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Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In this provocative book Jennifer Harvey argues for a radical shift in how justice-committed white Christians think about race. She calls for moving away from the reconciliation paradigm that currently dominates interracial relations and embracing instead a reparations paradigm.

Harvey presents an insightful historical analysis of the painful fissures that emerged among act
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 27th 2014 by Eerdmans (first published November 15th 2014)
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Jonathan Hiskes
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A powerful argument that Christians are misguided when they pay lip service to diversity, colorblindness, and racial "reconciliation" without reckoning with the very real and economic power imbalances between white and black Americans. Harvey argues that white Christians need to let go of reconciliation language entirely until they address the more difficult and consequential topic of reparations, which can take the shape of as scholarships for black students, funding for black media, culture, a ...more
Myi'a Antoinette
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Jennifer Harvey presents a strong argument against racial reconciliation models as it focuses more on integrating Black people into white spaces while ignoring histories of white violence and privilege at the expense of Black bodies.

It is a good argument, but I believe she needed to cite more Black theologians, sociologists, and race theorists. Too often she describes events and attitudes of Black people during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements without citing where she learned the info
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A thorough analysis and call for white Christians to move from a reconciliation paradigm to a reparations paradigm. Harvey spends two-thirds of the book deconstructing the reconciliation paradigm with specific examples (from both mainline Christians and progressive evangelicals) and the important histories of Black-white relationships within the U.S. ecclesial context. Reading this portion, I noticed severe limitations in the racial education I've received in religious contexts. Of particular no ...more
Linda Owen
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an important and necessary book that shows the only rational way out of the racial impasse for white Christians. The reason I'm giving it three stars is the writing, which is dense, abstract and academic and provides few concrete entry points for a laypersons' discussion group. Our pastor thought it was great, but most of the lay participants did not get through the book and I had to provide chapter summaries for our discussion. Perhaps it wasn't the best book to start the conversation a ...more
Albert Hong
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Challenging and insightful. This book, along with the reading group that we went through this with, has deeply affected how I think about approaches to engaging racial injustice.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Very academic and somewhat difficult to read, but definitely thought-provoking.
Josh Olds
Dear White Christians is one of those books that it took me a while to get through. (My apologies to Eerdmans, who is probably convinced I forgot all about them.) In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, I made a commitment to take the work of racial reconciliation seriously and listen to voices both Christian and secular who are working and speaking in this field.

Michael Brown began my journey. Ferguson was eye-opening for me and got my attention in a way that other blatant evidences of inequality
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rejecting what she calls the "reconciliation paradigm," Harvey urges Christians to consider the "reparations paradigm" as the course the Church must follow in addressing its role in the history of racism. She begins by discussing the inadequacy of the reconciliation paradigm in addressing racism in the church because it does not deal with the underlying harm and need for healing in order for reconciliation to take place. She then recounts the history of reparations, highlighting the Black Manife ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
The author mixes history and research to make the case for reparations in the USA because racial reconciliation "misses critical aspects of what race is." I think it makes a good companion book to John Perkins' writings about reconciliation and Ta-Nehisi Coates' writings about reparations. I would recommend all three authors' works be part of any Christian group that is serious about racial justice and seeks to educate their group as they take action together. This book is obviously addressed to ...more
Jeff Lehn
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Appreciated this dense but really helpful book. The biggest takeaway for me was Harvey's argument that the "reconciliation paradigm" has largely failed to bring about racial justice that progressive churches long for. Instead we must adopt a "reparations paradigm." I didn't know about the efforts of the Episcopal Church and the PC(USA) to engage in a conversation around reparations in the 2000s. This was timely to read alongside of Ta-Nehisi Coates' magisterial article, "The Case for Reparations ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Harvey makes a compelling case for churches to work towards reparations, not embracing diversity. As appealing as embracing diversity is, it ultimately cannot sufficiently address the generational harm caused by slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing segregation. White Christians and white churches on the side of God's freedom, justice, and liberation are invited to do the actual work of repair - and to pay for it.
Keonnie  Igwe
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hey white pastors!

