Resources on Race and Religion

The conversation about race and racism in America has never been more important. The death of George Floyd. The widespread Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The racial imbalance of COVID-19 deaths. The death and last rites of John Lewis. These markers of summer 2020 have made clear that the time to confront the tough political, economic, and social issues of racism is now. As Dr. Martin Luther King put it, “One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.” Race, religion, culture, and ethnicity are deeply intertwined in the history of American pluralism. Lets not sleep through this tumultuous revolution but become more awake to who we are as individuals and as a society. The below is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but we hope it is a helpful guide in exploring issues of race and religion in America.

Special thanks to the Harvard College Interfaith Forum, whose Black Lives Matter Interfaith Resources document was a valuable reference for The Pluralism Project. Many of their recommended resources appear on this page.

Articles & Chapters

Black Lives Matter is ‘a spiritual movement,’ says co-founder Patrisse Cullors by Alejandra Molina
An article with comment from Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors that explores the connections between the Black Lives Matter movement and spirituality, specifically West African traditions.
Tradition: Afro-Caribbean

"'La misión era sólo rogar por una sanación para el planeta': Social Media and Reparative Mobilizations in Regla de Ocha-Ifá during COVID- 19" by Nadia Milad Issa
From the Spring 2020 special issue of The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, this article offers an ethnographic look at how some practitioners of Afro-Cuban religions are creating and maintaining community events, rituals, and practices during the pandemic, keeping in mind the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Black and brown communities.
Tradition: Afro-Caribbean

#BlackLivesMatter and Living the Bodhisattva Vow by Christopher Raiche
From the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, this article argues that "Buddhist teachings on emptiness, compassion, and universal liberation risk becoming yet another brand of spiritual ornamentation for a privileged class," namely white people who engage in performative social justice advocacy.
Tradition: Buddhism

Being Buddha, Staying Woke: Racial Formation in Black Buddhist Writing by Adeana McNicholl
This article analyzes the writings of Black American Buddhists to examine the ways in which these writers seek to highlight inequalities and redefine what it means to be Buddhist in America.
Tradition: Buddhism

Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter and in Opposition to Racism, Buddhist Churches of America
A message from Rev. Harry Gyoko Bridge on behalf of the Buddhist Churches of America Ministers Association calling on Buddhists to help dismantle systemic racism.
Tradition: Buddhism

Asian American Christians denounce anti-Asian racism amid coronavirus by Emily McFarlan Miller
This article details efforts by Asian American Christians to combat increased racism against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tradition: Christianity

A Movement with a Theology by Adelle M. Banks
From the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, this article the involvement (or possible lack thereof) of the black Church in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tradition: Christianity

Orthodox Christianity, Systemic Racism, and the Wrong Side of History by George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou
An essay addressed to Orthodox Christians that discusses the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of Orthodox Christianity.
Tradition: Christianity

Penitence, Plantation and the Penitentiary: A Liberation Theology for Lockdown America by Rev. Nikia Smith Robert
In this article from the Spring 2017 issue of The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, Rev. Nikia Smith Robert examines conceptions of punishment throughout the history of Christianity and connects them to modern mass incarceration of Black and brown Americans, ultimately arguing in favor of a "Liberation Theology for Lockdown America."
Tradition: Christianity

Thousands gather Sunday for prayer and protests in Washington by Michelle Boorstein, Susan Svrluga, Fredrick Kunkle, Gregory S. Schneider and Michael Laris
An article that discusses the Prayer Walk for Peace and Justice, held on June 14th in Washington DC. The Prayer Walk was one of the largest faith-based gatherings held since the killing of George Floyd as well as the first large public event that Black clergy organized.
Tradition: Christianity

The "Trump Effect" and Evangelicals by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
From the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, this article explores connections between race, evangelicalism, and the Trump campaign and presidency.
Tradition: Christianity

Dharma Demands Us to Fight for Racial Justice by Suhag Shukla
A call to action for Hindu Americans to speak up against racism. This open letter also includes a list of action items for Hindu Americans to undertake to fight racism in everyday life.
Tradition: Hinduism

Hindu Hate Watch, Hindu American Foundation
An essay that details the history of Hindus in America and acts of  violence, often based in racial hatred, committed against Hindu Americans throughout American history.
Tradition: Hinduism

Lost in Conflation: Calling in Indian Hindu Americans to talk about Black Lives Matter by Indu Viswanathan
An essay that examines the intersection of Hinduism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and politics in America.
Tradition: Hinduism

