Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker

S3 E7 | Conversations about Whiteness with Cara Meredith

August 11, 2020 Cara Meredith Season 3 Episode 7
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E7 | Conversations about Whiteness with Cara Meredith
Chapters
Love is Stronger Than Fear with Amy Julia Becker
S3 E7 | Conversations about Whiteness with Cara Meredith
Aug 11, 2020 Season 3 Episode 7
Cara Meredith

How does “color blindness” actually enable blindness to racism and the system of whiteness? Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice, joins Amy Julia to talk about racism in the north, the harm of “color blindness,” the tenants of whiteness, and creating space to process whiteness in a way that’s “not all about me.”



Show Notes:

Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker, and coach. Connect with her online: carameredith.com, @carameredithwrites on Facebook and Instagram, and @caramac54 on Twitter.

“Love helped me see color”

“Blindness [to racism] continues to exist.”

"The celebration of who we are as humans - it’s not just our personalities but it is also what we look like on the outside and where we’ve come from.”

“Whiteness is the construct. Whiteness is all of those things that keep some people in and some people out...Whiteness is the system that we benefit from.”

Continuing the Conversation:

On the Podcast:

White Picket Fences, Season 3 of Love is Stronger Than Fear, is based on my book White Picket Fences. Check out free RESOURCESaction guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

Show Notes Transcript

How does “color blindness” actually enable blindness to racism and the system of whiteness? Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice, joins Amy Julia to talk about racism in the north, the harm of “color blindness,” the tenants of whiteness, and creating space to process whiteness in a way that’s “not all about me.”



Show Notes:

Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker, and coach. Connect with her online: carameredith.com, @carameredithwrites on Facebook and Instagram, and @caramac54 on Twitter.

“Love helped me see color”

“Blindness [to racism] continues to exist.”

"The celebration of who we are as humans - it’s not just our personalities but it is also what we look like on the outside and where we’ve come from.”

“Whiteness is the construct. Whiteness is all of those things that keep some people in and some people out...Whiteness is the system that we benefit from.”

Continuing the Conversation:

On the Podcast:

White Picket Fences, Season 3 of Love is Stronger Than Fear, is based on my book White Picket Fences. Check out free RESOURCESaction guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

Note: This transcript is generated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
0 (3s):
Hi,

1 (4s):
Amy, Julia Becker. This is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing

0 (11s):
In the midst of social division.

1 (12s):
In this season, we're talking about my book, white picket fences, and today's episode looks at the themes of chapter five, banal evils with my guest. Karen I have here today, my friend, Kara Meredith, and Kara is the author of the color of life. A journey toward love and racial justice. Kara, welcome to love is stronger than fear, so excited to be here. So in addition to writing this wonderful book, which I'm going to say a little bit about in just a sec, Kara is also a teacher, a speaker, a coach, a mother to two boys.

1 (49s):
And I do want her to tell you about herself and about her family, but I want to start just by telling listeners how much I appreciated your book, the color of life. I was able to read an advanced reader copy a couple of years ago and offer an endorsement of it. And I'm going to read a couple of the sentences from my endorsement, because it's still sums up how I feel about this book. So I wrote Kara Meredith's candid, thoughtful memoir of her own exploration of racial identity comes at an ideal moment. And even though it's a year and a half later, it is still an ideal moment for this book.

1 (1m 22s):
Kara story teaches us, but it does so through an invitation into her own thoughts and fears, her own mistakes and earnest reflections, her own journey of discovering herself and her history. I am so grateful for the gift of this book, and I am so grateful for your book and for people who are listening today, who are white and who are starting to think about race and racism in our country, and about what it means to be a white person in the midst of all that. I think your story is a really helpful way to enter into those thoughts, the feelings they bring up.

1 (1m 54s):
You also do a great job just to like in a storytelling way, giving some history and some data and some facts. So I'm really excited to be talking to you today and hopefully introducing you to some listeners and to some readers. And I thought, we'd just start by getting you to tell us a little bit about yourself, but in the context of your family, since your family situation is so related to your book.

2 (2m 17s):
Absolutely. Well, thank you again for inviting me to be here. It's a joy and a pleasure and an honor. So my family, my husband, James, and our two sons, we live in Oakland, California, and the book that I wrote the color of life really it's the story. It's the book I never intended to actually write. I always thought I would. I don't know. I would write about being a woman in ministry or leaving ministry or just all these other things that nobody really wants to read about.

