Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker

S3 E4 | Challenging Comfort, Acknowledging Power, and Using Privilege with Natasha Robinson

July 14, 2020 Natasha Sistrunk Robinson Season 3 Episode 4
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E4 | Challenging Comfort, Acknowledging Power, and Using Privilege with Natasha Robinson
Chapters
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E4 | Challenging Comfort, Acknowledging Power, and Using Privilege with Natasha Robinson
Jul 14, 2020 Season 3 Episode 4
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson grew up as a Black woman in a patriotic family in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She went on to serve as a United States Marine and later worked in the Department of Homeland Security. She is now an author, speaker, and leader. Today we talk about her most recent book, A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World. We also cover the topic of patriotism, whether or not churches should seek to become multicultural spaces, and how white people can name both the injustices and the goodness within their lives and use it to serve God’s good purposes.


Show Notes:
Patricia Raybon wrote the forward for both Natasha’s book, A Sojourner's Truth, and for my book, White Picket Fences. We talk about the times we have been co-speakers at events—here’s an example.

Natasha mentions the Orangeburg Massacre, which occurred in her hometown. We talk about monuments in the South, which you can read more about here. We talk about several books and people: Divided by Faith, James Baldwin, and Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Natasha also references an article she wrote for Christianity Today, and we mention Acts 17 and the book of Exodus from the Bible, as well as research from Pew Research Center and this article on Ed Stetzer’s Christianity Today blog: Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.

Natasha and I talk about supporting organizations led by people of color. Read more about this here.

This podcast season is called White Picket Fences, and it is based on my book White Picket Fences: Turning Towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege. Learn more about White Picket Fences! Also check out free RESOURCES to accompany White Picket Fences—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

Follow Natasha online: www.natashasrobinson.com; Facebook; Instagram; TwitterT3 Leadership Solutions, IncLeadership LINKS, Inc

Show Notes Transcript

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson grew up as a Black woman in a patriotic family in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She went on to serve as a United States Marine and later worked in the Department of Homeland Security. She is now an author, speaker, and leader. Today we talk about her most recent book, A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World. We also cover the topic of patriotism, whether or not churches should seek to become multicultural spaces, and how white people can name both the injustices and the goodness within their lives and use it to serve God’s good purposes.


Show Notes:
Patricia Raybon wrote the forward for both Natasha’s book, A Sojourner's Truth, and for my book, White Picket Fences. We talk about the times we have been co-speakers at events—here’s an example.

Natasha mentions the Orangeburg Massacre, which occurred in her hometown. We talk about monuments in the South, which you can read more about here. We talk about several books and people: Divided by Faith, James Baldwin, and Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. Natasha also references an article she wrote for Christianity Today, and we mention Acts 17 and the book of Exodus from the Bible, as well as research from Pew Research Center and this article on Ed Stetzer’s Christianity Today blog: Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.

Natasha and I talk about supporting organizations led by people of color. Read more about this here.

This podcast season is called White Picket Fences, and it is based on my book White Picket Fences: Turning Towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege. Learn more about White Picket Fences! Also check out free RESOURCES to accompany White Picket Fences—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

Follow Natasha online: www.natashasrobinson.com; Facebook; Instagram; TwitterT3 Leadership Solutions, IncLeadership LINKS, Inc

Note: This transcript is generated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

1 (4s):
Hi, I'm Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. I'm excited to introduce you today to my good friend, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Natasha is the author of a <inaudible> truth, and I think you will enjoy this conversation. I loved talking to her about growing up in the South about patriotism, about the good old days and about how acknowledging privilege can be a part of the solution to our social divisions. One of the things I love about Natasha is that she is a woman who embodies that challenging and beautiful combination of speaking the truth in love.

1 (40s):
I am so glad that we get to hear these powerful words of truth and love from them.

0 (47s):
Thanks for the same.

1 (50s):
Well, hello, Natasha. It is so fun to see you. I get to see you in zoom, even though everybody else is just going to listen to us. And I was trying to think about when I first met you and I'm actually not even sure, but I know that in the past couple of years, I have come to count you as not just a colleague, but actually as a friend. And I'm really grateful for that. And we had a chance because we both published a books in the same week in 2018 similar topics. I'm just going to read your book title in my book title.

1 (1m 22s):
I have them both in front of me. So yours is a Sojourner's truth, choosing freedom and courage in a divided world with a foreword by Patricia Rayvon. Yes. Sign is white picket fences turning toward love in a world, divided by privilege with a forward by Patricia Rayvon literally came out within a week of each other. So I've felt like these books are kind of friends from the beginning. I've loved the chance that we've had to actually speak in two cases in front of churches together about our books and about our work.

1 (1m 58s):
And it's really fun to think that we can record at least some pieces of that type of conversation here today. So welcome. I'm delighted to see you and I'd love for you to start just by telling listeners who might not know you a little bit about who you are and especially about the work that you are doing. Yeah. So Natasha sister Robinson, I am, I always start like I'm a black girl from Orangeburg, South Carolina. So Orangeburg is like a small rural town in South Carolina, about 45 minutes South of the state's Capitol of Columbia.

1 (2m 29s):
I'm the oldest of three children and I've known I was a leader at a very young age. And so that, that the leadership development, the athleticism, the academic prowess led me to the Naval Academy. So ended up going to the Naval Academy. Graduated got commissioned in the Marine Corps. So as an officer in the Marine Corps did six years in a Corps in that time, met my husband married him and we have one daughter she's 13 and she's now.

1 (2m 60s):
So after

2 (3m 0s):
Going to the Corps, I ended up working three years at department of Homeland security and then decided somewhere in there, God was waking me up to write. So I started writing for publication around 2010 and that writing has led to now the publications are two books. One Bible study. One on the way also has led to me attending seminary. So I got my master of arts in Christian leadership and Gordon Conwell a few years ago. And now I'm in a doctorate program. I'm a cohort between North port theological seminary fuller.

2 (3m 33s):
What I'm doing right

1 (3m 34s):
Now is this podcast about my book, white picket fences. And we're in chapter three, which is when I write about growing

2 (3m 41s):
In my own

1 (3m 43s):
Small town, Southern experience of Eden to North Carolina. And I, as you know, grew up in what was a town that demographically was 50% African American and 50% Caucasian Americans.

