A couple of weeks ago I wrote about what I was finally learning about white privilege. You can read that post here. Let me continue this conversation by saying emphatically that I DO NOT have this all figured out. And I’m sure I will make missteps and mistakes on my quest to learn more and do better. But based on the response I got to this topic, I thought I should update you on where I am headed as I’ve continued to seek the opinions of other believers in Jesus Christ.
In the previous piece, I admitted that I was at a personal loss on what I could do as one person of little influence to make positive changes in the area of racial reconciliation. But through prayer, thought and study I have devised a punch list of first steps that I am taking. Maybe they will help you too.
- Listen. I plan to allow others who are different than me to have their feelings. Even if I don’t understand them. I admit that in the not-too-distant past, I had a hard time believing many stories I heard of racial discrimination. Please forgive what I am about to say, but I want to be transparent with my level of ignorance and naivete. I honestly thought that most people who got easily offended by matters of race were carrying a chip on their shoulders from ancestors past. I cannot tell you how much it pains me to admit it, but I thought we could irradicate hate if we all just learned to “let it go”. I understand now how hurtful and short-sighted my views were. And I hope that confessing my shortcomings and asking forgiveness is a step toward healing. In a climate where we tend to shout our opinions over the voices of others, I vow to do a lot more listening and a lot less dismissing.
- I am evaluating all the circles I move in. Here are the questions I’m contemplating. Maybe you should too: Do all of my “peeps” look like me? Is my church racially diverse. What about the other places I hang out? For the most part, we tend to gravitate toward those who are most like us. It’s comfortable. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but we miss out on how much we can learn from others’ perspectives when we never branch out. I’m not suggesting we all pull a George Costanza and force a cross-cultural friendship just to prove we can (see the Seinfeld episode “The Diplomat’s Club” for reference). But we should look for ways to shake up our routines enough to meet other’s who are racially, economically, culturally and religiously different. You never know what worlds it could open up.
- I’m broadening my consumption. I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about what I feed my mind. I realized recently that most of the books I read are written by white women. What about you? Who are you reading? What kind of music do you listen to? How about TV shows, podcasts, radio programs? What about movies? One of the hottest cinema tickets right now is “The Blank Panther”. The reviews are beyond amazing and everyone who has seen it has raved about it. And I love super hero movies. But I’ve been reluctant to see it. I initially couldn’t figure out why, but I think it is simply because the people don’t look like me. So I’m afraid I won’t relate. And I think I’m missing out! So I’m going to go. Have you seen it?
- Lastly, check out Be the Bridge at beabridgebuilder.com. This organization is doing amazing things to equip God’s kingdom here on earth to work towards racial harmony.
That’s all I got for now. I’m learning new things every day. And I hope this message encourages you as well. I would love to hear your thoughts on things you are learning and how your eyes and ears are being opened to the world of beautiful colors and ideas. Be a part of the conversation by commenting on this post so we can all learn together.
Carolyn Sparks says
Very good thoughts a nd suggestions in this blog. You asked for suggestions… our Bible class is currently studying a book by Dr. David Jeremiah, “Is This The End?” Chapter 2 is entitled The Bleeding of Our Borders. It outlines through scriptures the Biblical response to foreigners, mostly as the Bible talked about the foreigner among the Israelite but also the “”love your neighbor” admonition in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, summarizing, Jeremiah talks about the requisite for the foreigner to obey the laws. For Israelites, that would be God’s laws. I will loan you the book when we finish it if you like. I have seen so much in the way of advances in racial equally, gender equally, and religious equality in my lifetime. And yes prejudice of all kinds still exists. When we moved to New Braunfels, they had a Ku Klux Klan March right in the open in downtown. That was over 20 years ago. Not seen anything like that in recent years. I may have experienced white privileged, but I think it was more economic privilege. People of any race have difficulty overcoming poverty. Education has been pushed as an upward mobile tool but good trade skills work as well. I was taught that the police are my friend and someone to search for if I am ever lost or in trouble. I really find it sad for children to be taught otherwise. Obey the officer without question if ever you are stopped. That is good advice for any age or color. Having differing opinions and being able to verbalize them well and without rancor is a sign of maturity. Love watching you develop your talent while trying to gain understanding and encouraging others to grow and learn as well.
Thank you for being such a faithful reader and for your thoughts.
Joan Taylor says
Wow. I am so glad that I stopped by. I applaud your vulnerability, authenticity, and transparency for pushing the envelope off the edge of the places of comfort. I have lots to share, not sure where to begin. Perhaps, the best way to continue the discussion, which I passionate about too, is to follow your blog. Consider that done. 1. I too am working on listening more, and talking less, to gain a greater perspective. 2. I am biracial, Creole and Irish. I grew up in south Florida, and everything was quite diverse. That’s my upbringing, but I understand that for many people that is not their story. 3. I enjoy being around people that are different. My daughter is a film critic. She said that I will love the Black Panther. I have not seen it, but I plan to do so. 4. I will check out beabridgebuilder.com. Have you read Deidra Riggs post? I believe you would love her writings. http://www.deidrariggs.com/
She writes about reconciliation, and other topics too. Blessings
Thank you for visiting Joan and for your insightful comments. I look forward to continuing in discussion with you.
Anita Ojeda says
Under our skin we are in all essential ways the same. I don’t get out much (I work at a boarding school near a small town in the middle of nowhere), but I hang out with Native kids all day long, married a Cuban, and work with a lovely variety of Filipino, Hispanics, Natives, and white Heinz 57 people like myself. I grew up mostly on the west coast and went to school with a rainbow of people, so sometimes I struggle to understand both the oppressed and the oppressors. But generational trauma is real—it clouds every aspect of my students’ lives. So even if I am not personally responsible for the trauma, I AM responsible for building bridges and facilitating healing—whatever that may look like.
Yes. Great perspective. Thank you, Anita.
Ms. Wanda says
Wonderful article to read. All ethnic bodies of Christ need more of this kind of transparency! The Black Panther was a great movie with tons of varying messages applicable to all people in building bridges in the family and the body of Christ. In school I was surrounded by diversity. But it was serving in the Army that I really benefited and grew in God’s perspective of not being a respecter of persons. Living in No. Dakota was a wonderful opportunity to teach & learn about our sameness & differences. I have sat under black and white preachers to learn God’s Word. Hungry for more depth in God’s Word as well as more diversity, I am now in a very diverse body and we work hand-in-hand with each other to learn, to grow & to become one body in Christ. I pray that more of God’s children would open and embrace their brothers & sisters of other ethnicities. As we have been called to be the Light & the Salt of the earth, let us lead by the example Christ commanded & set before us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your journey.
Thank you, Wanda for reading and your thoughts. I appreciate your insight.