On Sunday, the day after an African-American woman was shot by a white policeman who came to do a welfare check on her, well-known speaker and Bible study leader Beth Moore posted her frustration on Twitter. I responded about the books that recently have made me more aware and also more heartbroken.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you probably recognize that books have always been an important avenue for me to understand the world and to discover life experiences I will never live. The experience of being black in America is no exception.
The New Jim Crow book that I mention in the tweet was the subject of a blog I posted in August called “The Hardest Book I Ever Read.” One of my goals for this year was to read at least two books a quarter by people of color (POC) or from non-Western countries. The New Jim Crow was one of those.
I had seen articles about the young adult (YA) novel The Hate U Give and its film adaptation and wanted it to be one of my choices. After all, a YA book would have to be an easier read than adult nonfiction, right? Maybe not. It was painful, because it brought the experience alive for me. I lose myself in books. I enter the story. I’ve been known to become depressed because I’m so enmeshed in the characters’ lives that their troubles feel like my own. I’ve on occasion begun to pray for someone only to realize they don’t exist, they’re simply a figment of an author’s imagination. Angie Thomas’s book put me in the car with an African American pulled over for a broken turn signal. It was eye-opening.
Those two books, along with Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, which I read in 2017 (and soon coming to a movie theater near you), challenge my presuppositions. Currently I am reading Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice by Eric Mason, and appreciate its call for Christians to speak out and to confront the systemic racism that exists in America. He asks us to care. A few months ago I blogged about our need to recognize most of us have “The Privilege Not to Care.” I’m trying to care.
After my tweet in response to Beth Moore’s tweet, I began to get a boatload of comments. Recommendations for other books to read, podcasts to listen to, and curriculum and websites to explore poured in. I began adding the titles into my to-be-read list. Seventeen books—plus podcasts, curriculum, websites and a movie—later, I’ve put it together as a separate list.
Books Recommended via Twitter
In case you wish to expand your understanding, here’s the list I compiled (and if you wish to download it as a PDF: Understanding the Black Experience). Please note that since I have not read/listened to/explored these yet, I cannot vouch for their quality or what is contained in them; therefore, I included links only for books available on christianbook.com.
- How To Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi (this book was recommended multiple times and so moved to the top of my list)
- The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America, D. Watkins
- We Speak For Ourselves: A Word From Forgotten Black America, D. Watkins
- All American Boys, Jason Reynolds
- I’m Still Here, Austin Channing Brown
- Me and White Supremacy, Layla F. Saad
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson
- The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, Isabel Wilkerson
- Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, Latasha Morrison
- The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Jemar Tisby
- Stamped From The Beginning; The Definitive History of Racist Ideas In America, Ibram X. Kendi
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo
- Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race. Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us, Benjamin Watson and Ken Petersen
- Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor
- Dear Martin, Nic Stone
- So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, Resmaa Menakem
Other Resources, Experiences
- Beyond Diversity/Courageous Conversations about Race conferences
- Good Ancestor podcast, Layla F. Saad
- Be the Bridge curriculum, Latasha Morrison; start with “16 Bridge Building Tips For White People”
- When They See Us movie, Ava DuVernay
- Brownicity community and resources
- The Next Question podcast, Chi Chi Okwu, Austin Channing Brown, Jenny Booth Potter
It’s hard to empathize with what we do not understand. Join me in exploring the experience and perspectives of others.