Seeing My Skin
A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness
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With humor, and a sharp, easily-readable style, Peter Jarrett-Schell delves deeply into how Whiteness has shaped his life. By telling his story, he challenges readers to personally consider the role of race in their own lives.
In recent years, white institutions, congregations, and individuals have all begun to wrestle with their racial legacy. But these reflections often get lost abstracting ideas of "white privilege," "white fragility," "structural racism," and the like, until they become nothing more than jargon.
Seeing My Skin challenges its readers to look closely at how these concepts show up in their everyday lives. By examining how Whiteness has distorted his own perceptions, relationships, and sense of self, Jarrett-Schell argues for the personal stakes that white people have in dismantling racism, and offers the creative possibilities that emerge when we begin to do the work.
"Peter Jarrett-Schell's vignettes, from childhood to present, paint a picture of the learnings and limitations awaiting white people striving to be racial allies and accomplices. Through humility and vulnerability, Jarrett-Schell drew me into his ongoing efforts to responsibly navigate racism inside and outside his interracial family and work relationships. In a way no other book has done for me, Seeing My Skin made visceral the reality that living in white skin will always dull my ability to sense racial danger, requiring me to develop and nurture cross-racial relationships that help direct my energies in ways that disrupt, not perpetuate, patterns of whiteness. -- Deborah Kittredge Irving, racial justice educator and author of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
"Seeing My Skin is an important read; it is important because it is a conversation; it is a confession; it is a guide for anyone who is serious about eradicating race in this country. While Jarrett-Schell claims that it is not theological, it is a book 'for such a time as this.' Perhaps for Whites to truly understand race in America, how life is lived in Black skin, they must take a walk on the wild side and see life--experience life--through the eyes of people for whom they would lay down their lives: the black children most will never have." --The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, PhD, Calvary Episcopal Church, The Center for the Study of Faith in Justice @ Calvary
"A riveting, all-too-convincing testimony to the endemic and institutionalized racism in which all white Americans still participate, regardless how pure our motives or whether we notice or not. Jarrett-Schell helps me sense how dimly I've understood my own blithe, lifelong trajectory along 'the rails of race.' To me this book is more revealing than any other I've read about the racist order of things in our country and why general White liberal 'goodwill' in itself won't change the way things are." -- Alan Venable, author of Hope's Kids: A Voting Rights Summer