Silencing White Noise
Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race
by Willie Dwayne Francois III
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Pub Date 16 Aug 2022 | Archive Date 26 Aug 2022
Baker Academic & Brazos Press, Brazos Press
"A superior volume on Christian antiracism."--Publishers Weekly
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 of 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.
“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
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 2 members
To start, I just want to say I am very grateful to Dr. Francois for writing this book and even more grateful that I have gotten a chance to read and review it before it is published. I don't believe it should be the job of people who are most harmed by systemic racism to be the ones to educate us about it, but that's part of the whole problem that Dr. Francois writes about in this book. I've only been through the book one time so far, and I have to admit that the language is so deep and rich that at times some of it went over my head. But even so I have a lot to think about from just the first read through.
I am not a religious person, but I didn't feel excluded from reading even though the book is in the Christian category. I would describe this as more of a scholarly work. I do think I am part of the target demographic - a 40ish year old White woman who in the past has said things like (with all seriousness), "ok, I know my parents paid for college and I've never had any debt in my life, but I still worked really hard in school to get where I am today". I appreciated that Dr. Francois shared a few times in his own life where he took a certain stance and then later changed his mind, which takes a little bit of the sting out of this reckoning.
Also, the part about how "even the choir needs continuous rehearsal" resonated really strongly with me.. I have definitely been guilty of attending a discussion about racism and thinking that I already knew all of this and how can I get the people who "really" need this to show up.
I've read several books about race, racism, discrimination, etc. prior to reading this one. I would not recommend this as a first foray into this topic. It is heavy and real and needs to be approached with a true determination to go from belief that racism exists to actually doing something about all the White Noise out there. If that's where you are in your journey, then this is the book for you, and you need to read it urgently.
A note for the editors, there is a typo on page 132/440 (iphone pages) where there is a quote "It's my fault. Slavery was so long ago. Get over it". I believe this should be "It's NOT my fault".
Thank you to Brazos Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this free e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
This is an incredibly thorough and well thought out book on American racism through the lens of the church. Francois looks at different types of micro aggressions and ways in which we can combat them. He also touches on how “white noise” isn’t only a problem for white folks, but touches everyone.
Definitely would recommend if you’re looking to find a place to start the conversation.