“The Church of Jesus Christ should be taking the lead in dismantling racism
because it is a matter of faith, justice and morality.” – Bishop Gary Mueller

Strength to Love
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King shared his theological processes and convictions as he grappled with the sting of systemic racism and his response as an activist, pastor, Christian, man. King makes the case that the greatest weapon humanity has to fend off and defeat the atrocities of racism, violence, structural systems and the people who have been complicit in perpetuating this culture is not returning violent act for violent act. This type of condition can only be overcome and transformed by love.

In this work King reflects on his own journey as an activist and how his theology, and spiritual formation became key in his response to the injustices and social conditions of society. Questions formed around what’s at stake; and how to create a culture of growth, understanding and intentional discipleship that will lead to a transforming moment are the focus of this book.

King challenges the reader to revisit the theology of Jesus and reevaluate personal beliefs, social structures, and man’s ideology in order to reaffirm a relationship to God, Christ and encourage the soul. He continues to share the importance of becoming a nonconformist, loving your neighbor, loving your enemies, answering the call at midnight as points of wisdom and theological epiphany. King shares his faith in action and relates Biblical teachings to real life issues. How we engage this world and the issues of humanity are relatable and important in our response to God’s love. As King brings honest conversation and his experiences, he is left with a conviction that it is essential for society to find the strength to love.

The New Jim Crow, “Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”
Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander puts pen to paper to shed light on how cast systems have systematically created an environment where the atrocities of racism not only exist, but thrive. W. E. Du Boise states, “former slaves experience a brief moment in the sun”, before being returned to a status akin to slavery.

Beginning with slavery and the Constitution, declarations, amendments and laws have be utilized to devalue, deconstruct, and control the rights, privileges and freedoms of people of color. Despite the Civil war, Emancipation Proclamation, and The Reconstruction, people of color have been at the mercy of organized systems designed to create, maintain and secure a cast which denies the identity of people of color as human beings, with human rights.

Alexander shows how these cast systems also were created to prevent cooperative alliances between people who landed economically at the bottom of the social system in America (Jamestown). And through these initiatives created systems which would allow ‘Jim Crow’ ideology and the elite to manipulate the use of economically deprived people and their organizations (bondsmen, police, etc.) to solidify and adapt the same slave tactics to conform to the context of the population at large and create new ‘Jim Crow’ cast systems for modern times.

Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, brings honest conversation to the subject of systemic racism and how it survives in modern society. Alexander paints the picture of racism and takes the reader through a timeline of significant moments to illustrate the case against ‘The New Jim Crow’.

“Every system of control depends for its survival on the tangible and intangible benefits provided to those who are responsible for the system’s maintenance and administration”. (Michelle Alexander p. 71)

Microaggressions in “Everyday Life Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation”
Dr. Derald Wing Sue

Sue is the first to put forth a comprehensive work depicting the multi-dynamics of microaggressions. Sue defines ‘Microaggressions’ as a brief exchange that sends denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership. This makes the act of microaggressions not a monopolized condition, but an open forum that identifies its effect on all people according to race, gender or sexual orientation.

Sue breaks this study into four parts:

  1. Manifestation of Racial, Gender, and Sexual Orientation Microaggressions
    • The Manifestation of Racial, Gender, and Sexual Orientation Microaggressions
    • Taxonomy of Microaggressions
    • The Psychological Dilemmas and Dynamics of microaggressions
  2. Micro Aggressive Impact on Targets and Perpetrators
    • The Microaggression Process Model: From Beginning to End
    • Microaggressive Stress Impact on Physical and Mental Health
    • Microaggressive Perpetrators and Oppression: The Nature of the Beast
  3. Group Specific Microaggressions: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
    • Racial/Ethnic Microaggressions and Racism
    • Gender Microaggressions and Sexism
    • Sexual-Orientation Microaggressions and Heterosexism
  4. Microaggressions in Employment, Education, and Mental Health Practice
    • Microaggressive Impact in the Workplace and Employment
    • Microaggressive Impact of Education and Teaching: Facilitating difficult Dialogues on Race in the Classroom
    • Microaggressive Impact on Mental Health Practice (p. xvii-xix)

In the Psychological Dilemmas and Dynamics of Microaggressions, Sue recounts an event where he and a African American friend catch a plane from New York to Boston. They are told that they could sit anywhere because they were the only people on the flight. The men choose to sit near the front while engaging in a conversation. As the Flight attendant prepares to close the door, three white males in suits get on. After hearing the same option to sit anywhere, they choose to sit in front of Sue and his friend. The flight attendant then addresses Sue and asks them to move to the rear of the plane to distribute weight during the flight. Sue addresses the situation with the flight attendant asking the question, “Do you realize that you have basically asked two men of color to go to the back of the bus?” The flight attendant response was that she had never been accused of that and that she didn’t see color.

Sue uses this story to set the stage of perspective of the flight attendant, and the passengers of color. Each brings with them experiences and interpretations. The situation is infused with a clash of racial realities, invisibility of unintentional bias, perceived minimal harm and the catch-22 of responding. (p.44)

Sue brings the scope of ’Microaggressions’ and unpacks them so that the individual might be able to self-identify, see the intent of others and gain the ability to navigate the complex realm of conversations while being intentional in understanding how Microaggressions are formed and how they can affect the interactions with others and the ability to cause harm to others.