is white.
The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of the Photograph That Shocked America, by Louis P. Masur (Bloomsbury, 2008). In 1976, a freelancer photographed a white South Boston anti-busing protestor attacking, with an American flag, an African-American passerby. Describes the context, nuances, and implications of this and similar incidents and photos. Masur is white.
The Fence: A Police Cover-Up Along Boston’s Racial Divide, by Dick Lehr (Harper Collins 2009). Describes the brutal beating of an African American undercover detective by fellow policemen who mistook him for an escaping criminal, and then, instead of admitting their mistake, retreated behind a “blue wall of silence.” Lehr is white.
The Hardest Working Man: How James Brown Saved the Soul of America, by James Sullivan (Penguin, 2008). The story behind the performance, 24 hours after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., which kept the city of Boston safe while street protests turned violent and destroyed other cities. Sullivan is white.
Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, by Howard Bryant (Routledge, 2002). Bryant describes policies and personalities of 70-year-old Yawkey family & racist shutout of Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays. Bryant is African American.
All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald (Beacon Press, 1999). The author grew up in a Boston’s working class Irish community, branded, after anti-busing riots, as a violent, racist enclave. He loses four siblings to violence and poverty, but leaves his enclave to work as a peace activist in all-Black neighborhoods of Roxbury.
Sarah’s Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston (Beacon, 2004), by Stephen Kendrick and Paul Kendrick. Black families’ pre-Civil War struggles for quality education. The authors are white.
Southie Won’t Go: A Teacher’s Diary of the Desegregation of South Boston High School,by Ione Malloy (U. of Illinois, 1986). A white English teacher’s day-to-day candid account of the explosive impact of court-ordered busing in Boston in 1974 and 1975.
Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families, by J Anthony Lukas (Vintage, 1986). Pulitzer Prize-winning account of Boston’s school integration from the vantage point of two working-class families (Irish-American; African-American), and one middle-class (white, liberal).
10) WIDER LENS — BEYOND U.S. BORDERS
Strangers No More: Immigration and the Challenges of Integration in North America and Western Europe, Richard Alba and Nancy Foner (Princeton, 2015). The authors look at how various immigrant groups fare in Canada, U.S., Germany, Netherlands, Britain and France, and factors like colonialism, religion, and national “narratives”: France’s “Republicanism,” Germany’s “ethno-cultural” view, Canada’s “multiculturalism,” U.S. “immigrant nation,” and what each country could learn from the others.
Black in Latin America, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York University Press, 2011). Describes the African presence in six Latin American countries – Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti ,Mexico, and Peru.(also a TV series)
YOUNG PEOPLE’S PERSPECTIVES
Love, Race, and Liberation: ‘Til the White Day is Done, edited by JLove Calderon and Marcella Runell Hall (Love-N-Liberation Press, 2010) A hands-on, creative, accessible collection of lesson plans to prompt dialogue and action. Plus “love letters” written by some of the leading voices on race and racism.
Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe (Scribner, 2009). The author follows four talented and smart girls through high school, focusing on their struggle to go to college and get professional jobs. The book makes clear that the two “without papers” are hampered and hemmed in at every turn, while the two who “have papers” face challenges as well, including to their friendships. The girls’ struggles to fulfil their potential seem heroic to me.
Mi Voz, Mi Vida: Latino College Students Tell Their Life Stories (Dartmouth, 2007) Personal accounts by 14 college (Dartmouth) students of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central American, and South American descent.
Colonize This! – Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman (Seal Press, 2002). Essays explore themes of family and community; mothers; cultural customs; macho cultures, U.S. capitalism and talking back to white feminists, men, mothers, liberals.
Letters from Mississippi: Personal Reports from Civil Rights Volunteers of the 1964 Freedom Summer, edited by Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez (Zephyr, 2002). Students, Black and white, write home.
YELL-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American, edited by Vickie Nam (Quill, 2001). Personal accounts: funny, tender, tough.
11) INSIGHT VIA FICTION & POETRY
Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult (Ballantine, 2016). The white author focuses her novel on three characters: a white supremacist, a Black nurse who is reassigned because the white couple don’t want her to touch their newborn, and a white lawyer. The page-turner makes the reader think hard about ethical issues and racism challenges.
The Immigration Handbook, by Caroline Smith (2016, www.serenbooks.com). Poems by a London asylum caseworker that convey the struggles of people desperate to be approved for refugee status. Some are written in the halting English of an asylum seeker, a few as cold administrative reports, most in the voice of a pro bono worker.
