How do we fight racism? Is there reason to hope when history reveals the continuity of racism’s tactics and its multifaceted exploitation? Historian and author Jemar Tisby talks with Amy Julia about racial identity, Black Lives Matter, laboring for racial justice, and reasons to hope for racial healing.
Jemar Tisby is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Compromise, and the newly released book How to Fight Racism. He is the president and co-founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective and co-host of the podcast Pass The Mic.
Connect with Jemar online:
On the Podcast:
“All racial justice is in some sense relational. And I especially mean when we have to cross different boundaries—race, ethnicity, culture—so that people don’t simply become the other or the enemy, but human beings, image-bearers of God and how that affects the way we treat other people, the way we love our neighbors, the way we maneuver in the world. But I recognize that oftentimes we leave it at relationships…”
“I want to highlight the continuity in tactics. And so the folks that are invested in the racist status quo, whether consciously or unconsciously, one of the main tactics they use is labeling people…and what labeling does, it means I can put you in a box, put you on a shelf, and ignore you, ignore what you’re saying…The labels change over time. You still have the 'Marxist,' 'Communist' labels being thrown around, but now it’s much more frequent that you’ll hear one of two things—either Critical Race Theorist or socialist.”
“I just don’t think you’re having a serious conversation about racial justice unless at some point you’re talking about money.”
“Through the Bible, it’s never the case that as you’re pursuing justice things get easier or you see results immediately. Sometimes you labor for a lifetime, and the fruit of your work is seen in the next generation, which on the one hand can be discouraging, but on the other, it means that none of our work is wasted.”
“It’s not just about the world changing outside of us. It’s about changing us too—that as we pursue justice, as we endure persecution for righteousness’ sake, it’s changing who we are. It refines our character to be more like Jesus.”
Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
Head, Heart, Hands, Season 4 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast, is based on my e-book Head, Heart, Hands, which accompanies White Picket Fences. Check out free
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Thanks for listening!
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Hi friends. I'm Amy Julia Becker and this is love is stronger than Fear a podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of social division. And this season, we're talking about how we can respond to the brokenness that's in our own lives and in our society, how we can respond to that our whole selves Head heart and hands Today is our first episode, have this new season. I am so thrilled to get to talk with Jemar Tisby he's the best-selling author of The Color of Compromise the, also the author of the recently released a book, how to fight racism. And today we get to talk about all sorts of juicy topics, racial identity, formation, friendship, Reparations Black Lives Matter. And we're doing all of that under a banner of hope.
I'm here today with Jemar Tisby and it is awesome to see you again, really awesome that we get to share with our listeners. This is the first episode, have a new Season and we get to share about your new book, which is how to fight racism. So welcome, and thank you for giving us your time.
1 (1m 8s):
Oh, thank you for giving me the first slot in your new seat. Season as exciting.
0 (1m 12s):
I was excited for how that worked out. As many listeners will remember you and I talked a couple of months ago about your first book, the color of Compromise, which came out in 2018 at my right
1 (1m 22s):
January of 2019. So January
0 (1m 25s):
Of 2019. Okay. So, and then kind of skyrocketed to the New York times bestseller list, somewhat unexpectedly, right, or a year and a half after it came out. And that is a book that's highly accessible, I will say. But also it's a work of history where you are tracing the American churches, history and culture of complicity in Racism. I know a lot of churches that have used that book as a study guide with the videos that you have also published and produced, and that it's been really accessible is really helpful. We have a great conversation about that. And again, that is all looking back through hundreds of years of our past here in America, and especially in the, what we now would call the kind of a white American church you have now written a book that is almost entirely directed to the current moment I called how to fight racism.
0 (2m 19s):
So I wanted to start there just in asking, how did you go from history to this present moment, moving from one book to write
1 (2m 27s):
The, the, the actual practical aspect of fighting racism has always been my passion. Actually. I thought a book like how to fight racism would be the first book I wrote, but it was in conversation with publishers and agents that we, we kind of landed on. The idea is, well, before you get to the solutions, you've got to talk about the problem first. So that was the color of Compromise diagnosing the problem of Racism particularly in the U S church from the viewpoint of history. But I, but I always say, you know, The, Color of Compromise is 11 chapters long, and really the first 10 chapters, we're all a set up just to get you to the last chapter, which was called the fierce urgency of now that, that eloquent phrase that Martin Luther King junior used in his eye have a dream speech, right?
