Here are recommended books and films from our Eighth Principle Ministry Team, including our Indigenous Connection sub-team.
In this section of our resources you will find the following:
- This month’s highlighted reading recommendation
- Current Reads and UUA Common Reads
- Beginning the Journey Reads
- Indigenous Connections recommendations
- Asian American and Pacific Islander Reads
- Socially Responsible Investing Reads
- More Racial Justice Reads
- Historical Context Reads
- Unitarian Specific Reads
- Indigenous Film Recommendations
- Docu-series and Documentaries
- TV shows
This Year’s Reading Recommendation Highlight
On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in an Unapologetic World, Danya Ruttenburg, Beacon Press, 2022
“A concise new lens on repentance, atonement, forgive ness and repair from harm- from personal transgressions to our cuture’s most painful and unresolved issues.”
Current Reads and UUA Common Reads
Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism, by Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin: What calls Unitarian Universalists to create multi-cultural, anti-racist Beloved Community? What do congregations need when they embark on this journey? What common threads run through their stories? Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin- a white minister and a lay person of color- share how five diverse congregations encounter frustrations and disappointments, as well as hope and wonder, once they commit to the journey. Mistakes abound. Miracles of transformation and joy emerge, too. Extensively researched and thoughtfully written- with reflection questions at the end of each chapter- Mistakes and Miracles: Congregations on the Road to Multiculturalism will guide readers to apply these stories to their own communities, develop next steps, and renew their commitment to this hard but meaningful work.
Beginning the Journey Reads
Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, Think and Do, Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt, 2019, Penguin/Random House: Stanford Professor Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt covers the basics of intrinsic bias in an easy to read description of her study of the subject- from her personal experiences to helping law enforcement come to grips with their own biases. Great introduction to people new to their anti-racist journey.
The Emperor Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know, Tema Okun, 2010, Information Age Publishing: Tema Okun, an educator in her own right, takes us through discussions on our American insistence on profit, binary thinking, individualism, privilege and fear and a myriad of other issues common in our culture. She lays out a step by step training for teaching about White Supremacy.
My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem, 2017, Central Recovery Press: The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee or freeze. My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for American’s to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but also about the body. Menakem introduces an alternative view of what we can so to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide and takes readers through a step-by-step healing process based on the latest neuroscience and somatic healing methods.
Salsa, Soul and Spirit- Leadership for a Multi-cultural Age, Juana Bordas, 2012, Berret-Koeler: Life and Leadership lessons from three contributing cultures to our American culture stew: African Americans, Indigenous Americans and American Latinx. Principles of living with reflection exercises, connection ideas, participation ideas and a lot of resources.
So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo, 2019, Seal Press: A great book for those starting their journey and willing to learn. Easy to read and relatable. Includes an reflection/discussion guide.
What Does It Mean To Be White?, Robin DiAngelo, 2016, Peter Lang Press: Local author Robin DiAngelo talks about the implications of race with definitions and explanations. A good beginning book to unveiling the myths about race and whiteness. DiAngelo spoke at East Shore in 2017. An essential read.
Indigenous Connections Recommendations
All the Real Indians Died Off’ and Twenty Other Myths About Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker, 2016, Beacon Press: An excellently written book of myth busters presented by two incredible Indigenous writers. Great book to get you going on your journey.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz): “Winner of the 2015 American Book Award, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Beacon Press) provides its readers with a view of the United States from the perspective of Indigenous peoples. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s classic work reframes more than four hundred years of history in a narrative that highlights the policies and actions of settler colonialism that created America at the same time she discusses Indigenous people’s efforts at resistance. Adapted for middle-grade and young adult readers, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People (Beacon Press, 2019) provides an equally compelling corrective to historical myths that continue to define our national identity. Watch for information early in 2022 about a discussion group on these books.”
Back to the Blanket, 2007, James A. Starkey, Jr, AuthorHouse: A story probing deeply into an Indigenous American family inspired by the events of this local Native American author’s descendants. It chronicles seven generations of his Ojibwe “roots” But just as importantly it places the events within the context of a tumultuous time in American history- a time when western European civilization was gaining enormous inroads in the Americas and leaving in its wake a devastating clash of cultures.
Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption by Susan Devan Harness, 2018, University of Nebraska Press (Goodreads Author)
Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Kimmerer): Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants is a 2013 nonfiction book by American professor Robin Wall Kimmerer and published by Milkweed. The book is about alternative forms of Indigenous knowledge outside of traditional scientific methodologies. 408 pages
Native Seattle (Coll Thrush): This updated edition of Native Seattle brings the indigenous story to the present day and puts the movement of recognizing Seattle’s Native past into a broader context. Native Seattle focuses on the experiences of local indigenous communities on whose land Seattle grew, accounts of Native migrants to the city and the development of a multi-tribal urban community, as well as the role Native Americans have played in the narrative of Seattle. 392 pages
Not a Nation of Immigrants, 2021, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Beacon Press: The widely accepted myth, “We are a nation of Immigrants”, put in place by the ruling class and its brain trust in the 1960s’ , is grossly inaccurate. And in this paradigm shifting new book, Dunbar-Ortiz shows how this dishonest and pernicious ideology serves to mask and diminish the US history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy and slavery, all of which we grapple with today.
