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Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

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Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our s Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our shared humanity and a way toward healing ourselves and securing our future. Racing to Justice challenges us to replace attitudes and institutions that promote and perpetuate social suffering with those that foster relationships and a way of being that transcends disconnection and separation.


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Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our s Renowned social justice advocate john a. powell persuasively argues that we have not achieved a post-racial society and that there is much work to do to redeem the American promise of inclusive democracy. Culled from a decade of writing about social justice and spirituality, these meditations on race, identity, and social policy provide an outline for laying claim to our shared humanity and a way toward healing ourselves and securing our future. Racing to Justice challenges us to replace attitudes and institutions that promote and perpetuate social suffering with those that foster relationships and a way of being that transcends disconnection and separation.

30 review for Racing to Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    BookChampions

    Hard-hitting and wise and definitely academic. I've listened to every interview and speech by john a. powell I could find online...he's genuinely brilliant and down to earth. This book from a few years ago is a great place to start, but prepare to annotate and take your time with it. This is the deep dive I needed right now. Thanks, john! Hard-hitting and wise and definitely academic. I've listened to every interview and speech by john a. powell I could find online...he's genuinely brilliant and down to earth. This book from a few years ago is a great place to start, but prepare to annotate and take your time with it. This is the deep dive I needed right now. Thanks, john!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    This was not an easy book to read, both because it was written in academic style and also because the subject matter was so challenging. But it was an important book that helped me to understand the intersection between our modern conceptions of self, privacy and freedom on the one hand, and implicit bias and institutional racism on the other.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Haas

    A truly enlightening and exceptional book on race, as it pertains to social justice, community, personhood and public and private discourse.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Letitia

    "Without an examination of the construction and presence of whiteness, and specifically the role of whiteness in the formation of the modern separate self, inequitable arrangements based on fear and exclusion will endure. Justice involves claiming a shared, mutual humanity." I have read quite a lot of material on race and racism, and this might be the most important one. The depth, insightfulness, and academic gravity that dr. powell brings to this work is awe-inspiring. His precision, and way he "Without an examination of the construction and presence of whiteness, and specifically the role of whiteness in the formation of the modern separate self, inequitable arrangements based on fear and exclusion will endure. Justice involves claiming a shared, mutual humanity." I have read quite a lot of material on race and racism, and this might be the most important one. The depth, insightfulness, and academic gravity that dr. powell brings to this work is awe-inspiring. His precision, and way he incises right to the core of the matter, his robust and thorough exploration of what race, self, privilege and justice means make this just a stunning book. It took me ages to read it because I was determined to absorb everything and not skim. I would not qualify this as a skimmable book, and it's extremely dense. I found myself newly challenged by his last chapter on how spirituality and justice can inform and interrelate. I found myself newly armed with knowledge and new means of explaining white supremacy and its judicial, philosophical, not to mention social offspring. I do highly recommend this book, but it is not super accessible. dr. powell uses high language and concepts that require depth and breadth of literacy. I loved this but I had to dedicate intense mental energy to reading this. I would recommend for any classroom that needs reading on social issues, or moral philosophy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    April

    What an incredible read that brings together U.S. history, law, social policy with philosophy and spirituality to form a coherent argument for the transformation of American institutions and society to become racially just. john a. powell manages to write in such an esoteric yet transcendent way that makes me want to move to Berkeley and spend some time at the Haas Institute learning from him! He's truly an intellectual mystic, which is an incredible and rare combination. This book is brilliant. What an incredible read that brings together U.S. history, law, social policy with philosophy and spirituality to form a coherent argument for the transformation of American institutions and society to become racially just. john a. powell manages to write in such an esoteric yet transcendent way that makes me want to move to Berkeley and spend some time at the Haas Institute learning from him! He's truly an intellectual mystic, which is an incredible and rare combination. This book is brilliant.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Perhaps one of the most important books of the Twenty-First Century - powell describes our current societal crisis of racism through historical, psycho-social, sociological, and spiritual lenses, and calls all of us out as Americans to actively take part in the establishment of a just society. Read the book and join the effort. So many good things in here that those of you nearby TBZ will likely hear some of them over the High Holy Days.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Litbitch

