Last week, Michelle wrote about the challenge of confronting racism. She talked about her “very casual data collection technique” and the patterns she observed: empathy and education. Below are the stories that led her to this conclusion.
Suzy Smith: I joined a multicultural club called “Cook, Eat, Share.” International students from all over the world (including Minnesota, that counted when in Mississippi) got together to share our cultural food, tell our stories, and actively listen and befriend those not like us. I attended the group once for a class and never left all the time I was in Oxford, this includes even after graduation. They were at my baby showers, my barbecues, and I at their holidays. But through it all, we didn’t just share food, but life. And life as a minority in rural Mississippi is difficult. I would listen to my friends describe how their daily interactions were more difficult and trying than my own. There was no bitterness on either part because we weren’t ‘classmates’ but friends. We just discussed our lives and how we experienced the world. It became clear that my life would be easier, for no other reason than privilege. Then I looked outward at other groups on and off campus and realized that the world is much much larger than my experiences.
Brittany Meek: I worked at an inner city school in the poorest county of Kansas, and it bordered the wealthiest county of Kansas, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, so there were all kinds of injustices there. Also, when I lived in Chicago for a summer my eyes were opened (really for the first time) to the fact that racism still existed when some of the people we worked with wouldn’t come to an end of summer get together because they were afraid of being killed in our neighborhood because they were black. It was shocking to me.
Eric Maxwell: So for me, it was when I took a friend to lunch in a small town restaurant I’d gone to multiple times. She was African-American. We were set in a room in the restaurant I’d never been in despite 10+ trips, mostly alone, during a busy lunch rush. I can’t speak to it being intentional, but there were so many circumstantial components that I really had to evaluate what had happened there.
Jessica Williams: I guess the biggest influence I have has been my husband, Michael. Naturally when you date someone you’ll tell stories about your past and about how you grew up in hopes of either entertaining or relating to the person you are trying to impress. Even though our families were in the same income bracket, we had different experiences specifically related to race. It hit home with me for the first time on the night we got engaged. Michael and I were driving back to ULM’s campus after he had proposed to me in my home town 2 hours away. It was late. We were pulled over 3 different times that night for speeding, swerving, and what was thought to be a broken taillight. None of these things were true, but we didn’t have anything to hide so we complied with 3 car searches. Each time we were separated and asked multiple questions. We said the same thing every time: “We just got engaged in Alexandria, and now we’re on our way back to campus at ULM.” We didn’t get a ticket that night, but I do remember the level of suspicion we received from the police officers was unlike any experience I’d ever had with law enforcement. I was rarely questioned past “May I please see your license & registration” much less had my car searched, or was separated from my party to “get the story straight.” It wasn’t a terrible experience – just odd – out of the ordinary for me. That night Michael told me multiple stories of his interactions with police. When he was old enough to ride a bike around the neighborhood his parents had a conversation with him that my parents never had with me: “It doesn’t matter if you are right & they are wrong, never resist, do everything they tell you, always have identification, it’s not about you being right it’s about you coming home to us safely.” I was shocked that this was the reality of my now future husband. I wondered if we would have to have the same conversations with our future children. When the Black Lives Matter movement began, it was not at all hard for me to understand. My now husband of ten years is a college educated, very good looking, well spoken, faithfully married, father of two, & he still has issues with being racially profiled by police. I can’t imagine what it is like for people of color who were not afforded the same opportunities as he has.
Candice Lofton: I can distinctly remember thinking that most all of the white women I saw dating black men were white trash. I looked at the occasionally greasy quality of their hair, their choices in footwear, words and men, and I pitied them. I now am one of them. I grew up in a town that I discovered much later was greatly lacking a healthy black middle class and healthy race perceptions. It wasn’t until I was in college that I started to begin to realize that my 99.999% Anglo church, sports, dance & school experience, in a slightly more diversified city, was not an indicator of health. My first seriously personal experience with an African American didn’t come until I was sitting in the drive through of my undergraduate dorm hall with a half A.A., half Italian friend and I needed someone. I had recently undergone a traumatic experience and didn’t know how to deal with the fallout. The Holy Spirit intervened in that moment and led me to tell her everything – all the difficult details, the brokenness, the shame. In that moment, instead of revulsion, she met me with tears and a testimony of her own. This woman went on to become my best friend, my sounding board, my confidante, my hiding place. She didn’t judge the assumptions I’m sure she knew I had, but shared her life and family with me, and slowly but surely, as I was gently subjected to her overpowering love & hospitality, all my sad and misinformed perceptions were forced to fall in light of the faces of her family who loved me, who danced with me at their weddings, who fed & hosted me in their homes. The vibrant reality of a flawed family who loved deeply became more powerful to me than the ghostly half truths that had been on my mind’s periphery.
