Jackson, Mandi Isaacs. Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven. United States: Temple University Press, 2008.
—“Model City Blues tells the story of how regular people, facing a changing city landscape, fought for their own model of the “ideal city” by creating grassroots plans for urban renewal. Filled with vivid descriptions of significant moments in a protracted struggle, it offers a street-level account of organized resistance to institutional plans to transform New Haven, Connecticut in the 1960s. Anchored in the physical spaces and political struggles of the city, it brings back to center stage the individuals and groups who demanded that their voices be heard.
By reexamining the converging class- and race-based movements of 1960s New Haven, Mandi Jackson helps to explain the city’s present-day economic and political struggles. More broadly, by closely analyzing particular sites of resistance in New Haven, Model City Blues employs multiple academic disciplines to redefine and reimagine the roles of everyday city spaces in building social movements and creating urban landscapes.”
Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law
—In the book Color of the Law, Richard Rothstein argues that the federal government has historically functioned to protect the rights of Whites and ensured their abilities to safe communities and affordable housing. Federal, state, and local governments did so by:
1. supporting and enforcing the exclusionary deeds during the 1930s to the 1980s.
2. denying the existence of segregation in the North.
3. failing to enforce and to penalize Fair Housing policies.
4. stigmatizing Black communities as ghettos through propaganda and under funding.
Kozol, Jonathan. Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope. United States: Crown/Archetype, 2012.
—“Jonathan Kozol’s books have become touchstones of the American conscience. In Ordinary Resurrections, he spends four years in the South Bronx with children who have become his friends at a badly underfunded but enlightened public school. A fascinating narrative of daily urban life, Ordinary Resurrections gives a human face to poverty and racial isolation, and provides a stirring testimony to the courage and resilience of the young. Sometimes playful, sometimes jubilantly funny, and sometimes profoundly sad, these are sensitive children–complex and morally insightful–and their ethical vitality denounces and subverts the racially charged labels that the world of grown-up expertise too frequently assigns to them.
Yet another classic case of unblinking social observation from one of the finest writers ever to work in the genre, this is a piercing discernment of right and wrong, of hope and despair–from our nation’s corridors of power to its poorest city streets.”—
Kozol, Jonathan. Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. United States: Broadway Paperbacks, 2012.
—-“Amazing Grace is Jonathan Kozol’s classic book on life and death in the South Bronx—the poorest urban neighborhood of the United States. He brings us into overcrowded schools, dysfunctional hospitals, and rat-infested homes where families have been ravaged by depression and anxiety, drug-related violence, and the spread of AIDS. But he also introduces us to devoted and unselfish teachers, dedicated ministers, and—at the heart and center of the book—courageous and delightful children. The children we come to meet through the friendships they have formed with Jonathan defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous, and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them. Amidst all of the despair, it is the very young whose luminous capacity for love and transcendent sense of faith in human decency give reason for hope.'”
Acho, Emmanuel. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. Flatiron Books, 2020. (pre-pub)
—A primer on race and racism, from the host of the viral hit video series
“Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”
Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask. With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.” In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack both. He asks only for the reader’s curiosity―but along the way, he will galvanize all of us to join the antiracist fight.
***Barber, Donna. Bread for the Resistance: Forty Devotions for Justice People. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2019.
—Sometimes you get tired, doing this thing we call justice. Making the case, fighting the fight, having to explain again and again why it matters. You feel burned out or disillusioned. Sometimes you just need a word from the Lord. In these daily devotions, Donna Barber offers life-giving words of renewal and hope for those engaged in the resistance to injustice. When you face adversity, you can take courage. When you grapple with discouragement, you can find hope. When your legs are tired from marching and your knees are bruised from kneeling, you can experience rest and healing. Find here bread for the resistance.
***Cho, Eugene. Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World than Actually Changing the World? First edition. Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C Cook, 2014.
—Many people today talk about justice but are they living justly? They want to change the world but are they being changed themselves?
Eugene Cho has a confession: “I like to talk about changing the world but I don’t really like to do what it takes.” If this is true of the man who founded the One Day’s Wages global antipoverty movement, then what must it take to act on one’s ideals? Cho does not doubt the sincerity of those who want to change the world. But he fears that today’s wealth of resources and opportunities could be creating “the most overrated generation in history. We have access to so much but end up doing so little.”
