black history resource list

A Letter to White People (including Myself) + Reading and Resource List

February 28, 2017

Dear White People (including myself),

As Black History Month wraps up, I want to make a plea that we all choose not be done with Black History for the year.

Current events are daily revealing how necessary it is that all Americans learn Black History all year long.

For how long?

For as long as it takes for us to unwrite the rules we wrote when our brothers and sisters were enslaved and we did not count them as people.

For as long as it takes to unmake a system that has its roots planted deeply in white supremacy.

For as long as it takes for us to consider Black History as an integral part of American History, embedded in our lives and national stories, just like The Mayflower, The Pilgrims and Independence Day.

Extensive reading is my preferred (and maybe too easy) method of becoming awake to how the decks are stacked against our black and brown brothers and sisters in this country. But I am committing this year not to just reading about racism, but also to talking about it, to writing about it regularly and to calling it out in myself.

Let me say that again.

I am committed to calling out racism in myself.

Lamenting it.

Confessing it.

Repenting of it.

I like to say that I am about 67% woke. (That’s probably generous.)

Woke refers to a state of being aware of racial injustice in the world.

So if I am 67% woke, that still leaves like 33% of me that is asleep, that is ruled by racism.

I was raised in a country that was founded on white supremacy, so I am going to have a natural bent towards participating in racism that is both underlying and overt.

I am repenting of being complicit in a system that has sold itself out in a grab for power. I am so sad that I am a part of tradition that was meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world and instead seems to be the second coming of the Pharisees. I cannot make it right by saying I am not a part of the group, or I am not one of those kind of Christians. Somehow I stood by while we were seduced by the empire and so I participated.

For years and years, I was content to sit in a church on Sunday morning filled with people who looked like me, to fill the seats at my table with people who looked like me. I was content to read only books about people who looked like me, and I studied history that was missing the pieces that explain why life is so different for people who did not look like me.

I am lamenting that I did not notice how wrong this was. I am lamenting that my unwillingness to cross racial lines has contributed to walls that exist today, and to the rhetoric that is adding more bricks every day to those very walls, causing them to be thicker and harder to break down.

I confess that I have contributed to an atmosphere where we need to say out loud that Black Lives Matter, because the blood on the streets shows that these words are not a given. We must say that Black Lives Matter so that maybe one day we will live in a country where that is true to everyone. In fact, I believe that if we had made it true that Black Lives Matter then we would also have solved the problem of welcoming refugees, because if we raise up and value the lives of those who are different from us, then we will continue to do it with refugees, with Muslims, and with anyone we have designated as “other.”

And so I repent that I personally have not always shown with my actions in the world that Black Lives Matter.

I repent that I have acted as though I am owed the privilege that I was born with. I pass through borders and drive by police cars without fear. I walk into stores and restaurants and never doubt that I will be treated with respect. I expect to have the very best possible schools for my children, without regard for the effect my school choices have on the districts and towns in which we have lived.

If I live to be 100 I cannot undo what I have done to uphold the standard of white supremacy in the US, and this fact overwhelms me. It overwhelms me so much that I considered not writing this letter. But even if I cannot undo all the things or do all that must be done, I can try.

I can do the little that I know how to do today. And tomorrow I can try to learn about another thing. I can work towards another half percent of being woke.

And I would be so honored if you would join me.

That’s why I am making this page into a Resource List, a page that I can add to whenever I come across something that contributes to my awareness of racial injustice. You can come back to it and read again and again because this journey towards racial reconciliation is long.

But I think the long journeys are the ones worth taking.

And I think that God is with us on the long journeys.

And when I think about Martin Luther King Jr, and I listen to his speeches, I remember how bravely he stood in the face of a long uphill climb that he knew would probably end in death.

And so how dare I grow tired?

If I ever say I am tired of hearing about racism, I will call myself out and repent.

Because, friends, think of how weary our black and brown brothers and sisters are of this battle.

So very weary. I hear it in their words. Laments for hard won changes that are given only to be revoked again or never enforced.

Let us not grow weary in doing good. Let us each find the part we have to do and do it. Let us lament. Let us confess. Let us repent.

Then maybe we can rise together.

In solidarity,


Reading Resource List

This is just a start on this list. I will continue to add to it. If you know of something I should add, feel free to send me an email (alison AT alisonchino DOT com) or tell me on Twitter.