2 (3m 58s):
And we

1 (4m 0s):
All the same lived in almost a functionally segregated way. So that was my childhood experience there parallels to your childhood experience and differences. And I would love for you just to start by talking about your childhood.

2 (4m 14s):
Yeah. So I grew up around a lot of women and not because the men weren't around my family just had more women. So I learned, I think, you know, from those women, just, you know, how to keep family, how to build community, how to love we laughed all the time. And so they were always like big gatherings growing up. We also grew up in a town that, I mean, it was pretty segregated. I mean, there were white people there. I saw a few of them, not a lie that a few of them were teaching in the school, but I think a lot of them that had the financial ability to send their children to private school.

2 (4m 48s):
There was only one public high school in my town. And so all of the, there were three middle schools and all of them ended up going to this one high school. That's where I went to. And then the other thing that's very interesting is that there were two historically black colleges and universities. So one private and one public. So my mother actually worked. And at some point in my youth at both of them, it's almost always around education. Education was very important. You know, you have that. And then there's obviously a lot of history there. So in addition to that, historically black colleges and universities, what I write about early in my book, there was a massacre, the Orangeburg massacre that occurred there were students from my high school and South Carolina state university.

2 (5m 29s):
That's what it is now, college at a time, they were trying to, you know, do Priestville protest so they could go bowling. It was the only bowling Melanie in town with win within like a 20 mile radius. And it was segregated. And when was this? Like what time the sixties, like civil rights, movement time. And so, you know, that protest, which started out peaceful, turned into a being, you know, to do with turn, you know, pretty violent. And then we got three boys. I call them boys cause they were teenagers 17, 18 year olds that were murdered by police.

2 (6m 4s):
And then there was one woman. And I didn't find out about this two years later, that was a college student. She was married to a college student that was pregnant, got beaten by the cops and then lost her baby within a week of that experienced it. So, you know, for those who, who are pro-life, who believe, you know, in, in bourbon, that's important. Like, so I consider this for their four deaths, you know, that's that massacre I knew about that growing up. But one of the things that I love about your book is the way you start with the strength and the beauty of this community, of these women, of these people of faith.

2 (6m 43s):
And even though there were these really hard aspects of the history that you just shared, as well as other aspects of just paying an injustice, you still start with that sense of love and safety and celebration. And I was wondering if you would actually read there's one paragraph in your book, if you have it, I've got it. Okay. So page 36, that first paragraph there. I, I don't know. I've got, it started underlined in my book. So I'd love for you to read it and just explain why you started in terms of telling your story, why start here?

2 (7m 17s):
Because I think sometimes the national story we get about small, you know, being a black woman from a small Southern town, it does not start with this. And so I would love for you to read it. And then also to say, why did you start here? Yeah. So the excerpt in this community, we were taught that being black and being a woman was something worth loving. And I loved everything about being a black girl. It was not entirely of home that I realized that loving and affirming blackness was not the norm in America.

2 (7m 47s):
Things were quite different in the real world. I'm so glad that my identity was formed and shaped in this community because when messages from the world aimed to attack my womanhood, my blackness, my skin tone my hair. I simply rejected those lines. The people from my own community loved and cared for me. And they told me the truth about myself. I love it. Yeah. To me, I just think it was, it just was right. It was just a natural part of my upbringing.

2 (8m 19s):
I was just stating what I knew to be true about the people that I know in love and the people who affirm me so that people can have a different story and a different narrative. Yeah. I think he did it so well. There's another piece that you bring in, in terms of just pain and hardship, which of course I think is probably anyone who's writing a memoir has aspects of their life that they can look back on and celebrate and others that are painful and hard, your stories that you share at least in a southerner's truth about pain and hardship are also directly linked to a broader story of racism and injustice in our nation education, all of these things that formed and shaped you.

2 (8m 58s):
And then of course there are other things as well. So, so what are those and how have they made you who you are? Yeah. I think two come to mind, especially officer journey is true. So one of them was, I remember, obviously right now we're seeing all these artifacts coming down right. Concerning people that, that the country has deemed heroic, that black people I've never felt in this country. We're worthy of that praise and high honor in monuments and artifacts and things. And so one of those artifacts for my state was the Confederate flag.

2 (9m 29s):
And then, you know, for years I watched where the state lost so much money. Like people were not coming to the state for tourism. They were, some people weren't were, were not doing concerts and things. So they were losing a lot of money and I'm like, and I, and I, on one here, you think that that's kind of the thing. That's motivating people, but you realize they're giving up money because they're holding fast to something else that's more important. And so to me, that just kind of signal as a young person, like this is something deeper than, you know, like there's something here.

2 (10m 0s):
I continue to see this racism or the effects of what Michael Emerson and Christian Smith write about in the Bible by faith about living in a racialized society. So it's not like isolated incidents, these things kind of fester and perpetuate over time. And so the competitive play was one of those. And then I think the other one that came comes to mind, especially when I think about the book is, you know, getting to the Naval Academy in experiencing, you know, this, this, this I'll use your word privilege, right.

2 (10m 31s):
Of being exposed to that for the first time of seeing it, there are literally people in the world. I didn't know this. I really didn't any Julia. There were people in the world that felt like they had space to occupy. And anyone else that came into that space was not worthy of the space. They needed to be rejected out of the space. And there was somehow taking up opportunities and space for other people. And so I went to Naval Academy in 1988 and you know, was told stuff like, you know, somebody, a white male would say his friend didn't get in because people like me got in because of affirmative action or because of a quota.

2 (11m 11s):
And that's why his friend, his friend wasn't good enough. But that is because we took up a slide. Right. Or that

1 (11m 18s):
You could have worked harder.

2 (11m 20s):
There's no way there's

1 (11m 22s):
Better grades or whatever the criteria. Yeah.

2 (11m 25s):
There's just no way. So I was exposed to that for the first time. And I didn't, and I write about example, like, I didn't know, like I knew, but I didn't know what was going on. And then I realized, I was like, Oh, this is, this is a plan. Like, like there's a plan to run me out of here. And if I don't understand, if I don't learn the rules of this game really quick, then I'm not going to make it. And so I really had to learn like what, going on, what was legally allowed, like what they couldn't do.

