Because we are a Matthew 25 presbytery, our Faith, Education & Leadership Development (FELD) Committee will be promoting a book of the month for both adults and children. These books are recommended to individuals and to church book groups. Click here to read more about what it means to be a Matthew 25 presbytery or church.

April 2021

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FOR ADULTS – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

White Fragility isn’t an easy book to read. The language is not obscure – it is clear and direct. But it is not an easy book to read if you are white, even if you consider yourself as someone progressive and unprejudiced on race.

From the book, “We are taught to think about racism only as discrete acts committed by individual people, rather than a complex, interconnected system. And in light of so many white expressions of resentment toward people of color, I realized that we see ourselves as entitled to, and deserving of, more than people of color deserve.”

That is a challenging sentence to read.

As reformed Christians, we believe that we all participate in a system of sin. We are powerless in this system and must rely upon God’s grace. Racism is also a system of sin. It empowers some people and disempowers others based on perceived differences that come down to skin color. My white skin makes me safer and gives me advantages in many systems: encounters with law enforcement, seeking healthcare, looking for a job, education – the list is endless. But I am not powerless in this system of sin. I have the power to challenge it and change how I behave and think. I have the power to challenge the people in my life to examine their own attitudes and behaviors.

As I write this, I am listening to reports of the trial of white former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, for the murder of George Floyd, a black suspect in his custody. There was yet another report today that made national news about an attack on an Asian American. White prejudice is literally killing people of color. It is also injuring them in other ways, which may not be a physical attack, but is harmful. It is our duty as Christians, as Presbyterians, to challenge this privilege. The most difficult part is starting with ourselves. White Fragility is a starting point in that struggle.

FOR CHILDREN – The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

The suggested reading range is from five to eight, but it could easily be read and discussed in most preschool or elementary classrooms.

This book was a New York Times #1 bestseller and is a personal favorite. It has beautiful illustrations of children of a big variety of ethnic and socio-economic groups. The story grabs you immediately and is touching, positive and encouraging.

There are so many reasons to feel different when a child walks into a new situation, and the story illustrates how to bravely proceed when you seen no one who looks like you. And how to find common ground anywhere. It encourages children to value commonalities while appreciating differences too. It’s a delightful children’s book!

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March 2021

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FOR ADULTSBecoming Ms. Burton by Susan Burton and Cari Lynn

Becoming Ms. Burton is Susan Burton’s story of childhood abuse, leading to drug use and prostitution, to prison and eventually to recovery. Recognizing the needs of recently released women, Ms. Burton started A New Way of Life, providing housing and resources for previously incarcerated women. As she saw the needs of her clients, she advocated for restoring civil and human rights to those who have been incarcerated.

Ms. Burton was a winner of AARP’s prestigious Purpose Prize and has been a Starbucks® “Upstander,” a CNN Top 10 Hero, a Soros Justice Fellow, and a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow at the California Wellness Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles.
Ms. Burton’s memoir is easy to read, and inspiring.

Discussion questions for book groups are at the back of the book.

FOR CHILDREN – Black, White and Beyond by Vera Heath

The suggested age range is 0-12 years. The publication date is October 2020.

This book is set to serve as an introduction into the truth about racism and how it affects society. Its aim is to help children understand the concept of equality of persons young enough so as to open their minds to see people equally, regardless of skin color or race. The book explores these key areas:

•The different skin colors that exist and why there are variations in them
•Colorism and how it affects our views of a lot of things
•What society thinks of skin color and how it has served as a basis for racism
•Recent real life accounts of Racist attacks
•7 major ways to contribute to the Anti racist movement as a child
•Powerful ways to speak up against racism
•The KEY difference between a non racist and an anti racist
•Why being anti racist not only helps the individual but helps us all

There are many board books that are excellent to read to your child. Check online or at your local library. They are never too young to open their minds to a better and more loving world.

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