Race-less Gospel

A race-less life is a Christ- filled life.


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Say Something New

case-for-talking-raceThe news reporting is the same.  Same angles, views and I suspect that is the same pencil used to sketch and draw the same conclusions.  The words used to describe race relations remains unchanged: allies and hate mongers, race cards and race baiting, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.  We reach conclusions that are the same as before.  And no matter what is said or how often we say it, we agree that we need to talk about race.

But, we do talk about race and we do hear more about prejudice and racism.  Now apart of the twenty- four hour news cycle, unsolicited and unfiltered YouTube commentary, hash tags and trending topics, there are many conversations being had.  Consequently, the news about (suspected) race- related incidents is spreading and spreading quickly.

Because there is a smart phone in the room, persons may not tell racist jokes– even when behind closed doors.  Dashboard cameras and private citizens videotaping police interactions also limit what is hidden behind the badge.  We are seeing more of the personal, social and systemic works of race.  Yet, we are not able to talk ourselves of it.  Why is this?

I think that I have an idea.  Now, this is just a theory.  I don’t wear a lab coat and I have no experiments or lab rats, dead or alive, to support my findings.  But, I believe we have created a prejudice about conversations about race and that once we hear the word race, we already hear what we have come to expect or experience.

What do we do about it?  Stop making assumptions as to how the conversation will go.  We cannot begin a conversations with conclusions as to how this is going to end.

Instead, start from beginning.  Begin with introductions not assumptions.  Learn their name and their story.  Race is not personal and will not tell you about them.

We must also be aware of the prejudices that we bring to conversations about race.  We must ask ourselves if we want to have a friendship or a fight.  Be sure that the other person agrees to this end before you engage them.

Question yourself and your intentions.  Have you worked through your issues with race in order to be ready for a cross- cultural conversation and relationship?  Do you want a conversation or a verbal wrestling match?  Do you want this interaction to win- lose or win- win?  What is your goal, your aim for talking about race?

And begin to listen and hear what is being said in order to say something new.  Conversations about race are defensive in nature.  Removing the assumptions will allow us to lower our guard and allow a new perspective to enter.  We not only need to stop and listen but we need to slow down and think.

Think our responses through and let them be for this moment and in this instance.  We cannot tackle and should not take on hundred of years of history and millions of hurts in one sitting.  Instead, let’s do something new.  Let’s take it one day at time and one person at a time.

 


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Hope and ‘Intractable Racism’

hopeChristianity Today contributor Mark Galli writes about race and the gifts that the church brings to the conversation in an article titled “Hope in the Face of Intractable Racism.”  Gall questions doubts we will ever be done with racism, challenging laws that intend to “eradicate all forms of racism” and suggesting that it will take more than this.   Still, Galli concludes that we will “never rid ourselves of racism in this age, any more than we will rid ourselves of lust or pride.”  He continues, “And yet this seeming cause for despair actually prevents despair.  Just because we cannot eradicate racism doesn’t mean we have to succumb to its nasty expressions.”

I disagree with Galli because of this hope that we share.  George Bernard Shaw believed, “Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  I couple this truth with that of Viktor Frankl who concluded, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  I have hope that I can change and thereby eradicate all forms of racism in me.


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A Watchman for Our Souls

Starlette McNeill*:

Rev. Todd Thomason serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hyattsville. He is a devoted husband and a caring dad of twin daughters. I suppose that the laughter has strengthened his prayer life dramatically. He offers a courageous and insightful reflection that I just couldn’t keep to myself. It would be selfish.

I pray that it would challenge you to live more deeply into the faith that we love and cherish in hopes of loving more like Christ.

Originally posted on Via Ex Machina:

On Tuesday, author and journalist Neely Tucker sat down with Kojo Nnambdi to discuss the release of Harper Lee’s new/old novel, Go Set a Watchman. I had seen the controversy over the characterization of Atticus Finch brewing online since the Wall Street Journal published the first chapter of Watchman last Friday. However, I was unfamiliar with the questionable circumstances surrounding the book’s release. Biographers, close friends, and serious fans of Harper Lee have known about Watchman’s existence for decades, according to Tucker. Yet, Tonja Carter, a lawyer from Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, AL, claimed to have “discovered” the “lost” manuscript when news about Watchman first broke. As the story goes, Carter showed the book to Lee, who enthusiastically endorsed its publication after all these years, even though the aged author suffers from impaired hearing and eyesight as well as the lingering effects of a recent stroke.

These circumstances…

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Healing Our Relationships From Race

maxresdefaultRace hurts.  Believing that I or you are a problem causes pain because people love people.  This perspective suggests that the world is not perfect because of my presence or yours.  And we spend much of our time together or apart talking about ways to rid ourselves of “you people.”

But, what if race is the problem?  What if race is the one that is causing pain?  Damaging our relationships?  Once we locate the wound, will we have the courage to apply the pressure of love, to say what must be said in order for healing to occur?

If so, then here are just a few pointers as you prepare to talk about race in your relationships.

1.  Don’t react.  It is understood that there is pain.  Try to remain calm.  Instead, relate.  We must seek not to prove the other person wrong but to understand why we continue to wrong each other.  The goal is not to discuss the wound but to ensure that it is not repeated.