2 (11m 57s):
And so I could play to those strengths and make them work in my favor.

1 (12m 1s):
And yet, even as we've, you know, recently celebrated the 4th of July as a nation and had I think a very good national conversation about what exactly are we celebrating when freedom was restricted from its beginning to a very few, what does it mean to celebrate this nation? What does it mean to celebrate independence and Liberty and justice as we look back and in our current context. So that's, so there's this very specific, like why stay at the Naval Academy under that oppressive situation that you found yourself in?

1 (12m 35s):
And then also, how do you understand patriotism? How do you think?

2 (12m 40s):
Yeah, so the first one, why stayed to me, like there wasn't an option of quitting, right. And I think part of it is one, like I'm not afraid to do hard things and I'm not afraid to work hard. And that's the thing, like, that's the thing that got me there. I was already, you know, I was already a competitive athlete. I was already, you know, I'm someone who had done well academically, like I already had the goods.

2 (13m 10s):
So I think that, you know, the Naval Academy's mission, they'll say it like it's more mental and physical development. So I already had those skills that I had that foundation coming in. I had the moral, mental and physical development, but I think the other part of it is just kind of practical. Right. So I had been accepted to a lot of schools and I had at the time, so 19 that's 1997. When I graduated high school, I had more than probably about $500,000 in scholarship money. So I could have gone to several schools, but here's the thing, as you know, like once you turned down a scholarship, it's not there waiting for you.

2 (13m 42s):
So like, all those options now are out the window. So it's like to quit was not an option to quit for. Like that wouldn't have been beneficial to me. And certainly I wasn't going to quit because of them. Like I came with the purpose of graduating, that's exactly what I tended to do. And I attended to do that. You know, my family and you know this, but just, you know, for your audience, like my family, we didn't, we didn't have a lot of money. You know, we kind of wavered between like lower middle class to poor depending on the year.

2 (14m 16s):
Cause my, my dad was a roofing contractor. And so like as the oldest, one of my primary motivators was I wanted to get myself off of my parents' books. Like I didn't want them worrying about me. I didn't want to be dependent on them for, for money. Cause they did spend half an hour to spare. And I think from the Patriot, the patriotism piece, I think, you know, I did a talk last year at the princess gathering and I quoted on James Baldwin, James Baldwin in it.

2 (14m 46s):
And one of the things that James Baldwin said is that because I love something along the lines of that I insist on criticizing her perpetually. And so I changed the words I said, I said, you know, I'll say critique, right? Because I think for anything that you do in life individually or collectively, and that's the thing, like one thing I'm sure a lot of people watch Hamilton this weekend. Like the miss America was a dream and an experiment.

2 (15m 19s):
That's what it was. It was a dream and experiment. Right. We don't like what we have, we were there, but we think we can do it better. And so the issue is then is can we be better? Right. And in my instance of that is always yes. And so what I think is unpatriotic is to keep going down a path that's not healthy. That's not about what's good for all Americans, right?

2 (15m 50s):
Those are the things that I think are unpatriotic, dental visits. Right. But if we're seeing, you know, there's some things that's blinking here, let's get those things right. To me, that's an act of patriotism and from a Christian perspective, it's an act of love.

1 (16m 7s):
Yeah. I love that. So this chapter in white big offenses that I've been thinking about today is called the good old days. And that idea of the good old days is like, Oh, there once was an idyllic time in American history. And if only we could return to the day

2 (16m 25s):
When life was simple and easy and pure,

1 (16m 28s):
Everything would be better. And I remember the first time I ever started to question that phrase,

2 (16m 34s):
It was at a writer's conference and I,

1 (16m 36s):
I must've said the good old days or someone else did. And there was a woman of color who was at the conference. So no one I knew very well, but she was like, yeah, that's not a positive

2 (16m 45s):
Idea for me. Like if I,

1 (16m 47s):
I look back on what the good old days represent, they, it's not good for me or for my family. And so I just wanted to ask you if you have had the same experience and like what comes to mind

2 (16m 58s):
For you, if you hear people say or

1 (17m 1s):
Wax nostalgic for the good.

2 (17m 4s):
Yeah. I think, you know, again, I think there are things that when I think about values, there are some things that I think we've lost society. Right. But I think what you're talking about is a little different because where people haven't said a whole bunch of the good old days, but I'll just go in and call it out. Like, you know, this whole make America great. Again, I got a problem, right? Because again, you know, for people of color, especially indigenous people. When I think about some Asian communities, I think about, you know, black people, you know, there, there's no point in our history where in our history, in this country where America has been great to us right now, there's been some opportunities

3 (17m 50s):
That obviously things are better than they've been for certain things. But I think, you know, we look at the history, we really understand the history and that's a thing, Amy, Julia people don't know the history, right. They only know what they've been told. And one thing I always had to try to remind people about history is history is not about what happened. History is about who had the power to tell the story. Hmm. Yeah. I was just last night, Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass, Americans are remarkably familiar with all facts, which makes in their own favor.

3 (18m 28s):
This is a thing by some, as a national trait, perhaps a national weakness. It is a fact that whatever makes for the wealth or for the reputation of Americans, it can be head cheap, will be found by Americans. And this whole thing about what we determined is factual in we, as America is very American to tell a narrative that paints America in the best light. Right. And I think we need to understand that we need to name that and then we need to start questioning well, what is it that I believe about our country that may or may not be true?

3 (19m 9s):
And what is dabble believe about my country. That is a positive that may have affected other populations and people in this country in different ways. And that's not even getting into international policy. I know

1 (19m 21s):
There's so much there. And I certainly can look back on how I was taught, especially the history of the state of North Carolina, but yeah.

3 (19m 29s):
You know, American history more broadly even. I mean, I was even reflecting on the term African-American today and like, but I'm a European American, like, is that the right way to say it because I am no more or less American than you are and why do I have to put a qualifying word? And why is it because white Americans have been considered the norm in the center? And so, you know, just, and I'm still struggling to figure out even the language around that much less, how it's affected my entire understanding of the world to be positioned at the center in this issue regarding race.

