If you are looking for new resources, we encourage you to take a look at our Racial Justice Resources below as well as our Reparations resources.
Our clergy and members of our community recommend the following racial justice resources to learn, grow, and show up for ourselves and each other: Check back periodically, as we will keep adding more titles.
Recommended by: Rabbi London
“An audio series about the history of how slavery has transformed the U.S. and the experience of Black people in this country for the last 400 years.”
“Hosted by journalists of color, it addresses the issues of race in a frank and engaging manner.”
Recommended by: Maia Volk, Previous Director of Youth Programs
“A powerful analysis of one of the most important records of the last decade. Dissect traces how Beyonce connects her personal hardships to inherited trauma and oppression in connection to her race and gender.”
Recommended by: Michael Orenstein, Beth Emet Member
“Hidden Brain just does a great job with stuff like this. After listening, you will have a good idea of what implicit bias, how it is measured, and its impact on society.”
Recommended by: Judy Caplan, Beth Emet member and Chair Social Justice Advocacy
“All the On Being podcasts produced by Krista Tippet are good, but this one is super-amazing. In this powerful conversation therapist and trauma specialist Resmaa Menakem shares the impact of systemic racism on our bodies and nervous systems. Drawing on recent scientific findings, Resmaa talks about how the trauma of race impacts us on the cellular level. Resmaa introduces the notion of “White-body supremacy trauma” which he defines as a trauma that we all – including white identified individuals, communities and systems – integrate into our bodies and structures. He speaks of the need to address this trauma directly. This discussion deeply moved me — not only in my mind but also in my gut.”
Recommended by: Bekki Harris Kaplan, Executive Director
“‘Seeing White’ is a 14-part documentary series exploring whiteness in America—where it came from, what it means, and how it works. I found it to be a gripping podcast, that for me was eye opening, starting with the history of race – the very invention of whiteness in legal terms in the U.S. What I found fascinating is that the information is conveyed through true stories, historical anecdotes, quotes, guest scholars and lecturers, legal decisions, and includes interesting follow up banter at the end of each podcast with an old friend of the host, John Biewen. A must listen!”
Recommended by: Cantor Rabbi Kyle Cotler
“It’s a short, easy read which remains as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1945. I first read it in middle school and now that I am older, I appreciate the Orewell’s prose so much more. The book’s focus on how a cult of personality and enforced reign of terror lead to the downfall of a thriving society creates a stark parallel to events around the world.”
“Written as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates explains to his son what it’s like to be a Black man in America. It’s a poignant, brutally honest, and heart-breaking read.”
Recommended by: Bluma Stoller, Beth Emet Member and Adult Ed Teacher
“The Color of Water, A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother By James McBride, Winner of the National Book Award Riverhead Books, 1996 This is a fascinating memoir that alternates between the story of this Black son and the story of his mother, a complex white woman who left her abusive Jewish family, embraced the Black Church, raised twelve Black children, and never spoke of her background or race. The author’s search for his mother’s story and the story of what he knew and later learned about her are the core of the book. This is a well-written, loving account of his life and hers. It is a wonderful book and has captured my desire to read James McBride’s subsequent writings.”
“Published in 1963, James Baldwin’s insights about race in our country are still as insightful today and speak to this moment in our country’s history.”
“This beautifully crafted and page turner of a novel follows the parallel paths of two sisters from the Gold Coast of Africa and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. It illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken captive and those who stayed in Africa.”
Recommended by: David Futransky, Beth Emet Member and Community Educator on Racism
“Profound book on shaping an anti-racist society.”
“It tells of how Bryan Stevenson established the Equal Justice Initiative to help those, especially in Alabama, who are on death row. It’s also been made into a feature-length film.”
“Legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of Black Americans in the war on drugs. Although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of Black people arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.”
Recommended by: Paul Peterson, Beth Emet Member and Chair of the Beth Emet Racial Justice Committee
“Writers offer us the gift of seeing and feeling how it is to live in someone else’s shoes, and Toni Morrison was a great writer. Less often, they give us the opportunity to peer into their thought processes. The essays in this book provide insights into a first-class mind on topics of race, but also not-race. This opportunity is not to be missed.”
“Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic is a love story told with wit and wisdom through the eyes of a Black woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams. It is the story fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published – perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.”
Recommended by: Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
“This book changed my life. I learned much about my own privileges and behaviors. It also helped me realize that I must perpetually work at combating my own racist tendencies and biases.”
Recommended by: Jessie Macdonald, Beth Emet Member and Chair Environment Climate Action Committee
“Debbie Irving’s book was a jolt to my psyche, excruciating to read at times, but impossible to put down. I cringingly saw myself in so many of the pages—a person who’s always been involved in organizations that help others, particularly homeless people, refugees, abused and neglected children. I’ve been on many boards that try to recruit people of color and yet in spite of my trying, I have no close friends who are people of color. Irving’s book is written as a memoir—it’s her story, but I believe it’s universally true for all white people. She doesn’t hit you over the head with accusations, but gently leads you to understand why and how we white folk are part of the overarching racism inherent in our systems. This is a book we all need to read, think about and discuss. ”
“Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people’. White fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage with issues of race more constructively.”