Reclaiming the Reservation (Alexandra Harmon): In Reclaiming the Reservation, Alexandra Harmon delves into Quinault, Suquamish, and pan-tribal histories to illuminate the roots of Indians’ claim of regulatory power in their reserved homelands. She considers the promises and perils of relying on the US legal system to address the damage caused by colonial dispossession. She also shows how tribes have responded since 1978, seeking and often finding new ways to protect their interests and assert their sovereignty. 424 pages
Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Exclusion (Dunbar-Ortiz): Debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants, and urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United State 400 pages
The River that Made Seattle: the Human and Natural History of the Duwamish (B.J. Cummings), Honor the Grandmothers (Sarah Penman): The city of Seattle was born from the banks of the Duwamish River, writes BJ Cummings in a new book — but the river’s story, and that of its people, has not fully been told. 240 pages
Where the Salmon Run: the life and legacy of Billy Frank, Jr. (Trova Heffernan): Billy Frank Jr. was an early participant in the fight for tribal fishing rights during the 1960s. Roughed up, belittled, and handcuffed on the riverbank, he emerged as one of the most influential Northwest Indians in modern history. 328 pages
Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God (Kaitlin B. Curtice, Baker Publishing, 2020): Foreword INDIES 2020 Book of the Year Award (SILVER Winner for Religion); 2021 Georgia Author of the Year Award (Inspirational): 2021 Midwest Book Award (Silver Winner for Religion/Philosophy). Native is about identity, soul-searching, and the never-ending journey of finding ourselves and finding God. As both a citizen of the Potawatomi Nation and a Christian, Kaitlin Curtice offers a unique perspective on these topics. In this book, she shows how reconnecting with her Potawatomi identity both informs and challenges her faith. Curtice draws on her personal journey, poetry, imagery, and stories of the Potawatomi people to address themes at the forefront of today’s discussions of faith and culture in a positive and constructive way. She encourages us to embrace our own origins and to share and listen to each other’s stories so we can build a more inclusive and diverse future. Each of our stories matters for the church to be truly whole. As Curtice shares what it means to experience her faith through the lens of her Indigenous heritage, she reveals that a vibrant spirituality has its origins in identity, belonging, and a sense of place.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Reads
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford, Ballentine Books, 2009: A beautifully told story of the impact of racism on a young man and woman growing up in WWII Seattle as second-generation Asian Americans
Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guteson, Harcourt Bruce, 1994: Banned in Canadian Catholic schools and some American schools, Snow Falling on Cedars is about a murder trial in 1964 with impacts from and flashbacks of the removal of Japanese American citizens in our area in 1941.
Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed A Japanese American Community, David Neiwert, 2005, Balgrave MacMillan
Socially Responsible Investing Reads (Finances)
Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons, and Punishment, Zack Norris, Beacon Press, 2021: Zach Norris shifts the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities. In Defund Fear, Norris explores what has gone wrong, and why, and who has been most impacted by repressive and racist policing systems. He offers a new blueprint for public safety that holds people accountable while still holding them in community.
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, Heather McGee, Penguin Books, 2021: This book shows how the economic and political powers-that-be have exploited race to split Americans into warring tribes trapped in a zero-sum game fighting for what’s left after the top 1% take 40% of the wealth. “…there is a depth of kindness in it that all but the most churlish readers will find moving. She explains in exacting detail how racism causes white people to suffer.”-New York Times.
Winners Take All: the Elite Charade of Changing the World, Anand Gindharadas, 2018: An excellent expose of how some trying to improve things are continuing to support the status quo and doing further harm. A frank discussion of the thought that you can’t dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.
More to Read
Caste: the Origins of our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson, 2020, Random House: Pulitzer prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson describes the division of humans into castes (races) and the eight pillars that are the basis, the ‘tenacles’ necessary for their continuation, the consequences and the backlash to the system of caste. She does so through an investigation of three societies locked into caste: India, Nazi Germany and the USA. Very enlightening. Recommended for those a little further on their journey.
Full Dissidence, Howard Bryant, 2020, Beacon Press: A book for those farther into their journey, full of pithy thoughts and concepts guaranteed to get you thinking by ESPN writer Howard Bryant. Mr. Bryant was a speaker at General Assembly in 2019.