3 (20m 7s):
It seems to be the one that we are not intentional about addressing in very tangible and systemic ways to, because at best, what we've seen is that people like to put bandage on it to pacify the issue. But we don't understand history to go to the root cause of the issue. We don't understand how they're still today impacting every system or every structure like every power structure in this country is still very much impacted by it. And what do we need to do to make those systems more equitable?

1 (20m 38s):
I read a piece actually on ed, Stetser his blog for Christianity today. He didn't write it. A woman, professor white woman, who's a professor wrote about systems and sin. And she said, you know, sure. Sin as individual and what do individuals do? They build systems, they build institutions. And so even if you no longer have the same sin in your personal heart that your forebears did and whatever system or institution, you're a part of, if they did have that, then your institution still has it, right?

1 (21m 12s):
Like there's still this, not just leftover, but it was built in such a way that you're still participating in a system and a structure. And so the only way to take that down down is to actually see that systemic root of sin, which is to say vision and hatefulness and privilege, religion power, and, you know, considering some groups of people better than others and more worthy and all these things. It's like, how do you rip that down to go back to the root in lots of different ways?

1 (21m 43s):
Yeah. So one of the things I've been thinking about in having this conversation is the parallels that I see between our stories in lots of ways, including just who we are right now as female Christian leaders, writers, thinkers, although you have many more years of education than I do. But nevertheless, I also look back to that growing up in a small town in the South with support from strong Christian communities, because I also grew up with a lot of women around, I was the oldest of four girls.

1 (22m 14s):
And I remember just being outside. My mom did not work outside the home when I was little and neither did the other women in our social circles. So I had a lot of women and a lot of Christian women in my life who did support and affirm me and many, many ways. And there was a lot of stability. There was a lot of celebration. I really look back as an adult and as a teenager on that time of growing up in North Carolina as idyllic, and then I started to learn about the ways that, that same experience it was built on injustice and how yeah.

1 (22m 49s):
I went to an all white church in a town that was only 50% white people. Why was that? And I started to learn that history, right. I went to, because I mean, you kind of spoke to this in the wake of desegregation orders in the late sixties and early seventies, especially across the South, just a slew of private academies that were relatively low cost. And I really wrestle a lot about naming or believing that there was anything good about my childhood while also knowing that there was this injustice that was like embedded in inside of it.

1 (23m 26s):
You know, you have to have conversations about what did people get in their formative years that either helped or hindered them to be the best citizens. And this is just a conversation about system structures in America, right? I'm not even talking about the Christian stuff yet, but just like, what did they get in their formative year to help them be the best citizens, you know, are contributors

3 (23m 46s):
To society, not takers and all that. You need to have those conversations. But I think specifically concerning your question about some people that might have had different experiences or privileges, like it doesn't, it doesn't help me or, you know, people color or the black community for you to feel guilty about what you got. You got what you got, right. And you're not in, and to some degree, you know, when you got it, like you didn't have the power to not have it, right. So you got in, and this is like the Christian part of this, right?

3 (24m 19s):
Of like, you know, Paul writes in acts chapter 17, that God designs where people stay and where they're, you know, kind of where they're planted. And he does this so that people everywhere can get to know God and be drawn to him. And so in the same way that, you know, God planted me in a certain wound when a certain family in a certain place on location, that was a part of the person that God was forming me to be for the things that he purpose for me to do in life. Right. And so the same thing for you and somebody else, it's the stuff that God has put in you good right.

3 (24m 55s):
To shape and form you, but how he wants you to show up in a world in a purpose that he's happy your life. The challenge is though Amy Julia, is that some people, and I see this in the church alive, would take those privileges and advantages and then assume that they've got it because of their hard work or because they have the Holy spirit and they following the Lord, like they're doing all the right things that other people are out here doing all those things and don't have half of what you have to show for it.

3 (25m 26s):
And so what we're asking, and I think, especially as Christians, it's not for you to feel bad or guilty or shamed about what you have, because that doesn't help anybody. It don't even, and it doesn't even fix the problem. Right. Right. But the thing is to take what you've given and to use those privileges, to become part of the solution, right. To create access and opportunity for other people, knowing that when you do that, you haven't lost anything

1 (25m 53s):
The way. I mean, I think about you talking about the people that were like, Oh, you're only here because of affirmative action. Right. And I think about the ways in which my life as a white person was built on what we could call affirmative.

3 (26m 6s):
Absolutely. I was already given a leg up and I did work hard. Yes. Did you write like, and so this sense of the only way in which you could be,

1 (26m 18s):
You know, kind of, I mean, I think affirmative action is actually great, but like unfairly lifted up is because you're a black woman as opposed to like, well, what about, because you're a legacy at this school because

3 (26m 30s):
Right. Like why, why are we seeing

1 (26m 33s):
Seeing that as a, only about hard work and virtue and seeing this as about a quota system, when really everybody's working hard and when you work hard, starting

3 (26m 44s):
Ahead, you get further. And obviously, I mean, obviously sociologists write a lot about this, about we have different thought processes about people who are in our, in group versus out group. Right. So people can be doing the exact same things and then we can put a different judgment on it, whether or not they're in our, in group or outcome. And, you know, so that's why we're seeing a lot of these things too. And, you know, when we see these images, for example, like policing and these things, it's like, okay, well, what would that story narrative look like if the situation was reversed?

3 (27m 16s):
Right? And so we're starting to, we're starting to question those things, but I think, you know, what, what people, you know, again, I think part of it is ignorance not to speak down to anyone, but just a lack of knowledge, a lack of understanding that we need to gain. But I think the other part of it is is that okay, once you understand that you do have some privilege and we all do, like, there are certain privileges that I have, right. And this is part of my nonprofit work. Now, what do I do with the privileges that I have right. In the fact that I have internet, the fact that I can read the fact that I have, you know, I own certain things, right?

