I could not sleep last night.
I made the mistake of getting on Facebook after the verdict came in for the Trayvon Martin case.
Ohhh, my heart.
I honestly do not know if I have anything to really offer to the collective conversation about the ever prevalent racism in this country or white privilege.
And yet – on behalf of my daughters, I can’t be quiet. I believe there is something I have to offer in relation to intentionality and how we can work toward learning more about one another. And I have something to offer because of those who have taken the time to befriend me, love on me, and teach me some difficult lessons over the years.
This is how it started::
I went to graduate school at Eastern University. I have a Masters in Multicultural Education. At the time, there were no other programs offered nationally that focused on educating future teachers as to how to address and embrace multiculturalism in their classroom – both in the content one teaches, as well as in building community amidst a diverse group of people. The program also focused on our social responsibility to do justice.
I also had the extreme privilege of being a part of the graduate student community, comprised of students from all over the world – with Americans representing about 10 – 15% of the graduate population.
So, for two and a half years of my life, I was immersed in multicultural living – eating, sleeping, breathing in this little piece of heaven! And then I went on to live in a country for 14 months where I did not speak the language, and where there was only one other American within a 45 mile radius. 😉
So, I share with you what I learned from those around me.
I am merely passing on what has been taught to me. And let me tell you – I continue to fight it (the disease of white privilege). It continues to be humbling.
And it takes a LOT of work.
The most important life lesson I have learned is the importance of authentic, deep interracial community. As a Caucasian woman, it is absolutely imperative that I continue to work on deep friendships with women who do not look like me. I am not talking about Facebook friends. And being the white mother of a black daughter does not mean I know more. That is such a misconception and is self-deception. Hanging out with OTHER adoptive white moms of black kids is not enough.
But it does make it all the more imperative that I am in community with other families that do not look like me.
For my sake.
For my daughter’s sake.
How does one do this? Well, it won’t happen at a deep level if you live where I used to live – in a homogeneous community. That is just the reality.
So if you live in a community like this, and your desire is to live in a more diverse community intentionally, commit to start praying about whether or not you should stay there.
Yep. I just said that.
And I say that because it was said to me.
I took it to heart, my husband and I prayed about it, and then three years later,
And I have to say – it was the best decision we ever made for our family.
So – what if moving is just not feasible at this time? What if that is just does not vibe well for you? Does that mean one is off the hook?!?!
Start doing some research. Find out where multicultural events are happening around you (even if they are three hours away), and then commit to making the drive to attend them. I mean it. Be intentional. Commit. Make the time to immerse yourself. Hopefully, you will be the minority at these events. Allow yourself to really feel what it is like to be uncomfortable.
Lastly, start reading. Commit to reading one book a month about a culture other than yours. Start reading books about racism and prejudice. Here are some of the ones that have impacted me::
1. White Like Me by Tim Wise
2. Let Justice Roll Down by John M. Perkins
3. Welcoming Justice by John Perkins, Charles March & Philip Yancy
4. The Heart of Racial Justice by Brenda Salter McNeil and John Perkins
5. One Church, Many Tribes by Richard Twiss
6. More Than Equals by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice
7. Welcoming the Stranger by Matthew Soerens, Jenny Hwang, and Leith Anderson
And the list goes on…
Our words, our sound bytes, just do not mean much at all if we do not collectively commit to making lifestyle changes that bear out our hearts for understanding one another better and for reconciliation with one another.
We can’t know what we don’t know about one another. We need to be intentional. We need to be the learners. We need to not only be better listeners, we need to let it soak in and impact our daily lives.
It’s time to commit.
Please join me.