Silencing White Noise
Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race
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Racism is omnipresent in American life, both public and private. We are immersed in what prominent faith leader Willie Dwayne Francois III calls white noise--the racist speech, ideas, and policies that lull us into inaction on racial justice. White noise masks racial realities and prevents constructive responses to microaggressions, structural inequality, and overt interpersonal racism.
In this book, Francois calls people of all racial backgrounds to take up practices that overcome silence and inaction on race and that advance racial repair. Drawing from his anti-racism curriculum, the Public Love Organizing and Training (PLOT) Project, Francois encourages us to move from a "colorblind" stance and mythic innocence to one that takes an honest account of our national history and acknowledges our complicity in racism as a prelude to anti-racist interventions.
Weaving together personal narrative, theology, and history, this book invites us to engage 6 "rhythms of reparative intercession." These are six practices of anti-racism that aim to repair harm by speaking up and "acting up" on behalf of others. Silencing White Noise offers concrete ways to help people wrest free from the dangers of racism and to develop lifelong Christian anti-racist practices.
Introduction: Why We Are Lulled to Racial Inaction
1. Cues to Color: Embracing Difference as Gift
White Noise: "I don't see color. We are all the same in Christ."
2. Momentum to Encounter: Confronting the Histories of Whiteness
White Noise: "It's not my fault. Slavery was so long ago. Get over it."
3. Pattern Recognition: Honoring Our Interdependence
White Noise: "I've had it hard too, but I worked hard."
4. Syncopated Identity: Exploring Our Fuller Selves
White Noise: "Why does everything have to be about race?"
5. Pulse to Risk: Sacrificing Our Power and Privilege
White Noise: "It's not my job to fix racism."
6. Downbeat Truth: Naming Our Complicity with Racism
White Noise: "I'm scared of the backlash."
Conclusion: Invent Hope Every Day
"As the drumbeat for racial justice reverberates throughout the United States, Willie Francois charts a course for faithful followers of Christ to move from silent complicity with racism to prophetic resistance. Weaving historical facts, communal witness, and personal experience, Francois calls us to ready our hearts, hands, and minds to usher in a new rhythm for our nation--a rhythm that moves us faithfully toward liberty and justice for all."
Leah Gunning Francis, vice president for academic affairs and dean, Christian Theological Seminary
"With analytical clarity, powerful prose, and a moral-theological vision from which the reader cannot look away, Willie Dwayne Francois III offers Christians and, indeed, the church a book that wakes us up and cuts through the static. Silencing White Noise is as practical and clear as it is prophetic and courageous; it provides next steps to get--and keep--us moving in the direction on which our lives depend."
Jennifer Harvey, associate provost of equity and inclusion, Drake University; author of Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation
"Willie Francois III is one of the brightest and most exciting intellectual lights of his generation. In Silencing White Noise, he delves into the morass of racial myths that serve to obscure the destructive everyday effects of white supremacy on the lives of Black folks. But just as important, he proposes humane, well-informed solutions to America's racial dilemma. Utilizing insights ranging from contemporary philosophy to theological ruminations to commonsense street logic to well contextualized biblical wisdom, this is a brilliant contribution by a brilliant man of biblical faith to the struggle to make America a truly just and humane society."
Obery M. Hendricks Jr., author of Christians Against Christianity: How Right-Wing Evangelicals Are Destroying Our Nation and Our Faith
"An unflinching look at how the white noise of racism keeps us stalled out on the road to a true multiracial democracy and a call to cultivate practices that can get us moving. Francois carefully unpacks how to unlearn racialized habits of mind and replace them with habits of imagination, introspection, and advocacy: the very habits he exemplifies as a preacher, a writer, and a Black church leader. An exquisite blend of theology, storytelling, and history, Silencing White Noise is a necessary book."
Stephanie Paulsell, Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies, Harvard Divinity School
"Calling us home to an ethic rooted in the transformative love of inclusion, this work shows us what is possible when we dream a world with goodness and mercy as its core. In Silencing White Noise, Francois demonstrates why he is one of the most important pastoral voices of our generation."
Candice Marie Benbow, author of Red Lip Theology
"Beyond urging readers to look inward and speak up for marginalized groups, [this book lays] out actionable items and tangible goals for creating a more inclusive and just future."