Processing racialized violence with students

Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana Image Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana Irene Cho Image Irene Cho Brad M. Griffin Image Brad M. Griffin | Oct 13, 2017

“It happened again.”

Stories of racialized violence erupt in our newsfeeds with little warning, leaving some shaking their heads in a sort of resigned disappointment while others experience the re-traumatization that accompanies victims of discrimination and violence. Some of us take to social media brandishing hashtags or to the streets in protest. Others gather to pray, or organize to petition lawmakers for help. What most of us can agree on is the tragedy of the word “again.”

Here at FYI, we wonder, How long, oh Lord?

How long until we stop adding names to the list of cities that have become known as bywords for violent racial injustices—cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and Charlottesville? How long until we stop adding names to the list of bodies brutalized and killed primarily over skin tone—names like Trayvon Martin, Dajerria Becton, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, or Tamir Rice?

In the meantime, it happens again. And again. Each time we wonder how we can help leaders and parents like you process acts of racialized violence with the kids and teenagers in your ministries and homes. Our conversations often stall around the complexity of feeling like we need to “get it right” or that we won’t be able to cover such complex topics in a way that will really help young people learn to navigate these waters well, including learning how to grow through their mistakes and poor responses to each other about race.

Even our language is unhelpful. We don’t know how to talk about these issues between individuals, let alone groups, and we do so trying to grapple with artificial race-laden labels like white, black, yellow, or brown—which feel more divisive than helpful. Descriptors to define underlying problems are also tricky (for those whose privilege offers them the power to choose descriptors). On one hand terms like “white privilege” and “white supremacy” feel almost too sugarcoated, while terms like “racism” and “discrimination” might feel too individualized, overly politicized, or drained of meaning. Wherever we turn, words get in the way.

And then there’s the problem of talking about violence. It’s hard to do without addressing contested topics like racial profiling, police brutality (and the history of law enforcement in the US), our culture’s obsession with guns, and the prevailing myth of redemptive violence that lies beneath many of our societal structures, from the football industry to the Pentagon.

Did we mention that the church is caught up in all of the above? Often in profoundly unhelpful ways.

We aren’t going to solve racialized violence or racism itself with one Bible study, one apology, or one conversation with a person of a different background. But we want to help you start where you can—especially in your conversations with students—to facilitate a set of ongoing conversations over time and embedded in real relationships. We are hopeful that intentional conversations can lead to intentional actions, in little and big ways, that over time can help rewrite the narratives that drive us apart, and ultimately can reduce racialized violence in our country.

Starting better conversations

The young people around us are hoping the adults in their lives will begin to have better conversations about race. In our Growing Young research, we heard young people express a desire for leaders who are willing to engage these conversations in their churches. They are connecting this desire with the gospel, and in particular Jesus’ response to a question about the “greatest commandment.” We know Jesus’ famous reply to, in summary, “love God … and love your neighbor as yourself.” What we sometimes forget is that the follow-up question of “Who is my neighbor?” led to the story we call the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). With this story, Jesus poses an ethnic and religious minority as an unlikely hero. Someone who in Jesus’ day would be racially profiled is suddenly elevated as the model of what it means to keep the greatest commandment. We shrug this off by naming hospitals and generosity campaigns after this stranger, but our current reality invites us to look again.

We have inherited a racialized society. We are all swimming in this. And the young people around us are asking how to become good neighbors in this very context. We must address racism, white supremacy, and racialized violence in light of Jesus’ command to love our neighbors—which, it turns out, is tied up in the way we love God.

While this isn’t a comprehensive resource, we hope to provide some starting points, some handholds to reach for as you climb up this mountain. To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps we will find that “out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope” is possible.

For each step below, we offer practical ideas for you to ask, listen, and pray with young people. So much of what will guide us forward into conversations is a better posture from the outset.

A good rule of thumb for starting conversations is to use phrases that help young people feel safe to share. Start with something basic, like, “What do you know about …?” to assess what they’ve heard, seen, or processed already. This will give you a baseline for what else to ask or say. Try to match your response with their level of awareness.