2.  Lean in.  Sit down with the sole purpose of listening intently.  We need to know what happened in order to prevent the injury from happening again and to know what to do if it does.  We have to have a plan in place with clear guidelines and support.

3.  Maintain eye contact.  Don’t look away or at the floor.  Don’t shake your head when the other person is talking, disapproving or disagreeing before hearing the person’s perspective fully.   In order to clean it thoroughly and close it completely, we must get a good look at it.

4.  Touch it.  Talk about it without the hindrance of history.  It does not matter what has been said.  What is most important is what we are saying and doing about race right now.

Race is a wound that has been open for hundreds of years.  It has been infected time and time again.  How much will we have to lose before we heal ourselves of it for good?

 


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Keep Talking About Race

RaceRace has the power to silence us.  Whatever the reason- boredom, distraction, guilt, shame, ignorance, apathy or exhaustion- we stop talking about race.  We change with the news cycle and move on to the next story.  Because the conversation is so sad, so taxing, so difficult.  It hurts too much.  It’s scary.  It will take too long.  It won’t change anything.

We are full of excuses but we are tired of living with the problems of race.  So, keep talking.  Keep talking until you find the right words and become the right person to talk about race with.

Resources

“Being White in Philly” discusses the challenges socially colored white people have when they talk about race.

The discussion continues here at HuffPost Live.

The Washington Post ran a story after news broke regarding a noose hung outside a building at Duke that claims “We can talk about race without fighting or getting defensive, if we’re willing to learn how.”

 


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Talking Race and Relationships: Deepening the Conversation

race080818_5_560“Hi.  I’m white.  You’re black.  Let’s be friends.”  This kind of introduction is too simple and superficial.  It’s also not realistic.

Relationships that begin or are connected to one’s racial identity will ultimately lack true feeling and are not rooted in reality but stuck in social temperatures that could go up or down, depending on the news cycle and the political season.  Getting to know someone on the basis of the social coloring of skin begins the relationship in stereotypes and low expectations, in fear, bias and inauthenticity.  (Note: We do not enter into relationships, establish friendships in order to appear “progressive” or to meet some type of social quota.)

race080818_4_560Race also rules the relationship and becomes a kind of third wheel, apart of all meetings.  We either talk about it all the time, whether through passive- aggressive comedy or debate or awkwardly avoid any mention of it.  It is a lingering threat that reminds us that we are never safe, that there is always the possibility for our relationship to be ruined by it.  And this must be said.

Deepening our conversations will require us disclosing our fears about race.  This is not to be confused with our feelings about each other.  As people are not races but human beings.

We must get it out.  Talk it out, these things that race has done to us.  We must attach feeling words to our experience of race: “Race makes me feel…

Secondly, we must give up control of how the conversation will go.  We must see each other not only as equals but as persons in the same position: friends.  We will need to rid ourselves of the roles of master and slave, dominant and subservient, oppressor and oppressed.

How do we do this?  We will our selves to.  We make ourselves do it.  It’s not easy and that’s why we must.  Because this work is not easy.  There are no easy ways in or out of the racialized life.  There are no shortcuts to reconciliation, no city dumping ground for its baggage.

This loss of control extends to the opportunities, options and outcomes of the conversation.  We don’t possess each other and we don’t own the conversation.  So, we might not get the first word or the final say.  And it may not go our way.

Acceptance is a really deep part of this dialogue and much of it will be about accepting what we have said and what those words have empowered us, for good or for ill, to do to ourselves and others.  Our relationships will change once we decide to challenge our relationship with race.  When we move beyond the superficiality of skin, then we will be able to relate to each other as kin.

I challenge you to go deeper.


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Desmond and Mpho’s Made for Goodness

A dear ministry friend, Rev. Trisha Miller Manarin, included a section of this writing in a sacred work that she has asked me to participate in.  The words met me right where I was and sat with me.  I pray that they might do the same for you.

Don’t struggle and strive so, my child.

There is no race to complete, no point to prove,

no obstacle course to conquer for you to win my love.

I have already given it to you.

I loved you before creation drew its first breath.

I dreamed you as I molded Adam from the mud.

I saw you wet from the womb.

And I loved you then.

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,

for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Stop racing ahead at your own pace,

you will only be exhausted, flamed out, and

spent before the task is accomplished.

Pace yourself with me, walk alongside me.

 

Do you think I don’t know the demands of your life?

I see you striving for perfection, craving my acceptance.

I see you bending yourself out of shape to conform to

the image that you have of me.

Do you imagine that I did not know who you were when

I made you, when I knit you together in your mother’s womb?

Do you think I planted a fig tree and expected roses to bloom?

No, child, I sowed what I wanted to reap.

 

You are a child after my own heart.

Seek out your deepest joy and you will find me there.

Find that which makes you most perfectly yourself and

know that I am at the heart of it.

Do what delights you

And you will be working with me,

Walking with me,

Finding your life

Hidden in me.

 

Ask me any question

My answer is love.

When you want to hear my voice,

Listen for love.

How can you delight me?

I will tell you:

Love.

The tough, unbreakable, unshakable love.

Are you looking for me?

You will find me in love.

Would you know my secrets?

There is only one:

Love.

Do you want to know me?

Do you yearn to follow me?

Do you want to reach me?

Seek and serve love.

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