    Another excellent analysis of meaning of race and racism in America. this one with more of a focus on our legal history. I read the chapters out of order for a class, so I can't say how well the whole thing holds together as a piece, but the parts are excellent. This book is pretty academic in style, with copious references and endnotes, so it's probably not for everyone. But if you can hang with that style I highly recommend it. Another excellent analysis of meaning of race and racism in America. this one with more of a focus on our legal history. I read the chapters out of order for a class, so I can't say how well the whole thing holds together as a piece, but the parts are excellent. This book is pretty academic in style, with copious references and endnotes, so it's probably not for everyone. But if you can hang with that style I highly recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I finished this book a while ago, but I guess I didn't write a review. I've heard John Powell speak multiple times, and, when he does, it's always clear and concise and makes so much sense. He is a lion and a warrior. But, this book is definitely academic in tone and nature. It's dense and well-researched and delves very deep into concepts that he only skims in his speeches. It's well worth the time and effort. I finished this book a while ago, but I guess I didn't write a review. I've heard John Powell speak multiple times, and, when he does, it's always clear and concise and makes so much sense. He is a lion and a warrior. But, this book is definitely academic in tone and nature. It's dense and well-researched and delves very deep into concepts that he only skims in his speeches. It's well worth the time and effort.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Deb Whinnery

    I had heard John speak to my local community, then read this book. The 2 were very different. I was prepared to take on racism on an individual level, not the academic level. Took me back to my sociology degree days. He is so brilliant, he made you really question our American society, which should have happened 400 years ago. Definitely enjoyed the last chapter the most. Everyone should read this. There is so much about our society we do not know.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I had seen John Powell speak and he is a great speaker. I found his book to be important to read with some really good substance specifically on white privilege. I was a book that read like a textbook with a lot of quotes. I also found the last section of religion and spirituality to be hard to get through. Overall good book, with valuable information for everyone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sirvist HRC

    It's difficult to find the right words for this awesome gem. I just know that at this time it's need for each of us to search our hearts and enter a growth mindset to turned this life course around. So much of who God created each of us to be is in the words transforming, build and inclusive. It's difficult to find the right words for this awesome gem. I just know that at this time it's need for each of us to search our hearts and enter a growth mindset to turned this life course around. So much of who God created each of us to be is in the words transforming, build and inclusive.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    This book integrates post-modern studies of self formation with studies of court decisions on racial issues. The court’s insistence on intent in racial discrimination issues is shown to be related to the Enlightenment view of the unitary, autonomous self. This view contrasts to the socially constructed self, a view which more clearly supports systemic racism. I found the legal discussion harder to follow as it is a new subject to me. I found the discussion of the self readable. Some was summary This book integrates post-modern studies of self formation with studies of court decisions on racial issues. The court’s insistence on intent in racial discrimination issues is shown to be related to the Enlightenment view of the unitary, autonomous self. This view contrasts to the socially constructed self, a view which more clearly supports systemic racism. I found the legal discussion harder to follow as it is a new subject to me. I found the discussion of the self readable. Some was summary of familiar, but the rest took me to newer theorists I’d not kept up with. The socially constituted self concept informs powell’s claims that ‘race,’ ‘racing’ should be used as verbs, that race must be studied in light of racism and hierarchy, that whiteness is a construct that depends on its partner blackness. powell kept the focus clear through the law and self sections, but in the Engagement chapter the reader had to do the work of relating detail to main point. Interesting in itself, some of the detail seemed superfluous to the point. Definitely worth a read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lee Nave Jr.