You’ll find a handful of other open-ended phrases might prompt young people to speak more freely, especially when they’re confused, sad, or scared:

  • Tell me more … [about what you’re feeling; what you mean; what you’re experiencing.]
  • I wonder how … [that person might feel; we can help; this is impacting you?]
  • Let me know if … [you want to talk more later; you have a friend who’s struggling with this; you start to feel anxious or afraid.]
A note about creating safe spaces for conversations about race and racialized violence:

If nonwhite students are part of your ministry, they may be experiencing unprecedented fear in the current climate of our country, in which racialized violence has become more openly commonplace. They may also encounter post-traumatic stress symptoms when new incidents occur locally or nationally, because racialized violence triggers past events—personal experiences or witnessing violence done to others—and sends them into a tailspin of anxiety. Keep all of this in mind before asking them to speak out, to represent perspectives beyond their own, or to help educate white students. This places an undue burden on people of color.

If your ministry is primarily or entirely white, the response of your students to racialized violence will likely vary, depending a lot on their families, schools, and your church’s engagement with conversations about race and privilege. You will likely have students who haven’t heard about the event (especially middle schoolers, who are often oblivious to news), or those who have forgotten about it. These are in themselves functions of white privilege—the option to think, talk, or be aware at all of racialized violence, or the option to ignore it. This is an important conversation to have.

1. Name and identify the systemic roots

When we asked readers like you to help identify questions you would want addressed in a resource like this, one leader shared, “I'd love to find ways to illuminate how pervasive and systemic racism is, and to connect my suburban youth to the stories and experiences of people of color, without demanding that people of color bear the additional burden of educating us.” One of the ways we can get at this question is by exploring context.

When we focus on context, we look back in time to understand the present. Context leads us to ask the important questions of, “A) What happened that got us here, and B) how can we learn from it so we can shape our future for the better?”

Teaching students the context of established systems that were intended for and continue to marginalize and oppress people of color in our nation is one of the most important elements of helping students wrestle with racism. Racialized violence is never an “isolated” incident because it is inherently wrapped up in the context of societal structures rooted in particular ideas about race and its function in our culture. Naming one person’s racism is unhelpful if we cannot name the systemic issues perpetuating racism in our country, including the structural and institutional layers. Some of the systemic realities include:

Slavery – Some wonder why the issue of slavery continues to be raised when discussing race issues. Slavery was outlawed a long time ago. It is important to understand how the sin of slavery laid the foundations leading to the dissension, prejudice, and injustice in our country. Although the southern states seceded for economic and political reasons, these reasons were ultimately tied up with a desire to keep slavery lawful. We can see some of the ways slavery systemically impacted (and continues to impact) the personhood of African Americans through examples like the “three-fifths compromise” in the Constitution, in which southern states fought for the representation of their slaves in population counts by being considered three-fifths of a white person. Because of the 3/5ths compromise, southern states earned a higher number of Representatives in Congress and members of the electoral college, and therefore had a disproportionate influence on the presidency, speakership of the House, and Supreme Court. Meanwhile, people of color were denied full personhood, let alone the right to vote.

Jim Crow Laws – Following emancipation from slavery, Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern States, beginning in the late 19th century after Reconstruction and enforced all the way until 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The effects of these laws, which prevented people of color from attending the same schools, riding in the same trains (and later buses), eating at the same restaurants, attending the same movies, or using the same restrooms as white people, still impact African Americans and other people of color today.

Confederate Statues – Statues of Confederate leaders have recently come more into the spotlight in public dialogue and debate. It is essential to note that the peak time periods when Confederate statues and monuments were erected were between the 1890s-1920s (during the height of Jim Crow Laws), and in the 1960s (during the Civil Rights Movement). Historians note that these memorials were erected as a response by white southerners who wanted to disenfranchise black people from their freedom and equal treatment. These statues are tangible psychological, emotional, and spiritual reminders that white southerners fought to keep black people enslaved.