Loving Day, by Mat Johnson (Spiegel & Grau, 2015). This novel’s main character is a light-skinned man, a “sunflower” (light on the outside, black at the core) like the author, who discovers that he has a daughter, raised Jewish. The other “character” is a mixed race school and community that the characters get involved in. Johnson writes in a wry and delightful way
Terry Farish, Either the Beginning or the End (Carolrhoda Lab) When Sofie’s NH fisherman father goes south to fish, she must stay with her Cambodian immigrant mother, who deserted the family years ago, embittering her daughter. Sophie must face her family’s history and its war ghosts. She meets an Army medic back from Afghanistan with war traumas that challenge them both.
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking, 2014). This novel imagines the life of Sarah Grimke, a real-life 19th century abolitionist, raised by slave-owning parents and “given” — despite Sarah’s objections — a waiting-maid named Hetty. Sarah, in real life and in the novel, taught Hetty to read. Sarah and her sister became outspoken advocates of abolition and for women’s rights to speak publicly. Sarah’s hoped-for life-long friendship with Hetty founders, poisoned by as racial inequity.
Your Face in Mine, by Jess Row (Riverhead/Penguin, 2014). The white main character meets a man whose expression he recognizes but can’t place – turns out it’s because his white friend has undergone “racial reassignment” surgery (facial, scalp, body) and pigmentation treatment to become the Black man he always felt his was. The plot thickens when the once-white Black man asks the narrator to write his story to advance a new medical/business model aimed at solving “racial dysphoria,” similar to “sexual dysphoria” and gender reassignment.
The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride (Riverhead, 2013). The author of the memoir, The Color of Water, here imagines, in novel form, white firebrand John Brown, bent on freeing Black slaves, and Henry, the young Black boy he mistakes for a girl. The youngster describes his journey with the raggedy “army” as it makes its way toward Harper’s Ferry, where the insurrection fails. The story is both tough and funny.
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Random House, 2013). Two Nigerian students love each other but are unable to share what they are going through when Ifemulu goes to the United States for college, and Obinze goes to London for work. He has to deal with roadblocks that come with being undocumented; she learns what it means to be black in the U.S.
Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, 2011). The author turns the little-known history of Harvard College’s first Native American graduate into a moving historical novel. A Puritan girl loves learning; her father believes that reading can damage female brains. She meets the son of a Wampanoag chief; together and separately, they pursue an education, despite race and gender discrimination. Brooks is white.
The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka (Knopf, 2011). The novel tells the story of “picture brides” brought to the U.S. from Japan in the early 1900s by Japanese workers. Their stories are told by this Japanese American writer from the unusual first person plural (“we”) point of view, allowing readers to experience both the women’s commonality and their diversity, by showing each individual’s way of coping. Otsuka’s earlier novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, is written from the varied viewpoints of members of an immigrant family of Japanese heritage, interned after Pearl Harbor.
The Good Braider, by Terry Farish (Marshall Cavendish, 2012). Viola’s family escapes war-torn Sudan, first to Cairo and eventually to Portland, Maine, where she must navigate between the strange new world of America and the traditions and values of the land she escaped. Farish, who had done oral histories of people who have fled war and ethnic violence, is white.
Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers (Vintage paperback 2010). The prize-winning true story of what a New Orleans family of Syrian background faces during Hurricane Katrina and then after, as they face post-9/11 xenophobia and racial profiling. Suspenseful and disturbing.
New Boy, by Julian Houston (Houghton Mifflin, 2005). Novel about the first Black student at a Connecticut school during the 1950s, when folks back home in the South are organizing to end segregation. Houston is a Massachusetts State Superior Court Justice. He is African American.
Yo, by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin, 1997). Novel about a Dominican-American girl, but not told by her: alternating chapters are narrated by her sisters, husbands, Mami & Papi, grandparents, cousins, housemaids, her professor, and a stalker. Reveals the role of class, race and culture.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, by Sherman Alexie (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993). These funny and fierce autobiographical stories were made into a movie. Alexie is Spokane/Coeur d’Alene.
Typical American, by Gish Jen (Houghton Mifflin, 1991). A Chinese immigrant family sets out to make the American family come true in every way. The family comes together, and apart in this story, both a comedy and a tragedy.
Caucasia, by Danzy Senna (Riverhead, 1998). Novel set in Boston area and New Hampshire, about two Black sisters divided by politics and skin color. The biracial author, also wrote a memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? A Personal History (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) about her African American father.
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1953). Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. A young black man faces hellish intolerance and cultural blindness from white Southern men, at a historically black college, at workplaces, and among Harlem militants: “I am an invisible man…When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination–indeed, everything and anything except me.”
