Stand Your Ground (Kelly Brown Douglas)

I feel a bit numb today. Check the political news for this date in history if you’re not sure why. Nevertheless, we persist. Plus I want to move on to a new book and don’t like to do that until I’ve finished my review.

This book is so important, maybe now more than ever. I’ve been very fortunate to have some friends who spontaneously started a book club to discuss each chapter. As we go along, if there are some really good discussion points I want to share with you all, I will update this post.

Title – Stand Your Ground: Black bodies and the justice of God

Author – Kelly Brown Douglas

Page count – 232

Rating – Buy (then read it again, make notes, and give it to all your friends) –> I’m trying something new with this section. Book Riot has a feature called Buy/Borrow/Bypass. I’ll still keep track of the star system on Goodreads, but I’ve found Book Riot’s more helpful in terms of whether/how to recommend.

This is a heavy book. The first part takes a more historical perspective, addressing America’s problematic sense of exceptionalism and history of Manifest Destiny as it relates to our culture of Stand-Your-Ground laws. The ideas of cherished white property and the assumption of the Black Body as a Guilty Body (from chattel slavery to Jim Crow to lynchings both past and current) are also discussed.

The second part focuses on the black faith tradition. It is split into three parts: the Freedom of God, the Justice of God, and the Time of God. The book as a whole uses the examples of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Russell Davis, Jonathan Ferrell, and Renisha Marie McBride; this second part asks how their parents and the black community since the time of slavery have been able to sustain a tradition of faith in times of unspeakable suffering. And what kind of God would allow such things to occur?

Here are some thoughts I wrote down as I was reading this book. If I was writing a longer essay or paper, I could figure out how to incorporate them. But I do my best to keep these reviews under 600 words so you get them here as stand-alone thoughts. Humor me 🙂

Re: America’s sense of “exceptionalism” – America is not the greatest country in the world. A person can love and/or appreciate their country without believing it to be infallible. When we buy into this grand narrative of American exceptionalism, we end up lacking the tools or ability to address the mistakes and bad decisions we humans inevitably make.

Re: the tendency of white Christians to avoid issues related to racial reconciliation to avoid being “controversial” – Jesus spent his entire life addressing injustice and oppression of the marginalized in his society. Even when it was “controversial” for the political and religious leaders of the day. If we truly believe that Jesus was God incarnate, and that we are to model our lives on his, we have no choice but to call out injustice when we see it. Even (especially?) when it “rocks the boat.”


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