1 (3m 16s):
And that chapter focuses on the practical aspects. The, the, the, how to use the, what to do is And because The Color of Compromise was mostly as a historical survey. I only had space in that book for, for one chapter to talk about these things, but really what I always wanted to do was talk more in depth and more at length about it. And so how to fight racism is, is, is almost a, a, an expansion of that last chapter in the color of Compromise that being said, each book can be read independently of the other, but they fit together nicely in terms of diagnosing the problem and moving towards solutions.
0 (3m 53s):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I agree that there are a wonderful pairing And could be read independently. Although I will say, as someone who, you know, I've taken church history, I've taken an African-American church history. It just over the course of my many years, and I still learned a lot from reading the color of Compromise and I know that's been true for a lot of people, and it does explain so much about our present moment. If we have done that historical work to say, Oh, like, that's how we got here. I mean, one of the things that you bring up and how to fight racism is we wouldn't have a black church. If it weren't for a Racism like that, what we now call the black church would not exist if black people had not been forcibly excluded from the church in America, in what it should have been, which was a place where all of God's people could come together to worship.
0 (4m 46s):
So I do think that I'm just to underscore the significance of what you've done in providing both that historical work and this okay. What does that look like to respond to that in our present reality? And that really is what I want in this season of the podcast to be talking about is we see all of the social division and we want to, I think right now we are in a moment of awakening across our country. For some people that is really new for others, it feels kind of old one way or another. We are asking the question, how do we respond with hope and healing? Two, the social division that has plagued us for so long.
0 (5m 26s):
And your book really is a guide into not just that conversation, but in to taking action. When you talk about, and you mentioned this at the end of the color of compromised to the arc of racial justice, could you describe to our listeners what that is and what that means, and even like how you came to frame it in that way?
1 (5m 44s):
Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you asked about that for every writer and especially a book authors, the, the, the structure is so important because once you get the structure down and you can start to make progress on, on actually writing the book and, and for the how to fight racism, but their structure is actually pretty important. And so it's based on what you just mentioned, the arc of racial justice, which is a model I've been developing and its an acronym that stands for awareness, relationships, commitment. And I think you need all three of these elements to have a stable platform for them on which to build your racial justice efforts. And so the components are somewhat self-explanatory awareness is the knowledge, the information, the data that you need to understand, race racism, white supremacy, how it all works, because if you don't have a proper knowledge base or a proper understanding, it's going to be hard to move toward solutions.
1 (6m 38s):
And so that's reading the books, listening to the podcast, going to the conferences, whatever it might be to, to feel your knowledge and round out your knowledge base. But beyond that, there's the relationship's component. And this gets to the, at the idea of that, all reconciliation is relational, that All racial justice is in some sense relational. And I especially mean when we have to cross different boundaries, race, ethnicity, culture, so that people don't simply become the other or the enemy But, but human beings, image, bearers of God and how that affects the way we treat other people the way we love our neighbors, the way we maneuver in the world.
1 (7m 22s):
But I recognize that oftentimes we leave it at relationships. And so that's where you get statements. Like some of my best friends are black, black, or you know, I'm nice to people who, who are different. So therefore I'm not racist and I'm not part of the problem. Well obviously keep those relationships, you know, that's good. We don't want you to be mean to other people are not have diverse relationships. Yeah. But let's recognize that that's necessarily, but not sufficient. So we have to go a step further to the commitment aspect. And that's really getting at the laws, the policies, the systemic, and the institutional factors that, that create and perpetuate racial inequality.
1 (8m 2s):
And so, you know, it's great to have that heart to heart conversation over a cup of tea or coffee, but you know, ultimately that's not going to do anything about mass incarceration is wonderful to have the pulpit swap are the church partnership. Then that may not do anything about issues of voter suppression and on and on, we can go. And so the commitment aspect says that our systems are corrupt. Our practices are corrupt and we have to work on a broad scale level to a Fight. Racism not just on the interpersonal level.
0 (8m 34s):
Yeah. I agree that the, the interrelationship between those things is what I think you do at some point, call it a holistic response And and really a lifelong journey as well. This is not something that happens in a moment or that now I've checked these three boxes and I'm done, but there is a sense of being committed too. Especially in our country, committed to racial justice is a part of what it means to be committed to the work of justice that God wants to do as a God of justice and of healing and of love. And you know, all of those attributes. And I do want to ask you specifically about a few aspects of each of those are the awareness, relationships and commitment, but I also wanted to ask you, because I think you'd do such a good job, even though you are an academic and you are a scholar, you don't write books as though we're having to like Wade through professorial, you know, gobbly goop in order to understand its like, no, we are just like, get to understand what you're talking about.
