As the University of the Incarnate Word works to provide a safe, inclusive learning environment for our diverse student body, we invite our greater UIW family to join us in our commitment to daily reflection on how we can “improve, listen more closely and consider how to better serve our University community (UIW President, Dr. Thomas M. Evans).”

In the spirit of this commitment, UIW Vice President for Mission & Ministry, Sr. Walter Maher, has compiled a list of books on the subject of understanding and combatting racism. “The idea is to begin acquiring a solid understanding of the issues involved in racism, violence against a group of people, protests against said violence, and the calls for social change in which we are all invited to participate,” she explained. The list can be found below in chronological order, based on publication year:

  • James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time, Dial Press, 1962 – a landmark meditation on race and religion in America.
  • Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, The New Press, 2010 – “We find ourselves in this dangerous place not because something radically different has occurred in our nation’s politics, but because so much has remained the same.”
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric, Graywolf Press, 2014 – a collection of poems about day-to-day racist interactions and their derivative pain, rage, and grief. 
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, Spiegel & Grau, 2015 – an impassioned letter to the author’s teenage son and a voiced concern for children of color who might inherit a world broken beyond hope of redemption.
  • Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016 – a history of black advancement in the United States vs. white rage and entitlement. 
  • Wesley Lowery, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement. Hachette Book Group, 2016 – reporting on racist policing and the activism that counteracts it.
  • Jesmyn Ward, ed., The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2016 – a response to Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time that assembles essays and poems about  the historic legacy of structural racism in America, violent inequities of our contemporary moment, and a brighter future for people of color.
  • Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Beacon Press, 2018 – an actionable guide on how to dismantle white people’s defensive reactions and enter into honest and productive conversations about race.
  • Kiese Laymon,Heavy: An American Memoir, Scribner, 2018 – a memoir that explores the multifold traumas of inhabiting a black body.
  • Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist, Random House Books, 2019 – a necessary lesson in unlearning everything you think you know about racism, as well as an essential education in how each and every one of us can play an active role in building the just and equitable world we want to live in

Do you know any texts we should add to the list? Leave a comment to let us know!

“The ultimate measure of a person is not where one stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where one stands in times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

One thought on “A Time for Learned Engagement

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