He came to see that he, too, was overrated. As Christians, Cho writes, “our calling is not simply to change the world but to be changed ourselves.” In Overrated, Cho shows that it is possible to move from talk to action.
Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk. G&D Media, 2019.
—The Souls of Black Folk is a classic work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. The book, published in 1903, contains several essays on race, some of which had been previously published in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this groundbreaking work on being African-American in American society. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was an American sociologist, civil rights activist, and author. A strong advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was the first black man to earn a doctorate from Harvard University and cofounded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Eddo-Lodge, Reni. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race. Expanded edition. London Oxford New York New Delhi Sydney: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018.
—‘Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent. This book is an attempt to speak.’
The book that sparked a national conversation. Exploring everything from eradicated black history to the inextricable link between class and race, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to understand race relations in Britain today.
Flynn, Andrea. The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy. Cambridge Studies in Stratification Economics: Economics and Social Identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
—Why do black families own less than white families? Why does school segregation persist decades after Brown v. Board of Education? Why is it harder for black adults to vote than for white adults? Will addressing economic inequality solve racial and gender inequality as well? This book answers all of these questions and more by revealing the hidden rules of race that create barriers to inclusion today. While many Americans are familiar with the histories of slavery and Jim Crow, we often don’t understand how the rules of those eras undergird today’s economy, reproducing the same racial inequities 150 years after the end of slavery and 50 years after the banning of Jim Crow segregation laws. This book shows how the fight for racial equity has been one of progress and retrenchment, a constant push and pull for inclusion over exclusion. By understanding how our economic and racial rules work together, we can write better rules to finally address inequality in America.
***Gustine, Adam L. Becoming a Just Church: Cultivating Communities of God’s Shalom. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2019.
—Stop outsourcing justice! Many local churches don’t know what to do about justice. We tend to compartmentalize it as merely a strategy for outreach, and we often outsource it to parachurch justice ministries. While these organizations do good work, individual congregations are left disconnected from God’s just purposes in the world. Adam Gustine calls the local church to be just and do justice. He provides a theological vision for our identity as a just people, where God’s character and the pursuit of shalom infuses every aspect of our congregational DNA. As we grow in becoming just, the church becomes a prophetic alternative to the broken systems of the world and a parable of God’s intentions for human flourishing and societal transformation. This renewed vision for the church leads us into cultivating a just life together―in community, discipleship, worship, and more―extending justice out into the world in concrete ways. Let’s hold being and doing together, so we can become just, compassionate communities that restore shalom and bring hope to the world.
***Holmes, Jasmine L. Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2020.
—In Mother to Son, Jasmine Holmes shares a series of powerful letters to her young son. These are about her journey as an African American Christian and what she wants her son to know as he grows and approaches the world as a black man. Holmes deals head-on with issues ranging from discipleship and marriage to biblical justice. She invites us to read over her shoulder as she reminds Wynn that his identity is firmly planted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, even when the topic is one as emotionally charged as race in America.
Kay, Matthew R. Not Light, but Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2018.
—Inspired by Frederick Douglass’s abolitionist call to action, “it is not light that is needed, but fire” Matthew Kay has spent his career learning how to lead students through the most difficult race conversations. Kay not only makes the case that high school classrooms are one of the best places to have those conversations, but he also offers a method for getting them right, providing candid guidance on:
- How to recognize the difference between meaningful and inconsequential race conversations.
- How to build conversational “safe spaces,” not merely declare them.
- How to infuse race conversations with urgency and purpose.
- How to thrive in the face of unexpected challenges.
- How administrators might equip teachers to thoughtfully engage in these conversations.
***Leong, David P. Race & Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2017.
—Geography matters. We long for diverse, thriving neighborhoods and churches, yet racial injustices persist. Why? Because geographic structures and systems create barriers to reconciliation and prevent the flourishing of our communities. Race and Place reveals the profound ways in which these geographic forces and structures sustain the divisions among us. Urban missiologist David Leong unpacks the systemic challenges that are rarely addressed in the conversation about racial justice. Leong envisions a future of belonging and hope in our streets, towns, cities, and churches. A discussion about race needs to go hand in hand with a discussion about place.