The Immigration Handbook, by Caroline Smith (www.serenbooks.com 2016). The poet is a London asylum caseworker whose poems convey the struggles of people desperate to be approved for refugee status.
Admit One: An American Scrapbook, by Martha Collins (Pittsburgh, 2016). The Boston area poet’s lyrical poems about the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, reveal the racist ideas behind its exhibits that fueled anti-immigration, anti-miscegenation, and eugenic sterilization laws. You will learn about “exhibited” African Ota Benga, sterilization victim Carrie Buck, eugencist Madison Grant, whose reach extended to Nazi Germany. The poet’s’ White Papers (2012) deals with Black Codes, “sundown towns,” Al Jolson’s blackface, TV’s Tonto, arrests of “the Jena 6” and of Professor Henry Louis Gates (neither is named; both are recognizable). Her Blue Front (2006) focuses on the lynchings her father witnessed as a five-year-old boy in 1909. Collins is white.
Beyond Katrina, by Natasha Tretheway (University of Georgia Press, 2010). The new U.S. Poet Laureate meditates, via a mix of empathetic prose, poetry, photos and letters, on how the hurricane impact on her family and her Gulfport, Mississippi childhood home. The poet’s earlier Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Native Guard, focuses on the first Black Union Army regiment whose fallen soldiers were left unrecognized and unburied. Her Domestic Work is inspired by photos of pre-Civil Rights era African Americans at work, and her Bellocq’s Ophelia features poems written as letters from an imagined light-skinned black woman forced to make a living as an exotic “octoroon” prostitute in 1900s New Orleans. Thrall will come out in fall 2012.Trethewey is bi-racial.
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, 2016). Seventeen personal essays echoing James Baldwin’s 50-year old The Fire Next Time. Edwidge Danticat writes of her dilemma over what to tell her daughters about the racism they will face. Honoree Jeffers writes about uncovering documents that challenge the mis-characterization (by whites) of the husband of Phillis Wheatley (the first published American Black poet) as a n’er do well who abandoned her.
Let’s Get Real: What People of Color Can’t Say & Whites Won’t Ask About Racism (StirFry Seminars & Consulting, 2011). Lee Mun Wah’s documentary films “The Color of Fear,” “Last Chance for Eden,” and “If These Halls Could Talk” transformed my views on race. In this book, the Chinese American filmmaker and community therapist has collected a wide range of responses (including mine) to probing questions he asked white people (example: “What are some of the things you are afraid to say to people of color?”) and to equally probing questions he asked people of color (example: “What would you say to whites if you could tell them the truth about racism?”).
The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult, Jerald Walker (Beacon Press, 2016). A memoir of growing up in a family (both his parents were blind) that believed that all except their church’s believers were going to be consumed by eternal fire in two years’ time.
When Race Becomes Real: Black and White Writers Confront Their Personal Histories, edited by Bernestine Singley (Lawrence Hill, 2002). Half of these 30 personal accounts are by African Americans; the other half by whites. Singley is African American.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs, who hid in an attic for 6 years, then escaped to the North, where her owner continued to pursue her and her children. Published in 1861 (Dover, 2001). Also: Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley, by Henry Louis Gates, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, by Elizabeth Keckley, and When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection.
Fanny Kemble’s Journals, edited and with an introduction by Catherine Clinton (Harvard University Press, 2000). English woman who married an American plantation owner published this journal she wrote documenting the depredations of slavery. After her divorce, she published her journals in 1863.
14) DEEPER DIMENSIONS OF RACIAL JUSTICE PIONEERS
Misremembering Dr. King: Revisiting the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr, by Jennifer Yanco (Indiana University Press, 2014). Yanco writes of how “we” (herself included) too easily remember Dr. King only as a model of non-violent civil disobedience, and not as an outspoken advocate for fair wages and an end to the Vietnam War. The book deals with the prison industrial complex, Trayvon Martin, the Occupy movement, and fair pay struggles, and points out past “solutions” to racism that kept power and money in white people’s hands. A great look back and forward, and a call to action. Yanco is white.
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by Jeanne Theoharis (Beacon Press, 2013). Theoharis writes about Parks’ lifelong racial justice activism, unacknowledged in most accounts of her life. Her arrest for refusing to move to the back of the bus galvanized resistance to transportation segregation, but this slim, inspiring book describes how Parks worked with youth to challenge segregated libraries, with adults to attempt to vote, with Sleeping Car Porters and Scottsboro Boys defenders. She documented white-on-black violence, refused redbaiting, opposed the Vietnam War, worked for Congressman John Conyers, and for George McGovern and Jesse Jackson’s presidential bids, opposed U.S military role in Central America and the Caribbean, called for Nixon’s impeachment, attended the Million Man march, admired Dr. King but also the boldness of Black Power and Malcolm X.
