Reading Guides

Antiracism Books for Christians – A Reading Guide

Since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, many white Christians have looked to black writers and thinkers for how we should respond to the continuing violence carried out on black bodies. 

Many excellent reading lists on understanding racism and becoming antiracist have emerged in the last few days, but few are oriented toward Christian readers. Since our launch in 2008, we have been committed to opposing racism and featuring the work of diverse writers. We offer the following guide to antiracism books for Christians that have been helpful for us. (There are a lot of books here, some of which you may have already read, but we have tried to organize them in a way that you can quickly find ones that are of most interest to you.) 

Introductory Books:
[ Antiracism ]  [ Understanding Whiteness / Racism ] [ For Young Readers ]

Dimensions of Racism:
[ History ] [ Incarceration ] [ Geography ]

Faith:
[ History of Christianity & Racism ]  [ Faith & Racial Violence ]
[ Racism & the Local Church ]  [ Theology ]

Literature:
[ Memoir ]  [ Fiction ]


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Christian Faith and
Racial Violence

Antiracism Books for Christians

The Cross and the Lynching Tree  by James Cone

The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk.


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

The 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager in Florida, and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, brought public attention to controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws. The verdict, as much as the killing, sent shock waves through the African-American community, recalling a history of similar deaths, and the long struggle for justice. On the Sunday morning following the verdict, black preachers around the country addressed the question, “Where is the justice of God? What are we to hope for?” This book is an attempt to take seriously social and theological questions raised by this and similar stories, and to answer black church people’s questions of justice and faith in response to the call of God.

But Kelly Brown Douglas also brings another significant interpretative lens to this text: that of a mother. “There has been no story in the news that has troubled me more than that of Trayvon Martin’s slaying. President Obama said that if he had a son his son would look like Trayvon. I do have a son and he does look like Trayvon.” Her book will also affirm the “truth” of a black mother’s faith in these times of stand your ground.


Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery  by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

You cannot discover lands already inhabited. Injustice has plagued American society for centuries. And we cannot move toward being a more just nation without understanding the root causes that have shaped our culture and institutions. In this prophetic blend of history, theology, and cultural commentary, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.

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