“If reconciliation is the takeaway point for the civil rights story we usually tell, then the takeaway point for the more complex, more truthful civil rights story contained in Dear White Christians is reparations.” — from the preface to the second edition
With the troubling and painful events of the last several years—from the killing of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police to the rallying of white supremacists in Charlottesville—it is clearer than ever that the reconciliation paradigm, long favored by white Christians, has failed to heal the deep racial wounds in the church and American society. In this provocative book, originally published in 2014, Jennifer Harvey argues for a radical shift away from the well-meaning but feeble longing for reconciliation toward a robustly biblical call for reparations.
Now in its second edition—with a new preface addressing the explosive changes in American culture and politics since 2014, as well as an appendix that explores what a reparations paradigm can actually look like—Dear White Christians calls justice-committed Christians to do the gospel-inspired work of opposing racist social structures around them. Harvey’s message is historically and scripturally rooted, making it ideal for facilitating the difficult but important discussions about race that are so desperately needed in churches and faith-centered classrooms across the country.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Traci D. Blackmon Preface Introduction Part One: Reconciliation? Where We Are and Why 1. A Reconciliation Paradigm 2. There Is No Racial Parallel 3. Reconciliation Is Not the Answer Part Two: Reparations! Going Backward before Going Forward 4. The Black Manifesto 5. The Particular Problem of Whiteness 6. A Reparations Paradigm Part Three: Stirrings of Hope, Pathways of Transformation 7. “We Are Called to Remember Our Entire History” 8. Becoming “Repairers of the Breach” Conclusion Appendix: Now What?
Jennifer Harvey is professor of religion at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. Her other books include Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America and Whiteness and Morality: Pursuing Racial Justice through Reparations and Sovereignty.
“A needed voice in progressive circles that are often prone to confuse open dialogue about the presence of racial inequity with the intimate work of dismantling racial injustice, Dr. Harvey moves beyond a critique of what is to a vision of what can become. . . . As you engage the principles outlined in this book, allow yourselves to dream of a better world and be moved to change.” — Traci Blackmon from the foreword
“Dear White Christians addresses whiteness head on and tells the too-often-ignored story of black power. . . . One of the clearest and most succinct diagnoses of the inadequacies of the popular reconciliation paradigm.” — Sojourners
“Dear White Christians is a must-read. This kind of unflinching analysis is both rare and powerful. Through thorough analysis coupled with prophetic vision, Harvey decodes the mystery of the failure of the ‘racial reconciliation’ movement and offers clear direction forward toward the repair of our racialized society. All seminarians and pastors should read this book. And if every person in the pews of white churches read Harvey’s love letter to them, then our nation might actually have a chance to realize Dr. King's vision of the beloved community.” — Lisa Sharon Harper author of The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
“This powerful book displays the subversive possibilities of confession and calls the church beyond good intentions in the work of racial justice. A truly original work.” — Brian Bantum author of The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World
“A gospel for white people, this book calls for nothing less than laying down the trump card of reconciliation for the sake of true repentance and conversion. Jennifer Harvey is proclaiming truth. Listen to her.” — Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove author of Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith for the Common Good
“One of the most valuable contributions to the work of antiracism in recent years. Harvey demonstrates with compelling accuracy and clarity why popular Christian dialogue about racial reconciliation does not work but in fact only serves to reinscribe historic, systemic problems.” — Reggie L. Williams author of Bonhoeffer's Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance
“A timely and indispensable contribution to the field of Christian social ethics. Harvey offers a reparations paradigm as the first step toward racial healing in the church. . . . An essential read for those who love the body of Christ and yearn for justice.” — Eboni Marshall Turman author of Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation
“A provocative analysis of the current state of race relations. . . . For those who are willing to look deeply into our history—to remember, to repent and to repair—this book is a most valuable resource.” — The Presbyterian Outlook
“Jennifer Harvey approaches faith-based work against racism with passion and clarity.” — Anglican Theological Review
“Harvey offers a clear theological rationale for the reparations paradigm that is accessible to lay readers. . . . [Dear White Christians] makes an excellent contribution in terms of showing the way forward on racial justice issues.” — Marginalia
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