0 (9m 32s):
Pretty accessibly. You also though, as someone who has been on what you call it, a journey of racial justice probably for longer than some of the, your readers' you don't treat people like, Oh, come on and be like, you need to sprint to catch up to me here. You really do take people on a journey that's very welcoming. And I'm curious if you could just talk and you mentioned in the book a little bit like your own journey of awareness, relationships and commitment. And so I'd love to just hear your own story a little bit before I dig in and ask you some more specific questions about the book.
1 (10m 4s):
Yeah. Thank you for that question. A lot of what's in the book is, is related to my journey. And honestly this is an intimidating book to write how to fight Racism right? Like, like your expert or what not. And I fully recognize that there are activists and legal experts and people who've been doing this work for decades. We have really, really good things to say what I try to do in how to fight racism was the authentic to my experience and my perspective, which is very closely related to my journey. And so some of my earliest memories of race are being on a basketball team in middle school.
1 (10m 48s):
And I was no good. I was the last one off the bench. I think I got to play maybe one game or something, but it was about, you know, the comradery. It was about hanging out with my friends and we would go traveling to these other schools. Our school was in a working class town, blue collar. I remember we had constantly had to do fundraisers and things like that. Our gym was ancient and So the floor was it had divots and chips and pockmarks in it. And, but it, it, it was all we knew. But then when we went traveling and we went to some of these other schools and more affluent districts, I remember walking into a gym that had a rubber floors and how I was like, I didn't even know you can do that.
1 (11m 32s):
I didn't really know they made floor's like this. And, and I remember even as a, a, a middle schooler thinking, the only difference between our school in this one is that the kids at our school are black and Brown and the kids at this school are white. And I didn't know all of the baggage that went with that, but I was like, there is something that's not fair. How about this and that. So that, that sense of unfairness and that continued on through junior high and high school, especially where my group was an interracial group of people in my town was a 40 to 50% Latino and then about equal portions, black and white. And we also had pretty large East Asian and South Asian populations.
1 (12m 14s):
And so when my group of friends was, was all different shades and hues, but whenever we would go out in public to the movies, to the arcades and the more we get followed by a police and, you know, we were teenagers when not doing anything But hanging out, talking about girls', you know, all of the things that teenagers do, but yet we were under this cloud of suspicion. All of that gets exacerbated when I become a Christian in high school, which was through the ministry of a white evangelical youth group. I hadn't grown up in the church. And so this was sort of my first exposure to Christianity. Yeah. And it was this strange dichotomy of being welcomed into a group because they were all about evangelism, seeker, sensitive, all that kind of a thing.
1 (12m 56s):
They were really good at bringing people in, but also looking around and noticing, huh, there ain't that many black people here, as a matter of fact, Sometimes because I'm the only one. And that was the same with the church that was attached to the youth group. And I was absorbing all of this theology, all of this preaching, all of these pastors, all of these books who were white, who were evangelical eventually, who were reformed in evangelical And. That was really part of my awakening because unfortunately the places where I've felt most excluded most ostracized, most sort of hyper visible because of my race has been in the church. Right. And so that's why I, you know, its called courageous Christianity in that journey toward racial justice.
1 (13m 40s):
There is, there's an element where I'm seeing the introduction, you know, Y Christianity cause this is the book for anybody, you know, you don't have to be a, a, a person claims or a faith tradition to, to read it and benefit from it. But I did want to include Christians because so often particularly white Christians have been part of the problem, right? So you also have to be a part of the solution. And so a lot of this is stuff that I've learned along the way trial and many, many errors, but I'm a lifelong experience as a black person in the United States. And then over a decade of experience working in some sort of formal capacity with churches and nonprofits, talking about race racism and racial justice.
0 (14m 22s):
So one pretty early on in the awareness section, you write about encouraging people to explore their own racial identity and white or black or a person of color, whoever you are to actually ask some questions and write down or speak out. Like when was the first time you were aware that you had a racial identity, what does that, what were your experiences? I thought your list of questions was excellent. And that's not something that I've seen before. I mean, I've seen a lot of, a lot read a lot of kind of action steps, which are often very, very helpful. You have action steps as well, but I just thought that that including and beginning with that sense, not just of, because you encourage the us to explore the, a racial history of the institutions that you are a part of explore the history of your family explore.