Now more than ever before, I walk beside my beautiful Black husband with deep gratitude and hope. I know who and what I was, and he does too. If God could take a broken, small-minded, prideful and racist woman like myself, break her heart and teach her to love the very people she historically oppressed…I know He can do it for anyone.
Katie Hoffpauir: My first experience with the realities of injustice was way back in the third grade. I had just changed schools, so I didn’t really know anyone; I hadn’t had the chance to make many friends. I remember this day vividly, even though it was so long ago. It was lunch time, and I had snagged the second to last seat at a table. An African American classmate of mine went to sit in the seat next to me, but I was saving it for the only friend I had made in class. I told him this, he didn’t seem bothered by it, and he walked away. Just seconds later, his sister came running up to me, yelling about me not wanting her brother to sit next to me, because he was black. Keep in mind, I’m about eight years old at this time, and had really no concept of slavery, inequality, or anything of that nature. And it hurt me to know that she even felt that way, that that was her first thought when she saw me asking her brother not to take the seat next to mine. That was when I started to notice things more. From that day forward, I made a point to be nicer to that boy.
As an adult, you see the news, you read the articles, you hear it on the radio: the murders, the assaults, all of the violence. But it never hits close to home, because it’s not your reality; your greatest fear isn’t not coming home at the end of the day. The day I started to listen, to really listen, to my friends of color, talk about their fears…wow. I had never even taken the time to realize that some of the best people I know were afraid to leave their homes, to get pulled over by an officer. I wept. I wept for my friends who feared for their children. I wept for my friends who felt each of those murders, deep inside of their cores.
Laura Holifield: I grew up under-informed, underexposed, wrong about so much, and completely ignorant to it all. In 2008, I had the incredible privilege to travel to Istanbul, Turkey. It was my first time out of the United States. Heck, it was my first time on an airplane. I was a junior in college, and boy, did I have the world (and my life) figured out. I was going to graduate college, teach for a couple of years, get married, and have some babies. The farthest I would ever travel would be to the beaches of Florida or the mountains of Tennessee.
Then I walked off that plane.
There was this entire part of the world that I had never seen before, and it was right in front of me. There was this whole group of people that were living their lives on the other side of the world. Everything was so different, yet everything was so similar. In so many ways, the Lord took the scales off of my eyes in those ten days. I finally realized, *gasp* America is not the center of the universe, and it is does not hold the patent on Christianity. I realized that there are millions upon millions of people that look nothing like me, talk nothing like me, and believe nothing like me that Jesus passionately loves. Sadly, I also realized that what was being portrayed about Muslims back home was not entirely true. I met men and women that identified as Muslims that became my friends. They weren’t scary. They knew I loved Jesus, yet they didn’t try to hurt me. In fact, they welcomed me into their places of business and into their homes. I was a stranger, and they took me in. Wow, that sounds like a guy I know… (I’ll give you a hint: it’s Jesus.) It was then and there that I realized that something was broken in the Christian church, because I could hardly think of any followers of Jesus that would invite a Muslim into their homes or businesses. Honestly, I knew of people that identified as Christian that said they would pay for Muslims to “go back to where they came from.” Because an American-born person can’t be a Muslim…? I went from being fearful of the unknown (Muslims) to passionately wanting every single person I could easily identify as Muslim to feel loved and seen by me. I went from avoiding eye contact in the grocery store to probably being a little creepy when I would go out of my way to smile at them. I wanted them to see me, a white (probably Christian) girl in the South and know that not everyone hated them. That there were representatives of Jesus that wanted them to feel welcome and loved.
Why did my opinions and actions toward Muslims change? Because I got an up close and personal look at a wonderful group of people that were nothing like me yet everything like me. My ignorance was ripped away like a bandaid.
