Crowdsourcing Spiritual Anti-racism Resources
Parker Niles is a 2020 IFYC Coach, and a student at Oberlin College, class of 2023. Parker is studying Religion and apart from his work at IFYC, he is interested in the intersection of faith, queerness, and art, as well as the evolution of popular religion through the Internet. Parker’s poetry has been featured on Interfaith America before. He is passionate about using writing to create community.
I’ve been seeing so many of these newly curated “anti-racism reading lists” being spread around. Works by Toni Morrison, Michelle Alexander, Ibram X. Kendi, to name a few wonderful writers, are often featured on those lists. I wonder what these lists mean, and what they expect from people. Many of these resources that people are sharing and labeling as “MUST READS” were written for a more secular purpose, or rather, to appeal to a more secular side of our consciousness. However, I'm left wondering how we might engage faith in productive ways to actively fight racism within ourselves and our communities?
Below are some resources for people to engage their own faiths and faith communities. These resources can help us to use scripture, theology, and our common humanity to have these conversations around the legacy of white supremacy, racism, and colonialism. Published here, however, is only an excerpt from a larger list that can be found here. I urge you to read the full list and find what interests you. I also am making the call for collaboration. I want this to be larger than what I have done already. At the end of this article is a linked form where you can submit an addition to the list. Submit anything that has helped you, challenged you, inspired you, or taught you through your faith. I would love to see it and I’m sure others will as well.
It is our job to educate ourselves, because anti-racist work, and interfaith work, must be intersectional. One dimension of that means understanding how religion fits into these systemic processes that perpetuate injustice. What needs to be addressed? Is your faith inspiring you and empowering you to take charge, or are you resorting to spirituality to bypass the difficult and uncomfortable work that’s needed to change your perspective, behavior, and beliefs? Take this as a small but heartfelt call for prayer, reflection, introspection, and finally, action.
“Why, as Christians, We Must Oppose Racism” - Desmond Tutu
Waking up to Racism - bell hooks, Tricycle Magazine
“Judaism and Race”: A resource list of essays and articles focusing on issues of race in Judaism and how the community can respond. Created by Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations, an initiative of Reconstructing Judaism, “an online platform with conversation-sparking essays from thought-provoking rabbis, leaders, and creators.”
A huge collection of anti-racism resources provided by an organization dedicated to racial justice and education: Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative - About, Resources, Anti-racism Guide for White Muslims
James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, one of my personal favorites, includes a letter speaking on the role of Christianity and Islam on Black Americans: Preview — The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
A book that explores Black religious movements around the Great Migration and how “religio-racial” identity gets formed around these traditions: New World A-Coming by Judith Weisenfeld
This is one of my favorite books of all time; it was written by three Black, queer, Buddhist teachers as a series of essays, interviews, and talks, about the legacy of white supremacy in Buddhist communities and how contemplative practice can still serve as a ground for justice, anger, and action: Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by Angel Kyodo Williams
I am going to end this list with one last article, and it is a critique of the “anti-racism reading list.” What this article says, and what I am saying, is that there is so much work to be done. There are all these resources out there, they have always been there, but it is only in times of crisis like this when they suddenly appear and become relevant to the (white) public. We must investigate why it is only now that we come seeking books and voices to turn to. Why are we only starting now, and how can we catch up?
Anti-Racist Reading Lists: What Are They For? - Lauren Michele Jackson, Vulture
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The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.