3 (27m 50s):
The fact that I can write, like these are all there. They're all kind of privileges that we all have. How do we use those privileges that we have to create equitable spaces as we're learning and growing and seeing that we want to, we don't want to keep a, Pecha awaiting injustice in our society. So how can we create equitable spaces and act as people of justice and light of the history that we know or we're learning, but also as a result of who it is that God has made me to be, the stuff he's put into me in the way he's like my social location, my social economic location.

3 (28m 26s):
Right, right.

1 (28m 27s):
Talk a little bit based on what you just said about the role of faith in your life. But also I'm thinking about specifically about us to Turner's truth. And I've told you this, but I'm going to tell our listeners, this is

3 (28m 39s):
Well that a couple of weeks ago, my husband said, you know, I'm going to start reading Exodus in my men's Bible study. Do you know about, of any books that I could read alongside it? And I said, well, actually the book that I

1 (28m 52s):
Recommend is called us to journey truth. It's by my friend Natasha. And because in this

3 (28m 57s):
Book, you weave your own personal story. And a lot of honestly, just like good teaching about leadership and race and justice and all of these things with, and through the Exodus story. So the story of Moses in the early chapters of,

1 (29m 12s):
So I'm just curious, I'd love for you to just tell us

3 (29m 14s):
More about the significance of Exodus. Like why did you choose that story as a way to tell your own story? I know it has resonance, not only personally, but in terms of the African American church more broadly. So what do you want us to take as readers from that story, but also what do you personally take from that story? Yeah. So one just generally like Exodus, you know, it's been part of, it's one of those stories in the Bible where black, black Christians just kind of anchor themselves. They put their homes in it, it gives them hope and reminds them of who God is and what God is able to do.

3 (29m 50s):
And so, you know, when we think about generations of our ancestors being born into and dying in slavery and still working faithfully every day and with hope that it any day God can deliver, and they had that hope for those of them that were able to steal away and learn how to read and to share more of the Bible, then not just what was in the slave Bible, that they weren't able to see that the same guide who after hundreds of years on nearly 400 years that delivered the Israelites out of there as limit to Egypt was still alive and well and present and able to deliver them is the way any day God can deliver.

3 (30m 31s):
Right. And so that is just an understanding of the black church, the black experience with this particular texts and why it's always kind of been a part of such an important part of our faith journey. But I think the other part of it is to expand that a little bit more is it reads in my book, it reads the story from the position of the oppressed, right? And so I think my daughter and I was talking about this last night, looking at Frederick Douglas speech, because what happened? And you will see this, if you go back and look at some of our founding documents and languages, features and letters from our founding fathers, they were using a lot of Christian language.

3 (31m 10s):
And so they were coming here seeing themselves as the Israelites that were freed from the oppressor of Britain, right?

2 (31m 20s):
When in actuality, baby

3 (31m 22s):
Cain, Egypt, right. They became the empire that then oppressed, or the people first started with the indigenous people,

2 (31m 30s):
A prison in his lane,

3 (31m 31s):
In the app of free African people.

2 (31m 34s):
And so they became the very thing that they despised. And here's the thing, like we all had the temptation to do that, which is why it's so important for us to be anchored in the louvered, in

3 (31m 45s):
Looking at the Lord's character. And

2 (31m 47s):
Well, I thought about this last night, you just can't see us in the Bible just because it's in the Bible. I don't mean you do it right. Like, what is guy's character? How has God revealed his character him

3 (31m 58s):
In here, but how God wants us to live. And so we talked a lot about that. And so I think that's very, very important to it. Just kind of how we read the text in what posture we read the texts and in, in who, what characters in the text we identify with, I think it's very, very important. And so for this one, it just gave me a chance to share, not just my story alongside Moses, the way which is a leadership story. It is right.

2 (32m 24s):
It expands it to say when God raises up leaders,

3 (32m 28s):
It sounds when I hear particularly within white churches or white, even joking with them when they're talking about how gradable Moses was, and it kind of stops there, right. And God, and his relationship with both of them things. But we don't realize that

2 (32m 40s):
God is only raising up individuals so he can bless a people. That's still the truth today. Like, you know, that's the whole thing. That's Jesus was the epitome of that, right? Like God will raise up a leader to bless us, not the elevate, the leader. And so what I was really intentional looking at, it's like, okay, yes, God selected Moses. And Moses by all intents and purposes was a very ordinary person. Right. But the unique circumstances of his life, which is why I don't want anybody showing away from the unique circumstances of their life to your previous question, right?

2 (33m 14s):
Like it's the very things that happened in his life. The stuff that God put in him that he was able to use, and God was able to draw upon when it was time for him to be called out as a leader, as a voice, as an influencer, because the stuff was already there, the good and the bad stuff, right. There's some good stuff, but there's some bad stuff. And all that stuff is there that really caused Moses to rise up. But it was for the purpose of blessing, the people, God heard the cries of the Israelites and he sent Moses most suicides response to their crime.

2 (33m 46s):
Right. And so we see that. And so I was able to tell, not just my personal story and the biblical story, but the African American story, that a lot of people don't know, even a lot of educated people don't know, you know, a large degree. And then I think from the faith perspective, it really allowed me to give the bigger picture yet, which is God's redemptive story that how can God use all of this stuff, the good and the bad of it for his ultimate good in his ultimate glory, which is, you know, where we end up at the end of the book is talking about redemption.

2 (34m 21s):
And so I think that's very important. You know, I wrote about this on social media a few days ago, but you know, when I'm writing, I'm not thinking about a reader per se. I'm really thinking about what is God requiring of me in the moment. And that's what I write. And so literally there's like that audience of one, but now I'm also realizing, you know, that I'm writing the stuff that my daughter needs to survive right. In this world. And I think that's critically important. And so it wasn't about who is, or I think different people were reading and get different things out of it.

2 (34m 56s):
So I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm just as pleased as that your husband is reading it. And it just made me think too, that my, cause I think this is important. And I write about this a lot. I did write about this on your blog one time, but I think it's important for white people to seek out leadership and mentorship and from people of color, this we're very important and go places and certain places and support institutions and organizations and things where they're not in the center and they're not in charge. Right.

