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Dear White Christian: What Every White Christian Needs to Know About How Black Christians See, Think, & Experience Racism in America.

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In the fall of 2014, during the racial and cultural events in Ferguson, MO, Aaron Layton desperately wanted to know what was going on in the minds of his white colleagues, friends, and fellow church members. So, he did what comes naturally to him, but might seem unnatural to many. A trusted white friend responded: Here is the deal: we don’t understand it; we don’t know wha In the fall of 2014, during the racial and cultural events in Ferguson, MO, Aaron Layton desperately wanted to know what was going on in the minds of his white colleagues, friends, and fellow church members. So, he did what comes naturally to him, but might seem unnatural to many. A trusted white friend responded: Here is the deal: we don’t understand it; we don’t know what to say; and we don’t know what to do. That response propelled Aaron to action to deepen the understanding of his white friends, with the hope that greater understanding would result in a greater unity believers possess in Christ. The lessons he learned are the foundation of this book a letter to the white Christians he dearly loves, as well as those he hopes to one day meet. Dear White Christian is designed for any white Christian who seeks practical tools for beginning or continuing conversations with black brothers and sisters in Christ. As you read this book, lean into that which makes you uncomfortable. Allow this letter to give you insight and challenge you for the glory of God. "Dear White Christian provides a black leader’s perspective ... to help break down the walls that inhibit real conversations and understanding to take place." James Marsh, Director, Van Lunen Center at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI “This book will help you embrace the challenge to recognize the season we are in and steward it well.” Thurman L. Williams, Associate Pastor, Grace and Peace Fellowship Church, St. Louis, MO.


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In the fall of 2014, during the racial and cultural events in Ferguson, MO, Aaron Layton desperately wanted to know what was going on in the minds of his white colleagues, friends, and fellow church members. So, he did what comes naturally to him, but might seem unnatural to many. A trusted white friend responded: Here is the deal: we don’t understand it; we don’t know wha In the fall of 2014, during the racial and cultural events in Ferguson, MO, Aaron Layton desperately wanted to know what was going on in the minds of his white colleagues, friends, and fellow church members. So, he did what comes naturally to him, but might seem unnatural to many. A trusted white friend responded: Here is the deal: we don’t understand it; we don’t know what to say; and we don’t know what to do. That response propelled Aaron to action to deepen the understanding of his white friends, with the hope that greater understanding would result in a greater unity believers possess in Christ. The lessons he learned are the foundation of this book a letter to the white Christians he dearly loves, as well as those he hopes to one day meet. Dear White Christian is designed for any white Christian who seeks practical tools for beginning or continuing conversations with black brothers and sisters in Christ. As you read this book, lean into that which makes you uncomfortable. Allow this letter to give you insight and challenge you for the glory of God. "Dear White Christian provides a black leader’s perspective ... to help break down the walls that inhibit real conversations and understanding to take place." James Marsh, Director, Van Lunen Center at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI “This book will help you embrace the challenge to recognize the season we are in and steward it well.” Thurman L. Williams, Associate Pastor, Grace and Peace Fellowship Church, St. Louis, MO.

30 review for Dear White Christian: What Every White Christian Needs to Know About How Black Christians See, Think, & Experience Racism in America.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Knowlton Murphy

    Hard to rate on a five star system. Mr. Layton is a wonderful guy who has blessed my church by providing a voice for us to listen to as we seek to be proactive in racial reconciliation in our church and community. I appreciate his life and work. The good of this book is anything big picture: African Americans, even while living, working, and worshiping in the same context as whites can have vastly different experiences, since they live as cultural minorities. Those who are a part of the dominant Hard to rate on a five star system. Mr. Layton is a wonderful guy who has blessed my church by providing a voice for us to listen to as we seek to be proactive in racial reconciliation in our church and community. I appreciate his life and work. The good of this book is anything big picture: African Americans, even while living, working, and worshiping in the same context as whites can have vastly different experiences, since they live as cultural minorities. Those who are a part of the dominant culture in a society tend to assume everyone experiences life the way they do, and can be guilty of overlooking or ignoring the experiences of those in sub-dominant cultures. The solution lies in establishing regular rhythms of gospel enabled and motivated reconciliation. However, I actually came away from this book feeling more convicted about classism, and my assumptions of those in a different socio-economic class than myself. Layton points out that whites tend to be able to be accepting of African Americans who talk like they do, but have a harder time accepting poor, uneducated African Americans. I am sure unconscious racial biases exist in my heart and mind, but for me, race isn't as much of an issue as those other adjectives: poor, uneducated. And this transcends race...a poor, uneducated, rough looking white man will absolutely find himself the victim of my classist presuppositions. I know this because I have one for a neighbor...who wound up being the type of guy who mows my lawn unexpectedly, and who keeps an eye out for toys to give my kids. He has issues, for sure, but the class divide between us is such that my presuppositions, outside of God's grace, would have led me to write him off. Avoid him. Think the worst about him. Layton does not address this aspect very much. Also, I found myself frustrated by the lack of information about systemic racism, which I do think exists, but which I would like to learn more about. This was more of an emotional book than a cut and dry compilation of raw data, which has a pro and a con. The pro is that it managed to make me feel genuine hurt and pain in realizing the depth of what my African American friends could conceivably be experiencing. I hate it. I hate that men who I know are godlier and smarter and harder workers than me could be experiencing this. The con is that after the emotion fades, I'm left with an ineptitude when it comes to really describing the issue of racism in America, and an inability to formulate ultimate solutions in this life. Layton makes me think that we will always be reconciling in this life, and never reconciling in this life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alison Entsminger

