So, we are talking about race. I won’t lie that it’s a difficult topic, in the church, and in the nation. I’ll tell you a bit about my story with race before I dig into resources where I started and more that have come out in the last few weeks.
I grew up in a middle class neighborhood just outside DC. We were close to our black neighbors on the street. I have a vivid memory of helping strip wallpaper with a butter knife for days. They were some of my first supporters when I left to go overseas. I have stories talking about race with my family where it was, “It used to be like this, but it’s not anymore”. We’d talk about how it was good to be colorblind because that meant to treat everyone equal. The intentions I was raised with were good ones. I was taught in the way that my parents knew to be best: we are one, treat them as equal. That foundation is why I can so willingly move into what has gone on inside myself.
It wasn’t until I started traveling, often stateside and globally, that I realized I had an issue. My first recognition of my own implicit bias (refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.) was when I lived in France 7 years ago. I was the only one on a metro car with bigger black man. I noticed the deep fear inside me. Completely taken aback, my mind swirled because I was raised “right”, yet where did this fear come from?! Also, there was a layer of being in a different culture, Black men weren’t the ones to be feared in France, the Middle Eastern man was. So, If I am fearing the wrong thing for the culture I am in, something inside me followed me across the ocean.
This started me on a journey to understand my own story understanding the racism inside me through implicit bias, and colorblindness. In that moment, I very much saw his color and feared for my safety. But why? I had so many experiences that should have informed me otherwise. Then, I thought back to the news I watched growing up. I knew intimately about the crime and violence in the “black” neighborhoods around DC, Virginia, and Maryland. If I even passed a sign for Prince George’s County, I wanted to drive through there as fast as possible. Media, Movies, TV shows, stereotypes that have internalized despite experiences.
I say all of this to say to you, it is okay to face some of the worst inside yourself. God desires us to walk in truth. Shame can so easily take over right now, but I pray it does not. I pray for a soft heart, acknowledging that we are not the people we desperately desire to be. God already knows that, and He’s offering us a place to come and sit and learn.
So, below is a list of TedTalks, Video clips, Books as launching point. The things I’m choosing, I have watched, read, or listened to myself minus a few books. They are on my list to read. I can hear you now, your story is great Heather, but that doesn’t sound like mine, or this sounds too political for me. Yes, and yes. Your story doesn’t have to sound like mine. I share because I think the humanity in all of us is what will allow for us to stand around the throne of Christ with every Tribe Tongue and Nation now, not just in heaven. Second, if this sounds political, I invite you to set those lenses down for a moment. Those lenses have served all of us well, but listening attentively to stories and history will allow humanity and nuance to be re-infused into a divided narrative. Here’s what I ask while you start to tread into the waters- acknowledge there will be discomfort, sadness, defensiveness, and overall hard emotion. That is okay. Welcome them instead of refusing them. We are all on a spectrum of learning right now. There is grace abounding for all stages.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man-
Episode 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8jUA7JBkF4
Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwiY4i8xWIc
Episode 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfo1XJDJKSU
Historycoolkids- Incredible account where I learned about the Black Wall Street massacre/Tulsa Massacre. The stories they post are one’s I never heard, but backed up by loads of research. It’s a great intro to be open to things you may never hear otherwise.
~Mellody Hobson (2014)- Color Blind or Color Brave
~Clint Smith (2014)- The Danger of Silence.
~Clint Smith (2015)- How to raise a black son in America
~Bryan Stevenson (2012)- We need to talk about an injustice
~Heather C. McGhee (2019)- Racism has a cost for Everyone
Be the Bridge- LaTasha Morrison (on my list- I have listened to her on podcasts which is why I feel comfortable suggesting it)
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity and a world made for Whiteness- Austin Channing Brown (Same as Be the Bridge)
Just Mercy- Bryan Stevenson
Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the Cafeteria?- Beverly Daniel Tatum
Church Specific Books:
Divided by Faith: Emerson and Smith
The Color of Compromise: Jamar Tisby
Free at Last?: Carl Ellis Jr.
The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity:
Prophetic Lament: Soong-Chan Rah
Podcast Episodes (Church related)
That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs:
Monday June 22nd Episode: TSF with Mike Kelsey: Why History Matters+ Jemar Tisby
Episode 221: Eugene Cho
Episode 223: Mike Kelsey
Episode 175: Latasha Morrison
The New Activist host by the International Justice Mission:
Episode 74- Latasha Morrison Returns to Help Us Understand
Be The Bridge Podcast: (just started this past week)
The Allender Center Podcast:
June 6- Racial Trauma and White Supremacy (a counseling angle, so kind)
Podcasts (not church related)
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown:
Brené with Austin Channing Brown on I’m still here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
(I’ll put a language warning on this, but please please do not let that deter you from an incredibly vulnerable conversation)
Project 1619: Five episode series
Episode 212- Heather McGhee (potential language warning, I can’t remember, but knowing this podcast, it’s a fair assumption)