2 (2m 47s):
At least me, maybe some of your listeners are really stepped about that. But after shopping, after writing a book like that and shopping it around to 39 agents and no one picking it up, I finally got the idea as in, you know, pounding against my head that this wasn't actually the book people love to read. So that being said, I'm married into a family of history. And on our third date upon meeting my husband, James, he pulled out a stack of photography books and he opened up an earmarked page and he said, this is my father.

2 (3m 23s):
And I write about this in the book, but I, he opened to this picture and I remembered staring at it going, wait a minute, your, your dad is Martin Luther King picture of MLK, dr. King on his, on his page. I would say here going, I know we met online Ihara, but I, I missed something. How did this out of this happen information that could have been helpful? And then he said, no, my dad is the man walking beside dr. King. And from there, I was introduced to a man named James Meredith.

2 (3m 56s):
He was the first black man to integrate into the university of Mississippi in 62. And then four years later led what's called the Meredith much against fear, which many historians consider the last greatest civil rights March. And so for my husband, James, who is black, and for me who identifies as white or European American descent, really starting to date him and fall in love and eventually marry him, was the impetus to discover and learn about my own racial identity, to learn about whiteness and a new lens of viewing history and theology and all of that.

2 (4m 29s):
So we are an interracial couple, we have mixed race children, and we also share a slice of history. And so when I talk about the book, it's, it's a spiritual memoir, but it's a hiss. It's a historical memoir. It's kind of this hybrid mix, but it's essentially about how the power of love helped me see colors.

1 (4m 47s):
And I that's part of what I love about it, I think is that you're able to bring in this very personal story that is really layered on to a larger American story in terms of both the intimacy of your relationship with your husband and your boys, but also that yes, the fact that we live in a highly racialized country and we have for so long, of course affects your relationships and who you're becoming. So just in context, like when was that, that you were on your third date and you, he pulled out his photo album and said, I need you to know who my dad,

2 (5m 24s):
That would be 11 years ago. Okay. Okay. So just for a little bit of context. Great. Yeah. So we're, we're, we're slightly still newbies. And yet where, I guess we've, we've passed the decade Mark of being together

1 (5m 37s):
Go that's awesome. Well, so for the past couple of weeks, I have our months, I guess now I've been interviewing people and I've been interviewing them in relation to my book, a white picket fences. And the chapters that we've been talking about recently have been centered on me living in a small town in the South, in North Carolina, in the late seventies and early eighties, which was a functionally segregated society. And I, as a young kid would not have had the words for racism, but I definitely did pick up on the fact that that's what was going on.

1 (6m 10s):
So when I was 10, we moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, which was a, almost entirely white town, obviously in the North. And I remember when I got there, I heard a lot of comments in middle school about how I had come from a racist place. And I really, although there was a bit of a like, Oh, I don't want that to be true. But I also thought there was a lot of truth to that comment like that they were not wrong when people said that the same time there were really no black or Brown people in my context.

1 (6m 46s):
And so I was really puzzled by how all these kids talked about how I had come from a racist place as if I were now in a place that was not racist, essentially because of the absence of people of color. I mean, that's what it felt like. And I was not convinced that the absence of black people in a community meant the absence of racism. Although, of course, as a middle schooler, I had no way to make sense of that. I just was fairly certain, there was a history to the place where I was.

1 (7m 17s):
And one of the things that really struck me in reading your book was reading about you also looking back on your childhood and trying to make sense of the experience or what felt like the lack of experience with race and racism as a child. So could you just give us a little bit of that background for you, both, what you, where you come from, what you learned as a kid, and then how you looked back on that as an adult?

2 (7m 42s):
Yeah, absolutely. So I, although my husband and I, our family lives in California now, and we've lived here for the most part off and on for almost 20 years, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. So I grew up in the state of Oregon. That's where I spent my formative years. The rest of my family all still lives up there. My parents and both of my siblings are in Oregon and Washington state. And so for me, as I really began to look back on my childhood, I, I began to say, okay, so what was the environment in which I was raised, both the town I was raised in the schools, the church, what, what, what threads of, of belonging were there, but also just what was celebrated and what did it look like?

2 (8m 26s):
I mean, literally, literally just, just looking and trying to ask and answer every question and in it, I mean, across the board and in the fourth grade, that's when students learn about their state history. So I learned about Oregon state history, and I remember this one moment, a few years ago upon writing my book. And I actually got back in touch with my fourth grade teacher, although she never answered the final email that I sent her, which was essentially why didn't we learn about this piece, this piece being Oregon's racist history.

2 (8m 58s):
And, you know, right now Portland, Oregon is making national news because of continued riots and protests around civil unrest and black lives matter. And that which followed George Floyd, the death of George, George Floyd and Briana Taylor. And yet a lot of what's also starting to be written about, is the irony of the widest large city in America, embracing this narrative. And part of embracing the narrative is embracing the history of it. So Oregon was established by Midwestern Sedlack settlers.

