Books to Help With Race Conversations


The Half Has Never Been Told

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the making of American Capitalism. This incredible book is by Edward E. Baptist, a professor at Cornell University. It is a beast of a book, but well worth the read. Because it forces you to know the names and stories of the slaves you were the hands, feet, and heart of the development of the US economy.

Slavery in the past

It's easy to think about slavery as a sad chapter in the history of this country. And that's it – just a chapter. You learned about it in passing in school, and closed that history book, and assumed that's all slavery is -a thing of the past. But it's so very much more than that.

How do I talk about race? Books to help with race conversations to build a stronger, more inclusive community

The New York Times writer, Eric Foner, gives an excellent overview of it. “In keeping with the approach of the new historians of capitalism, the book covers a great deal of ground — not only economic enterprise but religion, ideas of masculinity and gender, and national and Southern politics. Baptist’s work is a valuable addition to the growing literature on slavery and American development.”

Slavery in the present

We, as a community, need to realize why there is so much hurt, sadness, anger, and frustration in the African American community. They have truly been oppressed for centuries. Saying “Get over it. You were never a slave. That was a thing of the past” only helps to create a bigger divide. Education, empathy, and active anti-racism are the vehicles that will propel us into a better future for every member of our community.

A great resource for understanding what modern day slavery looks like, please check out Thirteenth. It's a very informative documentary about mass incarceration, and the very serious, and very real plight of those in the Black, and Latin X communities.

Signs of slaves being sold. Many of these slaves were the ages of your children right now. Imagine having your children sold and separated from you. One of the many atrocities of slavery.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria

This phenomenal book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, is a great manual to understanding race relations in our society today. She is sensitive to all her readers and the different backgrounds and perspectives they are reading her book from.

“It is important to understand that the system of advantage is perpetuated when we do not acknowledge its existence.”

Beverly Tatum, PhD

What's your role?

The point of this book is not to shame everyone into action. She wants us all to understand our own thoughts and biases. It's not enough to be neutral on racism. We have to be Anti-racist. Tatum gives this great example of a child asking his mother about a person of a different color, and the mother tries to silence her child, instead of conversing, and educating her child. Many of us are ‘color silent' not ‘color blind'.

We must recognize when we are a part of a dominant group, and how we can stand up for those who are not. For example – white heterosexual men are in the highest dominant group. Which also makes them perfect candidates for supporting, helping, encouraging those who are not part of that group. “In a situation of unequal power, a subordinate group has to focus on survival. It becomes very important for the subordinates to become highly attuned to the dominants as a way of protecting themselves from them.” We will all find ourselves in a subordinate group at some point. We have to truly treat others the way we would like to be treated.

It matters to matter

A great quote from the book, ‘The Half has Never Been Told': ” What mattered was to matter – to count, to be essential in the life of another person.” (p. 283) For those who are still unsure of the heart behind ‘Black Lives Matter' – you have to realize that Black lives don't matter as much as many other lives here in this country. We at Showit stand in strong opposition to allowing our Black brothers and sisters feel like they don't matter. We see you friends. Your lives truly matter.

Let's keep learning and growing!

To find more resources and conversations on race, check out our ever growing Pinterest board, as well as our Instagram story highlights ! These are resources of community conversations about being anti-racist allies. We at Showit, are dedicated to creating a community where all of our members feel seen, heard, valued. We are thankful for our CEO, Todd Watson, who bravely gave this talk on racism at United in 2019. He has also chosen to recognize Juneteenth as a paid company holiday. May more leaders follow his example!


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