High Conflict, Amanda Ripley, 2021, Simon and Schuster: An investigation into the us vs. them thinking in conflict that morphs into being about the conflict itself, no longer really dealing with the original issues. A description of how people rehumanize and recategorize their ‘opponents’ through curiosity and wonder to arrive at ‘good conflict’ solutions.
How to Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram X. Kendi, 2019, One World: A must read for Unitarians on a Social Justice journey.
Looking for Lorraine: the Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, Imani Perry, Beacon Press, 2018
-Winner of 2019 Jacqueline Begrad Weld Award for Biography
-Winner of the Lamda Literary Award for LGBTQ Non-fiction
– Winner of the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Ganss Award
-Black Causes of the American Library Association Honor Book for Non-fiction
-2019 Pauli Murray Book Prize Finalist
Nice Racism, Robin DiAngelo, 2021, Beacon Press: Michael Eric Dyson describes this book: Personal transformation is an act of anti-racism and Robin DiAngelo has given white America the field guide.” This is a step-by-step examination of common pitfalls in our culture when some of us attempt to be less racist. Complete with study guide for reflection and discussion.
Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler, 1993: Fictional observations of a not-too distant dystopian future. Book one of a two-part series, Ms. Butler died before completing the third of the trilogy.
Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler, 2007: Fictional observations of a not-too distant dystopian future. Book two of a two-part series, Ms. Butler died before completing the third of the trilogy.
See No Stranger: a Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, Valerie Kaur, Random House, 2020: “How do we love in a time of rage? How do we fix a broken world while not breaking ourselves? Valarie Kaur – renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer – describes revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead that place of wonder, the world begins to change: It is a practice that can transform a relationship, a community, a culture, even a nation.”
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin DiAngelo, 2018, Beacon Press: The New York Times best seller that made DiAngelo a household name. This is the controversial book that ruffled all the feathers.
Historical Context Work
Die Standing: from Black Power Revolutis Black Panther Party Leader on the streetsonary to Global Diversity Consultant, Elmer Dixon, Two Sisters Publishing, 2023: “The world is a better place because of the work Elmer Dixon did as a Black Panther Party leader on the streets and in our communities, and today in corporate boardrooms and on University stages around the world. I hope that by reading this book, people everywhere will emulate his mission and his model to take action to create a more just world for all.” -Bobby Seale, Co-founderand Former Chairman of the Black Panther Party.
Stamped From the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi, 2016, Nation Books. A Five-part book that thrust scholar Ibram Kendi into the American spotlight. This book looks at five periods of American History pivotal to understanding the history of racism in America: the times of Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis. A true ‘must read’.
Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston. Howard Bryant, 2002, Beacon Press. The heart- and gut-wrenching tale of the last baseball franchise to integrate in 1959 written by one of it’s native sons. Great read.
Unitarian Specific Work
Mistakes and Miracles, Congregations on the road to Multiculturism, Nancy Palmer Jones and Karin Lin, 2019, Skinner House. Five case studies of Unitarian-Universalist congregations seeking to become multi-cultural. Questions for reflection and discussion included.
Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity and Power in Ministry, Mitra Rahnema, editor, 2017, Skinner House. Eighteen essays on the challenges of BIPOC Ministers and administrators including some of the leading minds in our faith. Discussion cues by the editor at the end of the book.
Unitarian Universalists of Color, Yuri Yamamoto, Chandra Snell and Tim Hamami, 2017, Lulu Publishing.
Beyond Welcoming, Linnea Nelson, 2021, Skinner House
BLUU Notes: An Anthology of Love, Justice and Liberation, Takiyah Nur Amin and Mykal Slack, 2021, Skinner House
The Great Debators, 2007, Prime Video, The story of Wiley College’s debate team that went ten years undefeated, beating all comers including the Harvard Crimson in Cambridge, Mass. Denzel Washington, Forrestt Whittikar and Journee Smollett.main Indigenous actor is leading the Cochabamba Water War.
Film Recommendations from Indigenous Connections
Spirit of the Peaks—native skier in Utah. Netflix
Wind River, Netflix. During the winter on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, expert tracker and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert discovers the frozen body of 18-year-old Natalie Hanson at a remote location. – Trailer
Indian Horse, Canadian hockey player and Boarding School. Netflix – Trailer
End of the Line: Woman at Standing Rock, An incredible story of a small group of indigenous women who risk their lives to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction. – Trailer
Basketball or Nothing: Follow the Chinle High basketball team in Arizona’s Navajo Nation on a quest to win a state championship and bring pride to their isolated reservation. Netflix series – Trailer
African Americans from Unitarian Mohawk communities and government forces in 1990 in Quebec.