2 (35m 26s):
I think that's critically important. And when I was at Gwen and Conwell, my spiritual director, who was a white man, he said to me, he said, Natasha, I really think a large part of your gift is really leading, is stewarding white men. He said,

3 (35m 39s):
He did. He said, doesn't mean, he said, because he said, you can do all this other stuff he said, but I really think you have some stuff that they need to hear and they need to say. And so when you told me that, that was his words was the first thing that came to mind. Yeah.

1 (35m 52s):
I have one more question for you because when you and I were together in Raleigh, North Carolina, this is back in January.

3 (35m 60s):
He spoke side by side. We were literally

1 (36m 2s):
Physically together

3 (36m 5s):
Hugging sharing without mass with no masks,

1 (36m 10s):
Please Lord bring us back. But in this space we spoke together and there was a person who asked us a question about Sunday mornings and referenced a what Martin Luther King once called the most segregated hour in American social life.

3 (36m 24s):
And I,

1 (36m 26s):
I really appreciated your answer to the question then. So I'm going to try to reef phrase it now, but which really is like, is it a problem that our churches are divided upon racial lines? And what, if anything, should white Christians be doing to repair historic divides with fellow believers who are black Christians?

3 (36m 47s):
Yeah. I think that it ultimately depends on how you see the church. Right? And so I think I'm not as concerned about the church being segregated on Sunday morning. I'm concerned about the church being in segregated period, like the body of period, right? It's like, there are ways that we have to talk about that. In other words, like when Pew research journal, I quote this in my book, like this is like 70 something percent of white people do not have relationships with people of color that they trust like intimate relationships. And so my thing is, is like, it's not a surprise. Okay. So one hand historically we know that there is a black church because black people got kicked out of the white church.

3 (37m 21s):
So that's, you know, let's go and do some homework on that. So I'm not going to put too much energy into that right now today. Cause I think that's a historical fact that people need to just kind of go and dig into. But I think the other part of it is, is that our churches are segregated because I last, I segregated. Right. Right. And so until we with integrity, look at the ways that, and granted, there are some places geographically, right, where I'm not talking about you, you choose to limit certain neighborhoods. I'm just saying, you know, there are large parts of, you know, farming land or whatever where there's not right.

3 (37m 54s):
So I get that. But by and large, our segregation in this country is by choice. And it's by choice, not just about race, but also by economic class. And so I think that's problematic because what it does is that it creates these bubbles and we don't understand not just how the other person live our lives, but also how our actions impacts in a negative way, the actions of our neighbors that might not have the same library experiences as us. And so I think, I do think that being intentional and where we go and how we show up and how we cultivate relationships is extremely important.

3 (38m 31s):
Not just on Sunday, but just in life. Because if you do it in your life, then the Sunday thing will, you know, it will, you'll start to reflect that as well. Right. And so I think that's part of it. So what I also think is that we, you know, we just have to be more intentional in how we relate to people and, and what we see and what we choose to see and what we choose to not see and how we respond. So for example, for people at work, right, this is where you spend the majority of your time, people that work, right.

3 (39m 5s):
They spend more time at work than they do with their family. They spend more time at work than they do at church. Right. Right. And so you have to ask, okay, how many people of color are working here? Like when is the last time old girl or boy got promoted, right. People are in a boardroom, like how many people are in the room? How much is in my head, in a room where it happens. Right? Because, because again, those, so those are the things that impact other things.

3 (39m 37s):
And so the church, I think there are ways. So for example, with the black church in particular, not only was the black church, a product of being kicked out of the white church, but it has also become a place of a sanctuary, a place of safety refuse for black people is become a place where, you know, especially early on, you have black men that have their identity affirmed within, I call boy, right? They'll call mr. And they're given a title of deacon and pastor and Bishop, right?

3 (40m 10s):
And so these are, these are important things, right? So their humanity and their dignity and their strength and all the other ways that they're investing in their families and communities again, that we know, but because there's other narrative about them, that's seeing other things that this was a place that they came. And so I'm not so much interested in dismantling the black church or even saying everybody needs to be on multifamily trips. Cause again, I've been in multiethnic church, I've worked with multi ethnic church movements and churches.

3 (40m 41s):
And by and large, the majority of multiethnic churches are still there by white men. And they're all often are still very much white culture. So in other words, you can have a diverse worship team or diverse teaching team. But the style of teaching is still very much white culture. The songs that they choose, pretty much white culture. You know, I can hear a song to be sung five different ways, but in a multiethnic church, there's going to be some the white people. Right. And so I think there are things like that.

3 (41m 12s):
You know, it's a different between being multiethnic and multicultural. And I think you have a lot of multiethnic churches that are not multicultural. And what I mean by that is that they're not celebrating the depth and breath of everyone that's in the space. And until that happens, I think it's not really affirming. And it's not really healthy for the people of color who are, they're really just assimilating and they're able to do it. And I was able to do it cause that's what we do in every other professional space we go into. Right. Yeah. Right.

1 (41m 40s):
And that, I think for white Christians who want to be a part of repair, that question of assimilation and of, I mean, I've written and talked about this before, but for me, I think I started off with this sense of, I want to break down the walls so that anyone who is in my life, who's on the margin. So, you know, whether it's a person with a disability

3 (42m 3s):
Person of color, you know,

1 (42m 5s):
Person who's been excluded for any reason can come and be like me, which is just classic assimilation. Right. And it took me a while to be like,

3 (42m 13s):
Wait a second. Right.

1 (42m 15s):
What does it mean to break it all down so that we are in relation

3 (42m 19s):
Of mutual. Self-giving where we all have needs. We all have gifts and we are using them with one another. I mean, that's a, it's a huge re-imagining. But I do think if we can shift the paradigm,

1 (42m 33s):
So instead of a white church thinking how can we now invite the black church to come back and be part of us? You know, it's like, no, no, we gotta create it. God has to create something new, honestly. And it's not going to probably start not to say again,

3 (42m 48s):
Multi-ethnic churches that are, I think <inaudible>

1 (42m 55s):
At the same time there is work to be done. As you said on the relational level and there's work to be done on that. Just framework of and mindset.