2 (9m 31s):
The first governor of Oregon later became the first governor of the state of California, this man named Peter Burnett. And so in it, even though Oregon on the outsider from the outside, looking in, was established as a free state. It was the only state in the union that was established with exclusionary laws written into the state constitution. And those exclusionary laws were for or towards African Americans. They were toward back then, what was the slave population? And so it was, it was established as a whites only state and the three main laws that were written into the state constitution.

2 (10m 7s):
One was eradicated within, I think, eight or 10 years, when was Oregon established like w w so 1852. Okay. So we're kind of in the lead up to this, the civil war that was established as it, or maybe 1848 back in that time, let's just, yeah, there we go. Make me sound good. But it was established first as the Oregon territory, which is, which was roots really went through parts of Idaho and Washington.

2 (10m 38s):
And then when it actually became established as a state, that's when these, in both of those periods before the territory and for the state exclusionary laws were written in that and the lobbyist, he said, if you are not white, you can't live here. So there were different laws, the first one, which, which was on the books or for, I think it was less, I think it was eight years. It was not on for very long, was called the lash law, which, which allowed for whippings or lashings for folks of black and Brown descent for African Americans, but also the indigenous population, which is so, I mean, which is you just go, are you, are you, I mean, I'm not going to cuss on your show here.

2 (11m 21s):
Right. Are you kidding me? Like, like I can name you the native American tribes that were, you know, that were on whose land we inhabited. Right. And so it, it said folks have three years to get out and if they don't, they will be lashed. Okay. So that, but then the lash loss specifically, which, which made for 39 weddings, just like Jesus, 39 with things to the point of death was that that one was gotten rid of, but other laws were written into the state constitution that didn't allow for Americans to come in, or if they did again, they had that timeframe that they had to get out.

2 (11m 57s):
And one of the laws wasn't even fully taken off the books until the Centennial celebration, which was in 1976, or you and I were born. And even though it wasn't in practice, right point, you think about the great migration that happened the 1920s to the 1940s. You have a w which book is it? The great migration book, the warmth of other sons, the ones of other sons by Susan Wilkerson is a phenomenal book about the fermentation, but it talks about that particular time period.

2 (12m 28s):
And so there's a reason that she in it, she's looking at the Northeast New York, specifically at the Midwest, Chicago and Los Angeles specifically. And there's a reason why she's not writing about the Pacific Northwest. And that's one of those reasons. And we could certainly also, we could, we can look into Seattle, we can look into Washington. There are similarities there as well, but there was by that time, where did that come out to the black population, that it was not a safe place to establish and numbers show that now.

2 (12m 60s):
I mean, there, there are certainly communities of black folks who were in court in Oregon, and yet due, partially to that, but also due to the effects of gentrification and other issues. There's been a continual pushing out

1 (13m 16s):
The questions. One is, and you might not know the answer to this, but historically, were there other States that were established with the same types of exclusionary laws?

2 (13m 25s):
Well, yeah. I mean, again, Peter Burnett, the governor, he only stayed in Oregon for a short time before coming to California. So there were similarities that were California did not then technically have exclusionary laws, but that's where you see exclusionary laws that certainly happened across the board when it came to interracial marriage, when it came, you know, interracial marriage, mixed race children, and S and for sure when it comes to property laws. So California, for instance, along the interracial marriage piece.

2 (13m 56s):
And I read about this quite a bit in my book as well, for obvious reasons, but California had laws against interracial marriage until I think through the fifties. I mean, it was literally this mind blowing thing. And I think about the state of California and I mean, yes, there are very white communities everywhere. There are pockets, but there are also large numbers of people of color where one of the, we have one of the greatest rates of interracial marriages in the U S I think we're, I think our state, I was looking last week, I think we're at 26%.

2 (14m 30s):
So the fact that, again, 1950s, I'm not a math major, so I can't really do that, but that was what, 70 years ago, but that was only taken off the books. So it's not like California has been this wildly progressive place that has always believed in, you know, equality for all we'll practice it.

1 (14m 49s):
Right. Right. And so going back to in fourth grade and beyond, I mean, you may not remember exactly what your fourth grade teacher said in fourth grade about Oregon, but I think I remember from your book that you were surprised to find this out right, as an adult, like this is not something you grew up knowing. And what were your assumptions about your state when it came to race and racism?