Children’s Books 

Black History Children’s Books

Sit In by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Let Freedom Sing by Vanessa Newton

The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

The Great Migration with paintings by Jacob Lawrence

God Bless The Child by Billie Holiday, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

March by John Lewis 

Children’s Books for Talking About Race

All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color by Katie Kissinger

The Skin I’m In by Pat Thomas

Shades of People by Sheila M. Kelly

Children’s Books with Black or Brown Protagonists

Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

The Snowy Day  by Ezra Jack Keats

The Barber’s Cutting Edge by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose (forthcoming) by Angie Thomas

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Another great resource for children’s books is the website We Need Diverse Books.

Books (nonfiction)

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beales

The Long Shadow of Little Rock by Daisy Bates

Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis

The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by  Ibram X. Kendi

How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Just Mercy Brian Stevenson

The New Jim Crow by Michelle WIlliams

Slavery By Another Name by Douglas Blackman

America’s Original Sin Jim Wallis

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson

White Awake by Daniel Hill

Race and Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation by David P. Leong

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores by Dominique DuBois Gilliard

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem

How to be Less Stupid About Race by Dr. Crystal M. Fleming

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris

They Were Her Property: White Women As Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E Jones-Rogers

So You Wanna Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Never Caught: The Washingtons Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity by David E Swanson

May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem by Imani Perry

Books (Fiction)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (anything by Toni Morrison)

Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin (anything by James Baldwin)

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

A Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry

Song Yet Sung by James McBride

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

The Water Dancer Ta-Nehisi Coates

Memoirs by Black Authors

Thick by Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom

Heavy by Dr. Kiese Laymon

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Becoming Ms Burton by Susan Burton

Rabbit by Patricia Williams

When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Cullors

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The Color of Water by James McBride

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America by Darnell L. Moore


Malcolm X



Twelve Years A Slave

Ruby Bridges

Mississippi Burning

The Color Purple

The Hate U Give


If Beale Street Could Talk

Just Mercy

When They See Us (series)


Anything on the website Black Perspectives

The Racism of Good Intentions by Carlos Lozada

This is the best explanation I’ve ever seen of White Privilege by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

White Debt by Eula Bliss (first line: “The Word for debt in German also means guilt.”)

White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You To Understand Yourselves. by Ijeoma Oluo

This is what an antiracist America would look like. How do we get there?
Ibram X Kendi

Southern Baptist Seminary Documents History of Racial Injustice

The Cost of the Confederacy by Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler

1619 Series in the NY Times

Punishment by Pandemic

Racism is Terrible. Blackness is not. by Imani Perry

Literary Quilt: A Covering for George Floyd: 15 Black authors give voice to the current unrest and movement for Black lives



On Being consistently has great content regarding race. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:

Love in Action with John Lewis

Let’s Talk about Whiteness with Eula Bliss

The Heart is the Last Frontier with Isabel Wilkerson

Where Does It Hurt? with Ruby Sales

Who We Want To Become: Beyond The New Jim Crow with Michelle Alexander

W.E.B. Du Bois & the American Soul with Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander and Arnold Rampersad

Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence with Resmaa Menakem

Pass The Mic is another podcast I appreciate for discussions concerning a diverse church. It is the podcast of the website The Witness (a Black Christian Collective), a great resource for Christians who want to explore more diverse perspectives. They also have a great episode on the use of term “woke.” One of my favorite episodes is their interview with Bryan Stevenson.

Truth’s Table. 

How Not To Accidentally Raise A Racist (The Longest Shortest Time)

Shots Fired Part 1 and Part 2 (Radiolab)

Object Anyway (More Perfect)

Poverty Myth Busters (On The Media)

Seeing White (series by Scene on Radio)

Monumental Lies (Reveal)

The Worst Thing We’ve Ever Done (On The Media)

1619 Podcast

White Lies

Ear Hustle

Brene Brown with Austin Channing Brown

Brene Brown with Ibram X Kendi


This video of Adam Thomason explaining racial preference.

A short documentary about this reign of terror by lynching in the US put out by the Equal Justice Initiative.

MTV’s Documentary White People

Ruby Sales on “How we can start to heal the pain of racial division

Clint Hill Smith on Raising a Black Son in America



  1. […] I released my post of resources regarding white privilege, I received this great podcast recommendation from a friend: How to Not Accidentally Raise a […]

  2. […] nice and being an ally, and it has me all angsty, mainly because (and saying this is a part of my commitment to calling out racism in myself when I see it) I land pretty firmly on the side of nice. […]

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