***Marsh, Charles, and John Perkins. Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement toward Beloved Community. Second Expanded Edition. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2018.
—We have seen progress in recent decades toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of beloved community. But this is not only because of the activism and sacrifice of a generation of civil rights leaders. It happened because God was on the move. Historian and theologian Charles Marsh partners with veteran activist John Perkins to chronicle God’s vision for a more equitable and just world. Perkins reflects on his long ministry and identifies key themes and lessons he has learned, and Marsh highlights the legacy of Perkins’s work in American society. Together they show how abandoned places are being restored, divisions are being reconciled, and what individuals and communities are doing now to welcome peace and justice. Now updated to reflect on current social realities, this book reveals ongoing lessons for the continuing struggle for a just society.
***McCaulley, Esau. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. IVP Academic, 2020.
—Growing up in the American South, Esau McCaulley knew firsthand the ongoing struggle between despair and hope that marks the lives of some in the African American context. A key element in the fight for hope, he discovered, has long been the practice of Bible reading and interpretation that comes out of traditional Black churches. This ecclesial tradition is often disregarded or viewed with suspicion by much of the wider church and academy, but it has something vital to say. Reading While Black is a personal and scholarly testament to the power and hope of Black biblical interpretation. At a time in which some within the African American community are questioning the place of the Christian faith in the struggle for justice, New Testament scholar McCaulley argues that reading Scripture from the perspective of Black church tradition is invaluable for connecting with a rich faith history and addressing the urgent issues of our times. He advocates for a model of interpretation that involves an ongoing conversation between the collective Black experience and the Bible, in which the particular questions coming out of Black communities are given pride of place and the Bible is given space to respond by affirming, challenging, and, at times, reshaping Black concerns. McCaulley demonstrates this model with studies on how Scripture speaks to topics often overlooked by white interpreters, such as ethnicity, political protest, policing, and slavery. Ultimately McCaulley calls the church to a dynamic theological engagement with Scripture, in which Christians of diverse backgrounds dialogue with their own social location as well as the cultures of others.
***McNeil, Brenda Salter. Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2020.
—Reconciliation is not true reconciliation without justice! Brenda Salter McNeil has come to this conviction as she has led the church in pursuing reconciliation efforts over the past three decades. McNeil calls the church to repair the old reconciliation paradigm by moving beyond individual racism to address systemic injustice, both historical and present. It’s time for the church to go beyond individual reconciliation and “heart change” and to boldly mature in its response to racial division.
Becoming Brave offers a distinctly Christian framework for addressing systemic injustice. It challenges Christians to be everyday activists who become brave enough to break the silence and work with others to dismantle systems of injustice and inequality.
***McNeil, Brenda Salter. Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice. Second edition. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2020.
—We can see the injustice and inequality in our lives and in the world. We are ready to rise up. But how, exactly, do we do this? How does one reconcile? What we need is a clear sense of direction. Based on her extensive consulting experience with churches, colleges and organizations, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil has created a roadmap to show us the way. She guides us through the common topics of discussion and past the bumpy social terrain and political boundaries that will arise. In this revised and expanded edition, McNeil has updated her signature roadmap to incorporate insights from her more recent work. Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0 includes a new preface and a new chapter on restoration, which address the high costs for people of color who work in reconciliation and their need for continual renewal. With reflection questions and exercises at the end of each chapter, this book is ideal to read together with your church or organization.
***Perkins, John. One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2018.
—Dr. John M. Perkins is a leading civil rights activist today. In this, his crowning work, Dr. Perkins speaks honestly to the church about reconciliation, discipleship, and justice… and what it really takes to live out biblical reconciliation.
He offers a call to repentance to both the white church and the black church. He explains how band-aid approaches of the past won’t do. And while applauding these starter efforts, he holds that true reconciliation won’t happen until we get more intentional and relational. Real relationships, sacrificial love between actual people, is the way forward.