Discrimination – Discrimination can be blatant or subconscious and exists in the workforce, banking and housing industries, policing, and more. As just one example, studies show how African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans have a 1-in-3 chance of experiencing discrimination in a job search. White employees and applicants are far more likely to receive an interview than applicants of color (see Wise 2010, 88-89).

Voting Laws and Registration – Voter suppression has long been an issue for African American communities. Past examples of this were illustrated in the movie Selma, where an African American woman was required to provide information above and beyond what white citizens would be required in order to register their vote. This kind of practice was widespread across the South in particular. And voter suppression continues to exist today. We can see it in states requiring a driver’s license or state ID in order to vote. The stated premise is to protect against voter fraud, yet the underlying purpose is questionable when Department of Motor Vehicles offices are then closed in predominantly nonwhite communities, creating situations in which the nearest DMV is as far as 4 hours away (illustrated recently in this report). These kind of regulations become systemic and structural tactics to suppress voters of color, in particular black and Latino voters.

Housing Zones and Restrictions – Research reveals how local governments across the country were and are intentional at zoning African American and immigrant burrows in order to protect white neighborhoods. This practice was known as redlining, which began in 1934 when President Franklin Roosevelt created home loan programs to boost the economy. The government created color-coded maps to determine which neighborhoods were viable for development. On top of that, policies were created by housing developers that specifically banned African Americans and other minorities from moving into these viable neighborhoods. These policies existed from 1934-1968 and as a result, 98% of home loans went to white people, who were then able to build equity after the Great Depression, while people of color, especially African Americans, were driven into greater poverty. It also influenced which neighborhoods attracted businesses and subsequent increases in market value. In turn, these policies impacted school revenue since public schools are funded largely by property taxes. This means white neighborhoods ended up with greater educational resources because white neighborhoods had higher property taxes than schools in neighborhoods of color.

Mass Incarceration and the Drug Wars – Coined by Michelle Alexander as the “New Jim Crow” laws, the emergence of mass incarceration of African Americans, privatized jails, racialized policing, and the “drug wars” of the 1980s-2000s all were used as tactics to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color. Criminal records impact voters’ rights, public housing, welfare, employment, and other opportunities related to upward mobility.

Immigration and Assimilation Laws – Stricter and more strategic racialized immigration laws came to pass around the late 1800s, specifically the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Alien Contract Labor Laws of 1885 and 1887. The general Immigration Act of 1882 also levied a heavy tax on immigrants and allowed for the exclusion of unwanted people groups. Views on immigrants assimilating into American white culture as quickly as possible were promoted by such leaders as Teddy Roosevelt, who implemented English learning as a requirement and eliminated the learning of foreign language at an early age. [Note: We recognize that this resource focuses largely on the black/white history of racial discrimination in the US, while there is a larger, often untold narrative of racism endured by indigenous people groups, Latinos, Asian Americans, and other immigrant ethnic groups. In a future resource we will explore further the impact of immigration narratives on today’s young people.]

Ask, listen, pray
Better questions to help students understand systemic roots of racialized violence:
  • What are some things you hear about the causes of racism and racialized violence?
  • What do you know about the history of racialized laws and policies in America? How do you talk about this history at school?
Better listening practices to understand the history our neighborhoods and communities:
  • Take the time to read up on ethnographic practices (the study of human cultures) through resources such as The Urban Ethnography Reader, as a way to learn how to explore and understand the racial history and realities of your local context.
  • Take the time to practice ethnography by walking (not driving) with students around the neighborhoods in your community where there is greater diversity, challenges, and limited resources. Observe storefronts, street signs, transportation movement, school and afterschool structures and programs, and green spaces. How do they differ from more affluent neighborhoods? What unique challenges and assets exist? What have you never noticed before?
  • Talk with locals from the community to ask them questions and hear their history and stories – both joyous and painful.
  • Ask if families of color from your church would be willing to sit with you or invite you to their communities and share their stories with you in order to increase your understanding of their lived experiences.
Prayer practices for acknowledging and addressing systemic racism with young people:
  • Pray with students that our churches and leaders would have wisdom and courage to live out biblical justice and follow Jesus’ call to attend to the marginalized, oppressed, and poor in our midst.
  • Watch this message from Efrem Smith together as a group and reflect on our identity as a people following a multiethnic Savior. Afterwards pray that churches will identify the sin of systemic racism and mobilize for change in the communities they serve.
  • Pray for your students that they would be inspired to make changes in their own schools and among their peer groups.
  • Pray with students utilizing this prayer exercise from Claudio Carvalhaes that aligns with MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
  • Reflect together on Acts 2:32-47 and Acts 15:1-35, thinking through the foundations of the first intercultural church communities, and how the apostles responded to the conflicts between Jewish and Gentile congregants. As you process, also examine Philippians 2:3-11 and together lift up prayers like this “I Am Sorry” liturgy.
  • Listen to Scripture passages that call out unjust systems and invite us to respond as God’s people. Pray with passages such as Proverbs 31:8-9, Zechariah 7:9-10, Jeremiah 22:3, 1 John 3:17, James 2:15-16, 1 Corinthians 10:24.