‘The Colored Genius’: Lucius Lehman and the Californian Roots of Modern African-American Islam by Patrick D. Bowen
From the Spring 2013 issue of The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, this article discusses the life of Lucius Lehman, "a self-proclaimed black Muslim 'mullah'" who may have played a role in the creation of the Nation of Islam.
Tradition: Islam

I'm a Black American Muslim. After the killing of George Floyd, I hope that my community will speak out against injustices faced by Black people. by Nailah Dean
A personal essay detailing the author's experiences as a Black Muslim woman in America.
Tradition: Islam

"‘Believe us’: Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words" by Josefin Dolsten
A compilation of interviews with Black Jews who describe their experiences and feelings about the protests and movement surrounding George Floyd's death as well as the impact it has had on their own faith and on the Jewish community as a whole.
Tradition: Judaism

"I Helped Coin the Term ‘Jews of Color.’ It’s Time for a History Lesson." by Shahanna McKinney-Baldon
Shahanna McKinney-Baldon, one of the creators of the term "Jews of Color," explains the history of the term as well as its place in discourse surrounding race and Judaism today.
Tradition: Judaism

Two Friends, Two Prophets: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr. by Susannah Heschel
This essay chronicles the friendship between Abraham Joshua Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr.
Tradition: Judaism

Amid protests, US faith leaders engage racism and politics by Elana Schor
This article discusses multifaith responses by clergy to Black Lives Matter protests and anti-racism efforts more broadly.
Tradition: Multifaith

Embracing the Problem by Ahmed Ragab
From the Bicentennial Issue (Winter 2017) of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, this article explores how a community that is multireligious is also inherently multiracial and the implications of this type of community.
Tradition: Multifaith

Fully Fleshed Out: Religion, Womanhood, and Blackness in Contemporary Media by LeRhonda Manigault-Bryant
Published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, this article examines the intersection between religion, race, gender, and embodiment through analysis of Black women in film.
Tradition: Multifaith

Religion in African American History by Judith Weisenfeld
An extensive encyclopedia article from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History that covers the role of religion in African American history. Sections include Enslavement and Religious Transformation; Black Churches and Institutional Religious Life; Christian Mission at Home and Abroad; and Migration, Urbanization, and the Culture of African American Christianity.
Tradition: Multifaith

Talking Education: Cornel West on Teaching in the Age of Trump by Meral Kocak
Published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Graduate Journal of Harvard Divinity School, this interview with Dr. Cornel West includes West's thoughts on a variety of topics, including the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, neoliberalism, and xenophobia.
Tradition: Multifaith

To fight racism, we need to confront religion's racist past by Simran Jeet Singh
This article explores the history and current state of religion's—and especially Christianity's—connection to racism in America and offers a call to antiracist action.
Tradition: Multifaith

How to Feed Crowds in a Protest or Pandemic? The Sikhs Know by Priya Krishna
This article discusses the mobilization of Sikh Americans to serve meals to protestors and those affected by the pandemic, utilizing resources commonly reserved for the Sikh practice of langar.
Tradition: Sikhism

One Step Forward - Half a Step Back, The Sikh Coalition
Produced in conjunction with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, this report outlines experiences of bias-based bullying of Asian-American students in New York City schools.
Tradition: Sikhism

"Go Home Terrorist" - A Report on Bullying Against Sikh American School Children, The Sikh Coalition
This report includes stories and statistics about bullying against Sikh children in American public schools.
Tradition: Sikhism

Press Release - The Unitarian Universalist Association Says It’s Time to Defund the Police
A press release detailing a recent vote by delegates of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) during its General Assembly to "find alternatives to policing" and "pursue police abolition within Unitarian Universalist justice work."
Tradition: Unitarian Universalist

A special UUA president’s column: A message to white Unitarian Universalists. by Susan Frederick-Gray
A letter from UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray to white Unitarian Universalists regarding her changing attitude toward policing.
Tradition: Unitarian Universalist

Books

Yoruba Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism by Tracey E. Hucks
In this book, Hucks tells the story of Nana Oseijeman Adefunmi, one of the co-founders of Shango Temple, Yoruba Temple, and Oyotunji African Village, and draws larger conclusions about African American religious nationalism and the development of the Yoruba tradition in America.
Tradition: Afro-Caribbean

American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War by Duncan Ryūken Williams
This book recounts the incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II and the, with a focus on the story of Buddhist Japanese Americans and their efforts to redefine the concept religious freedom in America.
Tradition: Buddhism

Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation by Joseph Cheah
This book explores the prevalence of white supremacy in the formation and development of American Buddhism, focusing particularly on the Theravada tradition.
Tradition: Buddhism

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation by Rev. angel Kyodo Williams and Lama Rod Owens, with Jasmine Syedullah, PhD
This book examines the presence of white supremacy and racial injustice in Buddhist communities in America and offers a new framework for the concept of dharma that takes discrimination, privilege, and power into account.
Tradition: Buddhism

The Color of Compromise: The Truth About the American Church's Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby
In this book, Tisby outlines the how Christian institutions have perpetrated and sustained racism throughout American history and provides a call to action for American Christians going forward.
Tradition: Christianity

Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK's Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 by Kelly J. Baker
In this book, Baker examines the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and the movement's reflection upon broader themes of American politics and culture throughout history. Specifically, Baker argues that using the KKK as a case study for American Protestantism as a whole reveals larger connections to narratives of race and nationalism that are central to American religious history, and to American Christianity in particular.
Tradition: Christianity

Katie's Canon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community by Katie Geneva Cannon
In this compendium of essays, Cannon outlines the foundation of her own canon, centering Black feminism, an inclusive ethic, and the moral agency of Black women.
Tradition: Christianity

White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America by Khyati Y. Joshi
This book examines the prevalence of Christian, and specifically European Protestant ideals, in American culture and argues that white Christian privilege in America has led to the assumption that anyone who does not conform to these ideals is abnormal.
Tradition: Christianity

Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection by Sherman A. Jackson
In this insightful survey, Sherman Jackson examines a variety of issues as it relates to Islam and Black America, asking questions like why Islam spread amongst the Black community and not among white Americans and Hispanics.
Tradition: Islam

Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering by Sherman A. Jackson
As a sequel to his previous book, Islam and the Blackamerican, Sherman Jackson tackles the topic of suffering and the Blackamerican experience. Drawing upon the range of Islamic theological schools, Jackson offers an answer to the question: How can a just God condone slavery of Blackamericans and the subsequent racism, bigotry, and hardships they faced and continue to face?
Tradition: Islam

Race and Religion Among the Chosen People of Crown Heights by Henry Goldschmidt
This book examines racial and religious tensions between the Jewish and Afro-Caribbean and African American communities in the Crown Heights neigbhorhood of Brooklyn, using the experiences of the groups within this neighborhood as a case study for the benefits and drawbacks of American multiculturalism.
Tradition: Judaism

African American Religions, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom by Sylvester A. Johnson
This book provides an extensive overview of Black religious history in America, with a focus on the interaction of Black religion with colonialism.
Tradition: Multifaith

The Karma of Brown Folk by Vijay Prashad
This book examines the relationship between South Asians in America and Black Americans, analyzing the stereotype of the "model minority" and its ability to perpetuate antiblack racism.
Tradition: Multifaith

God is Red: A Native View of Religion by Vine Deloria Jr.
This book presents a view of religion that decenters Christianity and explores the intricacies of belief and practice through a Native perspective.
Tradition: Native American
 

Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness, edited by Tiffany Lethabo King, Jenell Navarro and Andrea Smith
This book explores the connections between anti-Blackness and settler colonialism and constructs new ways to build relationships between Black and Native communities. Multiple chapters in this compendium discuss Native traditions and their role in this conversation.
Tradition: Native American

Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White by Frank Wu
In this book, Wu analyzes issues of race and racism in 21st century America with specific attention to the stereotypes and biases facing Asian Americans today.
Tradition: None

Organizations

Anti-Oppression Resources | Common Ground Meditation Center
A compilation of books, articles, videos and other resources centered around understanding and combatting racial and gendered oppression through a Buddhist lens.
Tradition: Buddhism

Anti-Racism Resources | National Council of Churches
A collection of resources on anti-racism curated by various mainline Protestant denominations.
Tradition: Christianity

Recommended Resources | Asian American Christian Collaborative
A list of books, articles, podcasts, videos, and websites centered around the topic of anti-Asian racism and Christianity.
Tradition: Christianity

Interfaith Responses to Racism | Office of Religious Life, Princeton University
This list of resources, offered by Princeton University's Office of Religious Life, includes a compiltation of scriptural responses to racism from various religious traditions as well as a list of books about sprituality, religion, and race.
Tradition: Interfaith/Multifaith

