Antiracism Book Circles

About

The Resource Center for Nonviolence organizes a series of antiracism book circles as an act of radical generosity and interconnectedness amidst the coronavirus crisis and beyond. Our past experiences enriched co-facilitators and participants alike into deeply understanding and healing racism within and without, such circles also create constructive relationships and profound conversations. It is an ongoing learning process for all affinity groups. 

Due to the sensitive racial nature of the offered books, we create separate affinity groups to respect the personal process of participants by providing an environment for deeper and more open discussion. Hence, some book circles are co-facilitated by white-identified individuals and some by BIPOC individuals (Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color). Our co-facilitators ensure support for every participant in their process. There are also mixed race circles.

We offer a diverse collection of books on antiracism covering aspects from the intellectual and historical perspectives to healing in the body, heart and mind, recognizing the trauma racism inflicts on all of us and how to forge a oneness healing path going forward.

Circles can hold anywhere from 6–15 people depending on co-facilitators preferences and can last 7–10 weeks. There are pre- and post- book circle surveys for participants to reassess their needs and shared learning. All book circles for the 2020 and 2021 cycles were held on Zoom virtual meeting platform and we will continue to adapt and accommodate our changing needs. We also advertise all events on social media and Eventbrite. For our current cycle see events section below or visit our Events page.

Antiracism Book Circle Resources and Best Practices

Participant Testimonials

Antiracism Book Circle Book Lists

Fall 2021 Book Circle Books

This offering is part of the Revisioning American History Series, consisting of accessibly written history books by notable scholars, the series reconstructs and reinterprets United States history.

Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resist expansion of the US empire.
“Writing US history from an Indigenous peoples’ perspective requires rethinking the consensual narrative. That narrative is wrong or deficient, not in the facts, dates, details but rather in its essence. Inherent in the myth we’ve been taught is an embrace of settler colonialism and genocide. The myth persists, not for a lack of free speech or poverty of information but rather for an absence of motivation to ask questions that challenge the core of the scripted narrative of the origin story. How might acknowledging the reality of US history work to transform society? That is the central question this book pursues.

Indigenous peoples offer possibilities for life after empire…” Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Healing Resistance: A Radically Different Response to Harm

By Kazu Haga

I believe that as human beings, deep down we know our own capacities for resilience and healing. We know that holding onto pain, guilt, and resentment will be a burden on our own hearts. We know the power of forgiveness and accountability. We know that we are interdependent and that we will always be in relationship with those we impact and those who have impacted us. We know that healing those relationships is the best way to move forward.

Kazu Haga | Healing Resistance p. 185

Healing Resistance is the personal journey of a 41 year old activist born in Tokyo, Japan, who centers his healing and resistance in Oakland, California.

Healing Resistance is also the legacy, principles and organizing methods of Dr. Martin Luther King and his companions in the US civil rights movement, also named the “Nonviolent Movement for America” by John Lewis and James Lawson. Kazu Haga’s story includes dropping out of high school, not attending college, walking from Massachusetts to New Orleans in the Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage retracing the slave trade, protesting the World Trade Organization in Seattle, organizing in the Oscar Grant movement, joining Occupy Oakland, and seeking spiritual resources along the way. Kazu is a certified national trainer in “Kingian Nonviolence” and founder of the East Point Peace Academy in Oakland, California.

Kazu Haga weaves personal stories with the method of resistance that can change our communities and nation. “Nonviolence is a worldview that speaks to the impact of violence, harm, oppression, and injustice on the human condition. It is about the dynamics of conflict and how to transform it. It is about an unwavering faith in the goodness of people and an undying commitment to healing ourselves and society. It is about stripping away the layers of trauma and separation and remembering the core of who we are. It is about coming home.”

My Grandmother's Hands

By Resmaa Menakem

“In America, nearly all of us, regardless of our background or skin color, carry trauma in our bodies around the myth of race.”

Resmaa Menakem | My Grandmother's Hands p. 29

In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.

The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police.

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide. It paves the way for a new, body-centered understanding of white supremacy—how it is literally in our blood and our nervous system. It offers a step-by-step healing process, in addition to incisive social commentary.

P. Williams (New York, New York)
Fall 2021 Book Circle Participant

Book: My Grandmother’s Hands
Facilitators: Curtis Robertson and Monique Hall
Cycle: Fall 2021 AntiRacism Book Circle

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem is exceptional. He is a genius who brilliantly presents his theory on the horror of racism in America and, dare I say, the world. This well-crafted book exposes the terrible conditions perpetrated on the “white body” by other white bodies. He tells how white bodies internalized the terror and then imposed it on “black” bodies as well as other bodies.

