Hi friends. Happy Friday! It’s been great to hear how helpful this week’s series on racial reconciliation has been for many of you!
Today is the last of our series and there’s no awesome guest poster, just little ol’ me. You guys, I am NOT an expert on race, or for that matter much of anything. But I love to share what God is teaching me, what I’m learning from others, and helpful resources. In this journey called life, I think it’s important to reach ahead to lock arms with someone farther ahead AND to reach back to lock arms with someone else we can bring along.
But first, a recap from this week’s posts:
Monday’s post, A Come to Jesus Meeting on 21st Century Racism from your “Black Friend”, from the beautiful Salem Afangideh. A few of my favorite quotes from Salem…
“Until we can be honest about the racism in our hearts we cannot begin to walk the path of racial reconciliation.” Ouch, right?
And her list of five signs you might be racist? Seriously laughing out loud. What were your thoughts?
If this thought from Salem makes you squirm, “We did not live in a culture that was systematically set up to make sure we stayed at the bottom of the ladder.” I suggest you add The New Jim Crow to your summer reading list.
What did you think of her description of 21st Century racism? Did you give yourself time to sit with it? Take a hard introspective look at your heart? If not, make some time for that.
Tuesday’s post, Action Items for New Allies, came from C. G. Brown. C. G. is a man of concise words that pack a powerful punch. He shared nine action items with us and “2-5. Seriously, believe them.” also had me laughing out loud. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to share your story (or even just a single life experience) with someone, only to have them completely invalidate your story or experience? Can you imagine this happening consistently?
And his #6 “It’s not your fault, and it’s not about you.” and explanation were humbling to say the least. Of course it’s not about us, but in our desire to help/come alongside/bridge build/etc., we can be over zealous and shell shocked when we realize the deep deep history of racism in our country. I know I struggle with responding to current events in a way that is respectful of the grieving that is taking place, entering into it myself, while also balancing my desire and personality type to “do something.” Anyone else?
Wednesday’s post, Four False and Good Starts to Racial Reconciliation, came from Sean M. Watkins. I kinda wanna make wallpaper out of this quote from Wednesday:
“Become “Not Racist” but “Antiracist.” It is not enough when someone says, “I am not racist.” We must become “antiracist.” We must become allergic to injustice and racism wherever it exists—in our hearts, our homes, our churches, our communities. Absence and silence end when we become advocates for those who have been long overlooked and dismissed. When the unheard see people who don’t look like them advocating for them—without having to ask for that advocacy—trust will be built in biblical proportions.”
I want to be allergic to injustice and racism wherever it exists! I want to build trust in biblical proportions! Yes and Amen. I love the hope that comes across in Sean’s words. Did you feel it too?
Thursday’s post, Is That Really Helpful? Considerations for Aspiring Allies, came from Denise Anderson. You guys, Denise BROUGHT IT. I wish we lived in the same city so I could be her real life friend. On some level, I am completely guilty of each of her behaviors to avoid.
After reading her post, I had to email her to apologize for my ignorance to Racial Battle Fatigue. This dance is awkward and stepping on toes is to be expected. But when it happens we can speak it out loud and ask for forgiveness.
“Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t need to engage with people of color to do the work of racial reconciliation. Why do I say that? Because there is more than enough work to be done among other White folks. It is perfectly appropriate — and even necessary — for White people to engage other White people in the work of racial justice.”
Denise was the first person say this to me and I think it takes some of the scary, intimidating pressure off. If you’re white, you know a lot of white people. And there is plenty of work to be done there. Start where you are. Don’t stay there, but start there.
Like I said, I think it’s helpful to share what we’re learning so others can learn to. In the spirit of sharing and learning, here are five things I’m learning:
1. History is important. And I don’t know it. So I’m taking responsibility for that by reading the books recommended to me and listening to podcasts like this one.
2. Online relationships do not replace being with in-the-flesh humans. They just don’t. Online relationships are incredible helpful. (I don’t actually know IRL any of my guest posters from this week.) But connections are made when we look into the eyes of another human. When we can hear the emotion in their voice and see the tension they carry in their shoulders. When we can reach out and touch each other. When we can cry tears together.
3. Listening and learning from one person/group of people does not negate the need to do so with another person/group of people. Meaning, just because I have been listening and learning from certain men and women in my life does not mean I can jump into conversations with other people of color without learning and listening from them first. You guys, I learned this one the hard way. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. Of course each person is an individual. Of course every person has their own story, their own hurts, their own wounds, their own feelings. And of course when I am new to a person/group of people they look at me and see white girl. Who likes to ask questions. When we enter into conversations without laying the groundwork for true relationship, both sides can be misunderstood and the conversation dies. Relationship is the foundation for bridge building.
4. Not everyone is ready for this conversation. Some white people aren’t ready for this. Move on. Jesus was clear about shaking the dust off our feet and moving on to someone ready to listen. Some people of color aren’t ready for this. As I’ve been told, their pain is too deep, their grief to constant. They are tired. Rightly so. Find someone else to learn from. It’s ok.
5. Grace, grace, grace. I have offended. I have been offended. I have hurt feelings. My feelings have been hurt. I have misunderstood others and felt misunderstood. This is clunky and awkward. We must absorb in grace as much as we can and extend grace as far as it will go. (SPOILER ALERT: Grace never ends.)
Tasha’s blog can be found here. I also recommend this podcast interview she did with Jamie Ivey of the Happy Hour. I love Tasha because she is full of hope and grace and Jesus. She’s been a real encouragement to me. Go follow her on all the social medias.
Salem shared this book list with us on Monday and I HIGHLY recommend you start checking those out from your library or hop on Amazon. Book club anyone?
And finally, this video from Evelyn from the Internets. It needs no introduction.
Has this series been helpful for you? What has it left you feeling and pondering? What stuck with you? What is your next step? How can we continue this conversation on the internet and in our real lives? I wanna hear from you!