2 (15m 14s):
Oh, absolutely. So I, what I recall again, I don't recall learning anything about this side of history. I recall learning and celebrating Lewis and Clark and secondary up. I recall playing the Oregon trail game when I finished my work in class and being able to play it on the one class computer that was in the back room. It was like the greatest thing, not to them dive malaria. So I don't think that I probably learned about Oregon's history. I mean, I want to say, I'm sure it wasn't until at least my late twenties, if not my early thirties.

2 (15m 51s):
And so, I mean, was that up until the time in which I met my husband potentially, I mean, I think there was certainly a blindness that existed and has existed in my life, in which when I thought about Oregon, it was, it was this peaceful Mecca and sure. We had diversity, we had the skaters and we had the stoners and we had that preps and we had the athletes. I mean, I'm thinking about how I described like my high school experience and yeah, yeah. That's super diverse amongst all of those, mostly white people, you know, and I mean, to its credit, the town that I grew up in is, is becoming increasingly diverse.

2 (16m 30s):
There's a, it's been a, it's been a refuge city or immigrants. So there's, there is a huge African population that is, that is, that has established itself in the town that I grew up in that has been, you know, I remember having one, one or two peers as a child who were black and, and that has certainly increased the number of those who are of African descent.

1 (16m 52s):
So you just mentioned like a blindness to history. And I'm curious if you, there are a couple other moments of whether you would call it blindness or that emerged as you have gone through this process of thinking about yourself as living in a racialized society where you're like, Oh my gosh, I was blind to that reality until this moment. Like, are there a couple of other stories you can tell from the, of that type of experience?

2 (17m 19s):
Absolutely. And I will say that I think the blindness continues to exist. I think that that's something that for all of us, if we're really honest, the more we learn and grow, the more we realize that this story isn't about us and we, and the scales are torn from our eyes, whether that has to do with our own racialized identities or other areas, if it hasn't been our experience, we may not be privy to it. One of the stories I tell in my book specifically from childhood, I remember being in the fourth grade again and here there were 600 students and we were all sitting in the gymnasium for an old school assembly and the teacher got up there or excuse me, the principal got up there and he said, okay, we are, we're going to lead you in a chant.

2 (18m 3s):
And so the student leaders got up alongside our principal and they all shouted into the microphone. We are color blind. And then all 600 of us grades K through six at the time we shouted back in unison, we are colorblind. Wow. And the thing is, is that that was completely normal to me. And I think that was completely normal to so many of us, not just to those of us who identify as white or of European American descent, but across the board in, especially in churches and in schools, we adopted as a result of that, which we got wrong in the civil rights movement.

2 (18m 39s):
We adopted a colorblind rhetoric. So I think about that mistake. I certainly, I, before becoming a writer, I was a high school English teacher. And then I was in ministry full time ministry for eight years. And I think about the students that I taught, I was working mostly with high school students throughout both of those scenarios for 12 years total. And, you know, I think about when I was a teacher, how, yes, we absolutely pulled out African American writers during the month of February.

2 (19m 10s):
But otherwise throughout the year, we were just reading the classics, you know, and you could put classics in quotes here. Right. It was just, I didn't even think about the fact that I was doing a disservice both to me and to them by really just digging into the voices and the thoughts and the narratives and the experiences and yes, the super great literature. But you write about in your book where you want to write about, but mostly from a white male perspective. Right. So, I mean, those are two examples,

1 (19m 42s):
And I know you do have more in your book, but we'll leave that for people to read about, but I'm also really glad you mentioned colorblind because I want to talk about that a little bit. I'm thinking about your title, the color of life, and for people who haven't seen the cover of your book, there's a very, almost a whimsical quality to it, right. It looks like it's been written in cran. There's lots of colors, but there's also, I think, a depth to that title, that hints at some of these other themes we've already brought up as far as, what does it mean to think about color?

1 (20m 13s):
So you've got this old term from our history in terms of speaking about people who are black in the South as colored, you've got people of color now, right. A more modern term. And then you've got this concept of being colorblind, which for a time period was seen as like a progressive positive way to see the world. So I think that's my first question is like, why did your teachers, when you were in fourth grade, think this is like, we are on the cutting edge to be yelling like we are colorblind, but why is that a problematic?

1 (20m 49s):
And then within all of that, what difference has it made in your own life to see color, to not, to be color blind? So, you know, give us a little bit of kind of the history of that concept of colorblindness, but also why it's a problem and what it means to do it

2 (21m 5s):
Differently. Yeah. So as I, as I talked about a little bit, there, there was a movement like legitimate movement that happened in mostly within churches, in schools, following the civil rights movement and essentially what it, what it said. And so we can then dig into it. Demartini digs into this a little bit, certainly in his book, the color of compromise, which side note we have the same publisher. And we, we figured out like, I think a month before his book release, but our books were one word apart. We were like, whose idea was this?

