If you've ever wanted to cultivate honest conversations about race, this book is my attempt at offering ways to help make that happen.
Why this book?
I have always been interested in conversations on race. From my childhood navigating the systems of my Filipino and Chinese families to my teen years attending a multiethnic high school to my adult life working in a religious organization that is over 90% White, I have found some of the most transformative and troubling interactions to have centered around conversations on race.
As one who has blogged about, spoken on, and studied the philosophy, psychology, and sociology of race, it has become clear to me that society needs to re-commit to having honest and meaningful conversations about race. Rather than avoid talking about it, hoping to avoid conflict and division, we need to embrace the challenge to find space to talk about race in ways that will bring new life and vitality to our increasingly diverse communities.
My hope is that by sharing my story - the joys and the struggles - this book will compel folk to enter a space where they can get at some of the assumptions, misunderstandings and intentions about race so that deeper connections and relationships can be had.
Why this book now?
In the Fall of 2012, I was invited to speak at the Wild Goose Festival - where the arts, spirituality and justice intersect - and I choosen to speak on race for the first time in this particular religious context. As I began planning, it became painfully obvious to me that most of the awkward moments around race that I had experienced came from interactions where there was not malicious intent, but simply assumptions or motivations that needed to be understood and explored.
Questions and statements like, "Where are you from?" "Racism wouldn't be a problem if you would stop talking about race." or "I don't see you as Asian." point to some of the root causes of tension and conflict within and between people of different racial backgrounds.
As for why Kickstart at this moment in time, I have a window between some possible new ministry opportunities that will require a bigger commitment, so I am "seizing the day" as they say, and jumping on this opportunity.
Who am I to write a book on race?
When it comes to topics as broad and complex as race, no ONE person is qualified, rather each of us has a particular story to tell and a unique voice to add. While I do have my undergraduate degree in Asian American Studies, Philosophy and Sociology, I also have 40+ years of living a life that has been forced and privileged to wander the diverse context of the West Coast where conversations about race abound.
Over the past decade+ I have also been involved with organizations: large, small, religions and secular, who continue to strive for racial reconciliation, harmony and understanding. I have also written extensively on race on my own blog, The Huffington Post, and others. Some of my past writings on race are:
- Three Myths of the "I don't see race." World - on reyes-chow.com
- Reflection on "Whites See Racism as Zero Sum Game Which They are Now Losing" Study - on Patheos
- Why Do All Asians Look the Same - on The Huffington Post
- What Historically White Denominations Can Learn From the Republican Party - on Red Letter Christians
- 10 Unhelpful Things We Say About Race - slides on SlideShare
I obviously do not just talk about race - I also a have kids, love pop culture and am a die-hard baseball fanatic - so for a more complete bio you can check out my profile on about.me or see my article on wikipedia.
What will be in the book?
The outline is still in flux pending conversations with my editor, but some of the chapters will be . . .
- A foreword by TBD
- Introduction: why race, why now?
- A word about my context
- A word about "post-racial"
- A word about intent
- A word about privilege
- A word about language
- "Where are you from?"
- "I know what it's like to be . . ."
- "It's not as bad as it used to be."
- "Don't make waves."
- "The race card."
- "We need at least one."
- The last word on why this is not the last word
- Other voices, "Why we must talk about race."
- Group questions (possible)
- Bibliography, Resources and Links
- Kickstarter Shout Outs
Why am I self-publishing?
My first book, The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church, was published by Shook Foil Books in 2012 and I had a great experience with it. Being an eBook only, the process was not a traditional one but it gave me some good insights into my own patterns and needs when writing a book. As I have contemplated a second book, I suppose that I might have enough name-recognition to go the traditional publishing route, but honestly, I am intrigured by all of the moving parts that will go into this self-publishing endeavor. Not only will I have more control over the project, but the speed and collaboration potential are just too enticing. Also, while I may be giving up some some of the reach that a traditional publisher might give me, I am under no delusion that I am writing the next great cultural text, so the compensation model afforded to me by self-publishing probably works in my favor over the long-term.
So far I have agreed to partner with two people in this adventure with one more partner to bring on board.
Laura Garwood Meehan, Editor
A freelance editor and writer, Laura enjoys working on all kinds of book projects. She has had the privilege of editing more than sixty manuscripts to date and she can be found at www.laurameehan.com and www.indigoediting.com.
Lauren Reyes Gibbs, Publishing
Lauren will be handling the process of formatting, configuring and submitting the final manuscript to all of the services that we will be using for publishing and production. Lauren is an over-educated, under-employed Jill of All Trades, kept busy by raising two young girls, imagining herself an urban homesteader, practicing mindfulness and writing words on www.dearestdaughters.com.
Ryan Kemp-Pappan, Artwork
Ryan Kemp-Pappan (RKP) is . . . LGBTQ Advocate. Christian Agnostic. Recovering Addict. Cat Dad. Artist. Writer. Social Worker. Dodger Fan. Lover of Roller Derby. Comic Fanboy. Blogger. Runner. Bacon Loving Vegan. Extrovert Married to an Introvert. Holy Train Wreck. Pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in OKC. Ryan is on twitter @rk_p and blogs at www.beingRKP.com.
- Print-on-Demand Layout - TBA
It is my intention to be ready to start shipping out hard copies by late January or early February of 2013. These will be print-on-demand books thus avoiding the need to invest in a costly first run of book. The projected list price will be 14.99 or less and the electronic editions priced significantly less.
How I arrived at the KickStarter target?
- $2,500 = 6-8 weeks of declined events and a blogging hiatus.
- $500 = 1-2 Off-site writing retreat
- $2,000 = Editing Services
- $1,000 = Publishing Support
- $750 = Artwork and Print-on-Demand Layout
- $500 = Initial Print-on-Demand Run
- $250 = Miscellaneous expenses
- TOTAL = $7,500
In the event that this project gets oversubscribed - and I will be humbled if it does - extra funds will go to funding a marketing and publicity plan beyond my own social media madness . . . and coffee intake.
REMEMBER: If this project does not hit the $7,500 goal, NONE of the pledged funding is collected. Kickstarter suggests low-balling the target so that no funding is lost, but since I am a "go big or go home" kind of guy, I went for the actual costs.
No pressure :-)
A last word of thanks
Ultimately, the success and relevancy of a book like this will be up to you. through your financial support you are in essence give trusting me with and "advance" of sorts so I thank you in advance for your confidence and support. but beyond the writing of the book itself, it is also my hope that you will find the time, faith and courage to jump into these conversations with an openness that challenges the expectations of the world around race.
Trust me, it will be worth it, so thank you for your support.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The biggest risk/challenge with this project is me.
I have gathered some talented and competent people around me so I can allow my mind and time to be free to write, but in order to achieve what will be a fast turn around, I will need to step away from some of my normal distractions.
It is my plan to go on a blogging hiatus for the rest of 2012, go away for at least one if not two writing retreats and limit my travel and speaking engagements. This book will get written, but the challenge to be overcome is to do it within the timeline that I have committed to.
If the funding target is exceeded, after initial printing, fees and shipping costs are deducted, 50% will go towards publicity and marketing and 50% will be evenly distributed among the team (except Bruce) as an extra bonus.
After reaching the targeted funding level, focus shifts from achieving that goal to building an audience and keeping the Kickstarter vibe going through the completion of the project. The main reasons you might want to give would be: one, to get a copy of the book for less than it will be when published; two, to grab another reward that will not be made available later; and three, as a backer, even for $1.00, you will continue to be kept "in the loop" as the book process progresses.