Friday Five, wk11: Say, What?

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin  Channing Brown

Happy Friday!

Say, What?: When you’re recently self-diagnosed with Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome

Isaiah 1:17 | Lisa Hall-Wilson | Flickr
Isaiah 1:17

With all of the anti-racism efforts I’m learning about, how do I not say the wrong thing to a person of color?

Disclaimer: It’s clear from the photo on the right that I’m a white millennial woman with non-earned privileges beyond my comprehension. As you read this, also know that I’m a human like you, trying to lean into the most justice-minded, love-exuding, authentic version of who God created each of us to be. If my words irk you, please forgive me and send me a private message to chat and teach/share.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin  Channing Brown

Recently, our church’s book group has formed on Zoom, discussing Austin Channing Brown’s book I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In a World Made for Whiteness. As with any {good} book focused on anti-racism and one person’s {powerful, enlightening} perspective, the text forces any white reader to face their privilege, perspective, and gives many opportunities of learning {including blindspots, areas of absolute ignorance to change, and other many things white people need to ponder}.

And it’s uncomfortable and challenging, and there’s a reason Brene Brown threw the book across the room the first time she read it. {You can hear her podcast with Channing Brown here: }

Several white church members have mentioned to me, after reading some of this book, that they don’t know what to say {to people of color}. Maybe nothing I say is good enough. And I just don’t want to cause more harm or hate toward Black individuals and other people of color than already exists. I get that. I’m a pastor…”don’t mess it up for anyone” is not only a phrase of sarcasm, it’s a serious daily mantra. I also understand that we need to keep reading…

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company - Woolly's Statement

Austin {I’m calling her Austin because I so wish we were friends, ha.} ‘encourages white people hoping to be allies to “take advantage of the resources that already exist” rather than rely on people of color to help. “Whenever I go give talks and workshops, I tell people of color before you entertain a conversation with a white person about race, I need you to send them an essay or a book or a YouTube clip or something that proves that they really want to have this conversation. Give them a resource, see if they consume the resource. If they do, now you can have a conversation about the resource, as opposed to having a conversation about internal thoughts and experiences that you might not be ready to share.”‘

And, for people of color (BIPOC–Black, Indigenous, People of Color) reading this book, Channing Brown has this message:

“Every single line I read through the lens of a Black woman or a woman of color picking up this book deciding that she’s going to read a book about race and deciding how every single line would make her feel. I needed to affirm women of color because that’s what I struggled with,” she says. “I remember struggling to name what I felt like was happening, to name the dynamic, the language, struggling to talk about not belonging … It was really important to me to try to wrap the language around our experience, honestly, so you don’t have to again. So that the next time you have a white person who is like, ‘Can you help me?’ all you have to do is whip out this book and slide it across the table and be like, ‘Yup, read that.'”

So how can I learn to be anti-racist as a white person, while also not muting myself in the process?

  • Read, read, read, read, read and read some more.” My 7th grade Texas History teacher said this every day, and Mrs. Billingsley was so right. Keep reading, let’s keep learning–together and individually. There are books, articles, podcasts, videos, movies, TV shows, children’s guides and a ton of other incredible resources out there for all people. {Message me for a short list or visit this page.} And let’s respectfully discuss what we’ve heard and what we’ve learned.
20 Best Books About Anti-Racism - Anti-Racist Reading List
  • Be a Friend. Most all people already know how to do this! Authentically build friendships with people. Expect that each person you come into contact with has something to teach you and that you have something to share with them, too. Remain authentic, respectful, and kindly curious. Respect each other’s boundaries and clearly communicate. Genuinely say sorry when you’ve said the wrong thing and learn from it. It’s simple! Great lessons will come out of your interactions, plus some deep connections as children of God, too. (And, let’s face it, you can never have too many friends.)
  • Get over yourself. Ha, that sounds harsh, but sometimes I am the biggest boulder in my own way of becoming a better human. My fear of making mistakes or saying the wrong thing, my insecurities keep me from building relationships, especially with people who I perceive will not like or judge me. Ever happen to you? (See Channing Brown’s quote image above.)
    • A certain English teacher friend gave a great analogy of this the other day: if all of her Hungarian students were so scared of making a mistake that they never tried to speak English in class, what good would that do? They truly will NOT learn English if they don’t open their mouths and try saying the words. The same is true with anti-racism. If I don’t try to change my thought process and behaviors to work toward a more just world, maybe I’m being part of the problem! ALL voices MUST speak up…in your own authentic way…staying vulnerable…and we must trust our guts to guide us. (Guts=God and such)
Let's talk about anti-racism: things I never understood (Part 1) + Acts  17:26 Bible Verse Coloring Page

Who is she to say all of this? I realize that any time a person speaks out, there is risk involved. I am naturally one who takes risks yet agonize over the possibility of hurting others. The topic of antiracism is full of deep feelings, and sometimes we have to look at Jesus, throw our hands up, and admit, “Yes, Jesus took risks for the Gospel every day.” I have to stop standing still on the conveyer belt (see above quote by Dr. Tatum), turn around, and move in the opposite direction. Sometimes my moving is a crawl-a snail’s pace-as I am learning and struggling through a book or discussion, and other times I feel bold enough to bolt!

Wherever you are on the conveyer belt, look to the truth in your beliefs and experiences that have always guided you in all other areas of your life. Just as Jesus was my steady rock as a child, so He is today in these new spaces for me. I lean on Him heavily in the confusing, exasperating moments. And I trust that, when people of color speak out from their experiences of pain and anguish, Jesus calls me to listen and take the individuals’ stories very seriously. I hope you are able to find your pace on the conveyer belt, too, even as it changes over time. This is a part of being human, beloved by the God who invented love itself.

1 Corinthians 12:13: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” … But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

See also Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our
image, according to our likeness.”
  1. Check-in: How would you describe your current life season? What are your thoughts and feelings about antiracism and the 2020 movement in this time? (Either write down your thoughts or share with a trusted one.)
  2. Action/Inaction: What are some ways you can seek to discover the tension of following Christ’s lead to call for justice, while figuring out what you as an individual should do at the same time? What do you need to do to share this with God?
  3. Time with God: God, thank you for the freedom to be authentically me around you. Help me to embrace the changes that truly hurt, while also actively looking for the miracles and grateful moments of this life. Give me wisdom to discover the growth and hope of this time, even if there are particular trials and difficulties right now. Guide me in your gift of life and joy. In Your Son, Jesus’, name we pray, Amen.

I thank God for this opportunity to spend 5 minutes of your valuable time with you. May we stay in touch with our own pace on the antiracism conveyer belt. There is always hope!


No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or  his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can  learn to hate,

One comment

  1. Laurel I love your comments on this book. Where can I buy one. I will be getting a hip replacement surgery soon and would like to have it to read during rehab. I haven’t made an announcement of it yet because I want to wait until everything is totally set up. Thanks and blessings. Shirley Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.


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