1 (21m 37s):
Right, exactly. Although I'll say on this show, since we, I just interviewed him. So we're going to go from the color of compromise to the color of life. And it's just a flow. We're just going from one to the next.

2 (21m 49s):
Yes. And I loved the bar. We did an event together last year, but we were both like, how did this happen? How did we miss this? So when it comes to this colorblind movement, how do we then make better what we've gotten wrong? And so that's where we said, okay, we saw race, but we saw race too much. So now we're going to swing the pendulum to the other side and we are not going to see race certainly with that.

1 (22m 13s):
And can I interrupt for just a sec? I also think it was, and the way we see race is according to positive and negative. And so if we stop seeing non white people in negative terms, then it is positive, but essentially we're seeing them as the same as white people. So we're not seeing color. Right. I mean, I think that some of how that thinking goes, do you think

2 (22m 37s):
Absolutely accurate. Okay. Yeah, no, that's and thank you for filling that in it's. I mean, it's one of those that, so for you, and I think we're relatively the same age and no matter where we grew up within a us American context, this is what most of us did grow up with it, again, it mostly within our churches and our schools. And, and so when I think about what is wrong with that, you know, what does it mean to celebrate the identities and who we really are?

2 (23m 8s):
I, I, I read about this in the book as well, but one of my favorite stories from scripture is, or passages from scripture is John four. When Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman. And I spent nearly two years with that passage, I kept going back and I was like, what is it about this one passage that I love? But there was this phrase that finally came to me, the particularities of personhood. And so when an, as we look at Jesus model of interacting with that woman, he, he celebrated the particularities of her personhood as a woman, as, as a Samaritan woman.

2 (23m 45s):
So in that day were considered biracial as someone who had a history or a past, as someone who was still living in, in the midst of what, you know, what would, what some would call sin and not having it all together. And, and so for me, there was a, a point in which that story kind of turned around and it's like, wait a minute. This wasn't actually about Jesus coming in and saving the day. And maybe some interpret it to be that so that she then left her life of sin. But what if we looked at the book of this passage, not the very last line, but we looked at the bulk of it in which he is lifting up the, the particularities of who she is, the particularities of her personhood, all of those different pieces that make her her, and when it comes to all of us, it's no different.

2 (24m 31s):
I think many of us who are white, we tend to say, or believe that we are non color, that ours is a neutral, bland existence, and that we don't have a history. And yet all of us, no matter who we are, no matter how we identify, whether we identify as people of color or as white, we have people from whom we come from and this, and this heritage, both of our ancestors, but also of what those people represent. That's part of what makes us us.

2 (25m 2s):
So whether we're talking about that in terms of race or culture or ethnicity or color, and yes, all of those things are different facets. We're not talking about the same thing when we use words like that, but that's part of the celebration of who we are as humans. It's not just our personalities, but it is also what we look like on the outside and where we've come from.

1 (25m 23s):
Yeah. So that, I mean, one of the things that comes up for me, if we're talking about color is this idea of whiteness. And I'm curious of what to think about for you. Has there been an evolution in any way in thinking about what it means to be a white person or to think about whiteness?

2 (25m 43s):
Yes, absolutely. I mean, I think this is a huge part of the invitation that's going on right now in our country when it comes to all this civil unrest is an invitation for all of us. But especially those of us who identify as white to wrestle with whiteness and just as race as a social construct, the fact is though, is that, is that whiteness has been whiteness is what our country was established on. And so these tenants of whiteness, these tenants that allow and make room for some of four systems in which some people who look like you and me thrive and, or are benefited.

2 (26m 20s):
And some people who do not look like you and me do not buy, do not thrive or do not benefit. So when it comes to whiteness, I think it's so easy to, it's so easy to say, well, well, what is whiteness? But especially when an, as we are white, it can be so easy not to see because we're the ones who are absolutely benefiting from the various system of whiteness. I did have friend who talked

1 (26m 44s):
To me about writing white picket fences. And he's like, it's like, you're a fish. And you decided to write about the water.

2 (26m 51s):
<inaudible>

1 (26m 54s):
I believe you're going to try to do that. You know, but I'm curious to hear from you, like, because it is, I think it's really hard when you're swimming in the water to be able to describe the water, because it's just where you live. And yet, you know, when a human being is thrown into the water, you can describe it. Cause that's not where you live all the time. Right? Like, and so for if, so, I'm curious to hear more about when you talk about like the tenants of whiteness, what would be some of those tenants? What are some of the things you've identified as like, Oh, this is particular to whiteness.