0 (15m 13s):
I mean, there's so many questions we can ask about not only our own lives, but the lives that were a part of in our families and our churches and our school's and our town's in our nation. Umm, but I really thought that the questions you asked and the way you framed that was very gentle and invitational, but also its a big challenge to actually do that work to say, what are my, what are my parallel memories, right? To your memory in middle school. I, I remember when I was younger than that, like probably in and I lived in, this is not what I now would call it functionally segregated town in the South. I remember watching a movie where there was a black man in the pews of a church among a predominantly white church and asking my mother when he was doing in there.
0 (16m 1s):
And my mom was like, what do you mean? What does he do in there? And I was like, I just thought that it wasn't a loud. And my mom of course is realizing, Oh my gosh, I'm raising my daughter to think that black and white people can't go to church together because I was like, well, why else would we have two different churches? Like that doesn't mean, you know, 'cause that was so young, but it was so striking to me and it didn't make any sense, like why are we not in church together if that's actually a lie? I mean, of course, why did I think it was not allowed? I don't know. But it, there are those moments and it's so good to start putting them on paper and saying, Oh how does this shape and form and the way I see myself, the way I see other people, the prejudices that I've carried with me, the unwitting or intentional participation, I mean for me is a white person in systems of injustice.
0 (16m 45s):
So I love the way you ask those questions. And I'm curious for you, you said a little bit about this, but do you feel like you had your own identity, racial identity exploration that you needed to do? And can you also just talk a little bit about that as a concept because not everyone is familiar with the idea of racial identity and how understanding it can help us to fight racism.
1 (17m 10s):
Yeah, definitely. So you're touching on Two really important aspects. I think in terms of practical ways to, to Fight Racism again, all under the building awareness Corella but, but one is, I don't think we have interrogated our own stories well enough when it comes to race in the, and this spans the racial spectrum. I mean its a little different if you're a black or a person of color, but, but at the same time, all of us I think would benefit from a sort of intentional and sustained examination of our, our path thus far, particularly in, in, in when it comes to race. And so yeah, some of the questions I ask her, you know, what is your earliest memory of Race I also ask you now, have you had any negative experiences associated with, with your racial identity or that or someone else?
1 (18m 2s):
I say, you know, when, when did we can start growing racially conscious like attaching meaning and importance to these issues. And I do encourage people to actually write it down because the act of writing it down, forces you to choose your words, forces you to sift through your memories, forces you to articulate your experiences in a way that maybe you've never done before. And, and the act of writing helps you make sense of it too. And so it's hard to, to figure out where do you want to go? If you don't know where you've been and particularly how you've been shaped racially speaking in ways that you may not even realize, cause it was, you never stopped to, to, to really think about it much less, put it on paper.
1 (18m 45s):
So that's one aspect writing your own racial autobiography. Yeah. Which you also bring up is the idea of racial identity development and here on borrowing heavily from social psychologists and, and the therapist community where it's an actual model, it's a framework regionally developed in the early seventies. It was called the theory of Nigrescence. In other words, the process of becoming a black, but since then its been expanded upon and expanded upon. So now it's not just a framework for black people who have a different frameworks for a people of color, for biracial people, for white people.
1 (19m 27s):
And the basic idea is this, that we all start out from a state of sort of passively accepting the status quo. It's exactly what you were talking about. When you asked about seeing the black person in a Pew in a predominantly white church. At that point, you just sort of observed around you and took the status quo as, as normal. And didn't really question it until you, you saw something like that, that, that seemed out of the norm and we all have that stage. And that process typically at the younger ages and it doesn't mean we don't notice differences, you know, there's the kindergarteners, they are all your chocolate or vanilla, whatever it might be.
1 (20m 8s):
Right. But you don't necessarily attach a, a, a, a meaning or an importance to that until another stage in racial identity development is there's some disruptive experience, often series of experiences and all these come in different seasons in Lives. So it was me, you know, going to that, Jim and seeing how much nicer it was, the only difference, but being the student population. But it's also events like the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. So many people have called this generation of activists, the Trayvon Martin generation, because of it was such a disruptive event in, in our that it catalyzed us to want to learn more.