***Rah, Soong-Chan. Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010.
—The United States is currently undergoing the most rapid demographic shift in its history. By 2050, white Americans will no longer comprise a majority of the population. Instead, they’ll be the largest minority group in a country made up entirely of minorities, followed by Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans. Past shifts in America’s demographics always reshaped the county’s religious landscape. This shift will be no different. Soong-Chan Rah’s book is intended to equip evangelicals for ministry and outreach in our changing nation. Borrowing from the business concept of “cultural intelligence,” he explores how God’s people can become more multiculturally adept. From discussions about cultural and racial histories, to reviews of case-study churches and Christian groups that are succeeding in bridging ethnic divides, Rah provides a practical and hopeful guidebook for Christians wanting to minister more effectively in diverse settings.
***Rah, Soong-Chan. Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times. Resonate Series. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015.
—When Soong-Chan Rah planted an urban church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his first full sermon series was a six-week exposition of the book of Lamentations. Preaching on an obscure, depressing Old Testament book was probably not the most seeker-sensitive way to launch a church. But it shaped their community with a radically countercultural perspective. The American church avoids lament. But lament is a missing, essential component of Christian faith. Lament recognizes struggles and suffering, that the world is not as it ought to be. Lament challenges the status quo and cries out for justice against existing injustices. Soong-Chan Rah’s prophetic exposition of the book of Lamentations provides a biblical and theological lens for examining the church’s relationship with a suffering world. It critiques our success-centered triumphalism and calls us to repent of our hubris. And it opens up new ways to encounter the other. Hear the prophet’s lament as the necessary corrective for Christianity’s future. A Resonate exposition of the book of Lamentations.
Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2014.
*Recommended by Dr. David Mahan
—Claudia Rankine’s book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
Rankine, Claudia. Just Us: An American Conversation. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2020
* Recommended by Dr. David Mahan
—As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history.
Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, even and especially in breaching the silence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses of whiteness. Rankine’s questions disrupt the false comfort of our culture’s liminal and private spaces―the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth―where neutrality and politeness live on the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices as our public and private lives intersect.
This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includes the voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first class responding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend’s explanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and women confronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complements Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word.
Ward, Jesmyn, ed. The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race. First Scribner hardcover edition. New York: Scribner, 2016.
—Envisioned as a response to The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 essay collection, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America.
In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. The Fire This Time shines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.
***Watson, Benjamin. Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race– and Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us. Tyndale Momentum, 2016.
—In this book, former NFL player and social media commentator Benjamin Watson examines the race debate and looks to the power of faith to heal the racial divide.
Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. First edition. New York: Random House, 2020.
—In this book, Isabel Wilkerson explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more.
Using riveting stories about people she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Digital Library of Georgia. “Welcome to the Civil Rights Digital Library,” Last modified: June 05, 2020, Accessed July 14, 2020. http://crdl.usg.edu/.
—The struggle for racial equality in the 1950s and 1960s is among the most far-reaching social movements in the nation’s history, and it represents a crucial step in the evolution of American democracy. The Civil Rights Digital Library promotes an enhanced understanding of the Movement by helping users discover primary sources and other educational materials from libraries, archives, museums, public broadcasters, and others on a national scale. The CRDL features a collection of unedited news film from the WSB (Atlanta) and WALB (Albany, Ga.) television archives held by the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia Libraries. The CRDL provides educator resources and contextual materials, including Freedom on Film, relating instructive stories and discussion questions from the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, and the New Georgia Encyclopedia, delivering engaging online articles and multimedia.
National Humanities Center. “The Making of African American Identity: Vol. I, 1500-1865,” Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature. Accessed September 9, 2020. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai/index.htm.
National Humanities Center. “The Making of African American Identity: Vol. II, 1865-1917,” Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature. Accessed October 10, 2020. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai2/index.htm
National Humanities Center. “The Making of African American Identity: Vol. III, 1917-1968,” Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature. Accessed October 10, 2020. http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai3/index.htm
National Museum of African American History and Culture. “NMAAHC Digital Resource Guide,” March 25, 2020. https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/nmaahc-digital-resources-guide.
—Explore, learn and engage with the National Museum of African American History and Culture through numerous digital resources.
PBS Black Culture Connection. “Explore Black History and Culture .” Accessed July 14, 2020. http://www.pbs.org/black-culture/explore/.
—Rotating collection of films, articles and digital resources on black history and culture.