White Fragility Book

Group Discussion

‘Wrap-Up’

Image by Jonas Jacobsson

January 2021

Over the last few months, we've written about books that focus on racial injustice; here we want to give you a few videos - shorter!  But effective.
(click the underlined links to be taken to the video)
 
Valarie Kaur is a renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker and civil rights lawyer. In 'No One Else Would', she asks: "What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our country, America, is not dead if this is our nation's great transition? Breathe! Push!" 
She also has a TED talk: 
3 Lessons of Revolutionary Love in a Time of Rage.
 
Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychologist known for researching the relationship between race and policing, discusses 
How We Can Make Racism a Solvable Problem - and Improve Policing.
 
Human rights lawyer (and author of Just Mercy) Bryan Stevenson, in the engaging and personal 
We Need to Talk About an Injustice, shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive  imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

In 
The Danger of a Single Story, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says our lives and our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. She tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice - and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
 
Luvvie Ajayi isn't afraid to speak her mind, and neither should you be. "Your silence serves no one," says the writer, activist and self-proclaimed professional troublemaker. In 
Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable she shares three questions to ask yourself if you're teetering on the edge of speaking up or quieting down.
 
Kimberlé Creshaw's 
The Urgency of Intersectionality looks boldly at the reality of race and gender bias, and how the two can combine to create even more harm. In this moving talk, she calls on us to bear witness to this reality and speak up for victims of prejudice.

Image by Chris Lawton

December 2020

We are beginning a list of books to read about the Black experience in

America, white supremacy, combatting racism and working for justice.

We’ll have more monthly. If anyone would like to talk over the

possibility of a group discussion about any of these, contact Bill Smith,

jayhawk@coastaccess.com or 206-554-1545.

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Structured as a letter to Coates’s teenage son-- addressing matters of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity--T’s sprawling, discursive, angry, relevant, and lyrical. His MacArthur “genius” grant underscores his brilliance. A must-read for both the message and the writing.

 

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American

Christianity by Robert P. Jones:

Jones delves deeply into our past and the whys and whens of

Christianity being coopted and corrupted. “Reckoning with white

supremacy, for us, is now an unavoidable moral choice.”  This is a

prophetic call to white Christians for deep reflection, repentance,

reconciliation and justice. A powerful book.

 

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo:

Ijeoma Oluo is persuasive, sympathetic, funny and very direct: “We have to tackle this problem with real action, and we will not know what needs to be done if we are not willing to talk about it.”

 

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby:

Tisby details how the American church has helped create and maintain

racist ideas and practices. You will be guided through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church. Perfect for discussion groups, it’s being used now at University Presbyterian Church for an 8-week Zoom class.

 

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson:

A provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson, an ordained

minister, argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face

difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has

been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

November 2020

We are beginning a list of books to read about the Black experience in

America, white supremacy, combatting racism and working for justice.

We’ll have more monthly. If anyone would like to talk over the

possibility of a group discussion about any of these, contact Bill Smith,

jayhawk@coastaccess.com or 206-554-1545.

 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Structured as a letter to Coates’s teenage son-- addressing matters of race at a time when young black men continue to die at the hands of police officers with disturbing regularity--T’s sprawling, discursive, angry, relevant, and lyrical. His MacArthur “genius” grant underscores his brilliance. A must-read for both the message and the writing.

 

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American

Christianity by Robert P. Jones:

Jones delves deeply into our past and the whys and whens of

Christianity being coopted and corrupted. “Reckoning with white

supremacy, for us, is now an unavoidable moral choice.”  This is a

prophetic call to white Christians for deep reflection, repentance,

reconciliation and justice. A powerful book.

 

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo:

Ijeoma Oluo is persuasive, sympathetic, funny and very direct: “We have to tackle this problem with real action, and we will not know what needs to be done if we are not willing to talk about it.”

 

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby:

Tisby details how the American church has helped create and maintain

racist ideas and practices. You will be guided through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church. Perfect for discussion groups, it’s being used now at University Presbyterian Church for an 8-week Zoom class.

 

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson:

A provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson, an ordained

minister, argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face

difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has

been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

Image by Sharon McCutcheon

October  2020

Since July 15, 20 Sand Point congregants have been meeting weekly, in two groups, to discuss White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Led by Bill Smith, the discussions have covered a lot of ground, ground that needs covering: racial inequality, Black Lives Matter, white privilege, white culture and dominance. The author, Robin DiAngelo, writes with passion and nuance, plus a sense of urgency - we seem to be at a turning point in the country, and only by understanding racism and our (white) role in it will we be able to change our culture. She says, "Interrupting racism takes courage and intentionality."

We have learned a lot in our reading and discussions, and some of the truths have been difficult to take in. We may think we aren't prejudiced, but "white people…are conditioned into a white supremacist worldview because it is the bedrock of our society and institutions." The socializing power of white supremacy is ubiquitous, and has "nothing to do with intentions, awareness, or agreement." We swim in a white ocean, so to speak, soaked in its norms, while at the same time we deny that we have racist "patterns." "White fragility" is the phrase DiAngelo uses to describe the defensiveness that white people have when their worldviews and positions are challenged, with the myriad phrases and tactics we use to derail and shut down discussion of racism and their role in the preservation of the status quo. What we need is to see what is all around us, that racism is the norm, not an aberration. 

What to do? Our two groups decided to keep meeting, because while we have finished the book, we haven't finished the work! We will pursue different avenues for pursuing racial equity and justice. In the coming months, the Sand Pointer will have a bibliography of books on racism, with some book reviews; we'll see what other churches are doing and perhaps partner with them; there will be monthly suggestions on actions we can take. 

 

William Wilberforce, the British abolitionist, said, "You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know."

 

We're in this together, now more than ever.