1 (20m 51s):
And then for black people, part of our racial identity development is a recovering in a reclaiming of black culture and history. And so there are a lot of black folks who go through sort of a Afros in dashiki kind of phase. And that's actually a really important part of racial identity development because what you're doing is a reframing what you've learned so that you view your own race or your own culture, your own identity, your own history, your own background in more positive terms in light of a society that has in ways, both over in covert, tried to teach you that that is somehow lesser and exotic and substandard than the white norm.
1 (21m 37s):
And so black people go through this, all people of color go through this white people go through this too, which is a process of realizing you even have a race, right? Because part of what white supremacy does is say, you don't have a race. You just, you know, Jane or John or Karen or whoever, and everyone else has a race. Right. But not you. And so that's part of your racial identity development as well. So I'll talk a little bit in the book about that.
0 (22m 1s):
Yeah. And again, I think, I mean, the questions alone are like worth the price of the book as far as, and that exercise alone, I would say as far as people are developing an awareness of a, just as you said, exploring your own story, I want to pivot for a minute and ask you one question that goes back to what you were saying about the Trayvon Martin generation. And I have noticed, especially in, I know, I'm sure you have to, I know you've, I've heard you talk about this before, but there are many White Christians in particular who have dismissed the black lives matter movement and other aspects of protests and demonstrations against racism and injustice because they see it as atheist and Marxist, and I guess are two things I want to ask.
0 (22m 49s):
Like So what do you think that Christianity in particular has to offer to this conversation? Because, and, and like, as a Christian, Y can you participate whole heartedly in a movement that she does have some relationship to what might be called an atheist or Marxist right. Ideas, how can you participate in that whole heartedly? And what does Christianity bring to bear within that? Like how do our theological commitments actually inform and in live in a conversation even among that movement and within that, because again, I mean, historically speaking, and in the current moment, we see that there are a lot of black Christians who are powerfully engaged and involved.
0 (23m 39s):
And I, for one do not in any way, I want to dismiss that. And so I'd love to just hear you wrestle with that a little bit and perhaps add some like theological insight to the way this debate gets. I don't know, thrown around at all.
1 (23m 54s):
There. It is such an important question because in it, so, so the, the, the way historians talk about it is this, that there is a 400 year long plus black freedom struggle. There are different phases of the black freedom struggle that we can be called by different names. There's the abolitionist movement. There's this civil rights movement. There is the black power movement. Now I think we are in the phase of the black freedom struggle called the black lives matter movement. And for you, you know, whatever confluence of events, this was the banner.
1 (24m 37s):
This is the label at the current wave of black freedom. Struggle is a, is under, and, and in every way of, of, of the black freedom, struggle by any name, Christians have had to respond and react and wrestle with a whatever banner they were under in that era. And so what we're seeing now, as far as this conversation about Christians and participation with Black Lives Matter is not dissimilar than what you would have seen when Christians talked about the civil rights movement or a black power movement. To what extent, how can we be involved in it atheistic, or is it compatible or incompatible with Christianity?
1 (25m 18s):
So I just want to highlight the continuity here in this debate. I also want to highlight the continuity in tactics. And so the folks who are invested in the racist status quo, whether consciously or unconsciously, one of the main tactics they use is labeling people. And over time to labels have changed. And so you can Google this, but there's a, a picture of a white segregationists protesting integration at some government Capitol or something. And there is a sign of somebody who is holding a sign that says a race mixing is communism.
1 (26m 2s):
Race mixing is communism and Communist or Marxist was the label. They use it in the fifties and sixties to, to, to label civil rights activists, whether they were Christian are not. And, and what labeling does, as many as I can put you in a box to put you on the shelf and ignore you, ignore what you're saying.
0 (26m 19s):
Yeah. I mean, just, I want to have you keep going, but I will interject just to say again, as a child in the eighties, growing up in North Carolina, I remember talking about Martin Luther King and having an older white Christian woman say, well, you know, he was a Communist and I was, again, thankfully young enough to just be like, that's confusing. And now, you know, 30 years later, I most people in America do Revere Dr. King and do not think of him as a Communist. They think of him. I was like the, I had a dream guy. Right. But the fact that even in the eighties, when I was growing up, like he was being called by White, Christians a communist as a way to essentially say, I don't need to listen to those ideas.
