Seeing Through Racism

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.

Books on Race & Buddhism

Books on Race and Racism

Fiction

  • 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.

Podcasts

  • 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.”

Articles

Websites

  • 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

Brooklyn Zen Center