2. Lament and confess reality

Young people need us to help them name what’s going on, and to help them make sense of it in light of faith. It’s important that we do both.

Common reactions to tragedy include anger at God, questioning God, and struggling to trust God. We are invited to respond to these kinds of reactions by turning to the historical practice of lament. Lament is a God-given tool to pray and worship our way through pain and tragedy. While uncomfortable and sometimes awkward to read, the psalms of lament (there are over 65 of them) in the Bible give us language for crying out to God in ways we might not access all the time. That’s exactly why they’re preserved for us.

We say things like, “Why are you so far off? Why have you hidden your face from me?”

In lament we come to God in fear, grief, anger, and bewilderment. We bring our most honest and vulnerable emotions to God, and ask God to hold them. We also ask God to act.

In response to traumatic experiences, it is critically important for a community of faith to offer space for this kind of response to God. As youth workers, we may fear taking students to those places of doubt, anger, and disappointment with God. However, failing to create an environment for authentic lament can result in spiritually and psychologically short-circuiting the necessary healing process. We have the opportunity to offer the hope of Christ and his re-orienting power to lives that have been plunged into trauma and disorientation.

This may be particularly relevant in our response to racialized violence because of the systemic realities discussed above. Corporate lament helps us approach the process from a posture of confession and repentance (for both personal and collective sin) or from a posture of pain and distress (for those whose communities or racial/ethnic groups have been directly impacted), calling on God to act with justice.

Ask, listen, pray
Better questions to engage lament:
  • What kinds of feelings does this [current tragedy] raise in you?
  • Who are you talking with about how you feel?
  • What kinds of things are you saying to God about this?
  • How do you think God feels about what happened?
Better listening practices to help students lament:
  • Listen for the questions, especially questions of theodicy, like “Where was God?” or “How could God allow this?” Try to hold the space for honest response without giving quick answers to these complex questions.
  • Encourage white students to listen to how students of other ethnic backgrounds are processing what happened. Teach them to listen without offering their own initial response, and help them understand why anger, fear, or anxiety might be natural reactions for someone with darker skin tones in response to racialized violence, even if it’s far away.
Prayer practices for lamenting together:
  • Consider taking time in your next gathering for a reading of Psalm 88, 80, 61, 13, or 10. Ask reflection questions like, “Is it okay to say these kinds of things to God? Where could this kind of prayer go from here?” Then read through the psalm again and invite students to journal or draw their own continuing prayer for a few minutes. Afterwards talk through their feelings of comfort or discomfort in approaching God that way. If you’re a parent, try reading one of these psalms with your family as a way to grieve tragedy together.
  • Lament systemic realities, including the complicity of the church in perpetuating racism in America. After white nationalists demonstrated in Charlottesville, Virginia, Fuller’s President Mark Labberton helped clearly articulate this for our community: “The evil of racism so vividly unveiled in Charlottesville last weekend is tragically intertwined with American church history. But it needs to be said that nothing about white nationalism flows from the heart of God. May white—and all—followers of Jesus say and live a resounding NO to any form of white nationalism. As urgent as it is and must be for all Christians to condemn white nationalism, it is also urgent and necessary for white Christians like me to grasp, to repent of, and to turn from the long history by which our Christian faith has been used to accrue to us personal and systemic power and privilege simply because we are white. … By our racial sin, the name of Jesus is scandalized.” This statement is both a lament and a prompt for further prayer. These types of laments name the demonic forces of evil present in the powers that lurk not only in our political systems, but also our denominations and church traditions.
  • Connect lament to action. Prayers of this kind may stir up a desire to act. Be ready with appropriate next steps for students. This might include opportunities to advocate for justice, participate in a tangible local response, learn more through participation in a follow up discussion group, or tools to begin building a relationship with someone who is different. See #4 below for more ideas regarding advocacy.