“If you’re looking to better understand the concept of reparations, this is worth the time … and changed my view. Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the reader (or listener) thru the systemic economic, political and historical practices that limited Black access to home ownership, education inequality, fair legal treatment. Lots of Chicago references. Wraps up with a comparison to German reparations post WW2.”
“Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article, The Case for Reparations, was published in the Atlantic in 2014, two years before Donald Trump became president, five years before Evanston passed the first municipal reparations initiative in the country, six years before George Floyd’s brutal murder by police officers and Covid-19, which has shined a bright light on health inequity in the United States. Now, more than ever, we Jews, we Beth Emet members, must support reparations for our Black brothers and sisters both locally by contributing to the Evanston Reparations Initiative (bit.ly/COEReparationsFund) and nationally by keeping up with HR40, the bill that establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans. Coates’ piece was instrumental is starting a real national conversation about racism, oppression, and reparations in this country. Though the topic of reparations has been addressed since enslavement ended, Coates’ approach frames reparations not just as a financial debt to be paid, but as an emotional and psychological one necessary to begin healing the entire nation. ‘And so we must imagine a new country. Reparations — by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences — is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. … What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices — more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.'”
Recommended by: Robyn Gabel, Beth Emet member and State Representative for the 18th District, IL
“The article, Evanston’s Road to Reparations, is a well-researched enlightening piece that describes both the work to pass the Reparations Resolution in City Council and the history of systemic racism in Evanston. By documenting the ways in which the City of Evanston’s government implemented policies to create racial disparities, it provides a narrative to justify reparations. As early as 1904 and more dramatically by the 1930’s, the article shows how banks and government policies were able to create an African American “ghetto” in the 5th ward, in overcrowded conditions, even though African Americans represented 10% of Evanston’s population. White Evanstonian’s need to understand the history of discrimination and systemic racism and how they benefitted from this system. This article will help everyone comprehend the importance of the current policy of reparations that will begin to correct past wrongs and create racial equity.”
Recommended by: Abby Diamond, Beth Emet Member and BESSY board member
“This short story takes place in the time of the Great Depression in a Black community during the dust bowl. The narrators writing is beautiful and perfectly incapsulates a time that is often overlooked in terms of the Black experience. Themes of innocence, hardship, and racial inequity are brought up and I think it is a great perspective into this time period.”
“In what has become a classic essay for anyone trying to understand the phenomenon of white privilege, Peggy McIntosh highlights how white people go through life unaware of the ways in which our society is constructed for them and their interests. It’s an eye-opening look at how Black people experience our society in ways different from those who are white and helps those who are white to be more aware of the oppressive experiences that Black people encounter regularly.”
Recommended by: Marci Dickman, Director of Lifelong Learning
“This entry is written by one of our congregants, Ellen Blum Barish. I appreciate her probing deeply into herself and her willingness to be honest about the growing we need to do and the learning we can do by listening carefully to others.”
Recommended by: Kathy Kaberon, Director of Youth Family Programs
“I found this to be exceptionally powerful, bringing home the inescapable conflict between ‘honoring’ the confederacy and Black Lives Matter.”
Recommended by: Phil and Nancy Bashook, Beth Emet members and PDAT volunteers
“The film charts the explosive growth in America’s prison population, which continues to enslave Black people. It’s a riveting documentary that illustrates how the treatment of Black people today perpetuates the racism and discrimination written into the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The amendment abolishes slavery except for those who are incarcerated. This movie helped us understand why racism is imbedded in American culture. It dramatically explains how many large corporations and political leaders use their influence to create government policies and laws to sustain immoral treatment of people of color. We very highly recommended this film.”
“This movie explores the Black Panther Party and its significance to the broader American Culture, its cultural and political awakening for Black people. Having grown up with a negative impression of the Black Panthers, I found this moving enlightening because it portrays a complex and many-sided movement. It illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the party as well as the brutal suppression of it and the murder of its leaders by the FBI.”
Recommended by: Alan Teller, Beth Emet member
“A powerful film about a street kid who finds himself transported back in time to the Civil War era. It dramatically shows what life must have been like, the changes that have occurred since then and the work that still needs to be done. Some fabulous scenes and contrasts. A memorable and affecting work.”
Recommended by: Lisa Levine, Beth Emet Member and Chair of the Social Action Committee
“In this 20-minute TED Talk, author and speaker Chimamanda Adichie eloquently explains how the power of stories matter and impacts one’s perspective on humanity. She explains the danger of having a single story about a place or a person and how media, power, and cultural folklore all play a part in why single stories persist even though they are inaccurate and incomplete.”
“A documentary about the brilliant and articulate teachings of James Baldwin about race in America. It is told through footage of James Baldwin and his relationship with Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.”
“This hour-long interview of Robin DiAngelo by ETHS principal, Marcus Campbell, is a compelling discussion of white fragility—what it is, how to recognize it, and how to deal with it so that it will not hinder the necessary work of racial justice.”
