Anti-Racism Book Discussions

29 Oct 2020 - 05 Dec 2020 | 06:00 pm - 11:30 am

A challenge to every member of the Ethical Movement: read one more book to educate yourself about racial justice and anti-racism, in the community of others who also value ethical living. The goal of the project is to create a firmer foundation for the anti-racism work we do, as individuals and as members of Ethical Societies. Anti-racism work can be about individual growth and action, action as an Ethical Society, or a look at our own institutions.

We have multiple opportunities through the end of 2020. Each one has slightly different minimums and maximums for enrollment, and expectations. Some are more than one session. Some are led by professional Leaders and some by lay members of Ethical Societies. In each one, we expect that you bring an open mind and an open heart, a commitment to understanding what the author is trying to say before critiquing their view, and a commitment to understanding what your fellow participants are saying more than arguing with them.

The books are arranged in four categories (see tabs below), reflecting different phases of learning and understanding, and thus different needs. Remember to register and for more books: a growing bibliography of related books is here.

Register for session(s) here


  • Understanding racism, whiteness, inequality, bias, history of race/racism, concepts of race

    How to Be Less Stupid about Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Marie Fleming
    Goodreads
    Thursday, Oct. 15, 7:30-9:30 PM ET
    1 session, 2 hours. 4-12 participants. (20-30 minutes of informal discussion after the session is possible)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session, but if you have not finished, you’re welcome to attend and fully participate. Led by Randall Best, Leader, Northern Virginia Ethical Society.

    How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
    Goodreads
    Thursday, Oct. 22, 2-4 pm ET
    1 session, 2 hours, 3-15 participants

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session, but if you have not finished, you’re welcome to attend, and listen as well as ask questions. Led by Jone Johnson Lewis, Leader, Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture.

    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
    Goodreads
    Saturdays, Oct. 10, Nov. 7, Dec. 5, 10-11:30am ET
    3 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 2-5 participants.

    This series aims to help white people explore why it’s so hard for us to talk about race and how to dismantle those barriers. Together, we will face the truth of our role in white supremacy honestly while practicing compassion for ourselves and others without judgement. Participants are asked to commit to reading the assigned segment of the book before each session, but if you have not finished you will still be welcome to attend and listen as well as ask questions. Led by Kate LaClair, Baltimore Ethical Society member and former Chair of the Ethical Action Committees at Baltimore and the AEU.


  • Facing reactions to racism and anti-racism

    My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem MSW LICSW SEP
    Goodreads
    Thursdays, Oct. 8, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 19, & Dec. 3, 7-9 pm ET
    5 sessions, max 2 hours/session. 3-7 participants.

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. It would not work well to include those who haven’t read the material. Led by Sarah Tielemans, NYSEC member and Leader in Training.

    Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
    Goodreads
    Wednesday, Oct. 14, 7-8:30 pm ET
    1 session, 1.5 hours. 3-12 participants.

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not finished the book are asked to observe rather than participate actively when the discussion is about parts of the book they have not read. Led by Anne Klaeysen, Ethical Culture Leader.

    Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
    Goodreads
    Monday, October 19, 7-9pm ET
    1 session, 2 hours/session. 3-15 participants.

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not read at least 50% of the book are asked to hold questions and comments for the last 30 minutes, and listen for the rest of the session. Led by Jone Johnson Lewis, Leader, Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture.


  • More challenges to action, having difficult conversations

    This Red Land, a novel by Arthur Dobrin
    Goodreads
    Tuesdays, October 13 + 20, 7-8:30 pm ET
    2 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 5-20 participants. (Arthur will stay 20-30 minutes after the session for information discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not finished the book are asked to observe rather than participate actively when the discussion is about parts of the book they have not read. Led by Arthur Dobrin, Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, Leader Emeritus.

    The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander
    Goodreads
    Tuesdays, Oct. 6 + 13, 6-7:30 pm ET
    2 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 4-20 participants. (20-30 minutes after the session for information discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not finished the book are asked to hold their comments or questions to the last 30 minutes. Led by Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader, Baltimore Ethical Society, Philadelphia Ethical Society.

    The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks by Randall Robinson
    Goodreads
    Wednesdays, Sept. 23 + 30, 6:00-7:30PM ET
    2 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 4-20 participants. (20-30 minutes after the session for information discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not finished the book are asked to hold their comments or questions to the last 30 minutes. Led by Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader, Baltimore Ethical Society, Philadelphia Ethical Society.

    Black Girl Dangerous: On Race, Queerness, Class and Gender by Mia McKenzie
    Goodreads
    Monday, Oct. 26, 6:30-8pm ET
    1 session, 1.5 hours/session, 3-8 participants (15 minutes after session for informal discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session, but if you have not finished, you’re welcome to attend, and listen as well as ask questions. Led by Trang Duong, Washington Ethical Society, Member and Board Trustee.


  • Immersion: intersections and more depth

    The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
    Goodreads
    Thursdays, Oct. 8 & 15, 7:30-9 pm ET; if more time needed, Oct. 22
    2-3 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 3-8 participants. (informal discussion for 20-30 minutes after the session)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session, but if you have not finished, you’re welcome to attend and fully participate. Led by Paul Heymont, Brooklyn Society.



    The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
    Goodreads
    Thursdays, Oct. 22 + 29, 7:30-9pm ET
    2 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 3-8 participants. (20-30 minutes after the session for information discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book (or at least 75% of it) before the session. Led by Bart Worden, Ethical Society of Westchester.



    The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
    Goodreads
    Tuesdays, Oct. 20 + 27, 6:00-7:30PM ET
    2 sessions, 1.5 hours/session. 4-20 participants. (20-30 minutes after the session for information discussion)

    Participants are asked to commit to reading the whole book before the session. Those who have not finished the book are asked to hold their comments or questions to the last 30 minutes. Led by Hugh Taft-Morales, Leader, Baltimore Ethical Society, Philadelphia Ethical Society.