Resmaa Menakem changed the language of racism, therefore one’s understanding and approach to racism. His solutions and “practices” help one (me) to understand and process racism. Hopefully, this powerful book is studied enough to eradicate the concepts and conditions of racism worldwide. My Grandmother’s Hands is perfect for all who need to take this journey to heal.

The Body is NOT an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love​

By Sonya Rene Taylor

“To build a world that works for everyone, we must first make the radical decision to love every facet of ourselves…’The body is not an apology’ is the mantra we should all embrace.” –Kimberlé Crenshaw, legal scholar and founder and Executive Director, African American Policy Forum
Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.
The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all.

Kat David (Bellingham, OR)
Fall 2021 Book Circle Participant

Book: The Body Is Not an Apology (BIPOC)
Facilitators: Kat and Aline
Cycle: Fall 2021

I have been very moved by how many people are sharing similar experiences as me when it comes to insecurities about my body, and how much it has related to White Body supremacy and capitalism. It’s been interesting to consider how the media we consume plays a role in how we internalize messages and relate to ourselves and others. In a similar vein, it’s been wild to consider how we are often “consumed” by others in the way we are seen (and expected to produce) but not actually be “seen” or valued inherently.

More so, I’ve appreciated the space to be messy and move into this learning with other people who are also embracing the messiness and in this process letting go of perfectionism.

Letters from Young Activists Today's Rebels Speak Out​

Edited by Chesa Boudin, Dan Berger & Kenyon Farrow

“Whether North American or Other you will not regret the hours spent with this inspiring, compassionate, and soulful book. It allows a glimpse into the hearts of young activists of today, one much needed by their elders. Here they are, our children: beautiful, committed, serious in their belief that it is possible to assist and care for the human and the natural world. They are making of themselves an offering to the Goddess of Peace. Aché ”- Alice Walker

In this Place Together: A Palestinian's Journey to Collective Liberation​

By Penina E-Schwartz with Sulaiman Khatib

To hold multiple narratives is not easy. It is not easy to carry contradictions in your soul. It is much easier to see one side of the story, to blame the other, to live in victimhood. To feel that all the world is against you, that everyone wants to kill you. But this is not reality. The history of Palestine and Israel has been told in many ways, and if we want a better future, we must gather the pieces and form them into a new , shared story. There is an old anger we must recognize , but there are new opportunities and possibilities we must recognize, too.

Penina Eilberg-Schwartz with Sulaiman Khatib | in this place together p. xxii

From Penina’s epilogue: “In Souli’s reality, within some third way, we do our very best to keep everything worth keeping. We see the process of mutual transformation as an ever-widening circle, one that creates space for more and more stories to be included, one that invites Palestinians and Israelis–and all people–to create a world where everyone, without exception, feels what it is to be free.”

As a Palestinian youth, Sulaiman Khatib encountered the occupation in his village and attempted to fight back, stabbing an Israeli. Imprisoned at the age of 14, he began a process of political and spiritual transformation still unfolding today. In a book he asked Penina Eilberg-Schwartz, an American Jew, to write, and based on years of conversation between them, Khatib shares how his activism became deeply rooted in the belief that we must ground all work—from dialogue to direct action to healing—in recognition of the history and humanity of the other.

In language that is poetic and unflinchingly honest, Eilberg-Schwartz and Khatib chronicle what led him to dedicate his life to nonviolence. In his journey, he encountered the deep injustice of torture, witnessed the power of hunger strikes, and studied Jewish history. Ultimately, he came to realize mutual recognition, alongside a transformation of the systems that governed their lives, was necessary for both Palestinians and Israelis to move forward. Still, as he built friendships with Israelis and resisted the occupation alongside them, he could not lose sight of the great power imbalance in the relationship, of all the violence and erasure still present as they dream forward together.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

By Harriet A. Washington

From the era of slavery to the present day, starting with the earliest encounters between Black Americans and Western medical researchers and the racist pseudoscience that resulted, Medical Apartheid details the ways both slaves and freedmen were used in hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge—a tradition that continues today within some black populations.
It reveals how Blacks have historically been prey to grave-robbing as well as unauthorized autopsies and dissections. Moving into the twentieth century, it shows how the pseudoscience of eugenics and social Darwinism was used to justify experimental exploitation and shoddy medical treatment of Blacks. Shocking new details about the government’s notorious Tuskegee experiment are revealed, as are similar, less-well-known medical atrocities conducted by the government, the armed forces, prisons, and private institutions.

Spring 2021 Book Circle Books

Caste; The Origins of Our Discontents

By Isabel Wilkerson

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

Book cover for Caste: The Origns of Our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson

The Sum of US: What Racism Costs Everyone and how we can Prosper Together

By Heather McGhee

Book cover for The Sum of Us by Heather Mcghee

Heather McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm–the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country–from parks and pools to functioning schools–have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.