Recommended by: Rabbi London *Note: Beth Emet has a copy of the DVD’s”
“This three-part video series on race in our country was used as the basis for an excellent course taught at Beth Emet by David Futransky and Wendy Yanow a number of years ago. It explores how theories about Black inferiority have infiltrated our society and how policies towards the Black community have limited their upward mobility and ability to accumulate wealth.”
Recommended by: Mark Schoenfield, Beth Emet member and Chair of the Israel Committee
“Our brains process about 98% of information unconsciously, which is skewed by cultural stereotypes stored in the unconscious part of all of our brains, causing unconsciously biased reactions and decisions by people who think they are not racist or biased in other ways. These two free online training programs can teach you to recognize and counter unconscious racial and other biases. While focusing on workplaces, the training is applicable to all aspects of life. Understanding and countering unconscious bias is critical to move into a more just society. ”
Recommended by: Max Antman, Facilitator of Intersection of Jewishness and Whiteness Conversation
“It is full of really helpful information. Part of Beth Emet’s social action mission has always been to be an active partner with people of other cultures, races and faiths. In this moment we have seen dozens of lists and compilations of resources to learn, grow, and show up for ourselves and each other.”
Part of Beth Emet’s social action mission has always been to be an active partner with people of other cultures, races and faiths. In keeping with that goal, we offer this list of resources you may find useful to explore.
Recommended by Nina Kavin
Whitney Dow, a white man and documentary filmmaker and Erika Alexander, a Black woman and actress, explain reparations in an easy-to-listen to format that’s sometimes a bit quirky but very interesting and engaging. Whitney and Erika are making a documentary about the reparations process in Evanston. I’ve known them since the first town hall in December 2019!
Recommended by Matt Feldman
This is an excellent recitation of the steps leading up to Evanston’s historic resolutions to acknowledge the wrong done to its Black citizens and to pay reparations.
Brief article describing Evanston’s impact on the national reparations movement.
Excellent history of Evanston’s reparations initiative and also a broad overview of Black reparations history in general.
A conservative’s support for reparations isn’t a common position. Well worth the read.
NPR report the day after Evanston’s City Council voted 8-1 to support the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program, a discussion about how local reparations do not replace national reparations but rather are additive and important, and information and a link to Ald. Cicely Fleming’s statement opposing Evanston’s plan.
Recommended by Amy L. Memis-Foler
While this short article gives a brief perspective from author Michael Gee as to why reparations are needed, it also contains therein several other resources for further reading.
This article by Ta-Nehisi Coates is foundational reading for anyone interested in reparations.
This article (co-authored by a former Evanston resident and Second Baptist Church member) is a well written summary of the Evanston reparations movement.
A personal articulation of how one person came to believe that Jews should support Reparations
This nicely articulates the Judaic case for supporting reparations
There is excellent and detailed background supporting Evanston’s decision to acknowledge damage and pay reparations to its Black citizens.
Articulates background and support for Reparations
This is the text of H.R. 40, the bill introduced in the House of Representatives. This bill has been introduced in every session of the House of Representatives since 1989. This year, it went to markup and passed out of the Judiciary Committee for the first time.
Lots of information about Evanston reparations work.
This is a non-profit fund governed by the Reparations Stakeholders Authority of Evanston and administered by the Evanston Community Foundation.This provides a vehicle for those members interested in providing financial support to reparations in Evanston.
Recommended by Rabbi Amy Memis-Foler
Many people think that Reparations means only the giving of money. It is so much more than that. This resource from The National African American Reparation Commission highlights 10 points of reparations connected to housing & wealth generation, education, health & wellness, and so much more.
The site is regularly updates with opportunities to learn about reparations.
Watch the historic hearings in the House Judiciary Committee from April 16, 2021 as members debate HR 40 and then pass it 25-17. This was a historic first ever vote on reparations in the United States Congress.
A historic night in Evanston when Danny Glover and leaders of the national reparations movement gathered at First Church of God to discuss the passage of Evanston’s reparations resolution–first governmental entity to pass reparations in the country.
Great short piece about Evanston’s reparations initiative
The conversation surrounding reparations is underway and the U.S. government must take a leading role
Recommended by Nina Kavin:
Rep. Lee has taken over the work of shepherding HR40 since John Conyers passed away. He had introduced the bill every single year from 1989 to 2017. This year, in April 2021, HR40 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee for the first time, a historic win on the way toward Reparations becoming a reality in the US.
Reparations and the History of Economic Injustice: Nikole Hannah-Jones and Robert Reich
Recommended by Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich engage in dialogue about the economic injustice in our country from a race lens. Hannah-Jones focuses on the wealth gap between Black and White people. She helps explain the difference between wealth and income. Through an historical context she elucidates how the wealth gap began and continues today.
Understanding Reparations: A Three-Part Series
An excellent educational series sponsored by the URJ
We would love to learn about it! Please share your recommendation to email@example.com, or through our Race and Justice Resources Recommendation form.