3. Build bridges with the “other”

Bridges are hard to build. They require a deep understanding and rootedness on (at least) two opposing sides.

When left to ourselves, it is easier to opt for one side over the other. This is the work we are invited into: to stand in the chasm and build. It is no small task, and can only be accomplished with others. Thankfully, it is also one that Jesus has modeled for us.

One of the many times Jesus modeled bridge-building was in his encounter with the Samaritan woman as told in John 4. In the narrative, we are explicitly told that Jesus had to go through Samaria (v.4). This was scandalous. For many years, those of Jewish descent had avoided Samaria. In an attempt not to associate or approach Samaritans, alternative routes had been devised to go around and avoid that area. Jesus makes the decision to enter Samaria, and as his first action, breaks through history, culture, and a societal narrative.

Jesus then breaks through walls of division with a conversation. A conversation that lays down preconceived assumptions, sets aside a history of discrimination, and engages in knowing a woman at a well. The conversation is a scandal, and it gets personal. Jesus asks the woman about her relationships, her heartache, her reality; he asks questions and listens to her story.

One of the first actions to begin building bridges with those we consider “other” is to ask thoughtful questions and then listen well. A conversation can be the first step in undoing centuries of prejudice and violent assumptions of the other. As followers of Jesus, an important question to keep in mind is “What is my Samaria?” Who are the groups of people, spaces, and conversations that we have avoided for too long? Where are we being invited to enter into and go through? Then we must be willing to sustain the hard, vulnerable conversations needed to break through the walls we have both built and inherited. These are the conversations in which we must be especially sensitive to listen more than we talk.

Conversations are a beginning, but we cannot stop there. Listening to one another allows us to give and receive stories, but that dance of giving and receiving also happens when we sit at a table and share a meal. Meals are at the heart of Jesus’ ministry, and there is one particular meal that changed everything. This meal may be celebrated differently depending on your tradition, but the two main staples of the table are bread and wine.

The meal Jesus shared with his disciples is a model for how we are invited to live our lives. The night the meal was shared, nothing was certain. There was turmoil, anxiety, and fear in the air, and in the midst of it all, Jesus broke bread. We are invited to do the same. In the midst of the chaos surrounding us, breaking bread at our tables is an extension of that special meal. Jesus is always ready to be the host. When we break bread together and share in the abundance with which we have been gifted, we alter the way scarcity is proclaimed in our world. We still name the scarcity, but choose to practice abundance in response. In sharing the table, we are able to exchange stories, recipes, heritage, laughter, lament, and life.

Ask, listen, pray
Better questions to understand the other:
  • Who are the people I have been told to avoid? Who has shaped those narratives?
  • Who are your actual neighbors in your community? Find out. Perhaps you can make a list of names to keep in prayer, or invite someone new to share a meal.
Better listening practices to understand the other:
  • Listen for stories that speak to experiences beyond your own close relationships and your own heritage. Listen for things you have in common and things you do not. Both are equally important.
  • Listen to music, art, movies, or other storytelling mediums that you do not typically engage with from other cultural backgrounds.
  • Learn what racial microaggressions are and how they impact others around you every day.
  • Explore the Be the Bridge discussion guide resources by LaTasha Morrison for more tools for starting conversations about race.
  • Watch this Fuller Studio Story Table on reconciling race in our relationships.
Prayer practices for understanding the other:
  • Pray for God to stir a new imagination in you to build bridges.
  • Pray that God and others in your community can help you identify your “Samarias.” Start by prayerfully reading the passage in John 4.
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood, or perhaps a nearby neighborhood with different demographics, and bless those who live there as you walk.
  • Eat together at a diverse table, as an embodied eucharistic prayer.

