Listen. Learn. Lament
These last weeks have been a whirlwind of learning and emotion. Nadia Bolz Weber’s words came early in the journey and they have been a good guide. There is much I have to unlearn, and her challenge to ask God why I feel defensive or upset has been helpful and clarifying for me. It has also made it a spiritual work as I ask God to show me His heart.
“I am a beginner. And in a way the stories I just told are about my starting point in attempting to become anti-racist. Maybe you’re a white person who hasn’t really started. Maybe you are way ahead of me. But here’s what I want to say: everyone gets to start somewhere. There’s so much to unlearn. I know that you may not be an expert. I know that there are ideas that are totally new to you but that have been around for a while already. I know that you were born into a system that you didn't see was a system until now.
I see you. I have compassion for you (but please don't ask Black folks or other POC to…they don't owe us that).
I know this conversation is hard. And you may find yourself feeling defensive. If you are going to be a beginner with me, find other white folks on this path and talk with about those reactions so that your feelings don’t have the power to stop the progress you’re making.
Maybe each time you feel defensive try having curiosity about why you feel that way. Then expose yourself to the thoughts and work of Black people. Go deeper. Do the work. I believe in you. And just so you know, and I don't say this to bum you out, but there is no way to do this exactly right. You’ll get things wrong. Just learn and work and keep going. You’ll be ok.”
-Nadia Bolz Weber (Here is the link to the entire pastoral letter.)
The call that has resonated with me in the journey to unlearn came from a black woman who said "we need to listen, learn and lament, feel the grief in our bones, if we are to stay the course with people of color."
Here is some of what I have found powerful.
I loved this eloquent speech given by a black woman, Kali Ladd. It is an important and encouraging call to teach our children. I hope you will listen.
I also loved this article on what we need to make sure we teach our children. It is beautifully written by a woman of biracial children. It is what I need to learn.
For many of you Jamie Winship is a familiar name. He was the speaker at our last Windrush retreat on Identity. He is a former police officer in Washington DC. This conversation with him was not only insightful in the current situation, but a wonderful reminder to live in our Identity. Jamie’s talk was also a reminder that I cannot be in my God given identity when I am self-promoting or self-protecting as I am on this journey.
So my prayer is that we can all stay open hearted, as we learn, listen and finally lament.