CKL Book Recs: Systemic Racism


Maybe you’ve heard the concept of systemic racism being talked about recently. Maybe you have no idea what people are referring to when they say it. Maybe you’re all about the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe you see it as a violent hate group.

I think it’s safe to say that we all have seen stories surrounding race in the news that make us uncomfortable, sad, angry, or disturbed. I’ve spent the last six months looking for ways to become informed, enter the conversation, and help resource people to learn more about what is going on in our country.

Here are a few resources that I have discovered.

One great book to start with is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read this book a year ago and again this summer with my book club.  We foster understanding by hearing the stories of people with different experiences than our own. I’ve been intentionally listening and searching out works written by Black Americans to help me empathize with their experiences. This book is a quick read and paints a picture of growing up black in the United States.

The second book I’ve read recently that opened my eyes is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. This book is dense with historical information regarding the racist systems that have existed in our nation from the beginning. She argues that the current state of mass incarceration is the most recent iteration of systemic racism designed to keep black and brown Americans down.

If you’re interested in a visual introduction to the content you’ll find in Michelle Alexander’s book, please watch this brilliant new video by the New York Times. Minimally, take four minutes to watch this video and see if it piques your interest. If you want more information, check out the book.

Lastly, I’ve found two great points of entry into this conversation. The first is a Christian organization called Be the Bridge. Their website states their mission, which is to “Inspire the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racial division [and] to be present and intentional towards racial reconciliation.” They have helpful resources to equip people who wish to be bridge builders for racial unity.

The second group is a national organization called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). This organization works to help equip white Americans who want to become involved in the fight for racial justice in the United States. I recently found my local SURJ chapter and have been so impressed at the practical, quality information presented during the bi-weekly workshops. Although they are not a specifically faith-based organization, they do have a Faith Action Kit dedicated to providing information that is helpful and relevant for people of faith.

I hope something here is helpful for you. You’re certainly entitled to your own opinion on this topic, but I urge you to dig deep and explore the issue for yourself. I would love your recommendations for other books or resources you’ve found to be helpful.

 

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links).


5 Comment

  1. I’m a SURJ member too, here in Columbus! Fantastic organization supporting a great cause. I just picked up White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson, Ph. D. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D1RUOJU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1) I can’t wait to dive into it.

    1. Chelsea Long says: Reply

      So great! Thanks!

  2. Leslie says: Reply

    ❤️ going to check these out ASAP!

  3. Janneke says: Reply

    Hi Chelsea,

    I love this post, and would love to add to the list! Jim Wallis’ book ‘America’a Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Brodge to a New America’ is another great read. As far as mass incarceration/our criminal justice system, ‘Just Mercy’ by Bryan Stevenson is both fantastic and terrible at the same time. Very eye opening!

    1. Chelsea Long says: Reply

      Thank you, Janneke! I’ll check those out! My husband read Just Mercy and said it was amazing, but I hadn’t heard of the other one!

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