Wednesday, July 20, 2016

EWC Book Club - Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

It started with a Facebook post anchored in the frustration that I did not know which of my friends and colleagues might be starting to educate themselves on racial issues. I had begun stumbling down that path, with half of my life already behind me, and I felt isolated in my ignorance and tardiness. I want companions for this journey. I have been blessed with many Facebook and Twitter "friends" who graciously allow me to peek into their serious and on-going conversations on race and inequality. I have been even more blessed by my colleagues and friends in real life who are gentle, yet strident that this is my work to do. That is truth.

This is the beginning of my work in community with those who will gather here to clarify our learning, check our assumptions and prejudices, and un-learn what needs to be challenged. My prayer is that our blinders will be removed, and we will be led to right actions as we learn how to be allies in the work of racial justice, and specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas
The first book I am proposing that we read together is Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by the Reverend Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas. I have read and marked up the prologue, introduction, and first two chapters so far.

I will keep posting as I continue to read, and I truly and humbly invite your comments. I will comment after writing the summaries of the chapters. I will create new posts as I progress, so the labels will be important for finding your place in the conversation as we go along. All will be labeled "Race Issues" and then "SYG" followed by the chapter, although this one is labeled "SYG Intro." I hope that will help with navigation.

If you are reading ahead of me and would like to create the post for a chapter, please feel free. My email is AmyPHaynie at gmail dot com - I would love for this to be a group effort.

Dr. Douglas uses the prologue and introduction to orient us to her social relationship to the Stand Your Ground laws. As the mom of a black young man, as a professor of religion at Goucher College well-versed in racial history, and as a black woman in US society, she asks "Why is it becoming increasingly acceptable to kill unarmed black children...Why are they so easily perceived as a threat?" (pg ix).

In the introduction, Dr Douglas states that "this book will explore the socio-cultural narratives that have given birth to our stand-your-ground culture and the religious canopies that have legitimized it. This stand-your-ground culture has produced and sustained slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, lynchings, and other forms of racialized violence against black bodies" (pg xiii).

In the comments of this section, I invite us to introduce ourselves and explore why we are interested in this work at this time. What do you hope for or want from this conversation? I hope we will be able to keep this space safe by checking our own white fragility and using "I" language as we do this important work.


  1. I am a 47 year old white woman who has lived my entire life in Texas. I am married to a white male, and have two white, male sons (ages 21 & 17). As I have watched news story after news story of black teens and young adults who have been killed for activities that my own sons could have been doing, I have been been convinced that the system is broken. In starting to read books that educate me on racial issues, I have been convinced that the entire system was created from the beginning to be prejudiced against people of color, and specifically hostile to black people. I first read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and the read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates. That is the paltry sum total of my racial issues education. I continue this work fearful of stumbling awkwardly, but ready to ask forgiveness in my stumblings and ignorance.

  2. I look forward to reading this book and to this conversation. I too am a white woman married to a white man and we have two white adult children. I have been reading The New Jim Crow, which is also a profound book that helped me make sense out of some things I have long suspected. I also participated via webcam in the Trinity Institute last January and heard Kelly Brown Douglas speak on this topic - WOW! Very helpful.

  3. Just ordered the book from Amazon, but looking forward to joining the conversation

  4. Thank you so much, Amy, for initiating this conversation. I'm learning, too. As a white person in America, there are many things to which I am blind, many things I need to learn. I am humbled by this - and committed to learning and to acting in new, better, more just ways. It is indeed a stumbling-forward process, for which I seek - though I know I don't deserve - grace. The book that I'm reading right now is "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The book is written to his son, and the first section is a reflection on what it means to Coates to lose his body, to have his body under constant threat. I look forward to reading Kelly Brown Douglas' book, but it may be a while before I can get started on that!