Our individual and collective inability (or at least reluctance) to discuss the issue of racism openly and frankly--and to struggle actively with it with colleagues, family members, parishioners, and friends--keeps the cycle of oppression repeated and reinforced. Joseph Barndt's Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America will be greeted with gratitude and relief by anyone who has tried to wrestle with the issue of racism in a personal relationship or a professional setting.
Barndt--a pastor in New York City and co-director of Crossroads, a ministry working to dismantle racism and build a multicultural church and society--has been working on issues of racial justice for decades. In Dismantling Racism, he has boiled down years of experience, insight, and wisdom into a clear, readable, no-nonsense, and honest volume.
Barndt's overall analysis is superb. He addresses the social, political, and economic realities in this country with such simplicity and clarity that reading this book is like looking through a camera lens at a vista that at first appears blurry but is suddenly, dramatically, brought into focus.
In the first chapter, Barndt discusses what he calls the "continuing evil of racism"--how the roots of racism are "embedded and intertwined in the life and history of the United States." A dynamic tension is created between the despair and disappointment of the past and a sense of hope for the future.
Barndt straightforwardly jumps into the thorny question, "What is white racism?" He achieves the rare and remarkable balance attempted by so many but accomplished by so few: He places the problem of racism directly in the laps of white people...without placing blame or inspiring guilt in the process.