    Layton did an excellent job presenting a charged topic (that normally makes white people dismissive or shut down) in an approachable way. I found this book extremely helpful on how my failing to bring up or engage topics of racial justice can cause distance between myself and my black friends...even if I'm unaware of the distance. The theme of emotional distance especially struck a cord with me, the idea that there is usually a feeling that black people cannot share certain thoughts, experiences Layton did an excellent job presenting a charged topic (that normally makes white people dismissive or shut down) in an approachable way. I found this book extremely helpful on how my failing to bring up or engage topics of racial justice can cause distance between myself and my black friends...even if I'm unaware of the distance. The theme of emotional distance especially struck a cord with me, the idea that there is usually a feeling that black people cannot share certain thoughts, experiences or feelings with their white friends (even those they care deeply about) without being dismissed, argued with, or shut down. This impacts the relationship on both sides, but white people normally are unaware of this distance because it doesn't occur to them that the world is seen and experienced differently by black people & POC. Also, I thought his points on how white people can close the emotional gap with their black friends was extremely helpful. Thinking about how I can ask questions that show that I care about their experiences, the injustice they face, and events on the national stage was a good challenge. Also it was an encouraging reminder that I have unconscious racial assumptions and prejudices, and the only way to deal with them is to recognize them and challeneg them (i.e. have you experienced that "fact" about certain groups first hand or heard about it in the media so "it must be true"? Could that have been one individual person instead of that action characterizing the whole group? etc etc). The whole book was a good reminder that I should be slow to anger and to speak (when it comes to pushing an agenda) and quick to love (which means asking questions and recognizing the emotional distance my POC friends have already been painfully aware of). I've got a lot of learning to do, and this book was a really helpful starting point for me!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Burrell

    Helpful perspective, good questions, and I really appreciated seeing things outside the view of the 'dominant culture.' I feel emboldened to ask better questions and make fewer assumptions with my black friends. Thanks for your honest words Aaron!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    "...that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together." 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 Layton provides lots of personal stories and lays out clear and actionable steps that the Church can take to open a dialogue to address racial bias.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    It is a privilege to know the author, and to see his heart, and intellect, in this book is so enlightening. When one attends church with someone, it isn't always obvious how smart they are, or how intentional they are with their passion for a cause worth fighting for. I'm so glad to have read this book by my friend that I don't know well enough. This book is well reasoned, as it should be, by an educator like Aaron. It is the right mix of life experience and research, of Gospel centered prioritie It is a privilege to know the author, and to see his heart, and intellect, in this book is so enlightening. When one attends church with someone, it isn't always obvious how smart they are, or how intentional they are with their passion for a cause worth fighting for. I'm so glad to have read this book by my friend that I don't know well enough. This book is well reasoned, as it should be, by an educator like Aaron. It is the right mix of life experience and research, of Gospel centered priorities and social justice. It is not a chore to read as some other books on this topic are, but rather, it allows me, a white Christian, a view into into black reality that you can't get from a history book or a movie, but from a black brother willing to share his heart. This is the Aaron who will and has made a difference already, and I pray will continue in his work with us, the often ignorant, but wanting to learn. If you are a white Christian, you need to read this book and soberly consider its truths and its heart. No matter what you think you believe about your attitude toward other races, it probably isn't entirely so. Read this with an open mind and questions - for yourself. And let's see what God will do with your heart!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    This was excellent. What I liked most was his personal stories, and the fact that he recognized the power of story when he organized reconciliation events. I’ve found myself sharing his experience of receiving a ticket for curfew when the white driver of the car he was in did not receive a ticket for a legitimate traffic violation. These pieces he has shared of himself cannot be ignored. It takes so much to become vulnerable and share personal experiences. I also felt as though he had great sugg This was excellent. What I liked most was his personal stories, and the fact that he recognized the power of story when he organized reconciliation events. I’ve found myself sharing his experience of receiving a ticket for curfew when the white driver of the car he was in did not receive a ticket for a legitimate traffic violation. These pieces he has shared of himself cannot be ignored. It takes so much to become vulnerable and share personal experiences. I also felt as though he had great suggestions for pastors or other community leaders on how to get started with organizing reconciliation groups. Some parts of the book seemed repetitive, but overall this was encouraging and challenging.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John A.

    The author draws from extensive personal experience and thoughtful reflections on the topic of racism in the church. He has suffered but he is not bitter. So he is able to be frank yet loving. His practical suggestions and examples gave me more motivation and ways to improve my communications with my black Christian friends and acquaintances.

  8. 4 out of 5

    C Davis

    This book was okay. I feel like it could have focused a bit more on what white Christians need to know about black Christians. A lot of what Aaron Layton says in the book is very relevant to what is going on today. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the racial issues that black people have to experience on a daily basis.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A must-read for any white Christian who is considering how to approach racial reconciliation. Layton gives his perspectives in gracious, engaging, and practical ways.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

    Please, white Christian, read this! May God grant me the courage and the humility to be intentional in racial dialogue.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    a must-read. a spotlight on how much more needs to change, written years before this round of Black Lives Matter protests, but a message of grace.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Roberts-Miller

    I think this is a useful book to give (or recommend) to very conservative relatives who think they aren't racist. Layton ties racism to Christianity in ways I think they could find persuasive.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Bash

    Words that whites and not just Christians need to hear.

  14. 4 out of 5

    AddyF

    This is an excellent, gracious book to help white Christians begin to acknowledge racial injustice. Highly recommend. Buy a copy for everyone on your church staff.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Moses Flores

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Dixon

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Flinn

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim Moore

  21. 5 out of 5

    Midge Cole

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Kernan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Lewis

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason Pittman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jean

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  30. 5 out of 5

    Angie Hoffman

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