This past week, I went on my Instagram Live and did a quick video recapping some of my favorite books and resources if you’re wanting to learn more about the conversation around race in America. I talked about the importance of listening to the voices of Black men and women, whether that is reading their books or listening to their podcasts, representation in children’s literature, and how crucial it is to educate ourselves and not wait for or expect someone else to do the heavy-lifting for us.
If there is only ONE book you could get from this entire list, it is Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge. It is an excellent starting place and an invaluable resource to deepen your understanding of historical factors and present realities and to serve as catalysts for righteousness, justice, healing, transformation, and reconciliation. I talked to Latasha in episode #44 and #265 and you can listen to our conversations HERE.
A few of these books are currently sold out on Amazon. If that’s the case, I encourage you to find a Black-owned bookstore to purchase these from. If you are in the Austin area, check out Black Pearl Books. For other locations, see a list HERE.
Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives by Rachel Swarns et al. – Hundreds of stunning images from black history have long been buried in The New York Times archives. None of them were published by The Times–until now. Unseen uncovers these never-before-published photographs and tells the stories behind them.
When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner – Through playful, charming rhyme and vivid, fantastical illustrations, When God Made You inspires young readers to learn about their own special gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan as they grow, explore, and begin to create for themselves.
Don’t Forget to Remember by Ellie Holcomb – In this lyrical tale, Ellie Holcomb celebrates creation’s reminders of God’s love, which surrounds us from sunrise to sunset, even on our most forgetful of days.
Day Dreams and Movie Screens by Alena Pitts – Traveling across the country with Mallory and her band Lena experiences adventures and challenges she never expected, while learning to step outside of her comfort zone and follow the path God has for her life!
ThoughtFull: Discovering the Unique Gifts in Each of Us by Ms. Dorena Williamson – This encouraging story shows how life changes when we learn to value those who are differently-abled and to champion the power of thoughtfulness.
Young, Gifted, and Black by Jamia Wilson – Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire, and empower the next generation of changemakers.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.
Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper – Offering inspirational advice in a down-to-earth style, this unique compilation of letters provides wisdom, guidance, and heartfelt insight to help the reader chart their own path to success. Based on the author’s motivational speaking at inner-city schools across the country, the letters deal with the tough issues that face young people today.
Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison – 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.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – An unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin – In this unflinching account of her parenting journey, Nefertiti examines the history of adoption in the African American community, faces off against stereotypes of single Black moms, and confronts the reality of what it looks like to raise children of color in racially charged, modern-day America.
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle – For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.
Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America by Robert D. Lupton – Urban ministry activist Robert Lupton moved into a high crime area of Atlanta intending to bring Christ’s message into the city—but his humbling discovery of a spiritual life already flowering in the city’s urban soil forces the minister to reexamine the deepest parts of his own soul, confronting his own patronizing, materialistic attitudes and the biases he himself held against the urban poor.
Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity by Jen Hatmaker – Interrupted follows Jen’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.
Jesus Over Everything: Uncomplicating the Daily Struggle to Put Jesus First by Lisa Whittle – We all want to live simpler lives and to put Jesus first – and we struggle with both. While we are busy strategizing new ways to streamline our calendars and clean out our closets of the clutter, what really needs attention is what will give us long-term clarity and peace — the priority order of Jesus over everything in our lives.
Love Anyway: An Invitation Beyond a World that’s Scary as Hell by Jeremy Courtney – With stories of people who have lived through war and terrorism, Love Anyway will inspire you to confront your deepest fears and respond to our scary world with the kind of love that seems a little crazy. Because when we do, we become agents of hope who unmake violence and unfurl the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion & Truth in the Immigration Debate by Matthew Soerens et al. – In this book World Relief immigration experts Matthew Soerens and Jenny Yang move beyond the rhetoric to offer a Christian response to immigration. They put a human face on the issue and tell stories of immigrants’ experiences in and out of the system. With careful historical understanding and thoughtful policy analysis, they debunk myths and misconceptions about immigration and show the limitations of the current immigration system
The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez – In The God Who Sees, immigration advocate Karen Gonzalez recounts her family’s migration from the instability of Guatemala to making a new life in Los Angeles and the suburbs of south Florida. In the midst of language barriers, cultural misunderstandings, and the tremendous pressure to assimilate, Gonzalez encounters Christ through a campus ministry program and begins to follow him.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander – This book has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown – In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words.
Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin – Ethnicity and evangelism specialist Sarah Shin reveals how our brokenness around ethnicity can be restored and redeemed, for our own wholeness and also for the good of others. When we experience internal transformation in our ethnic journeys, God propels us outward in a reconciling witness to the world.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi – In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis.
His Testimonies, My Heritage by Kristie Anyabwile and Kim Cash Tate – This inspiring collection of devotions is by a diverse group of women of color—African-Americans, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Asian women. Contributors include Kristie Anyabwile, Jackie Hill-Perry, Trillia Newbell, Elicia Horton, Christina Edmondson, Blair Linne, and more. It is a faithful exposition of Psalm 119 and incorporates each contributor’s cultural expression both within the teaching and as they bring the word of God to bear on their lives.
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo – In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book,” antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share. #1 New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize • Winner of the National Book Award
All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way by Patrice Gopo – In this poetic and often courageous collection of essays, Patrice examines the complexities of identity in our turbulent yet hopeful time of intersecting heritages. As she digs beneath the layers of immigration questions and race relations, Patrice also turns her voice to themes such as marriage and divorce, the societal beauty standards we hold, and the intricacies of living out our faith.
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Note: Just a reminder, as you read the list of books I recommend, remember to use discernment. While I may recommend a book or author, it does not suggest that I am in full agreement with every opinion/statement that the author portrays.
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