So this post has nothing to do with Spiderman. It’s about books. But when this picture appeared in my search of reading-related images, well, there was no going back.
Now on to the actual content!
Have you ever heard the reading analogy, “some books are mirrors, others are windows?” It’s actually pretty apt. Some books are mirrors: in them we see ourselves with our personalities, experiences, struggles, and dreams. Other books are windows, they give us a view of experiences outside ourselves. They let us be spectators and learners in new worlds.
Anti-racism books, at least for me, definitely fall into the “window” category.. They open up a whole new world (cue the Aladdin music). There is a lot of learning to do. And, especially for those living in less diverse areas, we desperately need books to be windows to fill in the our gaps in experience.
As important as window books are, they also present a problem: there are just so many. There are anti-racism books written in all different lengths from all different perspectives covering all sort of aspects of the complex problem. There’s no way to read them all. You must pick and choose, though that can feel stressful and bring on a serious case of FOMO (I feel a little to old to be saying, that but it just applies too well!).
I’d like to provide one perspective that could help you narrow it down.
Choosing the specific lens of Christianity has helped me pare down the long lists of recommended material. And in doing so I’ve found books that foundationally shifted the way I think about my response to the call of Jesus to pursue repentance, reconciliation, and action. With this framework in mind, I’d like to share my “minimalist” anti-racism reading list: 3 books that focus on breaking racial injustice with the whole gospel. If you’re looking for a manageable place to start, this is what I’d recommend.
“The Color of Compromise: the truth about the American church’s complicity in racism”, by Jemar Tisby, Zondervan 2019
If you don’t think racism is relevant to the church today, Jemar is about to rock your world. Jemar uses poignant illustrations of how the roughly 400 years of history of complicit (and explicit) racism in the American church directly impacts our theology, vision, and church structure today. Whether we are aware of it or not, history has shaped our response to race. And the first step to undoing that is by knowing history. That’s what this book is here to expertly help you do.
“White Awake: an honest look at what it means to be white,” Daniel Hill, IVP 2017.
The publisher says it best:
“Daniel Hill will never forget the day he heard these words:
“Daniel, you may be white, but don’t let that lull you into thinking you have no culture. White culture is very real. In fact, when white culture comes in contact with other cultures, it almost always wins. So it would be a really good idea for you to learn about your culture.”
Confused and unsettled by this encounter, Hill began a journey of understanding his own white identity. Today he is an active participant in addressing and confronting racial and systemic injustices. And in this compelling and timely book, he shows you the seven stages to expect on your own path to cultural awakening.”
What I love about this book is, in addition to the things listed above, it approaches understanding whiteness from a gospel perspective. There are valuable books like it from non-Christian perspectives, but this really brought it home for me.
“Be the Bridge: pursuing God’s heart for racial reconciliation,” Latasha Morrison, WaterBrook, 2019.
This author of this incredible book launched an organization by the same name which has chapters all across the nation dedicating themselves to radical, racial conversations, healing, and action. Latasha takes you through three steps in your racial reconciliation journey: lamenting, listening, leveraging. The book empowers you to be an agent of repentance and change in your community. And, if you want to start your own “Be the Bridge” group, it gives you the tools and connections to do so. Highly, highly recommended.
So, there you have it. Even if you read just one book a month, you can cover a ton of history and education in just a quarter of a year. I hope you’ll check out at least one of these books. If you do, please tell us about your experience in the comments! And, if you’ve read another book that you would consider a staple, let us know about that too.
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