Run Woman Run (2021), Takes place in Six Nations, Canada. When a steady diet of donuts, pizza, cake and cigarettes lands single mother Beck in a diabetic coma, she receives a ghostly life coach in the form of legendary marathon hero Tom Longboat who helps her train for the run of her life. – Trailer
Te’Ata film put out by the Chickasaw Nation dealing with aspirations and achievement in early 20th century Oklahoma Territory Indian country. A feel-good story with insights. – Trailer
AMA, tells the story of the forced relocation and involuntary sterilization committed against Native American women by the Indian Health Service well into the 1970s. The film features three remarkable women telling their stories – Jean Whitehorse, Yvonne Swan and Charon Asetoyer – as well as a revealing and rare interview with Dr. Reimert Ravenholt, whose population control ideas were the framework for some of the government policies directed at Native American women.
Thirst for Justice, follows Janene Yazzie, a Navajo mother of two, as she searches for the source of contamination in the school water supply in Sanders, AZ. Armed with a Geiger counter she begins investigating radioactive waste on the Navajo Nation. When the epic movement for water justice ignites in Standing Rock, Janene is compelled to join. There she meets Flint water activist Nayyirah Shariff, and their struggles converge.
Fixing Food, From the short documentary series “Native Table”, profiles Chef Sean Sherman (Lakota Sioux) and his business partner Dana Thomson (Dakota) as they explore their Native cultural heritages by re-creating pre-colonial menus – meals that use no dairy, no wheat, no sugar. At their James Beard Award-winning Minneapolis restaurant Owamni and at their Natifs Food Lab, they are bringing back to life the food ways of their not-so-distant Sioux ancestors and showing that by combining the past with the best in modern farming practices, we can create more sustainable and ethical food systems.
Docu-Series and Documentaries
James Baldwin and William F. Buckley debate:1965 classic debate, watch here.
Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective, documentary that follows five Native American Tribes across deserts, coastlines, forests, and prairies as they restore their traditional land management practices. – Trailer
13th, The discussion of the fallout from our Nation’s slavery past and the implications for modern American people of Color. – Trailer
Into the Wilderness, Youtube, the story of the exodus of 1500 African Americans in 1969 from Unitarian Universalism. – Trailer
Even the Rain, 2010, Netflix, (English captions) A Spanish film crew arrives in Bolivia in 2000 to make a film about Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean and imposition of Spanish control over indigenous peoples there. They choose to make their low-budget film in Bolivia because they can pay so little to local actors and crew. The actor playing Hatuey, the Taino chief who led a rebellion against Columbus, is also leading a protest against the privatization of water in Cochabamba and state repression and violence. The Spanish crew face a moral dilemma: should they abandon the film on which they’ve worked so hard or help the protesters? Superb acting and compelling storyline.
The Grizzlies, 2018, Netflix, Based on a true story the film depicts a youth lacrosse team that was set up to help combat an onslaught of youth suicide in the community of Kuglutuk, Nunavut.
Daughter of Lost Bird, 2020, Netflix, The film follows Kendra, an adult Indigenous adoptee, as she reconnects with her birth family, discovers her Lummi heritage and confronts issues of her own identity.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Films
Si, HBO Max
Adam Ruins Everything, TruTV
- The Sinister Reason Weed is Illegal
- Overuse of SWAT Teams
- The Shocking Way Private Prisons Make Money
- The Disturbing History of the Suburbs
- How America Created the “Model Minority”
- Black People are Left Out of the Gun Control Debate
- Native American Population Misconceptions
- Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron
- The True Messed Up Story of Pocahontas
- Why Mount Rushmore is the Weirdest Monument
Reservation Dogs, Hulu
The Problem with Apu, HBO Max
Sort of, HBO Max
Alaska Daily, The ABC drama was created by Tom McCarthy, who co-wrote and directed the Academy Award winning film Spotlight, which chronicles the Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church. Alaska Daily features two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who portrays Eileen Fitzgerald, a disgraced New York City journalist who moves to Anchorage to work for a daily newspaper. She is assigned to investigate cold cases of missing Alaska Native women. She teams with Alaska Native reporter Roz Friendly, played by First Nations citizen Grace Dove (Secwépemc). Irene Bedard (Native Village of Koyuk) plays Sylvie Nanmac, a relative of a missing Alaska Native relative.
The Native Peoples of North America is a series of 24 lectures, each about 30 minutes long, produced by the Smithsonian and Great Courses. Daniel Cobb, professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina delivers the lectures, accompanied by images, beginning with the interactions between European settlers and native peoples in North America in the 1400s. Subsequent lectures cover interactions between and among tribes, the US government, law and society up until about 2015. Specific case studies from different regions of the continent illustrate themes of survival, resistance, adaptation and renaissance. Highly recommended for those interested in US-Native history. DVDs and text available through The Great Courses at www.thegreatcourses.com.