1 (27m 26s):
It's not just how human beings do life.

2 (27m 30s):
Hmm. So, I mean, somewhat in answer to your question, I was looking for a specific section in my book, which spells it out perfectly. But when it comes to whiteness, this is where it, this, this might kind of answer what we were talking about. When it came to conversations of race, sometimes it felt like need not apply, have been stamped across our foreheads. We didn't engage with problems of race because it didn't affect us on a personal level. It wasn't our battle to fight issues of race. Didn't apply to us because we were white and white after all, isn't a color.

2 (28m 2s):
White is a bland, neutral tone, the lone hue and a rainbow pallet that doesn't fit into a category four. It is a category in and of itself. That's whiteness right there, whether at school, at church or in the workplace, when it came to conversations of race or discussions of racial diversity, our voices didn't count. It didn't matter what we thought, because it wasn't about us. Race was for people who had color in their skin and not for white people who looked like us. So part of it, I read that and although the word whiteness, I interjected there with a that's whiteness, although whiteness is not specifically the, the word whiteness is not specifically mentioned in that paragraph.

2 (28m 41s):
Whiteness is the construct. Whiteness is all of those things that keeps some people in and some people out whiteness is the belief that race isn't a conversation that we have. Whiteness is the belief that that race is only for people of color. Whiteness is again, the belief that, that, that those of us who are white, do not have a history and or a story to tell whiteness is the system that we benefit from. So whiteness, I mean, yes, we could look up on Google and come up with a specific name, but whiteness is also or specific definition.

2 (29m 13s):
But whiteness also, that is, that is the world in which we live many of us. And, and, and that world then looks different for those of us who are white, as opposed to those who, who are the people of color. Yeah.

1 (29m 30s):
And that's something I've thought a lot about. I have a friend who is an African American woman, and she read white picket fences and started off in a Facebook group of mostly white women to discuss it. And a few days into that book group, she wrote me a kind of private message and said, I just want to let you know, I'm going to quietly leave the group. And I, I'm not going to explain this to everyone, but I want to explain it to you. And the, what she said was, I am really for white people processing their whiteness.

1 (30m 1s):
I do not need to be in the room when it happens. And I thought she put it so perfectly that there is a need to figure out what it means to be white or to have grown up in what we are calling right now, whiteness, a set of assumptions, a set of cultural values and a set of assumptions about what is normal, as opposed to particular to my family or to my culture, right? Like that this is somehow supposed to apply to everyone or be the standard that everyone lives by.

1 (30m 32s):
So I'm curious to hear a little bit about what it means and how we create spaces to process being white in a productive, like a constructive way that doesn't contribute to greater harm, but actually helps with healing and being a part of that. Cause I think there are a lot of white people who feel like I'm pretty new to all of this. And therefore I feel like I'm late to all of this, but I also, I don't want to be a part of the problem anymore. Like I really want to do the work, but Oh my gosh, there's a lot of work to do.

1 (31m 2s):
Where do I start? How do I do this? And how do I do it in a way, you know, I'm going to get my language wrong. I don't want to be offensive, but I'm probably going to be, you know, what do I do?

2 (31m 11s):
Yeah. I mean, I think this is, this is such a huge conversation. Obviously that's happening now. I was just in dialogue a week or so ago about whether or not we should start an affinity group or a white affinity group, literally at my children's school in order to help white parents process. But without the further alienating folks on their journey and yeah, no, absolutely. And I think this is, I mean, you and I have talked about this before. I, a lot of work that I do on the side, in addition to writing, a lot of work on I do is, is engaging in conversation.

2 (31m 47s):
And I hold a belief that this conversation best happens. And, and this isn't a public sphere, certainly, but the conversation best happens with between both white folks and people of color. So a lot of the work that I do, especially in helping parents and caregivers and talking to kids about race that's happening with and alongside different colleagues of color. And that is my heart. And that is what I think at least initially folks need to see also. But I am, I hold one belief amongst many. So when it comes to digging into this, yes, I think that this sometimes happens or starts on individual levels when you read, I mean, I just finished last week, so you want to talk about race.

2 (32m 29s):
So I just finished this a couple of days ago. I don't know if you've read this one yet.

1 (32m 36s):
I've read some great articles that she's written,

2 (32m 38s):
But yeah. And I'm not exactly. I need to look up how to say her name. Iijima Olu, I believe is maybe how you say it. And I, I apologize for not having Google to that myself, but I would like to go back through and find how many times she says Google it, because truly, I think that's where there is a burden that is happening to people of color in particular where all of a sudden, especially in social spaces where it's like, you know what, you, you can find this answer.