This is a solid read and necessary for those of us pursuing racial justice in the Church. As a black woman, I found it both affirming and illuminating. Harvey is a bit laborious and redundant in building her argument but I think it makes sense considering the subject matter and intended audiences.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Academic yet sincere in tone; clear, convincing, and crucial in content.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommend
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very thoughtful and well researched exploration of how American (particularly white) churches have engaged (or not) for racial equality.
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dear White Christians: Reparations, not reconciliation.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hard but good read. Honest and straightforward. Not optimistic but truthful about what the [white] church needs to do now.
Aug 05, 2020 is currently reading it
Sunday School
Joey Feldmann
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious
A proactive thesis. A highly academic and dense work. It is well worth the time it will take to get through. But it will take a lot of time to read.
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ms. Harvey is thorough and convincing in her arguments regarding what we need to finally move forward in black/white relations. Chapter by chapter she explains her case, providing historical perspective demonstrating how we arrived where we are today and why we cannot move forward without a commitment to radical change. She demonstrates that the commonly suggested solution--Reconciliation--is not enough. Before we have reconciliation, we must make reparations, because racism is part of a sometim ...more
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book quite some time ago, so this will be a short review. I remember being somewhat disappointed. The author says a lot of good things, and I believe that many people in predominately white churches would benefit from reading this book.

She spends much time talking about lost opportunity during the civil rights era, when white Christians just couldn't understand what black Christians were talking about. They didn't really listen, believing themselves to be the leaders of the conv
Roland Clark
Apr 08, 2015 rated it liked it
In 1865, the year all slaves were officially freed in the United States, African Americans owned 0.5 percent of the country’s wealth. Time hasn’t changed much. In 1990, they owned 1 percent. When freedom has given so little to African Americans and the legacy of slavery continues to cripple communities 150 years later, it is time to talk about whether reparations are in order. Jennifer Harvey’s Dear White Christians (2014) offers a compelling critique of the idea of reconciliation and then makes ...more
Neil Harmon
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
If I could do fractional stars I'd add another star. I think this book made some very important points and put its finger on why many reconciliation efforts stall and don't accomplish the intended goal. I think there was a lot of good information here but would have liked to have seen it distilled a little more. I can understand the likely reason why the author laid such careful groundwork. The term "reparations" is one of those loaded terms. A careful introduction is needed to overcome a likely ...more
anthony wanjogu
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's worth reading by all Christians involved in racial justice especially by whites.

It defines the meaning of reparations in a positive framework that should be used to transform the effects of slavery especially by white people who most resistant to the idea.
Barb Royal
Sep 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent information & perspective. Didn't finish - just to dense for me. ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not an easy read, but a necessary one.
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ministry
Well worth the read. Started out slow but got more engaging. Good explanation of what is wrong with reconciliation paradigm. Glad too see focus on whiteness as an issue
John Lussier
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
Reparations and the theological grounding for them. Harvey establishes how the Evangelical desire for reconciliation hasn't worked and has to be rethought.
Hannah Notess
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend this to other white Christians who have an interest in racial justice but wonder about questions like "Why is the church so segregated?", or those who are familiar with the language of racial reconciliation.

It's a hard look at the history of well-intentioned white Christians failing to undo white supremacy - a history very much worth understanding.
I was resistant to the idea of laying down the hope of reconciliation, but by the end of the first chapter I got it. And I have never thought about reparations in the context of the church before, but it makes so much sense. Clearly the old approach is not working, and this seems like the possible beginning of something hopeful, despite not providing any easy answers.
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“I am committed to justice because first I believed that truly God so loved this broken, aching world.” 0 likes
“Race is real. Race is powerful. But race is also a social construct. This understanding of race begins to shed light on the conundrums of whiteness. In the United States constructions of race have never been morally neutral. Racial construction processes have always meant and continue to mean today that persons with phenotypes marking them as “white” receive better treatment, greater social access, and more institutional benefits than those with phenotypes that mark them “of color.” 0 likes
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