HandsFRRFollen Responds to Racism was formed in 2015 by a group of Follenites who wanted to be both more informed and more active regarding anti-racism, and to be a resource for the community. We continue on this important quest and invite you to join us. Please email frr@follen.org.

In Follen’s Library

We have started a collection of books that touch on a range of issues related to racism. As Follen is a predominantly white congregation, several of them explore what it means to be white in America. What white people can do to start to undo America’s shame is also addressed in several of the books. Read/download descriptions of Follen’s new anti-racism books.

Two Information Sources to Explore

The Color of Wealth in Boston

“Of all nonwhite groups for which estimates could be made, Caribbean black households have the highest median wealth with $12,000, which is only 5 percent of the wealth attributed to white households” in the Boston area. Learn more astonishing facts like this in a report, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, which provides a brief overview of the demographic changes in the Boston metropolitan area; analyzes asset and debt ownership; estimates the wealth position of various communities of color; and discusses the implication of racial disparities, which it describes as “staggeringly divergent.” The data and analysis are likely to be surprising. Shocking, even.

Are You White?

Debby Irving, a white Winchester resident and author of Waking Up White, posted a Q&A about her awakening and work. At one point, she is asked: “How has your understanding of race and racism changed as you’ve lived your life?”

Irving: If I had to give years and titles to my racial awareness development, it would look like this:
Age 0–21: Race? What? Where? There’s No Racism In Winchester! How White Segregation And Avoidance Left Me Clueless About Race And Racism
Age 22–48: Beginning To Sense An Elephant In The Room, I Look Everywhere But Inside Myself For Answers. How I Knew There Was An Elephant In The Room — I Just Didn’t Know It Was Me!
Age 48–Present: Now That I Know Better, I Will Do Better. How I Will Spend The Rest Of My Life Trying To Catch Up On History I Wasn’t Taught And Righting Wrongs I Didn’t Know Existed.

We are all at different places in our understanding. To which stage to you aspire? Read the full Q&A here.

Your Suggestions Welcomed

If you would like to recommend a book, movie, article, blog, or anything else that has helped you understand racism in America more fully, please send your suggestion to frr@follen.org, and thank you!

Give to Racial Justice Organizations

Read/Download Follen Responds to Racism’s List of Suggested Racial Justice Organizations

Previously Suggested To Read or Watch

Follen member Adria Goodson spoke of her own experience in a  Personal Point delivered to the Follen community in May 2015. That talk launched the initial meeting. Watch a video of Adria Goodson’s Personal Point.

Responding to racism as an expression of one’s faith

Kenny Wiley is an editor of UU World, a UU religious educator in Denver, and black. He writes powerfully in “Which Side Are You On?” and “A Unitarian Universalist ‘Black Lives Matter’ Theology.”

Waking up

Several suburban UU congregations are reading and discussing the book Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Winchester resident and activist Debbie Irving. You might also read an article on her website entitled “White Privilege Explained in 3 Easy (ish) Steps.” She says on her website, “Waking Up White is the book I wish someone had handed me decades ago….As I unpack my own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, I reveal how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated my ill-conceived ideas about race.” There’s also “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” written by Peggy McIntosh in 1988. Still illuminating; what has changed?

On being black in America

Coates-with-SonThere are many possibilities, but we recommend Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Letter to My Son” in The Atlantic, which is adapted from his book Between the World and Me. It is eloquent, informative, and painful. Coates said of it, “I wanted to make racism tactile, visceral, because it is.”

If you’re looking for more to read, Google your topic; you will find yourself drinking water from a fire hose!

Please email frr@follen.org for further information.