In I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, Austin Channing Brown shares the story of her life growing up as an African American woman surrounded by white people, white culture, and white expectations.
This book is a conversational memoir, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the book is fluffy. It’s not.
It’s filled with heavy-hitting text that requires us to honestly examine the impact of racism and white supremacy in America.
To help us do that, Austin Channing Brown shares her life story in the first section, giving readers an idea of who she is before delving into what racism means for people of color. The second part examines race relations from different angles: as a social construct, as internalized racism, and within law enforcement. And finally, the last section discusses how to address racism at every level—individual identity work, community-level change, institutional transformation, relationships with other races—to create substantive anti-racist results that will make our society healthier overall.
Channing Brown is crystal clear that we aren’t just talking about slavery, lynchings, or Jim Crow laws of the past. This call to acknowledge racism in the present moment is perhaps the book’s most significant learning opportunity for those who don’t face it daily.
Supremacy is alive and well and is still dictating policies in our churches, schools, legal system, and election process.
In I’m Still Here, Austin Channing Brown shares personal stories of facing racism in academia and within the walls of the predominantly white church, including microaggressions (and some not-so microaggressions) throughout her life while growing up surrounded by primarily white culture. Channing Brown also tackles racism in the workplace and offers insights into her struggle to find employment where her whole self was welcome as a black woman.
She provides a revealing perspective into how racism pervades every system in the U.S. Most importantly to white readers like myself, Channing Brown continually calls us to stop demanding BIPOC carry the weight of our ignorance and bias. It’s up to each of us to do our own work to uncover racism within us, grieve it, and choose differently WITHOUT dumping it onto the black and brown people in our community.
She also gives cringe-worthy examples of white fragility,
white innocence, and white guilt, all of which are
unhealthy ways to “handle” racism.
If you’ve done your work, you’ll understand these don’t actually handle racism, these actions only deflect from our personal responsibility and pass the buck to someone else, usually a person of color. Each chapter presents multiple opportunities for every white reader to pause and ask ourselves where we’ve responded similarly.
We can’t experience true freedom in the church if white people like us choose to rest in our privilege and turn away from the trauma racism inflicts on people of color.
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is a necessary read as you are deconstructing your faith from white supremacy. Head to your local bookstore or grab a copy here to get started. Then head over to the Faith Deconstruction Cafe to let me know your thoughts about this book.
Hey there friend! I’m Angela J Herrington, MA, LSCC and I’m a Faith Deconstruction coach who provides soul care for people who are untangling from toxic religion.
As a certified life coach and seminary-trained online pastor, I have a lot of experience helping people connect with God. But this is also a very personal journey for me.
For the last decade, I’ve been on my own journey to break free from learned smallness and step into wild sacred holy womanhood. Long story short, after finding faith in my early 30’s I began to realize that what I was hearing from the church about women didn’t always line up with what God was telling me. I loved God but realized the church was teaching some really toxic stuff.
So this Enneagram 8, first born, Gen Xer started deconstructing. I questioned and challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, gender, and myself.
It was messy and took a lot of work to sort it out. Therapy. Coaching. Bodywork. Spiritual healing. Conferences and retreats. And even a couple of college degrees.
You name it…I tried it.
But the thing that made the biggest difference was the presence and support of wise people who helped me up when I didn’t know where else to turn.
That’s why in September 2021, I created and hosted The Deconstructing Faith Summit. I gathered 20 phenomenal deconstruction experts to share their expertise and hosted over 1100 attendees in the week-long virtual event. Those who attended realized they weren’t alone, had a safe space to ask questions, learned dozens of strategies to help them deconstruct, and released tons of pent-up emotions they didn’t even know they were carrying around.
We laughed, we cried, and we danced, but the best part was…We did it together.
It was AMAZING and it was just the beginning.
So now, I’m doubling down on my commitment to create an inclusive support system for people, like you, who are longing to get away from toxic religion and cultivate a nourishing spiritual life.