4. Help students learn to advocate

Compassion is a word we often use but struggle to live out. To practice compassion requires that we look beyond ourselves and see the world through a different perspective, to suspend assumptions and to ask better questions. Compassion is where mercy meets action; in other words: compassion leads to advocacy.

We have inherited a world full of systems that have been designed to keep certain people in and others out. When we find ourselves constantly caught in the chasm of those differences, Isaiah 1:17 gives us marching orders:

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Advocacy begins with learning about the history of the situation, systemic roots, who is involved, and what our role in the process might be. As we learn and begin to live into compassion, Isaiah challenges us to defend, take up, and plead the case. These are all action steps.

The more we learn about injustice, the better we are able to identify the ways in which we can enter the work of advocacy. And we must enter this work. To avoid it, especially for those who are white, is to offer hurtful silent complicity to the violence against our brothers and sisters with darker skin.

Involvement in advocacy is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. But this cannot be done at a distance from real relationships. Advocacy is dangerous if not deeply rooted in relationships with those who are most affected by the issues at hand. Advocacy that does not foster a learning posture can do more harm than good. As we listen to the stories of those who are oppressed and abused by our current systems, as we share meals and learn to build bridges, a point comes when we have to take our location seriously and plead the case, stand in the chasm, question the norms, and join local and global movements that are addressing the toxic systems we have inherited. When wanting to step into advocacy, it is important to listen to the needs of those mostly affected and join into the efforts of local community organizations that are already doing this faithful work.

Ask, listen, pray
Better questions to explore advocacy:
  • What needs in my community is God calling me into?
  • Who are the good people already doing faithful work in this field?
  • How can I join in what God is already doing?
Better listening practices to support advocacy:
  • Listen to those who are experiencing injustice in their lives. Read their stories, watch video interviews, or sit down face to face with someone local whose story involves injustice.
  • Explore the voices of the Matthew 25 Movement, inviting followers of Jesus to protect and defend vulnerable people in his name. The website features toolkit downloads addressing several relevant subjects from a Christian perspective. Sojourners also elevates Christian voices on behalf of the marginalized.
  • Expand your understanding of global advocacy needs through the work of organizations like World Relief or the International Justice Mission.
Prayer practices that support advocacy:
  • Pray for those who are in vulnerable situations, that the body of Christ may be mobilized to action.
  • Pray by name for the organizations and leaders working with these vulnerable populations.
  • Pray for those in power to use their positions to act with compassion toward and on behalf of the marginalized.

5. Expand your own reading and viewing

One of the first steps in moving beyond immediate responses and toward a more robust change in our lives and ministries is to increase our own exposure to diverse and marginalized voices. Below is a starter list of selected resources that can expand your own reading, listening, and viewing. While by no means comprehensive, we hope to introduce you to different perspectives through voices that may stretch beyond your current circle of listening. (Disclaimer: The links posted below do not necessarily represent the views or beliefs of Fuller Seminary or the Fuller Youth Institute.)

