The following are books that the UCUCC Racial Justice Book Club are reading (monthly on the third Tuesday at noon).
White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for White People to Talk About Race by Robin DiAngelo (2018, Beacon Press). The UCUCC Church Council read this NYT bestseller last year, and the Racial Justice Book Club will be reading it this August & September. We would love to have more voices join the discussion, or, read it on your own to understand an important dynamic of White
liberals (like so many of us).
Author DiAngelo, a White woman, asks other white people to examine how they react when dealing with our own racism. She provides a list of feelings, behavior, and claims for white people to consider when called out to explain something we’ve said or thought.
In one example, a white woman is politely asked to examine the racism in something she said. Instead of answering she bursts into tears. Her friends rush to her side, throwing accusatory looks at her confronter, which centers the feelings of the white woman instead of the POC, and cuts off any discussion of the racism that was brought up.
The book helps White people to dig into emotions and deeply held, often subconscious, beliefs and understandings of People of Color.
How to be an Anti-racist by Ibram X Kendi (2019, One World) has been on the NYT Best Seller List for 18 weeks, and the Racial Justice Book Club just completed a 3-month discussion on this book.
In each chapter of his book, Kendi provides a concise definition of racist and antiracist perspectives and actions and then expands on them, providing a good map for discussions.
For example, Chapter 8, Behavior gives these two definitions:
Behavioral Racist: One who is making individuals responsible for the perceived behavior of racial groups and making racial groups responsible for the behavior of individuals.
Behavioral Antiracist: One who is making racial group behavior fictional and individual behavior real.
Along the way he looks at pre-Civil War arguments for supposed mediocre Black behavior and contrasts that with abolitionist advocacy, which was not entirely antiracist. He points out the weaknesses of the abolitionists’ points of view. Then he moves along to mid-20th Century texts. He rounds it out with tracing his own struggles and how he has evolved in his understanding of racism and himself.
Here is a link to a PBS NewsHour interview (9 minutes) at https://www.pbs.org/video/race-matters-1594242588/ with both authors.