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During the Diocese of Olympia’s Town Hall on June 7, Bishop Rickel made reference to a number of books dealing with issues of racial justice and racism that individuals can read to learn more for themselves, to share with others, or even to start virtual discussion groups in their congregations. Sue Tait, our Diocesan Librarian, has compiled the list of titles mentioned by Bishop Rickel and added several others which might be helpful for individuals wishing to learn more.

America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by Jim Wallis. Brazos Press, 2017  (305.8 Wal)

  • Old patterns of white privilege collide with our changing demographics. Wallis offers a personal call to action, urging grassroots change in the face of systemic sin.

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Spiegal  Gall, 2015 (305.8 Coa)

  • Published five years ago, this enormously popular and influential book offers a new framework to understand the history and present of race, as well as the possible future. Most poignant for readers today is Coates’ visit to a mother whose son was shot down by police.

A Colony in a Nation, by Chris Hayes. Norton, 2017. (364.3 Hay)

  • Hayes claims that our country has fractured into two: the Colony where fear and order undermine civil rights, and the Nation where law is venerated. Deeply personal experience joins analysis of the dangerous results of choices made by fear. (on order)

Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice, by Cara Meredith.  Zondervan, 2019. (806.8 Mer)

  • Although she grew up in a colorless world where people acted as if they did not see race at all, that changed dramatically when she married the son of  black icon, James Meredith. With two young sons now, she ponders how we teach our children and how we see the image of God in each other.

Dear Church: A Love Letter from the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.A., by Larry Duncan. Fortress Press, 2019. (261.8 Dun)

  • Now an ELCA pastor, this formerly incarcerated black preacher draws link between the lack of vitality in churches and the lack of diversity there, and we are called to action following in the “revolutionary path of Jesus.”

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation, by Jennifer Harvey. Eerdmanns, 2014. (277.3 Har)

  • Calling for a shift in the way that justice-committed white Christians think about race, Harvey turns from the reconciliation model and suggests “embarking on a reparations paradigm.”

How to Be an Anti-Racist, by Ibram X. Kendi. One World, 2019. (305.8 Ken)

  • “…racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value” and by changing the conversation Kendi suggests a liberating new way of thinking about the struggle we all share, to become truly human, and to see that others are as well.  (on order)

How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States, by Daniel Immerwahr. Picador, 2019. (973 Imm)

  • Reviews speak highly of this new way to look at American history outside of the fifty states: as traditional colonialism was being fazed out a more subtle form was being fazed in. The recommender of the title for this list notes that it shows how systemic racism has infected the USA right from the start and is not limited to slaves but all people of color.

Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America, edited by Catharine Meeks. Morehouse, 2016. (364 .9 Liv)

  • Combining personal accounts from a variety of authors, as well as theoretical and theological reflection, this report from the struggle hopes to open a new conversation on race. This was an EfM Interim book.

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, by Soong-Chan Rah. Moody Publisher, 2010. (259.089 Rah)

  • Intended as a guide to equip evangelicals in the changing landscape of the future, Rah explores how we can become more multi-culturally adept.

New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michele Alexander. Revised edition. New Press, 2012. (364.9 Ale)

  • Celebrating the tenth anniversary of its publication, this influential book argues that we have not eliminated racial caste in America, but simply redesigned it. A new preface by Alexander for this edition examines the impact of the book and the state of the legal system today. An accompanying study guide is available from the Resource Center.

Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness, by Jarrett-Schell, Peter. Church Publishing,  2019 (305.809 Jar)

  • Delving deeply into the ways that whiteness has shaped his life, this Episcopal priest invites us to investigate our own racial legacy through his story.

Silent Racism: How Well-Meaning White People Perpetuate the Racial Divide, by Barbara Trepagnier. Paradigm Press, 2010 (305.8 Tre)

  • Silent racism is instrumental in the production of institutional racism, and these interviews with women who consider themselves “nonracist” reveal that everyone has racist tendencies.

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. Seal Press, 2018. (305.8 Olu)

  • Helping us find language to engage in dialog on biases and prejudices, we are helped here to address this subject that is difficult to talk about for people of all races.

Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, by Ibram X Kendi. Nation Books, 2016 (305.8 Ken)

  • Far from living in a post-racial society, this award winning historian argues that racist ideas in this country have a long history, one in which great thinkers from many decades are complicit.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi.  Little, Brown and Company, 2020. (305.8 Mey)

  • A remix of the National Book Award winning title listed above, this reimagining not only reveals a history of racist ideas in the past but inspires hope for the future. This title is  It is also available in a variety of electronic formats and is on order for the Resource Center in print form.

Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race, by Frances Kendall. Routlege, 2013 (305.8 Ken)

  • “Knowingly and unknowingly we all grapple with race every day,”  here the author delves into the interplay of race, power and privilege in both our corporate and private lives, as well as suggesting ways that we can break this cycle.

Waking up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debby Irving, Elephant Room Press, 2014. (305.8 Irv)

  • As a young adult, Irving felt but did not understand the racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships, but then she had an insight that shifted her worldview and her plan for her life. She shares that with us.

White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard to Talk About Race, by Robin J. DiAngelo. Beacon Press, 2018 (305.8 DiA)

  • How do white people react when assumptions about race are challenged? Often the reaction is defensive, showing anger, fear and guilt, displaying argumentation or silence. Such behavior defines white fragility and presents a barrier to cross-racial dialogue. DiAngelo explores the development of  such thoughts, how  they actually protect inequality, and what can we do to engage with each other more constructively.

Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race, by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Basic Books, revised edition, updated anniversary edition), 2017. (305.8 Tat)

  • This fully revised edition of the book on psychology of racism has been an important part of the conversation for years and this revised edition continues to provide straight talk about our racial identities, so essential for communication across racial and ethnic divides.

Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It, by Shelly Tochluk. Rowman & Littlefield Publisher.  Second edition, 2010. (305.8 Toc)

  • Our history in talking about race and how it affects our personal lives and social institutions is viewed through a variety of lenses: political, economic and legal as well as cultural. Further information for workshops and book groups can be found at



Racial Equity Reading List

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