Race in the USA: My Learning, Part 1

Image Credit: Elizabeth A. Eccles

Don’t miss the podcast links at the end!

Continual self-reflection as well as moving from reflection to action are essential. Check out:

Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

“An Examen for White Allies”

“101 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice”

A few personal notes:

You will like or appreciate different books and resources in a different order than I did. I started with The New Jim Crow, and it was so different from anything that I had been told or taught that it took me a long time to read it. That is probably more a factor of my past than of the book itself.

I mention it, though, because if you, in the course of reading or watching or listening, find your beliefs being challenged, I want to encourage you to sit with the discomfort. Take frequent breaks. Spend time in self-examination. And then, read another chapter or watch or listen to another 10 minutes, until you need to take a break again. I believe it is important both to honor yourself with careful thought and prayer, and to honor these stories by coming back to them and moving forward through them. The balance of those two things is up to you.

My favorite resources so far have been Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Jen Hatmaker’s interview of Lisa Sharon Harper. They are both difficult and heartbreaking, but they captured my attention and moved me more towards action and change than the rest of these (nevertheless great) resources. I am sure some of you will agree and others disagree with me on that.

Finally, I have used Twitter to connect with further voices on these topics. I follow the names I come across here, and then add more names through their connections. You may choose a different path. But I suggest that, if you are white, you develop your own networks, places where you can listen…listen…listen to the conversations, comments and experiences of people of color. They have been ignored by some of us for far too long.

I’m starting with two book by white people. I think they provide a gentle on-ramp for white Americans, especially white Christian Americans. But think of them as pre-requisites before you start your actual course.

(Clicking on this cover will automatically download an article by Robin Diangelo)

Here’s a quick summary of redlining, in case you are not aware of this part of our history:

Adam Conover, “The Disturbing History of the Suburbs,” Adam Ruins Everything, CollegeHumor, October 4, 2017.

Other great books (and one movie):

Click on titles for additional links to author interviews or podcasts.

Personal favorite: Just Mercy

See also: Divided by Faith and13th The Movie

I am not a big podcast person, but these two are exceptional!

Lisa Sharon Harper, “Never Leave the Gospel Behind” For The Love with Jen Hatmaker. April 24, 2018

John Biewen, “Seeing White” Scene on Radio. 14-part series, 2017

Race in the USA: My Own Learning, Part 2

Image Credit: Elizabeth A. Eccles

A few personal notes:

I spent about 3-4 years reading the books in part 1, getting that information settled in my head, and re-arranging my view of the world around it. The resources that follow are those I am finding helpful now. (clicking on the titles or images takes you to interviews or organization websites related to the author; to purchase, use your favorite booksellers)

First, continual self-reflection is essential. Check out

Martin Luther King, Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

An Examen for White Allies.”

My favorites: Might from the Margins and The Third Reconstruction

Long but important: The Color of Law and The Warmth of Other Suns

This chart is helpful for explaining the balance that white allies need to maintain:

Myths America Lives By by Richard T. Hughes

I wanted to talk a bit about this one because it’s somewhat different from the others here. It’s very important, though, because it puts into words the things everyone knows about America. As a Third Culture Kid, the one I have noticed the most is, “America is the greatest country in the world.” This is just something everyone knows. It gets repeated regularly. And…maybe because I grew up in Belgium, or maybe because I’m a very literal, logical person, I would always think to myself, “Based on what?”

Dr. Hughes might call this “The Myth of the Chosen Nation.” Or maybe he would categorize it under one of his other myths. Or maybe “the greatest” refers to all the myths together. In any case, this is a book worth reading, so that Americans can take off the lenses that we see through but don’t ever look at, notice their size and shape and how they affect non-white Americans, particularly black people. The title and the book cover link to an interview that will give you a sense of the book.