Take & Read: Practical theology

Five books that introduce new voices to the conversation

In I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation (Eerdmans), Chanequa Walker-Barnes offers a salient Christian vision for racial reconciliation. This vision is notable for its clear and direct assessment of what has been lacking in many Christian efforts on this front: the voices of Black women, Asian women, Indigenous women, and Latina women. Walker-Barnes calls this gap “the e-racing of gender,” and she begins to fill it by offering a womanist vision of reconciliation that is clear, compelling, and full of grace. This is not cheap grace: it is costly in its unmasking of White supremacy and misogyny and in its insistence on telling the truth about the complexity of racism in our common life.

Walker-Barnes clears the decks by stating outright that “racism is not about feelings or friendship,” nor can it be remedied by the symmetrical relationship model for reconciliation that many Christian groups embrace. Rather, racism is about structural power that props up White people as superior to others. Maintaining that “racism is not a stand-alone issue,” Walker-Barnes also explains how various systems of oppression are interrelated, offering striking stories and prodigious social research.

Walker-Barnes highlights the work of structural justice as integral to real reconciliation, conveying her meaning in vivid, easy-to-grasp analogies. For example, she points out that in friendship, people run toward each other, while in solidarity, people run beside each other toward a greater good. The voices of women of color, heard alongside each other in this learned and readable account, point the way.