Lauren Gross: I guess my awakening to racial issues in America started with the Black Lives Matter movement. As it first started and I heard the first few stories of black men killed brutally by police officers, my initial thought was, “Well, if they weren’t doing anything wrong then they would still be alive.” But as the years have progressed, I’ve learned more and more that this country is hugely affected by systemic racism and all the consequences of that. One of the biggest eyeopeners for me was watching a video made by a young, well-spoken man of color. The video was him explaining how to act when you are pulled over by a police officer. He was trying to teach people of color how to stay alive when dealing with law enforcement. As I was watching that video I remember thinking, “I have never in life been afraid of law enforcement officers. I have only had fear of a ticket when being pulled over.” But that’s not the case with a large portion of our population. They fear for their lives. That is not something I want to stand for. Since seeing that video I have tried my hardest to see life from a different perspective. To check my privilege. To extend my voice and life for those who are marginalized, misunderstood, and underrepresented.
Mattie Crump: Sometime in my second year of college, I encountered my first ever ally and advocate for people of color. She was passionate about bringing racial injustice to the surface. I sat in my seat at a private Baptist college and watched this white, 50-something professor cry as she remembered the things she had seen and been taught to believe about people of color over the course of her life. It was at that moment that I realized that you could be privileged and still fight for the rights of the underprivileged. This same professor made me defend my case for becoming a Social Work major saying, “Don’t just say you want to help people because that isn’t enough.” In her class we read a book called Black Like Me which was written by journalist John Howard Griffin after he underwent treatments to make his skin darker in the 1960’s deep and still very segregated South. This true account of the treatment he received from white people because of the color of his skin shook me up. I was teaching a photography class with some friends at the time to teenagers at a local low income housing facility. I learned so much about the oppression these teens were enduring with when we put them behind a camera and tried our best to give them the outlet they needed to express and process that tension. It was at that moment that I understood that racial injustice is still happening and still worth crying over.
Mary Arnold: I think I’ve always been aware of injustices and societal differences in our country since graduate school. I had some really informative and thoughtful classes about racial, gender and class inequality that helped shape my perspectives when working with patients as a social worker. So I’ve always had that background to help frame how I work with people. It was just a couple weeks ago, though, that I was moved to tears when I realized how deeply people are hurting here. I told Chad the other day, with tears coming down my face, that I am truly hurting for people who feel different in our country right now because, for the first time, I’m truly realizing that I would be perceived as “lesser than” and not loved by my neighbors and the people I surround myself with if I just looked a little bit different or had a different sexual identity or had a different life circumstance. And for whatever reason, that day I felt it really deeply and felt such hurt for those around me.
Sarah Anderson: I feel like I came pretty late to understanding the extent of my privilege and the pervasive injustice in our country. I grew up in Louisiana in a very red suburb just outside of Baton Rouge, but my parents raised me in a relatively progressive household. As journalists, they were actually quite reserved in discussing their own political views, and their commitment to objectivity was formative for me, but it was fairly clear in the values they taught me where they stood. But still I was relatively blind to my own privilege.
Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 caught my attention, as it did for many others, but it was a couple more years before I started to really do anything with the feelings that had begun to stir in me. Eric Garner and Mike Brown stirred those feelings a bit more, but I allowed those feelings to settle back down fairly quickly. It was the summer of 2015 when I first started to reckon with the fact that I couldn’t watch this happen over and over without speaking up. Sandra Bland and nine people worshipping at an AME church murdered by a white terrorist finally shook me awake. I remember sitting with my wife when the massacre in Charleston happened, crying and asking what we could do. How could I respond in the face of something that felt so large?
I began simply, by sharing news on Facebook and not a whole lot more. I realized I had a lot to learn about systems of oppression in our country and about my own privilege, so I began to read, and watch documentaries and speeches, and listen to friends. I remember one conversation with a dear friend, an African-American woman a bit older than me, where I shared how flabbergasted I was at how pervasive racism was in our country, how little progress it felt like we had made. Thinking back on that now, just a year later, I can’t help but think how patient she was to let me bare my feelings about something she had known all her life. I’m a bit embarrassed by it, this white woman whining to a black woman about how unfair the world was and how bummed that made me feel.
I was sharing news (without much commentary), working to educate myself, beginning to make charitable gifts, and dipping my toes into conversations with a few like-minded folks, including my family. But that still felt grossly inadequate to the challenge at hand.
During all this, my wife and I moved to Seattle, and shortly after we settled in, I remember a news story popped up about a yoga studio not far from our new house where the owner was receiving death threats for offering a class exclusive to people of color. For whatever reason, that was the thing unleashed me. That was when I found my own voice. I couldn’t sleep the night after reading that story, and I channeled my anger into a long Facebook post, the first of many long posts to come. That was the fall of 2015, the time when waves of student activism were beginning to sweep the country as well, so I posted about that. Police shootings. The Syrian refugee crisis. The attacks in France. I decided that if I was going to use my voice, I should start a blog, so I created OneWeekAfter, where I discuss issues of race and privilege.
