Open Wounds: A Story of Racial Tragedy, Trauma, and Redemption by Phil Allen Jr.

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Author Phil Allen Jr., a pastor, poet, filmmaker, and justice advocate, begins his disturbing yet ultimately redemptive family narrative with a poem: “Racism is a thief and a murderer / A deserter / Of all that is good / It preys on bodies of color / Even while a body of color prays / The darker the skin / The more destructive is the pursuit of this kind / Of sin.”  

Phil Allen Jr.’s maternal great-grandfather was pushed off a train to his death Jan. 29, 1933, and on Dec. 10, 1953, his paternal grandfather was lured by his coworkers to the Sampit River in Georgetown, S.C., where his white employer shot him in the head. His body was discovered days later in the river. In both cases, the murders were covered up and justice was denied. 

When Phil Allen Jr. learned the secret of his grandfather’s murder, it "sparked more than a curiosity to learn more; it fueled a fire in me to allow this tragic family history to be a catalyst for a greater narrative and cause with healing potential.”  

Allen’s passion, inspired by what he says is “a calling out” from God, is evident on every page of this compelling appeal, not just for racial reconciliation, but, more important, he says, for racial solidarity. He hopes his book will contribute to the healing of his immediate family, inspire other African American families with similar histories to share their stories and experience restoration, and spark a greater understanding of intergenerational trauma from racism.  

Each chapter begins with one of Allen’s poems and concludes with a theological reflection and questions for individual or small group study. Highly recommended for pastors, youth workers, teachers, and lay leaders. (Fortress Press)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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