2 (33m 8s):
So is the onus of responsibility when it comes to digging in, is it both on the individual and on the group as a whole? Yes. I think there is so much we can do as individuals, as far as reading and listening to podcasts and changing the shows we watch and starting to dig in there. But in answer to your question, as far as how this happens, I, I, I'm a huge fan of be the bridge with Latasha Morrison. And, and I think that that's one of the things she does well, is she equips both white folks and people of color to have the conversation and that this conversation is happening.

2 (33m 43s):
Although those conversations again are not specific around whiteness. And, and I think I, I would be curious if she were to come on the show, what she would have to say. Yeah. So I'm, I'm answering and not answering the question all at the same time. I guess. I, I think it's a both. And, and, you know, just as I was telling you before the show, that's a, this is what I'm thinking about my book about, but this is part of the tension that we live in a both and world. And so what is our responsibility, both as individuals and collectively,

1 (34m 12s):
Did you always make a decision? Like, did you make a decision about the affinity group?

2 (34m 16s):
So, no, we, we left up in the air because this infinity group started with a conversation on helping talk to on equipping parents and caregivers to talk about race. And so the group itself, we live in a town that is very diverse. Our school, our children's school is very diverse. It's almost it's, although gentrification is affecting it. It's, it's almost a quarter accorded on the road, a quarter African-American quarter Latino, quarter, Asian quarter white. And obviously we're leaving out indigenous indigenous populations within that, which I think is, is it's maybe I think in the 4% range.

2 (34m 53s):
So it's not super huge, but so that the group that we spoke to was very diverse. And so what does it mean then in follow up? I think you could, you can talk to Austin, Channing Brown and Austin. I have the same agent and, or used to have the same agent. And at one point, you know, Austin, we were sitting down a conversation with the three of us and she said, you know what? Sometimes you get, you got to get all the white people in one room and you got to talk to the white people and you got to get all the people of color in one room, and you got to talk to the people of color. And the people who are talking to the white people are the white people who have been there.

2 (35m 25s):
And the people who are talking to the people of color are the people of color who have been there. Right. And you have honest conversations with each group and, you know, it's so far to me, she said, maybe Kara, that's your role. Right. And I haven't, I haven't landed there. You know, I, I see the work that Robin de Angelo who's kind of celebrated in this space. I see the work that she is doing. And I have learned a lot from Robin de Angelo. And I have also questioned Robin de Angelo because there's a centering on whiteness and on white folks. And I would just go, okay.

2 (35m 55s):
So if we're centering so much in order to not cause more pain, she's got an episode with Krista Tippett. And that's what she said. She said, all of my work that I do now is to not cause more pain, but at what point are we potentially causing more pain if we're only talking or speaking to people who look like us. And I do think

1 (36m 16s):
This is also where both, I mean, you know, we are not going to have the conversation now in part, because I had just had it with Jomar about the churches, the problems the church has had in addressing these issues. My hope though is that the church actually has an opportunity to bring hope and healing into this space in a way that, you know, I similarly have some appreciation and some critique of Robin DeAngelo's work. And I think the possibilities for understanding identity, for understanding, love, justice, hope, celebration, forgiveness, true reconciliation, all of those things that there's a potential in the work that faith communities in general, I think I mentioned the church just because we do have an African American church tradition that I think has a tremendous amount to offer everyone in understanding what it means to actually address real pain, real injustice, and real harm in a way that leads towards healing.

1 (37m 19s):
And obviously we have the spiritual resources available to all Christians and to some degree, to many people of faith, different resources. So that is one place I find hope, even though I think we have a long way to go in that area. I am curious just as we start to wind up this conversation, I wish we could talk longer, but I'm grateful for your time. And I'm curious. Okay. So you've been talking, the book's been out for a year and a half. You've traveled all over. You've, co-hosted a podcast with a sheet of Moore talking about some of these themes, but for you to actually mention that and tell us a little bit about it.

1 (37m 55s):
You've been interviewed a gazillion times. I'm also curious just what you have learned. Like how have you, you lived the story, you wrote the story, and then you put the story into public view and people got to ask you about it and challenge you on it and push you to reflect on. I would imagine even more who you are and who your family is. So what, what has it been like for the past year and a half to put this out into the world?

2 (38m 20s):
Yeah, that's a great question. I don't think anyone has asked me that before. So I don't, I don't have the answer in the back of my head. It has been a wild ride that's that's for certain. And in December I spoke at an event with something, the organization nonprofit called the peninsula resource conflict center, and they host this annual event they're they do a lot of conflict work, obviously within schools and churches and different organizations.