    A must read for anyone trying to understand a multitude of issues if it be white privilege, the social constructs that make of race and the mentality behind racism.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe Schroer

    Pretty amazing I really enjoy how Mr. Powell sets a deliberate and clear framework,which is consistent throughout the book. I thought that the connections he was making between concepts were important connections to make and for white and black to get a hold of as secularism and our new America color-blindness flourishes. He invokes a slew of important authors repeatedly,but I was most interested in the civil rights era roots of his argument for the connections between spirituality (self) and soc Pretty amazing I really enjoy how Mr. Powell sets a deliberate and clear framework,which is consistent throughout the book. I thought that the connections he was making between concepts were important connections to make and for white and black to get a hold of as secularism and our new America color-blindness flourishes. He invokes a slew of important authors repeatedly,but I was most interested in the civil rights era roots of his argument for the connections between spirituality (self) and social justice (society/other). He did not ostensibly mention mindfulness as a method for cultivating social justice, but the body of work lays a seedbed for others to cultivate. In other words, the book helped me bridge a gap between my own contemplative practices and how it can strengthen my interactions with others for the purpose of social justice,and I believe it can do the same for other readers; perhaps like yourself.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    john a powell has written a roadmap for those in this country who wish to engage race, from a social, legal and spiritual framework. His language is personal thoughtful and at times stirring providing a lens for a new understanding of racialized structures and their affect on people of all races. One of my favorite passages is: "Highly attuned seekers and leaders have the ability to see across categories and to recognize the importance of bringing love into even the most potentially mathematical john a powell has written a roadmap for those in this country who wish to engage race, from a social, legal and spiritual framework. His language is personal thoughtful and at times stirring providing a lens for a new understanding of racialized structures and their affect on people of all races. One of my favorite passages is: "Highly attuned seekers and leaders have the ability to see across categories and to recognize the importance of bringing love into even the most potentially mathematical equations. They also importantly -- and here I think especially of Dr. King -- place themselves in service to more than caring for those in pain. They also place themselves in service to the public face of love: justice. And they call upon each and all of us to do the same. "

  16. 4 out of 5

    Drick

    john powell is one of seminal thinkers of our age on the issue of societal and institutional racism. Drawing on a variety of disciplines (psychology, neuroscience, law, sociology, etc), powell highlights how institutional racism is linked to our unconscious and that reactions around race are largely hidden and irrational, and that while we address the psychological we must also address the structural dimension of racism, because they are linked. He also has a chapter on spirituality which highli john powell is one of seminal thinkers of our age on the issue of societal and institutional racism. Drawing on a variety of disciplines (psychology, neuroscience, law, sociology, etc), powell highlights how institutional racism is linked to our unconscious and that reactions around race are largely hidden and irrational, and that while we address the psychological we must also address the structural dimension of racism, because they are linked. He also has a chapter on spirituality which highlights that the relationship between spirituality and commitment to social justice are mutually influential and reinforcing. This is a profound book, one I will have to return to so as to fully grasp all that he is saying.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kony

    Having recently appreciated john powell's engaging discourse with Krista Tippett of On Being, I was poised to love this book. Instead, I found it tolerable. For a book ostensibly concerned with transforming the real world, it's quite academic and abstract: woefully short on stories and concretes; tiresomely long on block quotes, theoretical gymnastics, and jurisprudential analyses (mostly echoing what other progressive scholars have written - on point, but not original). I skimmed the last few c Having recently appreciated john powell's engaging discourse with Krista Tippett of On Being, I was poised to love this book. Instead, I found it tolerable. For a book ostensibly concerned with transforming the real world, it's quite academic and abstract: woefully short on stories and concretes; tiresomely long on block quotes, theoretical gymnastics, and jurisprudential analyses (mostly echoing what other progressive scholars have written - on point, but not original). I skimmed the last few chapters, eager to be done.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Mettlach

    One of the best books I have read in years, and the most thorough book that integrates the concepts of self (and the West/modernism's mutation of it), identity, spirituality, race/ethnicity, racism and what it means to be human, especially to BELONG. Truly breathtaking and extraordinary. One of the best books I have read in years, and the most thorough book that integrates the concepts of self (and the West/modernism's mutation of it), identity, spirituality, race/ethnicity, racism and what it means to be human, especially to BELONG. Truly breathtaking and extraordinary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anika

    Deep read as john powell is a philosopher.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    incredibly conceptual and academic, but really good substance.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Doug

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Galaitsi

  23. 4 out of 5

    Annie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Scott Mcconnell

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer O'connor

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael-ray Mathews

  28. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Snow

  29. 5 out of 5

    Miguel Buddle

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

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