Read These 7 Books To Deepen Your Understanding Of Race In America

Beth El hosts “Inclusion and Belonging: Jews of Color” (Thursday, Sept. 10th at 7:00 p.m.), a dynamic virtual panel discussion between parents raising Jews of Color, including Rain Pryor, who will share her story of growing up Jewish, bi-racial, and the daughter of the famous actor-comedian Richard Pryor.

The event is free and open to all, but registration is required:

Should you want greater context going into our enlightening discussion, or want to carry on the momentum after an inspiring night, our expert panelists recommended the following books, which as moderator Mr. Rafi Rone put it, present “alternative narratives worth learning and understanding more deeply”: 

  1. How to Be an Anti-Racistby Ibram X. Kendi. Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and re-energizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other.
  2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindnessby Michelle Alexander. Named one of the most important nonfiction books of the 21st century by Entertainment Weekly‚Slate‚Chronicle of Higher Education‚Literary HubBook Riot‚ and Zora, this iconic bestseller explores race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States.
  3. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racismby Robin DiAngelo. In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), 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’ (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence.
  4. Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestorby Robin DiAngelo. This eye-opening book challenges you to do the essential work of unpacking your biases, and helps white people take action and dismantle the privilege within themselves so that you can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.
  5. So You Want to Talk About Raceby Ijeoma Oluo. In So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
  6. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healingby Dr. Joy DegruyPost Traumatic Slave Syndrome helps to lay the necessary foundation to ensure the well-being and sustained health of future generations and provides a rare glimpse into the evolution of society’s beliefs, feelings, attitudes and behavior concerning race in America. 
  7. Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial Americaby Karsonya Wise Whitehead. “Letters to My Black Sons” traces Dr. Wise Whitehead’s (and her husband’s) journey to raise happy and healthy black boys in a post-racial America.

Then check out the Jews of Color Initiative’s “Research and Field Building,” which facilitates the intentional integration and welcoming of Jews of Color in the Jewish community. 

Our panel also recommends Todd Parr’s series of children’s books, which are perfect for parents who want to teach their children pure and powerful lessons about appreciating color and orientation: 

  1. It’s OK to be Different 
  2. The Family Book
  3. The Peace Book
  4. The Thankful Book
  5. The Feelings Book

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