So, on Monday, I promised y’all a bold proposal. And seriously, this idea sat in my gut all week because I knew the moment I acted on it, I was going to get all types of sick. SO, I found every reason to avoid writing this post! I even cleaned out parts of my fridge. For real. Racial reconciliation is some scary, scary business.
But here’s the deal, if you’re a black woman and you don’t feel safe to talk about this stuff with your friends, and you’ve NEVER tried, then baby, the onus is on you.
On me. The wimp over here writing beautifully about wanting to be “white” but scared to death to tell it to her white friends’ face.
Remember how I pointed you to Christena Cleveland’s suggestion to view “12 Years a Slave” with a cross racial audience and using it as a springboard for conversation and reconciliation? Honestly, that’s too much for me. I struggle with static images in history books on the brutality of the slave trade, so obviously, I can’t handle a whole movie.
Now I could wimp out again, but last Thursday when I was processing “Sometimes I wish I were White” with Jesus, I asked him to show me what to do with all this emotion around race and beauty and then… I got Redbox free rental code.
Thinking, “yes! I can get a chick-flick for my vulnerability hangover”, I rushed to the closest Redbox to find this documentary:
I rented it, watched it and I cried like a baby, and then Jesus whispered, “now invite your friends over to watch it”.
Coupled with Christena’s suggestion about “12 Years A Slave” , I told my writer’s group about this scary idea they were all like, “oh yes, girl DO IT” and so I said, “ok Jesus, time to pull up the big girl panties.”
Today I sent this email out to my friends:
As some of you know this week on my blog, I’ve been talking about racial reconciliation and creating safe spaces to have those types of conversations. I wanted to write you all because each of you is a very dear friend to me AND I’ve been a very bad friend to you. Well…wait…let me take that back…I’ve been a good friend, but I haven’t been a very honest friend. I’ve been struggling with these issues of race, identity, safety, and unity for a while and I haven’t invited any of you to process these issues with me. Most if not all of you, understand the subtle tension that lies just beneath cross-racial friendships, some of you have asked me off line, “how do I talk about this without sounding stupid or insensitive”, some have confessed to not engaging because you don’t want to start drama. But all of you love and reflect Jesus in profound ways to me, so I want to reflect Jesus back to you by pulling up my big girl panties and inviting you all to my home on the first Saturday of December for a night of safe conversations around race, relationships and reconciliation.
When I wrote, “Sometimes I Wish I Were White”, I sent it to my writer’s group, got their feedback and then unplugged to just let Jesus speak into this hurting place in my heart.
I laid down on a bench in Harvard Common underneath green, orange, yellow and red trees and marveled at the beauty when diversity is unified in one space. I thought of my bi-racial friends, white friends, Asian, Latino, and black friends and how we’re really so different, but so much the same. We need the same things to thrive and survive. Like the trees need sunshine, rain, and pollinators, we need to be listened to, known, and loved.
So on December 7th, I hope you’ll come. We’ll watched, “Dark Girls” one of the best documentaries I’ve seen on the black women in America and beauty. Then we’ll have a conversation that’s so very close to my heart, “how can we as Kingdom Women affirm beauty in a way that both honors who God made us to be (white, black, brown, tan, etc.) and acknowledges the brokenness in the world that contributed to those insecurities.”
In short, I’m inviting you my friends to enter into the “other”, like Jesus entered into the “other” of humanity when he left Heaven. I’m not doing this because I want to start drama or make things tense or have space to call you a racist or ignorant to your face. No, I want to create a safe space to talk these things through because I love you and want to share all of myself with you.
So, please pray and look at your calendars and if you are at all free, please consider coming over. There’s this ministry our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church hosts, called, “Sankofa”
From the website:
A Journey Toward Racial Righteousness
The Sankofa Journey is an intentional, cross-racial prayer journey that seeks to assist disciples of Christ on their move toward a righteous response to the social ills related to racism. This interactive experience explores historic sites of importance in the Civil Rights movement and sites of oppression and inequality for people of color, while seeking to move participants toward healing the wounds and racial divide caused by hundreds of years of racial injustice in the United States.
My sweet sisters, I’m inviting you to a Sankofa night at my home. Sankofa is a West African word meaning “looking backward to move forward.” Let’s look back together at beauty, colorism, and identity and hopefully let’s move forward together. Let’s move forward together so that I know as your black friend you “get me” and so that you can let me hear your heart around these issues so I can “get” you.
Ok, enough rambling. I’m about to puke because this is such a scary invitation. But I love you and trust you all.
Now here’s my scary invitation to you, Dear Readers: Host your own Sankofa Night before the end of the year. Choose a movie that could springboard for safe, healthy conversation around race, invite your friends into your space, and ugly cry this out.
In the weeks to come, I’ll be posting some resources to facilitate discussion on your nights, movie suggestions, and prayers for reconciliation.
Then, on December 13th, come back here and tell me how it went OR if you have had an experience with honestly engaging in racial reconciliation share that with us, as I’m hosting a Sankofa link up here, on “Shalom in the City”. Let’s encourage the heck out of each other to do the hard work of rethinking humanity, especially around racism. And hopefully inspire others to take steps to have hard, but life-giving conversations.
Much love to y’all and I’m going to go puke again,