Over the past year, our staff and boards at Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters have been learning about (and incorporating into our work) environmental justice, racial justice, and equity. This work is critical as we strengthen our relationships with partner organizations who work on climate action, social justice, and equal access to voting in Washington state. We know we still have a lot to learn, and as with any important issue we know we have a lot to gain from talking to you – our members, activists, and supporters.
A key part of this work is joining together in conversation around how our lives and work are touched by race, racism, and whiteness. To that end, we’ve started an Equity and Racial Justice Book Club. Every first Thursday, WEC & WCV staff (and friends) join together over lunch to talk about a recent book (or article or podcast!) that touches on race and equity. We strive to extend these conversations into our work to protect Washington’s environment for all.
Brown is the New White takes an unvarnished look at the history of whites and people of color in America, revealing how the past has created current conditions that have revolutionary implications for U.S. politics in 2016 and beyond. Political leader Steve Phillips unveils how people of color and progressive whites add up to a new political majority—while exposing how far behind the curve Democrats are in investing in communities of color.
The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.
What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all—regardless of race—honestly reckon with our country’s fraught racial history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry, and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path toward a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is.
We like to keep a list of possible next-reads, some of which include Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Waking Up White by Debby Irving, and others.
Do you have recommendations for the book club? Or would you like to join in and read along? Shoot us a note and we’ll get right back to you!