3 (43m 5s):
Yeah. It needs to be the church. Well, I think it's two things I want to respond to next. I think it's very important that you brought this up and say, one of them is comfort in other's power. Right? So this idea of comfort is why can't everybody come and be like me because I don't have to make adjustments with that. Right. And so the one thing that Jesus calls us to as disciples, that we have to count the costs about discipleship in encountering the cause about discipleship. When I look and see old Testament, prophets and followers of Jesus and new Testament, believers, disciples of all was Jesus.

3 (43m 37s):
It caused all of them something. Right? And so I would submit that if you're a Christian, you're a white Christian and you're never challenged to be uncomfortable and you're never challenged to count the cost of your discipleship. And you're never laying down your life and sacrificing things for the sake of the gospel and your faith. That's somebody that you're not probably following Jesus that's because discipleship means to follow Jesus. And so it's not about how can I get more people around me and I can keep doing the things I always do.

3 (44m 9s):
It's like one of the ways, because we're always, people are always adjusting, right? We're always adjusting. Right? And so we're always sacrificing. We're always, you know, being in a position where it's not comfortable. And so I'm seeing this, what does it mean for, you know, white people then to not be centered in the space and say, okay, well, I'm going to go in work where I'm not in the majority I'm going to go serve when I'm not in a majority, I'm going to go worship where I'm not in a majority I'm to go volunteer.

3 (44m 40s):
Well, I'm not in a majority. I'm going to put my child in things, my children in things where they're not in the majority and I'm going to go there not to try to be changing everybody in the space to be like me. I'm going to go there and submit to the leadership of a person of color, people of color. I'm going to learn from them. I'm going to ask questions and those relationships start to happen naturally because I've come in a position of humility, which is also a Christian characteristic, right. Of not trying to be in control and change everything. So I think the comfort thing is one, it's an idol that we don't name that's comfortable that I think we have to lay down.

3 (45m 17s):
So I think that's one, but the power dynamic is very important because again, I think people, white people do need to think about, okay. When I think about my finances, when I think about my time, when I think about the places that things I support, how am I using that power that I have my voice, right? From my position, at my position at work, when I'm hiring people, I can say, we need, we need to have people of color in the top three when we're interviewing for a critical spot.

3 (45m 49s):
And it's not Lauren and Sanders is saying, okay, well, if you can't find a person, not because they're not out there, I mean, you got to work harder. Right? And so I think there are ways we have to use our power and position because that's, that's a power that you have to say, okay, well, what is the percent is not just a student population at my school. What's the percentage of people of color on the faculty.

1 (46m 6s):
That's where it actually also strikes me that it's a false humility to not acknowledge.

3 (46m 11s):
Yes. I agree.

1 (46m 13s):
I think that can happen too. Where in the name of humility, I won't acknowledge the power that I have and yet it can be, I think that sense of recognizing that even if I don't deserve it, I've got a position of privilege or of power, or even if I haven't earned it, I guess maybe it's a better way of saying that. And how can I use that? And this goes back to what you were saying before about God, always choosing leaders to bless the people, not just, and not just to bless your own people. I mean, I think back to Abraham bless me that I might be a blessing.

1 (46m 46s):
That sense of God's blessing being

3 (46m 48s):
All the nations through Abraham, right? Not even just for his children or just for the nation of Israel, but for all the nations. And I think similarly,

1 (46m 57s):
When people in positions of power, which in our country,

3 (46m 60s):
Three is largely going to be white people and often even white men. Right? What does it mean for this power to be used for the good of, not just my community, but actually a wider and more diverse array of people. And I think that's critically important because, you know, again, you can use that. So say you can acknowledge your power and use the power in a way that's healthy, but you can also use that power in a way that's unhealthy. And so what what's unhealthy is saying, I'm going to use my money and my talents, my network, whatever.

3 (47m 30s):
And I'm going to hoard it over a people. And then you're going to try to play a role, the white savior, right? That's right. That's wrong. That's not what somebody is asking you to do. Right? Like you can keep your money, right. But if you're saying I'm going to come, I'm going to volunteer my time. I'm going to, you know, exercise or, you know, leverage my network. I'm going to, you know, give funds. And again, this all kind of what you do is to support schools locally, to support churches, to support nonprofits, to support a black owned business.

3 (48m 1s):
Like they all kinda wish you would do this. I'm going to do this, but it's not, I'm not going to do it to hoard it over you. I'm going to do it because I am a disciple of Jesus because I understand steward my privilege because I've been a beneficiary of this unjustice. And as a result of that, I'm going to come and not say, I have to be in charge. And now you have to cater to me because I've done this. I'm going to come as a fellow servant on the journey, right. I'm going to come as a partner. And in that, there'll be some mutual learning and benefit.

3 (48m 32s):
And then, you know, if you stay long enough, which I think is critically important to, there can be some trust established where then it can become a mutually beneficial relationship because the mid Amy, Julia, Julian, this is why people don't see and understand. I think white people need this for their spiritual formation. I, yes, absolutely. Yeah. I think, I think white people need to split the spiritual formation. And so it's not even like, like what Natasha is saying, is that what you have to do? But I'm saying, is that the very fact that you haven't had to think about the cost of discipleship in this country, right?

3 (49m 6s):
The fan,

1 (49m 7s):
It means to submit to one another in love. Right.

3 (49m 11s):
What it really has to live that out, what it means to submit to one another in love what it means to lay down your life for someone else. Right. Right, right. So the stuff you do, here's the thing, the stuff you do for your own children, would you do that for somebody else's child? Right. Right. You know, and, and that's the thing. And I think that because black people are a more, and again, there are words, but sociologists about this primary secondary cultures, well, we are more communal people, Latino people, you know, families, are there more people?

3 (49m 42s):
I think you're absolutely right. As far as the spirits.

1 (49m 46s):
Well formation. And what, in other words though, too, this is not, we're not having a conversation. Yeah.

3 (49m 52s):
What would be better or helpful for the black community? We're saying sure. If you were actually a white person in power who could humbly and in a mutually beneficial, loving way, enter into a black community and B offer your gifts, that would be beneficial to them. Yes. Who would really benefit the white community, right. Like, I mean, there's, there's a, there's a, there's a music

1 (50m 18s):
Well benefit. And that's where, again, the sense of God as a God of abundance and not of scarcity

3 (50m 23s):
Is so important that this is, you know, this is meant

1 (50m 28s):
To be good for all, which doesn't mean everyone's going to be driving a Ferrari. It doesn't mean

3 (50m 35s):
Material goods are going to just be abundant for all people.

