Reading the Classics May Save White Souls | Sojourners

Reading the Classics May Save White Souls

TO UNDERSTAND THE TRUMP PHENOMENON, which is at least in large part about race, I decided to read. Instead of reading more white people wrestling with what has gone wrong with white people, I, a white man, focused on African-American sources, mainly novels.

This move was first suggested to me by womanist ethicist Katie Cannon, who read the novelist Zora Neale Hurston as a primary source. I, too, began with Hurston, and then couldn’t stop. For two years, I have been reading classic novels by African-American authors, seeking an answer to these questions: How do black characters experience white people? How do they describe white Christian people’s morality and religion? The answers are clear—and devastating.

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