Understanding White Privilege and its History

Book: America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America
Book: Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
Book: Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
Book: White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
Podcast: Let’s Talk about Whiteness
Article: When You’re Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression
Article: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People about Racism
Book: The Cross and the Lynching Tree
Book: Between the World and Me
Article: I Used to Lead Tours at a Plantation. You Won’t Believe the Questions I Got About Slavery
Article: White Debt
Book: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Resource: Black Lives Matter Syllabus Fall 2016
Book: Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America
Book: The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege
Podcast: How the Systemic Segregation of Schools is Maintained by ‘Individual Choices’
Article: On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart
Book: A Different Mirror—A History of Multicultural America

Talking to Our Kids about Race

Article: How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
Article: How Talking to Your Kids About Race Helps Fulfill the Great Commission
Online Resource: Raising Race Conscious Children
Article: What White Children Need to Know about Race
Article: 5 Ways Parents Pass Down Prejudice and Racism
Article: Children’s Books to Help Talk about Race with Kids
Book: American Born Chinese
Book: More Than Serving Tea
Resource: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack—Checklist used in college classes to teach about white privilege
Book: A Different Mirror for Young People
Movie: 13th Documentary (for older teenagers)

Taking Further Action

Book: Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times
Podcast: Fuller Studios: Kevin Doi on Ethnicity and the Incarnation
Podcast: On Being: John A. Powell on Opening the Question of Race to the Question of Belonging
Podcast: The Practice: Stories of Resurrection in Race
Video: Breaking the Model Minority Myth
Video: #ThisIs2016—Asian Americans Respond with Their Stories of Racism
Video: Verge Network: The artist Propaganda on Understanding the Problem
Video: Covenantal Restoration: A 12 Session Film Series on Faith and Race
Resource: Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism
Podcast: The Problem We All Live With (Part 1) and (Part 2)
Podcast: Faith Conversations: Mark Buchanan on Your Church is Too Safe
Podcast: It's Never Too Late to Talk About Race in Your Church
Article: 38 Resources to Help Your Church Start Discussing Race Today
Book: Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Book: Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community
Article: Six Things To Do When You Live on 'White Island'
Podcast: On Being: Michelle Alexander on Who We Want to Become—The New Jim Crow
Podcast: Faithfully Podcast: Kathy Khang on Will Christians Ever Get Race Relations Right?
Article: When Christians Won’t Say #BlackLivesMatter
Book: Race and Place: How Urban Geography Shapes the Journey to Reconciliation
Article: What Can You Do Right Now About Police Brutality
Book: The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
Book: Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love
Book: Roadmap to Reconciliation—Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice
Book: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Book: Let Justice Roll Down
Book: The Power of Proximity
Resource: White Allies in Training
Resource: Faith for Justice

Lead a diverse generation in faithful and caring discussions about race.

This easy-to-use guide is the perfect handbook for any leader who needs a starting point to talk about race, culture, immigration, and power with today’s young people.

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Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana Image
Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana

Jennifer A. Guerra Aldana, originally from Guatemala, grew up in Southern California as the daughter of church planters. Jennifer received her B.A in Social Work at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) and worked with various populations in San Diego County. She has pastored in bilingual, intergenerational, and intercultural ministries and earned her Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. She has led research projects and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Fuller Youth Institute. She is the author of several pastoral toolkits, blogs, and academic publications. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University and is a professor in the School of Theology at PLNU. Her passions include borderland conversations, intercultural youth spiritual formation, bilingual ministries, and theological education for the Latina community.

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Irene Cho Image
Irene Cho

Irene is a national speaker, writer, consultant, and advisor, having served over 28 years in youth ministry. Her passion is for the misfits of the world and to bring the gospel message of joy and hope to the least, the lost, and the last. She holds a Master of Divinity from Talbot Theological Seminary and a BA in Christian Education from Biola University. After serving as the Program Manager of Urban Leadership Training for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) at Fuller Theological Seminary for the last 11 years, Irene is embarking on a new venture of youth ministry resourcing applicable to those on the margins. To find out more, go to In her minimal spare time, Irene enjoys a great book, movie, or television show, hanging out with friends and former students, and her husband, and of course getting some sleep.

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Brad M. Griffin Image
Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content & Research for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based resources for youth ministry leaders & families. A speaker, writer, and volunteer pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over fifteen books, including Faith Beyond Youth Group, 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager & 3 Big Questions That Shape Your Future, Growing Young, and Sticky Faith. Brad and his wife, Missy, live in Southern California and share life with their three teenage and young adult kids.

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