I have something to tell you. Something very, very important. Something that will shock you and might completely change the way you think about yourself. But if you’ll accept it…it could change the course of our country.
Ready? Steady yourself. Deep breath.
When it comes to racial injustice-and racial reconciliation-you as a white person do not get to be the expert. You do not get to be the authority on the subject. And unless you have spent some serious time conversing with minorities and getting their perception and understanding of the issue, you barely get to act like you know what you are talking about.
As one of the biggest ”know it alls” ever to draw breath, I understand your bewilderment. But I sincerely believe that until we give up our adamant position of “in charge”, especially on these topics…we will never see change, growth, or healing.
I recently was given the opportunity to join a group focused on racial reconciliation and I couldn’t wait to join in the conversation…I have so much experience growing up in a prejudiced family, my best friend being transferred to another school in eight grade because her parents decided she was hanging out with too many white people, the prayer conference focusing on racial reconciliation and the awesome healing we saw there, being the only white people for BLOCKS in our neighborhood…
So many stories…so much wisdom.
You guys…I don’t know jack diddly. After almost or not so almost sticking my foot in my mouth a couple of times, I figured it out. I changed my posture from “authority” to “learning” and I rarely comment on anything unless I am holding out my opinion loosely, willing to be taught different. And I have learned so, so much. And I am better for it.
So before you post that blog…Before you post that comment or status or tweet …Before you say anything…Before your dare place the words persecution, injustice, or discrimination in quotation marks like it isn’t really a thing….Check yourself. Because if you are white and living in America, you honestly don’t know what minorities in this country are going through or what they need to feel like valued human beings in this country. You can empathize and grieve with them but you cannot feel their pain. It would be like telling a rape survivor or a mother who has just lost her child “I know how you feel” when you have never been through either of those situations. (Just don't.)
Just stop. Change your posture. Have conversations with someone who doesn’t look like you. Read articles by those who do know. Let those who know first hand how they feel take the position of authority in this.
And be ready to follow, to learn, and to walk towards reconciliation.
Books To Read
"Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America" by Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith
"More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel" by Spencer Perkins & Chris Rice
"The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity" by Soong-Chan Rah
"A Quiet Revolution: the Christian Response to Human Need, a Strategy for Today" by John Perkins
"The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander
"Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson
"The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson
"Our Global Families: Christians Embracing a Common Identity in a Changing World" by Todd Johnson and Cindy M. Wu
"Disunity in Christ" by Christena Cleveland
"The Cross and the Lynching Tree" by James Cone
"Racial Conflict and Healing" by Andrew Sung Park
Thanks to Judy Wu Dominick and my friend Katie Mumber for this. I'd add "Same Kind of Different As Me" which is not a book focused on racial reconciliation but a story that tells of relationship. It is incredibly eye opening.
Collective Han: A Framework for Understanding Race Riots and the White Response by Judy Wu Dominick. This article has seriously impacted and deepened my understanding of the emotions behind the actions in Baltimore, Ferguson, and across the US.
I, as a white mom of two black children, do not share Baltimore’s pain. Instead, I grieve with you. by Jen Hatmaker. She's a white girl...but dang ya'll, this one hit it out of the park for me.
American Mythology by Austin Channing
I read books by only minority authors for a year. It showed me just how white our reading world is. by Sunili Govinnage
And a downloadable guide for starting conversations and engagin in racial reconciliation written by Latasha Morrison can be found here:The Bridge To Racial Unity
A Reformed...ummm "Reforming"...Know It All and Aspiring Bridge Builder