The following resources have been recommended by individual participants in the Rochester Zen Center’s Seeing Through Racism (STR) group (they are not curated by STR nor the RZC). Together, they reveal the impact of structural racism and ways for white people to uproot it.
This page will be periodically updated as new sources are recommended.
- Black-Owned, Independent Bookstores
- Non-fiction Books
- Movies and Other Videos
- Other Lists of Anti-Racist Resources
- Local Rochester Organizations
- Anti-racist Activities of Other Zen Centers
Books on Race & Buddhism
- Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living Fearlessness and Grace. angel Kyodo williams. Viking, 2000. Written by a Black Zen teacher and priest in the Soto tradition, this book offers practical ideas and tools for practicing with a “warrior spirit” in the face of racial suffering.
- Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us about Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom. Edited by Cheryl A. Giles and Pamela Ayo Yetunde. Shambala, 2020.
A collection of writings by Black teachers from all the major Buddhist traditions, telling their stories of how race and Buddhist practice have intersected in their lives.
- Mindful of Race : Transforming Racism From the Inside Out. Ruth King. Sounds True, 2018.
King is a Black lesbian Buddhist teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition. In 2020, Seeing Through Racism chose this practical guide for a Black Lives Matter book discussion activity.
- The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality and Gender. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel. Wisdom Publications, 2015.
Written by a Black lesbian Zen priest, this book explores Buddhist philosophies of emptiness and appearance as they relate to race, sexuality, and gender.
Books on Race and Racism
- How to Be an Antiracist. Ibram X. Kendi. One World, 2019.
This book offers insights on what an anti-racist society might look like and how each one of us can play an active role in building it.
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor. Layla F. Saad. Sourcebooks, 2020.
Saad’s work explores connections between race, identity, leadership, personal transformation, and social change. As an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman, she offers a unique perspective on how to live and work in ways that leave a legacy of healing and liberation.
- My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies. Resmaa Menakem. Central Recovery Press, 2017.
Menakem is a therapist who looks at how racialized trauma is held in our bodies.
- So You Want to Talk about Race. Ijeoma Oluo. Seal Press, 2018.
In addition to offering a comprehensive look at America’s racist heritage, this New York Times bestseller shows people of all races how to have constructive conversations about race, including how to talk to friends and family members.
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson. Random House, 2010.
A Pulitzer Prize–winning author, Wilkerson chronicles the untold story of the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South to northern and western cities in search of a better life.
- What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays. Damon Young. Ecco, 2019.
A provocative memoir exploring the ever-shifting definitions of what it means to be Black (and male) in America. It’s written by an acclaimed Black journalist and humorist who grew up in the hood in Pittsburgh, and demonstrates how the life, culture and emotional makeup of a POC is affected by being Black. NPR review of the book.
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism. Robin DiAngelo. Beacon Press, 2018.
Drawing on stories from her experience leading discussions on race, DiAngelo explores how the world white people live in makes them/us ill-equipped to engage in a conversation about racism.
- Americanah. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Knopf, 2013.
Winner of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, this evocative novel narrates the life of Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who immigrates to the United States.
- Speak No Evil. Uzodinma Iweala. HarperCollins, 2018.
This deeply engaging novel focuses on the life of Niru, a high school senior at a prestigious Washington, D.C., prep school, and child of Nigerian immigrants.
Movies and Other Videos
- 13th. Available in full from Netflix via YouTube at no cost.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with Black people.
- American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Available for rent on Amazon Prime and trailer on YouTube.
This documentary follows the remarkable life of a Chinese-American Detroit resident and anti-racist activist.
- Holy Post – Race In America. YouTube.
A 17-minute video on history of racism.
- I Am Not Your Negro. (Magnolia, 2016.) Streaming available on Netflix.
This acclaimed documentary showcases the writings and observations of gay, Black, author, poet, playwright, and activist James Baldwin on civil rights, race relations, and history in the mid-century United States.
- Immigration Nation. Netflix series, 2020
This direct look at ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the people of color whose lives it overwhelmingly impacts provides a bracing, multi-axis glimpse into current US immigration policy, strategy, and border militarization.
- Moonlight. (A24, 2016.)
This poetic coming-of-age drama follows the life of a young Black boy growing up in Liberty City, Miami. Widely critically acclaimed and deeply culturally influential, this film won Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards.
- The Truth About the Confederacy in the United States. YouTube.
The ACLU’s (American Civil Liberties Union) top racial justice expert, Jeffrey Robinson, discusses the dark history of Confederate symbols across the country and outlines what we can do to learn from the past and combat systemic racism.
- Netflix: “Black Lives Matter” Collection.
For more background on this collection see “How Netflix Beat Hollywood to a Generation of Black Content” in The New York Times.
- Nice White Parents. (Serial / NY Times, 2020.)
What happens when white parents get involved in public schools? This five-part documentary podcast series tells the surprising story of a single school in Brooklyn.
- Seeing White 14 episodes of Scene on Radio. (The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, 2017.)
This series explores the cultural history of whiteness and racial inequity. Episode titles include “How Race Was Made,” “That’s Not Us, So We’re Clean,” and “My White Friends.”
- Normalizing Injustice: The Dangerous Misrepresentations That Define Television’s Scripted Crime Genre.
The online racial justice group Color of Change did a study of crime dramas on TV. This article shows how crime dramas exclude writers of color, miseducate people about the criminal justice system, and make racial injustice acceptable.
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.
Peggy McIntosh’s classic, must-read article describes the very specific and daily effects of white privilege.
- Racial Equity Tools.
This page is a comprehensive resource for individuals and groups, providing methods, tips, curricula, research, and ideas for action in support of transforming white privilege and building racial equity.
Other Lists of Anti-Racist Resources
- Do the Work.
A collection of resources for participating and/or supporting anti-racism protest, supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, and doing internal/external anti-racism work.
- Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources.
A scaffolded collection of resources for white people “to become allies, and eventually accomplices” in anti-racism work.
Local (Rochester Area) Organizations
- SURJ. Showing Up for Racial Justice – Rochester, NY.
This group is a local chapter of a national organization. It’s made up of white people who seek to provide support to racial justice groups led by people of color. Their Resources page includes educational materials and information about free educational events.
Anti-Racist Activities of Other Zen Centers