Resources | Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
This resource page includes papers, toolkits, and articles for Muslims and about Islam on the subject of anti-racism and racial justice.
Tradition: Islam

Sapelo Square
This website serves as a plaform for analysis and discussion of the experiences of Black Muslims in America. It includes sections devoted specifically to arts and culture, history, politics, and religion.
Tradition: Islam

Judaism and Race | Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations
This webpage offers articles, videos, and other resources addressing race and Judaism, particularly surrounding anti-racism efforts in the Jewish community.
Tradition: Judaism

Resources | Race and Religion in American History Conference
A list of resources compiled as a part of Princeton's 2014 Race and Religion in American History Conference, organized by Dr. Judith Weisenfeld. This list is categorized by century but also includes some survey texts as well.
Tradition: Multifaith

Resources for Racial Justice | Rice University Boniuk Institute for Religious Tolerance
A compilation of resources surrounding racial justice and social equity that includes a section detailing articles about how various religious groups have responded to racism recently.
Tradition: Multifaith

Black Lives Matter and Building a Movement for Racial Justice | Unitarian Universalist Association
A compilation of  organizations, educational materials, action items, and sermons curated by the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Tradition: Unitarian Universalism

Black Lives Unitarian Universalism
A website that provides resources and support for Black Unitarian Universalists and advocates for a more visible role for Black UUs within the faith community.
Tradition: Unitarian Universalism

Podcasts

Illumine America | U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs
Produced by the U.S. Baha'i Office of Public Affairs, this podcast series discusses prescient socio-policial issues such as income inequality, race-based discrimination, and gender discrimination.
Tradition: Baha'i

An Uncomfortable (But Meaningful) Conversation About Race | Lama Rod Owens
In this episode of the podcast Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris, host Dan Harris has a conversation with Lama Rod Owens about race, and particularly about how whiteness is embodied.
Tradition: Buddhism

On Buddhism and Blackness | Valerie Brown
In this episode of Vox's Future Perfect: The Way Through, host Sigal Samuel interviews Valerie Brown, an activist and Buddhist teacher, about the history of Buddhism in connection with Black activism and ways to utilize Buddhist practices in racial justice work.
Tradition: Buddhism

TribeHerald Centers the Voices of Jews of Color | Yitz Jordan
In this episode of The Vibe of the Tribe, the hosts profile TribeHerald, a media company that foregrounds Jews of color, and discuss the importants of diversity and inclusion in the Jewish community as well as the importance of working toward anti-racism in the wider human community.
Tradition: Judaism

 

Teaching Tools

#BlackCatholicsSyllabus, curated by Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt
A compilation of books/book chapters, academic articles, public scholarship, films, videos, podcasts, church documents, and websites assembled by Dr. Tia Noelle Pratt, a scholar of race and religion. This syllabus explores both broader issues of anti-racism and more specific challenges and stories related to the experiences of Black Catholics in America.
Tradition: Christianity

#BlackIslamSyllabus, curated by Dr. Kayla Renée Wheeler
A curated list of resources related to Islam and Black Muslims. This syllabus includes a wide variety of suggestions categorized both by topic, such as  Islam in the Americas, Enslaved Africans, and The Moorish Science Temple of America, and by medium, such as Radio Shows and Podcasts, Poetry and Spoken Word, and Archival and Digital Humanities Projects.
Tradition: Islam

Black Muslim Experiences: Research and Resources on Americans who are Black and Muslim
A collection of links, books, research, videos, and other resources about experiences of Black Muslims in America curated by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.
Tradition: Islam

Oxford Bibliography - Black Muslims, curated by Samory Rashid
A detailed historiography of Black Muslim studies that includes sections categorized by literary theme and type of source.
Tradition: Islam

Anti-Racism and Jewish Resources
A Google doc that includes a list of action items and other educational resources related both more broadly to anti-racism and social justice and specifically to Judaism and anti-racism. 
Tradition: Judaism

#Charlestonsyllabus, curated by Keisha N. Blain, Melissa Morrone, Ryan P. Randall, and Cecily Walker
While this syllabus as a whole provides resources related to the history of racial violence in America, white supremacy, and race more broadly, it also includes a section on readings related to race and religion.
Tradition: Multifaith

Faith in the Fire: Religious Public Intellectuals syllabus, created by Cornel West and Jonathan L. Walton
An excerpt from the syllabus for Cornel West and Jonathan L. Walton's course "Faith in the Fire: Religious Public Intellectuals" published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin.
Tradition: Multifaith

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