2 (38m 50s):
And so they host this annual event and they bring to the stage a handful of speakers and we each have 10 minutes to share. And so the women organizing, she said, I want you to speak about what you've learned. So I guess I have thought about this one more time before one previous time, but I ended up writing this speech and it, it was, it was the whole point was to, it was kind of a mini Ted talk just as you've done with Q before. But the point was to get up there and talk for 10 minutes about what I had learned as a white woman in this work, everyone else speaking, the other five speakers were all women of color and the talk was called it's.

2 (39m 26s):
It's not about me. And I kept thinking about, I, I don't, it wasn't from a song, but you think the song is about yes. And so I kept re and Randy, I knew that for the talk, but I kept referencing that. That's what I kept coming back to. And when I was originally preparing to, to launch my book, I had someone very wise say to me, you know, Kara it's, it's great that you've read a book, snacks, Bravo, like super to the frickin duper, but the books that you've written is different.

2 (40m 2s):
And if you get up there and celebrate you and celebrate the work that you did, you're missing the point. So from the very beginning, the hope was to engage with friends and people of color, not, not specifically around my book, but about the issues that STEM from it. And so that's what we were inviting converse, inviting communities into. And that was wildly successful. I mean, I think would probably, I think there were 42 conversations. I could not believe

1 (40m 31s):
Leave your calendar. I saw your calendar. And I was like, I'm tired. I got to go home just from looking at your calendar. I'm tired too.

2 (40m 40s):
But you know, it was, it was such an honor to engage. And I remember at one point when black woman, she, as we were preparing and spent some time preparing, and she just said, Kara, I'm going to be nice when I say this, but she said, you need, you need to realize how much time you're taking up. And I realized right now that I'm on your podcast and I just keep talking and opening up my mouth, but I had to realize how much space I take up. I've had to realize that it is so easy to center this song about me.

2 (41m 11s):
And yet if, and when I do that, I I'm missing the point and this song is not about me. I mean, I think going back to what we were slightly talking about with Robin de Angelo, I think part of my, part of why I have a hard time is that when, and as if we're only digging into her work, then we're only digging into tenants of whiteness that are only about us. And so we're missing the picture. And so, because we're missing that, it's not about us, right. There are other voices

1 (41m 38s):
There's. So there's both a, obviously just like a self centeredness that you're exposing there, but there's also just to like, and we're missing out too, in the sense of, I mean, back to your title, the color of life, like the expansiveness of the beauty and the diversity that is available to all of us in relationships of love of mutual self-giving, if only we can see beyond ourselves and our homogeneity. Right?

1 (42m 7s):
Absolutely. Yeah. So I think that's, that's really beautiful. And I appreciate that so much. That's a really helpful, helpful answer to the question you weren't prepared to answer. So thank you. Well, so just in closing, tell listeners, where can they find out more about you, presumably?

2 (42m 25s):
Yeah. So my book, the color of life is available. Wherever books are sold, I do want to give a specific shout out, though, right now you can connect with me on my website, Kara meredith.com and on my website, I'm also, I've, I've got extra stock of books from canceled spring events due to the Rona. So I'm trying to get rid of those and you can buy a book through my website and every, for every book that sold a hundred percent of the profits though, to an organization called the Swan dream project, it's, which you can find them on Instagram hashtag, or excuse me at the Swan dream project, but there's a woman named Ayesha.

2 (43m 6s):
She's a black ballerina. And her mission is to change the narrative, especially for young black girls when it comes to this. So a hundred percent of proceeds from books sold from my website, not from those other sites, go to that. Otherwise you can connect with me on Facebook and Instagram at Kara Meredith rights. And then I'm on Twitter, not as often at Kara Mack, 54. Awesome.

1 (43m 27s):
We will put all of those pieces of information in the show notes. And I do hope that you all will order from Cara's website a book because the color of life is really worth reading. And I saw, I saw a review of it where someone said, you can read this in a weekend and think about it for six months. And I loved that because it is a really easy read in the sense of you are an accessible writer. It's a story that you're telling, and you want to know what happens next, but there's also just a depth to what you have to share, which is lasting.

1 (43m 59s):
I first read this book cause it was before it came out. So probably almost two years ago. And it has really stuck with me the vividness of what you write about and the way you share your story. So thank you for doing that. Thank you for sharing your time with us here today. And yes, listeners go find Kara Meredith online. Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. We'll be sure to note all those references in the show notes, and I would love for you to share this episode, subscribe to this podcast.

1 (44m 32s):
And of course, give it a quick rating or review wherever you find your podcasts. And then even more people can benefit from these conversations. Thanks for being here. And I look forward to seeing you again next week.

3 (44m 45s):
<inaudible>.