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13 Books to Read Right Now If You Want to Be Anti-Racist

13 Books to Read Right Now If You Want to Be Anti-Racist

“If we say that we are a pro-reconciliation, anti-racism church, we must choose every day to be who we say we are. That means not only standing up, but speaking up and acting in solidarity without fear.” Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Chalice Press, the leading publisher of award-winning progressive Christian and social justice titles, offers the following resources for your anti-racism/pro-reconciliation work. These books can help inform and guide conversations around racism, race relations, discrimination and racial justice, whiteness, and white fragility. Most of the books below include discussion questions at the end of each chapter or free downloadable study guides to use in small groups, book clubs, or for your own deeper personal reflection. Join us in this urgent social justice work to help heal and change the world for the better.

by Carolyn B. Helsel and Y. Joy Harris-Smith

How do you teach your kids to respect, embrace, and learn from those who look and think differently than they do? Written by two mothers and educators, one black, one white, The ABCs of Diversity equips parents, teachers, and community leaders to address children of all ages on complicated topics of race, political affiliation, gender, class, religion, ability, nationality, and sexual orientation. Appendix includes diversity reading lists for children and youth, curriculum activities for younger and older children, and scripts for parents.

Featured in the New York Times Parenting Section June 3, 2020 and reviewed by Library Journal and Foreword Reviews.

by Carolyn B. Helsel
“Book of the Year" Award (2019) —Academy of Parish Clergy

Talking about race can make us anxious. Professor and pastor Carolyn Helsel draws on a decade of work with white congregations to offer tools and practices to engage the discomfort around the conversations and move forward toward action faithfully. Learn how to join the hard conversations with less fear and more courage, compassion, and knowledge of self, others, and the important issues at stake.

by Terrell Carter

While our faith calls us to Christian unity, the hard fact remains: we’re still tragically divided when it comes to race, even – and especially, many say -- in our churches. Racism pervades our faith, our relationships, and our institutions in deep, often imperceptible ways. In Healing Racial Divides, black pastor, professor, and former police officer Terrell Carter takes us on a revelatory journey of the history of racism to show us how we’ve arrived at this divisive place. Understanding racism’s roots – and our place in it – we surface more committed and empowered to combat racism in the church, our communities, and the nation. Reviewed by Publishers Weekly.

by Michael W. Waters
2018 Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Award Winner

Pastor, activist, and Dallas community leader Michael Waters blends hip-hop lyricism and social justice leadership, creating an urgent voice demanding that America listen to the suffering if it hopes to redeem its soul.

Weaving stories from centuries of persecution against the backdrop of today’s urban prophets on the radio and in the streets, Waters speaks on behalf of an awakened generation raging against racism – yet fueled by the promise of a just future. Through the pain and hard but holy work, you will hear the call to join the faithful struggle for racial justice.

“Book of the Year" Award (2019) —Academy of Parish Clergy

Homiletics professor and pastor Carolyn Helsel speaks directly to other faith leaders in this book about how to address racism from the pulpit. In this follow-up to Anxious to Talk about It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism, Helsel provides strategies and a theoretical framework for crafting biblical and theological sermons that incorporate insights from social sciences and psychology, gleaned from more than a decade of writing and teaching about racism.

Preaching as Resistance:
Edited by Phil Snider

As nationalism, patriarchy, and alt-right fear-mongering threaten our troubled nation, the pulpit has again become a subversive space of sacred resistance. In this provocative and powerful collection of sermons from diverse pastors across America, hear the brave and urgent voice of Christians calling for radical change rooted in love, solidarity, and justice. Preaching as Resistance resists, confronts, and troubles the dangerous structures of authoritarianism and oppression crashing in from all sides – and proclaims the transformation, possibility, and hope stirring in the gospel of Christ. 

by William J. Barber II

In the spring of 2013, 17 people gathered at the North Carolina state capitol to protest extreme legislation passed by the General Assembly. Thousands joined the “Moral Mondays” rallies, making this sustained moral protest one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in U.S. history. Rev. Dr. William Barber II, a pastor and architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement and the current Poor People’s Campaign, tells the story of a new fusion civil rights movement, a “big tent,” in which black and white, gay and straight, rich and poor, old and young, Republicans and Democrats are all welcome.

by Timothy Charles Murphy

Where is God when we're losing the fight?

In this love letter to the disheartened activist, pastor and activist Timothy Murphy reflects on his own journey of disappointments and despair to rediscover a faith--and a God--who inspires us to continue fighting, even when it feels like we're losing the battle.

by Leah Gunning Frances

Seminary leader and pastor Leah Gunning Francis was one of the St. Louis-area clergy who stepped in to support the emerging young leaders on the front lines after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers provide an intimate glimpse into the heart of today’s Civil Rights Movement.
Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them.

by Sandhya Rani Jha

It’s hard to talk about race and racism in America without everyone very quickly becoming defensive and shutting down. What makes talking race even harder is that so few of us actually know each other in the fullness of our stories. Activist and pastor Sandhya Jha addresses the hot topic in a way that is grounded in real people’s stories and that offers solid biblical grounding for thinking about race relations in America, reminding us that God calls us to build Beloved Community. 

by Sharon Risher
Featured on the Today Show, MSNBC, and CBS This Morning.

In this raw and riveting memoir rising from the ashes of the Charleston Church massacre, Sharon Risher tells the heartbreaking story of losing her mother and three other family members to the hands of a young white supremacist and the courageous journey that followed, leading to eventual forgiveness of the killer and a new calling as a national advocate for gun violence and anti-racist work. 

by Derek Penwell

Activist/pastor Derek Penwell reminds us in
Outlandish that Jesus’s path tended to anger the wrong people, minister to the “wrong” people, and challenged the political powers of his time. Learn from the political, social, and organizational lessons of Jesus's radically different ministry and follow him in changing the world today.

by Eric H. Law

Inclusion is a discipline of consciously extending the boundaries of our communities to embrace and affirm people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. In this resource for ministers and church leaders, Law provides models, theories, and strategies that are both practical and theologically sound for moving faith communities toward greater inclusion.


By Patrick B. Reyes

"Book of the Year 2019,” Hispanic Theological Initiative

For people of color living each day surrounded by violence, for whom survival is not a given, vocational discernment is more than “finding your purpose--it’s a matter of life and death. Patrick Reyes shares his story of how his community saved him from gang life, abuse, and the economic and racial oppression that threatened to kill him before he ever reached adulthood.

A story balancing the tension between pain and healing, Nobody Cries When We Die takes you to the places that make American society flinch, redefines what you are called to do with your life, and gives you strength to save lives and lead in your own community.

These and more social justice resources can be found at Chalice Press here.  Thank you for supporting these authors, lifting up their voices, and joining us in anti-racism and pro-reconciliation work.

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