'White guilt' book clubs on the rise


In an age of uncertain race relations in the United States, some have taken to beginning book clubs about the subject. OZY reports that as early as 2008, these book clubs have grown out of tragedy.

In Kirkland, Missouri, the Community for Understanding and Hope book club began after a black man killed six white officials in a city council meeting. "The suburban community that I live in, Kirkwood, Missouri, experienced a mass shooting 5 years ago tonight," the club founder, Joy Weese Moll, wrote on her blog in 2013. "One small change in the community is the continued existence of the Community for Understanding and Hope (CFUH) Book Group which meets most months to discuss books that deal with diversity in a wide variety of ways."

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Others like Moll, a librarian, had the same idea. Non-profit worker Beth Wise spoke to OZY about her book club, which stemmed from a blog post entitled, "Dear White People, We Need a Book Club." Two weeks after she published it, the Dallas shooting occurred -- and over 100 people expressed interest in such a group. A #FergusonReads club emerged after the 2014 shooting of teenager Michael Brown.

Wintaye Gebru, the 26-year-old manager of Left Bank Books bookstore, started the #FergusonReads club. She wrote a list online of fiction and non-fiction books that touch on the subject of race relations and diversity, and soon an in-person group formed.

Unlike some, #FergusonReads attendees are not just white. "It's not just black and white or about race," Gebru told OZY. "You can't have a conversation about serious topics that affect [so many] without different perspectives."

While difficult, these talks may have positive effects. Gebru said, "Big conversations benefit from many voices of different races, ages and backgrounds."