1 (50m 38s):
Well, and in fact it may very well mean that some of the white wealth would be redistributed,

3 (50m 45s):
But it would be better. Right. Like, because of the humanity that would be

1 (50m 49s):
Evoked and the sharing and mutuality

3 (50m 52s):
That would come up. Yeah. And I think the other part of this, and you've done this with, with your book and obviously with your other writing and work. But I think the other thing that people miss is that sometimes what happens when white people get on this journey of pursuing justice or anti-racial work or restorative salvation, you know, this whole thing is they get so disgusted along the way. It's like, well then now I'm blocking people. Now I can't talk to somebody. I was like, no, no, no. What you need to do now is use what you learn. Right. And go back and talk to your people. Right. Because if you can't, this is where the hard work goes.

3 (51m 23s):
Right? Like you need to have these people, these conversations with your family, with your own parents, with your friends, right. With your daughter, what's your daughter's or your son's school. Right. Like you need to June that work. And I think that's the thing too, that, you know, the cost of discipleship is like, okay, as you're learning on this journey, then some things that might've been okay to you five years ago, hopefully it's not okay to you. Now. It should Rob you in a wrong way because the Holy spirit is saying, that's a check in your spirit.

3 (51m 54s):
That's not right. And then now you're used your wife to speak up a second. You know, that's not right. And when, you know, when you're doing Bible studies, you're recommending books by people of color, because you've already read the books. Like you you've already done the work and you started to work on your pastor's up quote and stuff. And he's always quoting, you know, the same people. It's like, Hey pastor, can you, like, I just had a friend text me, said, my pastor is going to do a series on the book of Exodus. I told him he needed to read your book. They want you to come preach on Sunday. Yeah. I can do that, but he's not doing that because he knows Natasha, he's read my book.

3 (52m 26s):
He's doing that on the credibility of the relationship or the white person that he knows. Right. And so you're doing that work. David Swanson is doing that work. Daniel, Hill's doing that work. So you have white people that are leveraging their relationships and their platforms to come then and educate other white people and point those white people to the people of color that you know, have relationships with. And has that been a blessing to you? Right?

1 (52m 52s):
Absolutely. And this is where I'm so glad we're having this conversation. And truly, I mean, again, I wouldn't be recommending your book to my husband, if it wasn't for exactly what you just talked about. And

3 (53m 3s):
I do want one of the things I'm so grateful for is that for whatever reason, when I was in high school, I really loved the African American literature we read in English class.

1 (53m 15s):
And that led me to go and read more in college and become an African American.

3 (53m 20s):
It is minor, which meant that I was one of the only white people in

1 (53m 24s):
Classes I took. And that I was reading and being taught by people of color, in a mentoring capacity from a very young age. And that really, I didn't until someone asked me as an adult, they said, well, if you ever had a teacher who was a person of color and I was like, well, yeah, lots. Yeah. But I didn't, you know,

3 (53m 43s):
That's not the norm. That's not the norm.

1 (53m 46s):
And I re I realized, I'm like, Oh my gosh, you're right. If I hadn't kind of fallen down this path, I wouldn't have had that. And how did that shape me in some really positive, really positive, really life changing ways. And, and it is a gift to be able to offer to other people. So I'm going to finish our conversation. Cause I know we could go on forever, but just by asking, if you could tell us where we can find more of you, cause I know you are online and you have written books and we'd love to be able to.

3 (54m 17s):
So I have a business called T three leadership solutions, C like the letter T the number three leadership solutions. So you can go to T3 leadership solutions.com. And that's where I do my consulting work. My, my leadership coaching. Some people are looking for diversity. Like they're just trying to get smarter about this stuff. So I do coaching on that as well. I'm doing all that stuff virtually now. So you can apply to be considered for that on that website. If you can find like my ministry stuff with light books and all those things, you can go to my ministry website, which is Natasha S robinson.com S as in Sistrunk or Sam, depending on, but you can go there and you can follow all of my social media stuff there.

3 (54m 58s):
And so you kind of can keep up with social media. You can subscribe to my newsletter. I only send it out once a month and all of that. And then my nonprofit that I do want to share is leadership links, incorporated leadership links, L I N K S inc. I N c.org. And so who will very much appreciate support of that nonprofit. We need regular monthly support, but also anything that people can do. And then we have a volunteer form then there, as well as people want to volunteer with nonprofit.

3 (55m 28s):
And lastly, I don't know where you're going to publish this, but either way, for the rest of the month of July, beginning this Thursday, we are doing a discussion of Sojourner's truth. We'll do the next four Thursday evenings. We'll do that. So actually this Thursday, I'm talking to Patricia Rayvon about part one formation, and I'll do a different section this week. So some of these people, you know, so drew Hart is part of the conversation. Shane black shares the podcast and then Ann Snyder offering. She's wrapping up that conversation at the end.

3 (55m 60s):
So it's going to be the next four Thursdays and it's free, but people we want them to register. You can register on the nonprofit website, just on a first page, kick on again, Ridge and registered there. And we'll send the zoom information for that. And then we'll do a go live on Facebook, on a nonprofit page. And then also we try to get it up on YouTube within a day or two at the hearing. So yeah, we can get, you can get in and join us for that to continue the discussion.

1 (56m 25s):
Okay, great. Well, we will make sure that all of these links are in the show notes for anyone who wants to learn more. And I hope that lots of people will do that. And meanwhile, just want to say thank you for your wisdom and your honesty and for being just a tremendous leader and woman. And we're so grateful that you exist. Thank you girlfriend. I appreciate it. Every time we get to connect and do stuff together, spine, I meet him a grade. Alright. Amen. Thank you, Natasha.

1 (56m 55s):
You said, thanks again for listening today. As always, if you've enjoyed this episode, please share it with friends, review it wherever you get your podcasts and help spread the word that love is stronger than fear.

4 (57m 10s):
<inaudible>.