Recent outbreaks of racial bigotry and violence have jolted Americans and people of good will around the world. Social critics, scholars, and cultural commentators have explained this revival of prejudice by pointing to a social justice system in need of repair; police brutality; parental abdication of the responsibility to teach respect for others to children; unemployment among people of color; and widespread feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness of those who sense that they have been denied equal opportunity.

Although these factors shed light on the divisiveness afoot in our world, they do not really get at the heart of the matter. Racial prejudice is a disease of the mind in which we project our self-disgust, anger, alienation, and paranoia upon others whom we perceive to be different from us.

This sickness of mind creates "the hostile imagination," a term coined by freelance theologian Sam Keen. It has already perverted community loyalties and threatens family solidarity. It is eating away at respect for the ideals of ethnic diversity which traditionally have animated our pluralistic society.

One way to lessen racial prejudice is to replace the hostile imagination with "the moral imagination." Here is where qualities and spiritual practices of the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy hit the road and provide antidotes to the fears and resentments which at the root of racism. Among them are:

Compassion
Connections
Hope
Hospitality
Imagination
Justice
Kindness
Listening
Love
Meaning
Openness
Peace
Reverence
Shadow
Transformation
Unity
X -The Mystery

This topic section illustrates ways we can gain a deeper understanding of racism in our world and develop empathy and compassion for its victims – through books, book excerpts, quotes, blog posts, personal explorations, and practices. Use the icons at left to access these resources.