Recent Reads: Waking Up White by Debby Irving

Waking Up White

What the book's about: Waking Up White chronicles the author's, Debby Irving's, journey in discovering her part - as a white woman - in the story of race in America. 

Why I read this book: Each year, my senior pastor selects a book for our staff to read and discuss with one another. Waking Up White prompted a series of thoughtful and productive conversations about race. 

My favorite quotes from the book: 

- "Racism is, and always has been, the way America has sorted and ranked its people in a bitterly divisive, humanity-robbing system." 

- "Privilege is a strange thing in that you notice it least when you have it most." 

- "To really get racism, a white person must get both pieces. It's not enough to feel empathy toward people on the downside; white people must also see themselves on the upside to understand that discrimination results from privilege."

- "White people have the choice, the power, to ignore race and racism. I can choose not to have a single cross-racial relationship. I can choose not to talk about race. And I can choose not to learn the beliefs, customs, traditions, and values of racial groups other than my own." 

- "Color-blindness, a philosophy that denies the way lives play out differently along racial lines, actually maintains the very cycle of silence, ignorance, and denial that needs to be broken for racism to be dismantled." 

- "I've long felt the term tolerance as related to racial and cultural difference isn't quite right. I've understood it to mean that I'm supposed to tolerate people who aren't like me. Is tolerating someone really the best I can do?" 

- "When it comes to race, there's no such thing as neutral: either I'm intentionally and strategically working against it, or I'm aiding and abetting the system." 

Who I'd recommend this book for: Waking Up White is an enjoyable, albeit challenging read. Fans of memoir will enjoy it, as will white people trying to better understand their part in the story of race. Waking Up White makes a great resource for small group discussions, especially because of the questions provided at the end of each chapter.  

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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