Something that I have become deeply aware of in the past couple of years is how much contemporary church theology is influenced by mostly white and dominant culture thinkers and theologians. While only one of these works are explicitly theological they all have something to say about the church and therefore about God, or how American Culture understands God. That being said, these works will also sometimes explicitly and sometimes simplicity challenge and hopefully stretch our own understandings of God.
I hope you have the time to get into at least one selection on the list and enjoy!
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A letter written to his 15 year old son that is also personal memoir where Coates highlights race in America, and how race and racism have impacted American history at the cost of black bodies and black lives. This book put Nehisi on the map as one of America’s most important writers about race and racism today.
“Go Tell it on the Mountain” a novel by James Baldwin
This is the story of a 14 year old boy discovering self and identity in 1935 Harlem. Baldwin was the most importance voice of the Black Experience in America in the 1960’s and this novel tells of the experience through fiction.
"Inside the Trial of Dylan Roof" by Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker February 6, 2017 Issue. Jelani Cobb contributes regularly for The New Yorker about race and politics in America. This is an important and yet difficult read as Cobb covered the full trial the man who killed 9 worshipers in Charleston in the summer of 2015. The article speaks of the complexities of race in America and the depth of impact this mass murder had on our nation.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
The Author’s story of founding the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those sentenced to death. These are stories of faith, and justice that will leave you rejoicing, laughing, weeping, and angry at any given moment.
“My President Was Black” by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic January / February 2017 Issue
A History of the first African-American White House and what came next. Over the course of his presidency Ta-Nehisi Coates had several conversations with Barack Obama. They agreed and argued on several points. President Obama’s optimism and Coates skepticism make for a brilliant and engaging conversation.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
This is the only white author on my list here. The novel tells the story of a black woman whose life is interrupted dramatically by a dangerous white supremacist. Picoult has done her research and seems to have a profound anti-racist anaylisis and an understanding of the black experience in America. It is a moving and engaging book that will be a nice introduction to race and racism in America.
“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic June 2014 Issue
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole. Coates' work will challenge your understanding of recent American history and provides a telling of the history of red-lining in America through a narrative of facts lived experiences.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
This is a book of theology that confronts the ways in which white dominant culture of have determined the meaning of the suffering of Jesus Christ and how the black experience of lynching in America provides a more profound meaning of the Cross of Christ.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
This book is an eye opener as it lays out the argument that Jim Crow and slavery have been replaced by Mass Incarceration that disproportionately incarcerates people of color in America today.