Resources on Racism in Madison and the US

In our adult forum today, we’re joining the conversation about racism and inequity that has been taking place in Madison and across the country over the last year. I’m posting here some resources that might help us think about these issues in our own lives and in our community.

First of all, white privilege. Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” introduced the term: white-privilege

Second,the conversation was jumpstarted in Madison by an article by the Rev. Alex Gee, Jr. That is available here. In the year since its publications, Gee has formed a new orgnizationt, Justified Anger, that seeks to keep issues of race and inequity at the center of our political and cultural life in Madison.

About the same time that this conversation began, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released its Race to Equity Report that provided a shocking look at racial disparities in Dane County, WI (where Madison is located). The report is available for download here: WCCF-R2E-Report.

Some books to read:

James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

If you’ve never read it, or if you haven’t read it recently, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail is a powerful challenge to whites, especially white Christians, who criticized the nonviolent protests and boycotts in Birmingham in 1963. More than fifty years later, in the wake of Ferguson and Eric Garner, its words retain their power and are as relevant as ever. Read it here: king


Justified Anger: Town Hall on Racism in Madison

I attended Alex Gee’s town hall meeting on racism this afternoon. It was very interesting. A standing room only crowd, traffic jams on Badger Road, politicians of all stripes including Senator Ron Johnson came together to listen to Alex speak about what’s happened in his life since his article in December. We learned about the coalition that has emerged in the African-American community and hopes for real change to some of the wide disparities in achievement, economic status, and incarceration.

In the comment period that followed, we heard from people eager to participate, some ideas on what to do, and the need to engage other people of color in this conversation. We also heard about some of the challenges faced by the African-American community–the problems faced by people who are trying to reincorporate into society after prison; problems of under- and unemployment among African-American women, and the absence at this conversation of people from the under-class. We also heard about efforts over the past decades–reports of inequities and racism in Madison going back to the sixties and people who had tried to initiate change in previous generations.

It was heartening to see so many people come together across the great divides in our city. We are separated by class, economic status, and education, and more often than not, we are also deeply divided by our faiths, including divisions within Christianity.

For more information and to get involved in Alex’s emerging efforts, visit the website: