Books

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates

A #1 New York Times Bestseller. A profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a black father for his son. It is written as a letter to the author's teenage son about the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being Black in the United States. Coates explores several broad themes, including race, racism, and systemic oppression; fear; father-son relationships; the search for identity; education; and justice, among others.

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Caste

Isabel Wilkerson

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is a nonfiction book by the American journalist Isabel Wilkerson, published in August 2020 by Random House. Wilkerson pries open the lid on this country's racism and exposes the underlying truth—that from the beginning, America has created a caste society, Whites on the top, those of African descent on the bottom. According to Wilkerson, "caste is the granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, benefit of the doubt, and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standing in the hierarchy." Racism and casteism do overlap, she writes, noting that "what some people call racism could be seen as merely one manifestation of the degree to which we have internalized the larger American caste system.

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Dear White Christians

Jennifer Harvey

Dear White Christians calls justice-committed Christians to do the gospel-inspired work of opposing racist social structures around them. Harvey’s message is historically and scripturally rooted, making it ideal for facilitating the difficult but important discussions about race that are so desperately needed in churches and faith-centered classrooms across the country.

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How the Word is Passed

Clint Smith

A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade-in enslaved men, women, and children have been deeply imprinted. Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role of memory.

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How to be an Anitracist

Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

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I Came as a Shadow

John Thompson

John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and I Came As a Shadow is categorically not just a basketball autobiography. After three decades at the center of race and sports in America, the first Black head coach to win an NCAA championship is ready to make the private public. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (and what stats! three Final Fours, four times national coach of the year, seven Big East championships, 97 percent graduation rate), Thompson’s book drives us through his childhood under Jim Crow segregation to our current moment of racial reckoning.

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Raising White Kids

Jennifer Harvey

With a foreword by Tim Wise, Raising White Kids is for families, churches, 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. For white people who are committed to equity and justice, living in a nation that remains racially unjust and deeply segregated creates unique conundrums. Talking about race means naming the reality of white privilege and hierarchy. How do we talk about race honestly, then, without making our children feel bad about being white? Most importantly, how do we do any of this in age-appropriate ways? This book delves into these questions and more.

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Stamped from the Beginning

Ibram X. Kendi

"This heavily researched yet easily readable volume explores the roots and the effects of racism in America. The narrative smoothly weaves throughout history, culminating in the declaration that as much as we'd like it to be, America today is nowhere near the 'postracial' country that the media declared following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. The hope here is that by studying and remembering the lessons of history, we may be able to move forward to an equitable society."―Booklist

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Testament of Hope

Martin Luther King

"We've got some difficult days ahead," civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., told a crowd gathered at Memphis's Clayborn Temple on April 3, 1968. "But it really doesn't matter to me now because I've been to the mountaintop. . . . And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land." These prophetic words, uttered the day before his assassination, challenged those he left behind to see that his "promised land" of racial equality became a reality; a reality to which King devoted the last twelve years of his life. These words and others are commemorated here in the only major one-volume collection of this seminal twentieth-century American prophet's writings, speeches, interviews, and autobiographical reflections. A Testament of Hope contains Martin Luther King, Jr.'s essential thoughts on nonviolence, social policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love and hope, and more.

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The 1619 Project

Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project is a long-form journalism endeavor developed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, writers from The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine which "aims to reframe the country's history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the United States' national narrative." The first publication stemming from the project was in The New York Times Magazine of August 2019 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colony of Virginia.

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The Black Cabinet

Jill Watts

Watts (Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood), a professor of history at California State University, San Marcos, delivers a unique and enlightening portrait of “the informal group of black federal employees” who sought to advance African-American interests during the New Deal. Led by Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College and a friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the “Black Cabinet” included housing expert Robert C. Weaver, attorney William H. Hastie, and Robert Vann, editor of the Pittsburgh Courier and a leading advocate for shifting black votes from Republicans to Democrats. Watts details the group’s internecine political quarrels as well as their efforts to integrate the federal workplace, end “race-based wage differentials,” and rally support for antilynching legislation, among other objectives. Lesser-known civil servants such as Lucia Mae Pitts, “the first African American woman to serve as a secretary to a white federal administrator in Washington, D.C.,” receive overdue attention, as does the influence of the black press on Roosevelt’s staffing decisions. Watts finds drama in committee meetings and unemployment surveys, and expertly tracks her subjects across the maze of federal bureaucracy. The result is a groundbreaking reappraisal of an unheralded chapter in the battle for civil rights.

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The Color of Law

Richard Rothstein

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America's cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation - that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation - the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments - that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

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The Cross and the Lynching Tree

James H. Cone

The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized white power and black death, the cross symbolizes divine power and black life God overcoming the power of sin and death. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era.

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The New Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator, and legal scholar. The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration is a historical study of the Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an "unrecognized immigration" within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.

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Trouble I've Seen

Drew G. I. Hart

In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, anti-black stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. He argues that white Christians have repeatedly gotten it wrong about race because dominant culture and white privilege have so thoroughly shaped their assumptions. He also challenges black Christians about neglecting the most vulnerable in their own communities. Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

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Waking Up White

Debby Irving

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race is a 2014 non-fiction book about the subject of white privilege written by Debby Irving. Waking Up White is the book Irving wishes someone had handed her decades ago. By sharing her sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, she offers a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As Irving unpacks her own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, she reveals how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated her ill-conceived ideas about race. She also explains why and how she's changed the way she talks about racism, works in racially mixed groups, and understands the antiracism movement as whole.

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Walking with the Wind

John Lewis

In 1957, a teenaged boy named John Lewis left a cotton farm in Alabama for Nashville, the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America. Lewis’s adherence to nonviolence guided that critical time and established him as one of the movement’s most charismatic and courageous leaders. Lewis’s leadership in the Nashville Movement—a student-led effort to desegregate the city of Nashville using sit-in techniques based on the teachings of Gandhi—set the tone for major civil rights campaigns of the 1960s. Lewis traces his role in the pivotal Selma marches, Bloody Sunday, and the Freedom Rides. Inspired by his mentor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Lewis’s vision and perseverance altered history. In 1986, he ran and won a congressional seat in Georgia, and remains in office to this day, continuing to enact change.

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We Were Eight Years in Power

Ta-Nehisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including “Fear of a Black President,” “The Case for Reparations,” and “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Race

Robin Diangelo

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is a 2018 book written by Robin DiAngelo about race relations in the United States. Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

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White Too Long

Robert P. Jones

As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians—from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast—have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story. White Too Long is not an appeal to altruism. It is “a powerful and much-needed book” (Eddie S. Glaude Jr, professor at Princeton University and author of Begin Again) drawing on lessons gleaned from case studies of communities beginning to face these challenges. Jones argues that contemporary white Christians must confront these unsettling truths because this is the only way to salvage the integrity of their faith and their own identities. More broadly, it is no exaggeration to say that not just the future of white Christianity, but the outcome of the American experiment is at stake.

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Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

Daniel Tatum

In Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and Other Conversations on Race, Robin Daniel Tatum draws on all experiences of racial tension, and bases of knowledge to write a remarkably jargon-free book that is as rigorously analytical as it is refreshingly practical and drives its points home with a range of telling anecdotes. Tatum illuminates ``why talking about racism is so hard'' and what we can do to make it easier, leaving her readers more confident about facing the difficult terrain on the road to a genuinely color-blind society.

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