The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than a zero-sum game.

The Body is NOT an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love​

By Sonya Rene Taylor

Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies.

The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all.

Book cover for The Body is not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

My Grandmother's Hands

By Resmaa Menakem

Book cover of My Mother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem

In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.

The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police.

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide. It paves the way for a new, body-centered understanding of white supremacy—how it is literally in our blood and our nervous system. It offers a step-by-step healing process, in addition to incisive social commentary.

White Fragility: Why it's so Hard for White People to talk About Racism

By Robin Diangelo

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

The Resource Center for Nonviolence presents this series of antiracism book circles as an act of radical generosity. The hope is that they could provide participants the unique opportunity to respond to the impact of the coronavirus crisis and the renewed call for racial equity in our society. Participants will be collectively and individually gaining understanding that will result in long awaited inclusion and empowerment to traditionally marginalized groups in our beloved community. More importantly, they provide a way to maintain energetic human connections through virtual meeting spaces.

Book cover for White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

Mindful of Race: Transforming Race form the Inside Out

By Ruth King

Book cover for Mindful Race by Ruth King

This revered teacher shines a compassionate, provocative, and practical light into a deeply neglected and world-changing domain profoundly relevant to all of us. In her newest publication, Mindful of Race, Ruth King shares: Understanding how we have been conditioned to think and react is at the root of both racial distress and racial healing. Drawing on her expertise as a meditation teacher and diversity consultant, King helps readers of all backgrounds examine with fresh eyes the complexity of racial identity and the dynamics of oppression. She offers guided instructions on how to work with intense emotions mindfully and shows us how to cultivate a culture of care from a less tangled place to a place of greater clarity and compassion.

Fall 2020 Book Circle Books

My Grandmother's Hands

By Resmaa Menakem

In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.

The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police.

Book cover of My Mother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become s Good Ancestor

By Layla F. Saad

This critical text helps you take the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources, giving you the language to understand racism, and to dismantle your own biases, whether you are using the book on your own, with a book club, or looking to start family activism in your own home.

This book will walk you step-by-step through the work of examining:

Examining your own white privilege
What allyship really means
Anti-blackness, racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation
Changing the way that you view and respond to race
How to continue the work to create social change

Cybele Candau
Fall 2021 Book Circle Participant

Book: Me and White Supremacy
Cycle: Fall 2021

I participated in Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy one year ago. I had been doing reading and anti-racism work on my own, but participating in the group with Saad’s interactive book was life-altering. Doing the deep introspection with Saad’s prompts and then sharing openly on a weekly basis made the work more tangible and really helped me hold up a mirror to my behavior.

I then co-facilitated Ruth King’s Mindful of Race last spring. I read the book independently and struggled with it tremendously. Then, participating in the circle where we really dug into King’s concepts of mindfulness paired with race was so much more rewarding. I have a quote from her on a post-it on my desk that I look at every day: “Life is not personal, permanent, or perfect.” It is such a helpful reminder.

I’m hoping that I can join back up in the spring of 2022.

Thank you so much!

How to be an Antiracist

By Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. Instead of working with the policies and system we have in place, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In his memoir, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science–including the story of his own awakening to antiracism–bringing it all together in a cogent, accessible form. He begins by helping us rethink our most deeply held, if implicit, beliefs and our most intimate personal relationships (including beliefs about race and IQ and interracial social relations) and reexamines the policies and larger social arrangements we support. How to Be an Antiracist promises to become an essential book for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step of contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

An African American and Latinx History of the United States

By Paul Ortiz

An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx liberation.

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged narrative history, arguing that the “Global South” was crucial to the development of America as we know it. Scholar and activist Paul Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress as exalted by widely taught formulations like “manifest destiny” and “Jacksonian democracy,” and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms US history into one of the working class organizing against imperialism.

Incisive and timely, this bottom-up history, told from the interconnected vantage points of Latinx and African Americans, reveals the radically different ways that people of the diaspora have addressed issues still plaguing the United States today, and it offers a way forward in the continued struggle for universal civil rights.

Healing Justice: Holistic Self-care for Change Makers

By Loretta Pyles

Drawing from the East-West modalities of mindfulness, yoga, and Ayurveda, the author introduces six capabilities — mindfulness and compassion; critical thinking and curiosity; and effort and equanimity — which can guide practitioners on a transformative and empowering journey that can ultimately make them and their colleagues more effective in their work. Using case studies, critical analysis, and skill sharing, self-care is presented as an act of resistance to disconnection, marginalization, and internalized oppression. Healing justice is a trauma-informed practice that empowers social practitioners to cultivate the conditions that might allow them to feel more connected to themselves, their clients, colleagues, and communities.

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