And the next step I have finally begun to take (though with trepidation) has been to reach out to those people I do disagree with, to try to engage them in conversation, understand their perspectives, and try to share mine as well. As a white woman, I know I failed in doing that up to this point and that I shouldn’t have waited until after the election to recognize the need to build these bridges, but, as with my own awakening, I believe it’s better late than never.
Abby Hildenbrand: It was actually just the last six months or so that I really awoke to the reality of racial injustice and inequality in our country (which is pretty shameful for me to admit after everything I’ve learned). I joined a Facebook group called “Be the Bridge to Racial Unity,” which was started as an offshoot of the IF:Gathering non profit by an awesome woman named Latasha Morrison. This was back in April. People (including Asian, African, Native and white Americans) would post articles that began to broaden and blow my mind in regards to the real experience of minorities in this country. Then in July when the police shootings happened with Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and then in Tulsa with Terence Cutcher, I viewed everything differently, and it felt like God was taking blinders off and helping me see justice and racial reconciliation as He does.
Lydia Fruge: I’ve witnessed people (some of whom I love and I looked up to as leaders in the faith) say things—sometime do—things that could be labeled and should be considered as racist, prejudiced, islamophobic, white supremacist, etc., whether they intended to identify them as such or not. And I know it stems from a multitude of influences and experiences…or lack thereof. As a millennial, I’ve been exposed to the world through traveling, education, Facebook, and Google surfing. I was born in a time after segregation. I have been challenged to read, learn, and explore ideas for myself, and not just accept what I have been taught. I have had the privilege of working in a field that allows me to form relationships with people who do not have the same race, culture, experiences, religion, primary language, or family structure that I do. And I’ve had the blessing of being under great leaders who share their passions for community development, social justice, restoration, and equality, many from the perspective of the Christian faith. Without these influences in my life, I could have easily been one of “those” people. Not that I have everything figured out or live a perfect life, but my eyes to see are a privilege that some have not yet attained. And I can use that privilege, that gift, to elevate myself and show the world how right, progressive, liberal, woke, tolerant, superior, intelligent I may be. And I can make them feel inferior, defensive, and shamed. Or I can be “woke” and working. Working towards their enlightenment. Working towards racial unity. Working towards equality in the workplace. Working towards unified communities and a greater quality of life for all. And working to find what prejudices may still hide in my own heart. The words come easy. Action is hard. But I’m working on that.
Lizzie Killeen: I’ve always been a little more “progressive” than most people I know – and I’ve never been entirely sure why. If I had to pinpoint a reason, I’d think it would be because I’m an avid reader and a writer. From a young age, I voraciously read everything I could get my hands on – including things that my mom would have been horrified if she’d realized. It’s embarrassing, but possibly crucial to my story, that you know that I grew up in a backwater Old South family. My grandfather was one of the most racist people I have ever (and hopefully will ever) met in my life. Somehow, through the grace of God and exposure, I didn’t grow up with those feelings. I grew up poor and white (though, my family has always focused heavily on our Native American heritage and on paper, that’s always what I identify as). And, I grew up in the kind of family that always focused on the racial inequality in our country – but not in the way you’re thinking. I was taught about how it wasn’t fair that people were taking advantage of the system and getting welfare, etc., etc. (blatantly ignoring the fact that this happens across racial lines).
I think it was when I was working as a journalist, specifically as a school reporter, that I truly started to understand the racial injustice. I was specifically involved in reporting on a desegregation case just a few years ago in north Louisiana, and (mostly white) parents were mad at me for helping to bring about redistricting that in their opinion was ruining their school system and their house values. Can you imagine people saying that in this day and age? I certainly couldn’t. And I certainly couldn’t imagine them not being horrified at the fact that the majority of the African American students attending an inferior school. That was a really eye-opening experience for me.
Terry Smith: It was 2007 and I was crying (not sniffling, not wiping watery eyes, but full on weeping) over a book I had just finished about a man who lived in modern day slavery and homelessness. The book was Same Kind of Different as Me, and it tells the story of Denver Moore who lived in slavery on a plantation in Louisiana during the time of Jim Crow. Read the book, if you haven’t. But that’s where it started for me. This was the first time I realized how deeply Jim Crow and other forms of discrimination effectively kept back people enslaved well into the 1900s.
