Fortress Press

Necessary Risks: Challenges Privileged People Need to Face

Necessary Risks

Challenges Privileged People Need to Face

Teresa McDowell Ott (Author)


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Good people of privilege are increasingly aware of racial injustice but unsure what to do about it and afraid to venture into challenging dialogues and spaces. Necessary Risks: Challenges Privileged People Need to Face encourages readers to value risk-taking as the path toward a more equitable and just world.

Building on skillful, memoir-like stories, Teri McDowell Ott explores ten risks--including learning, teaching, leading, following, going, and staying--with which she has wrestled in her work with diverse populations as the chaplain of a liberal arts college and as a volunteer in a men's state prison.

Ott then reflects on how these experiences, including mistakes in often tense settings, have forced her to confront and wrestle with the systems and structures that have privileged her as a white Christian woman. With humility, she relates how risk-taking has led to profound changes in herself and her community.

These necessary risks are also informed by Ott's study of authors, theologians, and scholars of color, such as Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa, Ada María Isasi-Díaz, and Eddie Glaude Jr.

Demonstrating that in the face of injustice, white silence and inaction are not neutral, Necessary Risks leads readers to feel less fearful and more capable in diverse settings and ultimately to contribute to personal and communal learning and growth, change and transformation.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506471815
  • eBook ISBN 9781506471822
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 206
  • Publication Date March 15, 2022


"Ott's remarkable book traces her slow coming to terms with her White privilege, in spite of her progressive, inclusive intent. It is perhaps the hardest, but also most important, lesson for all of us to learn."

John M. Buchanan, pastor emeritus, the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, and former editor/ publisher, The Christian Century

"The only risk is not moving, not trying, not succeeding, not relating, and not belonging in the struggle for justice, equity, and love. In short, they risk their own futures if they do not create conditions for BIPOC and other marginalized communities to thrive."

Patrick B. Reyes, author of The Purpose Gap

"Book and Bible-study groups and courageous preachers will find in this text a conversion guide that helps them and the Holy Spirit do the work that one's soul must do."

Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser, associate professor of Black Church Studies; associate dean of Black church studies and doctor of ministry, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Ott takes a tremendous risk in challenging each of us to be better, to do more, and to risk learning from one other. Her book is not a condemnation of whites but an attempt to better understand the connection between race and struggle."

Jimmie R. Hawkins, director of the PC(USA) Advocacy Offices, Office of Public Witness and Ministry at the United Nations

"Necessary Risks challenges the reader through a personal narrative filled with stories, resources, and thought-provoking reflective activities encourage readers to learn to move beyond the fear, take risks, and move the racial conversation forward."

Eddie Moore Jr., PhD, founder and program director, The White Privilege Conference