Selection for June 29, 2021

Afternoon Club

Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America,
by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey

Evening Club

Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God,
by Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas

It is time to move from "not racist" to anti-racist, but what does that really mean?


Conversations about race and racism abound, as do book groups and social justice clubs. This group is specifically focused on what does it mean to be anti-racist within a racist society. Jesus' teachings are inherently antiracist, and yet somehow progressive Christians often struggle to articulate a clear faith foundation for their antiracist commitments.


West Seattle is brimming with progressives who want to engage in racial justice work, and yet many co-laborers of color lament the lack of analysis that is often brought to bear on this work. This book club aims to deepen the analysis of well-intentioned progressives, pushing us beyond being "not racist" and towards a deeper understanding of and commitment to being anti-racist.


Participation is open to all, whether a follower of Jesus or not. Anyone committed to seeing all people as equally worthy of dignity and respect is truly welcome.


Why is registration required?


The nature of this topic does not lend itself to the online format well, given that people are coming with different levels of awareness about their privilege and non-verbal communication is more difficult to read. Therefore, limiting the number of participants allows us to protect our time together and hold one another in loving accountability for the success of our group dynamic. 


In addition, we want to make sure there are enough people participating to ensure a measure of diversity of opinion among the group. Therefore, if we have fewer than 4 people registered for one of the sessions, we will fold the two sessions together into one larger group.


What will we read next time?


At our upcoming meetings, each group will identify a topic around which the group would like to learn more. Racism is an intersectional topic, and as such this book club can engage a myriad of issues through the lens of anti-racism.


Selection from March 2021

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies,

by Resmaa Menakem

At our evening club meeting 3.30, we met on ZOOM to discuss Menakem's thesis: “In America, nearly all of us, regardless of our background or skin color, carry trauma in our bodies around the myth of race. We typically think of trauma as the result of a specific and deeply painful event... That may be the case sometimes, but trauma can also be the body’s response to a long sequence of smaller wounds. It can be a response to anything that it experiences as too much, too fast, or too soon… 

Your body acts as if the danger is real, regardless of what your cognitive brain knows. The body’s imperative is to protect itself. Period.”  (pg. 14) . We talked about the impact of a trauma-informed approach to antiracism and the need for a focus on healing for all involved. In particular, we discussed our anxiety about owning our own trauma and the possibility of liberation that processing it will bring.

Selection from September 2020

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria? - And Other Conversations About Race,

by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

At our evening club meeting 9.29, we met on ZOOM to discuss Tatum's thesis: It is because we live in a racist society that racial identity has as much meaning as it does. We cannot talk meaningfully about racial identity without talking about racism... Talking about racism is an essential part of facing racism and changing it. We talked about the process of racial identity development (RID) for White people and how it differs from BIPoC RID, and we shared some of the key moments in our own development. We also defined our "spheres of influence" and worked to articulate what the "doing" of racial justice work is within them.

Selections from June 2020

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness,
by Michele Alexander 

At our afternoon club meeting 6.30, we met on ZOOM to discuss Alexander's thesis: Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind. Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. We talked about the ways the criminal justice system targets BIPOC folks without ever naming racist intent. We also discussed the intersections of the contemporary Movement for Black Lives and mass incarceration.



Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism,

by Shannon Sullivan

At our evening club meeting 6.30, we also met on ZOOM to discuss the central arguments of Sullivan's book, specifically the four strategies middle-class white people use to avoid honest engagement with racism (Disparaging Poor Whites, Demonizing White Ancestors, Employing Color Blindness, &Languishing in White Guilt, Shame, and Betrayal). We also shared how we employ her recommendation to "love white people as white people" as part of antiracist praxis.

At our afternoon club meeting 1.21, we discussed Oluo, Kendi, and DiAngelo’s works and how they spoke to one another. We discussed the issue of intersectionality as central to all three works, acknowledging that each person has a layered, multi-faceted set of identities. We decided we wanted to know more about the systems and structures that produce inequality, especially for people who identify and/or are identified by authorities as people of color. We added Rankine’s book of prose poetry to incorporate some of the lived experience of being on the other end of those systems.

At our evening club meeting 1.28, we discussed the same 3 works, digging into the question of what makes racism distinct from other forms of prejudice. We were especially challenged by the question of authenticity and the boundary between appreciating other cultures and cultural appropriation. We decided to dig into texts that offered more self-reflection on how racism shows up in our daily lives.