It was around this time that I first started investigating what the word justice truly meant. I spent a lot of time learning the original languages of the Bible. That’s when I saw that justice wasn’t about punishment or “just desserts,” but in Hebrew, the word justice is much more about a restored relationship and equity than it is anything else. During this time I started questioning what our justice system in America was doing. Was it about punishment or was it about restoring relationships? Fast forward to 2013. I’m in college, taking sociology classes and reading articles by people like Michelle Alexander. I’m reading Christian teachings on liberation theology and how resistance to empire is key to the Christian ethos. I am constantly questioning my existence as a white man, a Christian and an American.
Ben Madison: Growing up in the south, I never really understood racism. I always believed that a racist was someone who hated everyone in a certain minority. People around me used derogatory terminology to refer to African Americans, and I never really thought twice about it. I grew up in a conservative home, and it wasn’t until I was 21 that I began to think for myself regarding politics and racism. I was raised to believe that anyone who talks about race is simply playing the “race card” or “race baiting.” As I began to think for myself, I was naturally drawn to the Democratic party. I started having conversations with liberals about policy and more importantly, the history of race in America. I was very resistant at first because I had always believed that racism was over, and if minorities weren’t succeeding, it was their own fault for being lazy.
Racism in the criminal justice system was one of the first things l learned about. The war on drugs, aimed at affecting minorities, the sentencing laws regarding crack versus cocaine, and the mandatory minimum sentences. From there I began to understand things like white flight, school zonings, and other acts that directly affected minority neighborhoods. Even to this day, I still have times where my initial reaction to a situation is to revert back to the ignorant way of thought that I was raised with. I would say it’s always a work in progress to retrain your mind how to think, especially when you were programmed to think a certain way.
Courtney Rasor: I’ve been witness to racial injustice since I was a kid. Granted, I didn’t always realize that’s what it was, but I remember feeling uneasy or sad on many occasions after visiting my Grandpa and hearing the “N” word thrown around–and not like a poser white boy thinking it’s cool. I still see influences of his racially charged speech in my family today, as much as I hate to admit it.
Truly seeing this behavior and speech for what it was began when I moved away for college. Slowly, through my time at college and my two vastly different Masters programs–as I met more people of color, worked alongside people of the LGBTQIA community, and learned about and met people who practice other religions–I began to see that the sweeping and vulgar generalizations made by my cantankerous old Grandpa were not only wrong, but also deeply upsetting. But the moment I can pinpoint truly waking up and realizing how protected a world I lived in because of my white skin was when I elected to take a Black Dramatic Literature course at Wayne State University. It was during this class that I truly understood being a bystander to racial injustice is just as bad as actively taking part in it.
This was the hardest class I’d ever taken. The professor based part of our grades in class participation or discussion. I was petrified to speak about the things we were reading because I didn’t want to offend anyone. And also because I was so deeply moved by the pain in the literature we were reading, I didn’t want to let others see how affected I was personally. But through our class discussions, and my study of the texts, I saw a great change in my desire and passion to be active in helping others fight the inequality they face.
Art imitates life. All of the literature we read imitated the Black experience. There was not one play in our studies that I could equate to a normal, run-of-the-mill, “safe” play. Every single one was either heart-wrenching or incredibly though-provoking or both. In my opinion, this entire section of literature is widely ignored. I had never heard of most of the plays we studied. But they are so important. They illustrate a part of human experience that, for the longest time, I got to ignore because it didn’t directly affect me. And yet, these plays exist to shine light on real experience. Because art always imitates life. [These plays listed below.]
BOTH or NEITHER
Scott Culpepper: Racist attitudes permeated the environment in which I was raised. I do not consciously remember choosing to leave them behind. It really was not a struggle. I simply realized when I became serious about Christianity that hateful attitudes towards anyone were incompatible with my Christian commitment. That very naturally included people of other races. I remember grappling with the notion of systemic racism and its impact on society first as an undergraduate at Louisiana College. Reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” had a profound impact on me. I was confronted with the problem of racism in the church as well as the broader society.