Einstein on Race and Racism, by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor (Rutgers, 2005). Describes Einstein’s anti-racism activism, which history books and biographies usually fail to mention. Jerome is white and Taylor is African American.
Why We Can’t Wait, by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Beacon Press, 2010, originally published in 1964). King’s rationale for taking non-violent action to achieve full civil rights, and his response to calls for going slow (“Wait has always mean never”). Includes his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written in 1963 on the 100th anniversary of emancipation.
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama (Crown, 2007). President Obama wrote this memoir in his 30s. Publishers Weekly wrote: “Obama’s search for himself as a black American is rooted in the particulars of his daily life; it also reads like a wry commentary about all of us. He dismisses stereotypes of the ‘tragic mulatto’ and then shows how much we are all caught between messy contradictions and disparate communities.”
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley (Ballantine, 1964). Memoir of an extraordinary man who could articulate the reality, the outrage, the struggles, and the hopes of African Americans. Describes Malcolm X’s upbringing in Michigan, Boston, and NYC, his time in prison, his conversion to Islam, his ministry, his calls for Black pride and self-defense, his travels to Africa and to Mecca.
The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, (1963). The renowned African American novelist makes the case in this non-fiction book that whites can only liberate themselves when they liberate blacks; that blacks and whites “deeply need each other” for America to realize its identity as a nation.
15) RACISM AND ANTI-RACISM IN FAITH COMMUNITIES
Longing: Stories of Racial Healing, by Phyllis A and Eugene F. Unterschuetz (Bahai Publishing, 2010). A white couple’s personal account of a 10-year journey throughout the U.S. that forced them to reconsider their comfortable notions about race as they forged new relationships with people of African descent and shared their vision of racial unity and the oneness of humanity. Their stories describe a longing to heal from the racial separation that has so deeply wounded this country.
Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability, by Mary Elizabeth Hobgood, revised/updated (The Pilgrim Press, 2009). A religious and cultural resource for understanding privilege and moving toward a more just society. The author is an associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross.
Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship – Quakers, African Americans, and the Myth of Racial Justice, by Donna McDaniel, who is white, and Vanessa Julye, who is African American (Quaker Press, 2009). Quakers were abolitionists, but the Friends’ race relations history is more complicated and not always admirable. An honest (but long) history of one faith community, with insights from the white and African American co-authors.
In Between: Memoir of an Integration Baby, by Mark Morrison-Reed (Skinner House, 2009). One of the first black Unitarian Universalist ministers gives a frank personal account of growing up black during the era of the Civil Rights movement, wrestling with racism, the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., black radicalism, his interracial family, and his experience as an integration pioneer.
Red, White and Muslim: The Story of My Belief, by Asma Gull Hasan (HarperOne, 2009). A Wellesley College graduate and self-described “Muslim feminist cowgirl,” directs her book primarily at non-Muslim Americans to show them Qur’anic texts and Islamic beliefs and practices that challenge unfavorable stereotypes. Hasan also takes on her fellow Muslims, urging them to distinguish cultural mores from religious orthodoxy, especially concerning the treatment of women.
Moving Beyond Racism: Memories, Transformations, and the Start of New Conversations, edited by Heather Powers Albanesi & Carole Ann Camp (White River Press, 2008). In 2008, the media ran sound bites of old sermons by Dr. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s United Church of Christ; commentators denounced them as overstating the problem of racism today. UCC churches responded with Sacred Conversations on Race: sermons acknowledging the continuing reality of racism. Twenty-three members of the First Congregational Church of Amherst here share describe the events that inspired their reassessment of the complexities of race relations in 21st century America.
The Way Opens: A Spiritual Journey, by Patricia Wild (Warwick House Publishers, 2008). As an adult, Patricia Wild asked, “What happened to the African Americans who desegregated my high school in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1962?” That question became a quest. Guided by a professor and a Baptist preacher, and by her Quaker meeting, she learns history lessons and examines her White privilege.
United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race, by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancy and Karen Chai Kim (Oxford, 2003). Explores the history and current examples of multiracial congregations.
Black and Catholic in the Jim Crow South: The Stuff That Makes Community, by Danny Duncan Collum (Paulist Press, 2006), an oral history of a white pastor would not tolerate segregation in churches or schools, displeasing many white Catholics. The Catholic schools were integrated, and the teachers encouraged their black students to act and be treated as equals, and to stand up for their rights.