Collection 2: Systems of Racism

As Christ has called us to the work of restoring shalom to his beloved creation, Canvas is committed to being a community of continual learning and redemptive action. To that end we are continuing our work of understanding racial injustice and how we can interrupt the cycle of oppression in our society.


In this 8-week series we move from an overview of racism in America to a deeper look at some of the key systems of which it is comprised, particularly the systems of: church, education, criminal justice and the economy. 

Each 2-week session offers a collection of books, articles, podcasts, movies and other media meant to further our engagement and spark conversation. They are not intended as a comprehensive or authoritative collection! And the presence of a resource does not equate an endorsement. This is simply our best effort in the moment to listen and grow. 


As they systems are complex, we invite you to begin your inquiry with three key questions:

  1. How would you define the system we are discussing? 
  2. How do you, personally, relate to this system? 
  3. What are the main ways racism distorts this system?

We  also encourage you to spread out the different activities over the course of the two weeks, being sure to take some time to pause, pray and reflect on your experience.


Please join our dedicated Facebook Group, where you can ask questions, share other resources and collaborate on ways we might act for change.


Thank you for your commitment to the work of justice and please feel encouraged to share these resources with others!

Session One: Racism and The Church

Resources: Racism and The Church


In this session we examine the American Protestant church’s deeply conflicted relationship with racism from the colonial period up to present. Through a combination of original sources and contemporary commentary, we’ll see how the church provided many with the theological justification for slavery and the deep internal conflicts over abolition. We’ll also see how faith both inspired the Civil Rights Movement and resisted it, and why Sunday morning remains the most segregated time in American culture.

Session Two: Racism and Education

Resources: Racism and Education


This Second Session will focus on the ways in which racism pervades our educational systems. We will learn about the history of education in the United States, listen to contemporary voices in education reform movements, and introduce participants to organizations working to make institutions of learning actively anti-racist.

Session Three: Racism and The Economy

Resources: Racism and The Economy


Systemic racism affects every aspect of our economy, but no areas are more pressing than housing/homelessness and the wealth gap/wage gap in the daily lives for people of color. What is the history surrounding these issues and what can be done to mitigate the harm done and rectify the situation?

Session Four: Racism and Criminal Justice

Resources: Racism and Criminal Justice


Additional Resource: Understanding the Criminal Justice System


How does racism impact the criminal justice system in America?  In our first 30 days, we learned about Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative and watched the documentary 13th to learn about racial inequality in the US prison system.  In this session, we will learn more about the system that encompasses law enforcement, policing, prosecuting, sentencing, and punishing convicted criminals.