Reading for Change: The Death of Race (week 2)

 There are some books that get me right where I need to get gotten. 

Brian Bantum’s The Death of Race is one such book. What does it mean to explore Christianity and faith and theology not in a world divided by issues of race, but in a racialized world? How do we then still see and appreciate and value the differences alive within one another, and begin to embody a new story altogether?

I’d quote the entire book to you if I could, but I won’t. Instead, I’ve got three nuggets for you to chew on – words that changed me, and that I hope encourage you to pick up and read through the book on your own.

“Retracing our beginnings is a kind of resistance” (26). For Bantum, embracing his black heritage was key to his growth as an individual and as a Christian. It’s easy to live unexamined from our cultural backgrounds, but to truly embrace the stories that make us us, means that we are fully participating in resistance (and many of us, I dare say, find ourselves in places of holy resistance now). We’re going against the status quo. We’re challenging assumed narratives. We’re moving forward in a new light, as new people.

“We are formed by a society’s assumptions, by the neighborhoods we grow up in, by the ways people see us, and the way we see them” (53). I’m going to go all teacher on you, but break the sentence up: what assumptions has society made on you? How did the neighborhood you grew up in form you? And how did the way people see you and the way you see others form you? None of us are individuals on an island, but part and parcel, we are formed by the world around us.

“Whether in the bodies and lives of women subjected to the terror of male power or to a nation that gives itself over to idols, Israel’s God redeems through the curious body, the foreign woman, the prostitute, the prophet, the foreign kind, a teenage girl in a poor colonized town. God redeems by coming near” (77). Do you not want to sit in Bantum’s class and learn from him? Can you imagine the passion with which he teaches his students about God Come Near? As his book continues, our stories further weaves with God’s story, and with his love of all, no matter the color of their skin.

Courtesy of @brianbantum on Twitter.

If you’re a theology nerd in need of a book that deals with issues of faith and race, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: Beloved by Toni Morrison. It’s been on my list to read forever, because, it’s about time. 

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? The Death of Race: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

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Reading for Change: Locomotion (week 1)

Gush, gush. 

My inner poet screams when I read the words of Jacqueline Woodson. It screamed last year with Brown Girl Dreamingand it screamed last week with Locomotionand it screamed two days later when I read the follow-up to the first, Peace, Locomotion

Now, hear me out: but for her newest read, Woodson is a children’s writer. Should you choose to read them as intended – aloud, as a piece of poetry – they might take you a couple of hours to get through; but if you just read them, it only takes the average reader a little over an hour to devour (or so says the reading tracker on Kindle).

Regardless, this time around, Woodson weaves the story of a young boy, Locomotion (short for Lonnie Collins Motion), who lost his parents in a fire, and finds himself in the New York state foster system. He misses his sister, who’s with another family, but as he begins to lean into life with his new mama and older brothers, he comes to life through poetry. 

Writers, after all, write about what they know – and Jacqueline Woodson knows poetry. I can see this being the perfect fit for a poetry unit in a middle grade classroom, but it’s also a cozy winter read.

Whatever it is for you, I’ve got three favorite lines of poetry for you:

Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write. All of them right
here like somebody pushed the Rewind button

Was it a big sacrifice to give up your life
if you knew you was gonna rise back up?
I mean, isn’t that like just taking a nap?

This day is already putting all kinds of words
in your head
and breaking them up into lines
and making the lines into pictures in your mind
And in the pictures the people are
laughing and frowning and
eating and reading and
playing ball and skipping along and…

spinning themselves into poetry.

Like I said, gush, gush. Just as we all need to slow down with a little bit of poetry in our lives, we all need a little bit of Jacqueline Woodson’s storytelling ways in our lives.

Pick up Locomotion if you haven’t already. Give it a quick read-aloud and see if the kid in you comes alive once again.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: The Death of RaceAnd people, it’s phenomenal.

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? Locomotion: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

*Post contains Amazon Affiliate links

Reading for Change (2017)

By far, one of the best reading choices I made in 2016 was to only read books by black authors during the month of February. Alongside some of you, we honored black history month by entering into the stories, experiences and perspectives of blacks, both in American and beyond.

Because here’s the thing: it’s really, really easy for me to only read books written by people who look like me, act like me, believe like me and think like me. 

But when and as I do that, I don’t grow. I stay the same. I engage in perspectives that don’t challenge me to see the world in new ways – and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to learn. I want to grow. don’t want to stay the same but I want to be transformed by the voices of my brothers and sisters, so I can seek not to be understood but to understand. 

You know?

In that way, I can’t wait to make this reading choice again this year, and I’d love for you to join me.

I’ve chosen four books to read in February, so snag these titles at your local library or on Amazon, and get to reading! Then, check back every Tuesday for my thoughts, and add your own in the comment section or (for bloggers) using the Link Up tool that will be posted that day.  

Care to join me?

Let’s do this!

Week 1, by Tuesday, February 7th: Locomotion (Jacqueline Woodson) – A National Book Award finalist, this children’s book reads like poetry …because it’s written in poetry form. Brown Girl Dreaming, also by Woodson, was one of my favorite books last year, and I can’t wait to read this one by her as well.

Week 2, by Tuesday, February 14th: The Death of Race (Brian Bantum) – Bantum asks the question, “What does it mean to build a new Christianity in a racial world?” If you’re a Christian living in the U.S. right now, I can’t think of a better book you should be reading right now.

Week 3, by Tuesday, February 21st: Beloved (Toni Morrison) – the English teacher formerly known as myself can’t believe she’s never actually read this (adult fiction) novel. Knowing most of you have likely heard of it, if not read it, hold me to reading it and being changed by it, will you?

Week 4, by Tuesday, February 28th: The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson) – No other book, besides The New Jim Crowhas been recommended to me more than this one. I’ve had it in my Audible queue for awhile, and it’s time to give this particular non-fiction read a try.

While I’m sure I’ll read additional books by black authors in February, these are my top four – and again, I’d love for you to read along with me.

Happy reading!

So, reading for change: are you in? Want to read any of the above books with me? Otherwise, what books do you consciously choose to read next month?