Anxious to Talk about It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism

Carolyn B Helsel (Author)


"Wait... We're talking about what? I'm not so sure I want to do that." When it comes to discussing racism, many white people are overwhelmed with anxiety, leading to a fight-or-flight response. In Anxious to Talk About It, pastor and professor Carolyn B. Helsel draws on her successful experiences with white congregations to offer us tools to embrace and explore these anxious feelings. Through the sharing of our stories, new insights on racial identity, and spiritual practices to help you engage racial justice concerns prayerfully, you'll begin to overcome your anxiety and learn to join conversations with less fear, more compassion, and more knowledge of self, others, and the important issues at stake. Helsel's words and guidance will inspire you to receive the gifts that come through these difficult conversations and point to how you can get further involved in the important work around race relations. While Anxious to Talk About It can be read alone, reading it with a group is strongly recommended to help deepen and broaden the discussion, integrate the material and practice with others. Free Study Guide available at

Product Details

$19.99  $18.39
Chalice Press
Publish Date
February 01, 2018
6.0 X 0.5 X 8.8 inches | 0.53 pounds

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About the Author

Carolyn B. Helsel teaches preaching at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She holds a PhD from Emory University and MDiv and ThM degrees from Princeton Seminary. Native to Texas, she is currently studying the experience of Texan identity and how that relates to race. Helsel has been featured on Austin's NPR radio station and in The Presbyterian Outlook, and has led workshops for the White Privilege Conference and Festival of Homiletics. She is a sought-after speaker and preacher at churches around the country.


"We white Christians engage in conversation about a number of important issues. But there is one conversation we are loathe to have: talk about race. We get edgy and nervous when talk turns to 'America's original sin.' Carolyn Helsel gives us the background, the context, and the history we need in order to engage in this painful but so very important conversation. Helsel also gives us specific, practical guidance in how to instigate conversations about race in our churches. Thanks to God for this useful, important book!" -- Will Willimon, Duke Divinity School, United Methodist bishop, retired, and author of Who Lynched Willie Earle?: Preaching to Confront Racism

"Helsel wades right into the thicket of emotions that accompany white fragility. This book is a tender journey through the forest of avoidance, defensiveness, and obliviousness and a tool for building one's tolerance for truth. She pierces myths that undergird white supremacy and offers preachers and teachers a resource for sparking some conversations that desperately need to start. This volume is packed with stories that need to be heard if America is ever going to live out a new story concerning race." -- Donyelle McCray, Yale Divinity School

"'I'm not a racist, ' you may be thinking. 'I'm not in the KKK and I don't carry a Nazi flag. Why should I read a book about race?' Carolyn Helsel's new book will answer that question, and in the process, you'll become ... not just a better white person, but a better, more mature, more caring Christian and human being." -- Brian D. McLaren, author of The Great Spiritual Migration

"This book is spot-on for the kinds of conversations we need to be having. Carolyn Helsel offers ready access to approach the hard issues of race without being adversarial. Her writing is deeply personal, reflecting her own path of growth. At the same time it is acutely informed by developmental theory and is pervaded by a generous pastoral sensibility." -- Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary, author of Sabbath As Resistance, The Prophetic Imagination