I dealt with those issues more concretely and practically as a pastor in Meridian, Mississippi. Our church ran a van ministry to the local trailer parks and it was inevitable that some of the kids we picked up would be African American. While most of our church members welcomed them well, there were some church leaders who were concerned about bringing them into the fold. A couple of their families began to attend over time. I remember the first time one of the families attended being confronted by one of the deacons who demanded that I go, “Ask those people why they are here!” I responded, “Ed, did anyone ask you why you were here when you came in this morning?” They attended a few times, but, sadly, they were never able to make connections deep enough to keep them engaged. Even the congregants who were glad to minster to their kids were not sure about the adults attending.
Charis Ellison: I can’t say that I had a single defining, road-to-Damascus moment, it’s been a very slow awakening and it’s ongoing. I have some friends who are very patient, but are also very honest about the racism they experience, which has opened my eyes. I wake up a little more every day to my own internalized racism.
TJ Webb: I can’t really place it, though; I think I was in the middle before I realized I had begun. Katie and I began to learn about modern slavery and human trafficking a number of years ago, and I think that having your eyes opened to one form of injustice tends to make you see others as well. I distinctly remember a time in my life, not that many years ago, where I believed a lot of the things I’ve heard people saying recently; that white people are just as, or more, discriminated against than other groups, that the idea of “white privilege” somehow diminished my accomplishments or my work, etc. I think my parents and community did a pretty great job of raising me with as few negative stereotypes as possible, and when we did hear racist or bigoted remarks my parents were always clearly upset about them (I remember once we overheard some old ladies at church talking about how the Bible taught that blacks and whites should have separate churches. My mom went on about that for days). But as an adult, I had sort of assumed that not having negative stereotypes was enough; I didn’t realize how much I didn’t realize about the realities of being a minority in the U.S. I was against racism, and I had learned all about institutional racism in college Sociology classes, but I hadn’t learned to put that together with the actual life experiences of living, breathing, created in the image of God human beings. At times I reminded myself of Michael Scott; when they are trying to get him to participate in the diversity training, and he’s going, ‘I think we’re probably more advanced… in terms of racial awareness and it’s probably more advanced than you’re used to. That’s probably throwing you off a little bit.’ I hadn’t really listened to the stories of all those who had experienced this discrimination.
But by the time that the police shootings of young black men really came into my awareness (thanks to the results of so many advocates people seeking justice), it already fit into what I had learned through medical school and residency about the systems of discrimination that still exist in our country. The conversations and reading that opened up from that made me realize just how little I was able to understand issues of race if I was just logically extrapolating from my own perspective.
Susannah Hogan: I don’t think there is a particular moment I can point to. My whole life, from the time I was very young I have been sensitive to seeing injustices to others. I can remember being about 7 years old and trying to make sense of some racial discrimination I saw coming from my parents, mostly that I knew that they would mind if I married a black man but not an Asian man or a Hispanic man (although at the time I thought of them as Japanese or Mexican). I guess realizing that started the awakening. And through my whole life there have been several smaller moments that lead to realizations that maybe what I thought was fair or just was actually not. I can remember times in junior high when it suddenly dawned on me to ask why we had to be afraid of black boys just because they were black and then again in high school slowly coming to the realization that being “colorblind” may not actually be a good thing. Not that every lesson hit home right away. They just started then. I’m still learning. I still find myself making knee-jerk assumptions about people based solely on the color of their skin. I just try to question myself about these things as often as I can. I’m actually in a process right now of reaching out to several of my black friends to talk about race and their perspective on things. I want to make sure I’m actually being helpful and not just trying to ease my own white guilt.
For more information…
It wouldn’t be a Tuesday Justice post without lots of links for more information. These suggestions come directly from the people who shared their stories. The * symbol indicates that the resource was recommended more than once.
- “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- *”Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person” by Gina Crosley-Corcoran
- “Report: Black And White Americans Are ‘Worlds Apart’ On Views Of Race” by Ericka Cruz Guevarra
- Interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum
Books (Fiction & Non-Fiction):
- *Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
- The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics by Dan T. Carter
- *Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- *Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
- *The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- *Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together In the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race by Dr Beverly Daniel Tatum
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (and anything else by James Baldwin)
- A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Dr. Ruby K. Payne
- The Cornel West Reader
Films & Documentaries:
- What Happened, Miss Simone?
- 12 Years a Slave
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Half the Sky
- Mississippi Burning
- Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimke (the oldest full-length drama written by a Black female–written in 1916)
- Sunday Morning in the South by Georgia Douglas Johnson
- A Day of Absence by Douglas Turner