Recognition that racial unity begins with education brought forward the idea to form the Racial Unity Conversations Book Club for anyone who wants to learn about and discuss the roots and history of systemic racism in the United States.
The club will focus on one book selection at a time, providing the opportunity for us to meet, masked and physically distanced, for honest discussion about race and prejudice. Everyone is welcome. Meetings start at 6 p.m.
Here's the schedule and the reading list:
Monday, March 29: The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (discussion led by Mike Starr)
In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as "brilliant" (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north.
As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post–World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.
Monday, April 26: Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison
A leading advocate for racial reconciliation offers a clarion call for Christians to move toward relationship and deeper understanding in the midst of a divisive culture. With racial tensions as high within the church as outside the church, it is time for Christians to become the leaders in the conversation on racial reconciliation. This power-packed guide helps readers deepen their understanding of historical factors and present realities, equipping them to participate in the ongoing dialogue and to serve as catalysts for righteousness, justice, healing, transformation, and reconciliation.
May (date to be determined): End-of-year dinner and reflection time
- I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
- Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr.
- Holding Up your Corner by F. Willis Johnson
- We Can Do Better by Tony Evans
- White Fragility:Why it is So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo