Be'chol Lashon

Be’chol Lashon

Diversity Resources

Cultural competence is the ability to communicate more effectively across lines of social identity and difference. It is the lifelong endeavor of actively building awareness by asking questions and engaging daily with a variety of resources. Here are a few suggestions below:

Download the latest printable resource list (2018)



News Flash-the minimum number of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Rather than panic, readers are advised to purchase a copy of Dear White People. Whether you are a dear white person wondering why your black office mate is avoiding eye contact with you after you ran your fingers through her hair, or you're a black nerd who has to break it to your white friends that you've never seen The Wire, this myth-busting, stereotype-diffusing guide to a post-Obama world has something for you!

Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's asute observations about race make Americanah a must read book. Somewhat autobiographical, her young Nigerian protagonist has a blog entitled "Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non–American Black."

Another recommendation is The Wedding, a classic written by Dorothy West, one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance, that provides a fascinating glimpse into affluent black society in Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s.

Social commentator Touré makes the case in Who's Afraid of Post—Blackness? What It Means to Be Black Now," that that there is a profound shift in how post civil rights generations think about race–they are "post–black" meaning that younger generations take equal rights and integration for granted and enjoy unprecedented agency in defining their identities.

The unintended consequence of a color–blind approach is that racism remains "unexamined and intact" according to Berkeley professor John Powell in Racing to Justice. If race is a social construction, how are we actively constructing race today?

Children's Books

There are some wonderful books for children that open up possibilities for conversation including Carolivia Herron's delightful Nappy Hair, the subject of controversy when a 3rd grade teacher came under fire by the school board for using the book to educate her students about racial tolerance.

Jack Ezra Keats' The Snowy Day, a 1963 Caldecott Medal winner, is the first picture book to feature a small black hero.

Julian Voloj's Ghetto Brothers, discusses Benjy Melendez's involvement in gang activities, the creation of the Ghetto Brothers gang, his auspicious role in brokering peace among gangs in the Bronx, and how he was part of a short period of peace that fomented the creation of Hip Hop and its culture. During this journey of shifting his gang into a group that worked against police injustice and for tenants' rights and bilingual education, he also discovers the complexity of his own ethnic and religious identity.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me with poetry by Maya Angelou and powerful illustrations by artist Jean–Michel Basquiat, celebrates the courage within each of us. Their particular and universal messages help open up ways to understand race as part of humanity.


Racial Diversity and the American Jewish Community

Be'chol Lashon's newest publication offers information for individuals and organizations to think and talk about race and diversity. Read "Racial Diversity and the American Jewish Community," featured in the current issue of The Journal of Jewish Communal Service. Subscriptions and orders are available at

There is broad array of new news outlets that can provide distinctly different points of view. NPR's Code Switch features stories by a team of journalists fascinated by the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.

Check out columnist Ta–Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent at The Atlantic, who writes about culture, politics, and social issues. Practice active listening and explore the what and why of their view points and how they irritate or enlighten.


Along with memoirs, film and other media provide excellent vehicles to discuss race. Michelle Norris, the first African–American female host for NPR, fosters candid dialogue with The Race Card Project.

Like The Grace of Silence, Norris' memoir about a painful family past, filmmaker Lacey Schwartz's film Little White Lie, currently at film festivals and on PBS this spring, dares to ask questions about Lacey's racial identity and family secrets in her deeply personal and riveting documentary, raising larger questions for us all.


Americans have become great food adventurers and this can be a good way to expand your experience. The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden is a treasure with recipes and stories of Jewish communities around the world.

Michael Twitty explores the culinary traditions of Africa, African America and the African Diaspora. You can bring the food and the stories to your Rosh Hashanah table.

Jewish Communities Around the World

Moving beyond Jewish and Black means knowing a little about the complex racial and ethnic make–up that is both our ancient legacy and modern Jewish reality. There were centuries of Jewish experience in Ethiopia and India before there were shetels in Poland.The legacies of these communities are as valuable and instructive as any others.

In Avishai Mekonen's 400 Miles to Freedom, a journey from Ethiopia to Sudan, Israel, and finally America, his fundamental identity is challenged.