My amazing business coach invited us to a 5-day Share The Love Challenge. This was perfect timing as I’ve been working on a series of posts that will highlight a list of resources that have helped my understanding about race EMERGE. Come check out the first post in the Emerge Series for more of the back story.
Building a foundation…
The first book I ever read about race-based injustice opens up with the definition of genocide as a description of what fourth grade black boys are experiencing in schools like the ones I grew up in. I threw the book across the room and called the person who gave it to me. “How is this possible?” I asked. “Get off the phone and keep reading” came the response. I did.
I dove into reading. I watched films. I stalked Facebook conversations where race was coming up and I wrote and rewrote and rewrote comments which I never posted; ultimately walking away in silence because I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I started to realize how comfortable I was walking into a grocery store or library or office building because I knew the rules of those places but when asked “what are those rules?” I couldn’t articulate them.
My early learning provided me two important paths of learning. The first was realizing that the history I’d been taught was not the full story and in many cases was even a straight up lie. The second began an ongoing process of learning who I was as a white person and how my race was one predictor for how I viewed myself and the world around me.
Five books to begin with…
These are the first five books I can remember reading that really began to change how I saw myself and the world. I felt a sense of disorientation as I continued to learn. Things were not adding up to how I saw the world. At first, I thought every other white person was the problem. As my study deepened, I could see my own habits reflected in what I was reading and began to identify my participation in white dominant society.
Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys by Jawanza Kunjufu
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenburg
White Like Me by Tim Wise
As I was emerging into my own understanding about race, my kids were also growing up. Children’s books and Young Adult (YA) fiction were another source of great learning for me. We would read every day together, listen to books on tape as we did chores or traveled, and share our learning at the dinner table.
Books for you (and your kids)…
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Any book by Renee Watson
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy) by Laurie Halse Anderson
Watching films is another great way to learn and take in information you’ve not been exposed to. There are a lot of films that have discussion guides available so google will be your friend for some great questions to consider as you process through what you’ve watched. Keep a journal and write out your thoughts. This practice of journaling gave me a little hope since I could see how I was changing when things were still pretty foggy for me. Invite your family and friends to watch with you and discuss together.
Five must see films or series…
White Right: Meeting the Enemy (might have to search for this one)