0 (27m 0s):
And I don't need to recognize him as a Christian brother, even if they're things we are going to disagree about it, I'm going to be able to put them in a category where we don't have to engage. And again, I didn't understand all of that as a kid, but I remember being like what I'm confused here. So yes, I can just from personal experience that I, and so again, when all of this came up with the black lives matter movement, I remembered that. And it was like, that's what they were saying about Martin Luther King 30 years ago in my experience and 40 and 50 years ago, too. So just to underscore the point, you're making that this is a tactic w which may be unwitting, or it might be intentional, but that has been going on for a long time.
1 (27m 39s):
Very much so. And, and the labels change over time. So I, it, it, you still get the Marxist Communist labels being thrown around, but, but now it's much more frequent that you'll hear one of two things, either Critical Race Theorist or socialist, and in the Georgia Senate runoff race, it was a very interesting dynamic because you had a, the white Republican candidate, Kelly Leffler who calls herself, Christian a evangelical, I suppose. And I'm the, the Black candidate Raphael Warnock who occupies the, the, the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist church at the same church that Martin Luther King Jr helped lead.
1 (28m 24s):
And he, he, he, espoused is something we might refer to as black liberation theology, right. And is, is very much in the, in the black church tradition of seeing one's roll as a minister, as a compatible with, and, and, and even a part of your call as a minister to get involved politically, because so many political activities have a direct bearing on the safety and quality of life, of black people, people of color and poor people. And so that you can't be a leader of God's people, you can't preach good news, unless you're also attending to these broader political issues that are affecting the daily lives have so many.
1 (29m 7s):
And I'd bring that up because in part of the Republican candidates attacks on whether or not, and more broadly, not just this race, you'll see this in politics in general. Now it was the label socialists, right? And say, Oh, if they want to turn in the United States into a socialist country, it's going to be just like all of these other failed socialist States, and you can't trust them. And implicit in that is a racial evaluation and a theological evaluation that says my theology is to their theology that says to get involved politically in this way. And my theology says, get involved politically.
1 (29m 48s):
And that way, and mine is better than it has always had a racial component to it. And its just interesting that in terms of a, what we're seeing in the current political landscape, that's also become very clear.
0 (29m 58s):
Yeah. Yeah. I've definitely noticed that as well. And I'm I actually, so I want to move from here, but I think they're connected to the idea in the middle of your book, about relationships and as you write about it and many people are aware, there are not very many white people who have deep and real and lasting relationships with people outside of their White community. And you know, the things that happens from that right, is that we get siloed into these political and theological in social distinctions with, or not to say that you have a friend who is a different than you and that will change your views on everything. But that is a part of it, right?
0 (30m 38s):
Is that when I can think of my friends who live in Richmond, Virginia, my friend who is white and who lived in the suburbs and he was in a Bible study with a group of women who lived in a housing project in Richmond who were all black. And she said, I read our newspaper about a shooting that happened in this neighborhood. S unbelievably differently than I did a year ago because that's my friend who is neighbor was caught up in something that is devastating. And that's so different than when I put up my suburban white distanced frame on it. So all that is to say, relationships can really inform the way we change our theological in social imaginations and one of the places and the book you say, however, I don't just go out and start looking for black friends in a fake way, right?
0 (31m 29s):
Like again, not time to check the list and you right. The watch word for interracial friendships is humility, not utility. So I thought that was a good pairing. And I wonder if you can talk about what does it look like to be humble while at the same time intentionally pursuing friendships with people who are outside of your most and again in America are kind of naturally occurring social group.
1 (31m 53s):
Yeah. I think we have to constantly measure our motives when we are reaching across racial and ethnic lines to develop relationships and friendships. There are people who I call collectors and these are white folks who collect relationships with black people and people of color as a way to sort of give them cover and say, I'm not racist because look at all of these, you know, relationships, I've cultivated with the people who are different and it's on its surface. That looks good, but its fundamentally self-centered because it is not about the other person it's about you. And it's about how you look at how you feel about yourself and how you think other people in the world will perceive you.
1 (32m 37s):
So that's a a, a U <inaudible> mindset that you're not valuing other people simply for who they are as an image bearers of God, but, but purely for what they can do for you in terms of giving you these quote unquote diverse friendships, right. And the humility part comes in, you know, what was one good question to ask is, you know, would I be friends with this person, even if we never talked about race and, and they typically saying, I would we be in an authentic, deep relationship, even if they didn't give me anything, you know, more information or, or equipping about this issue of race, but I can be in relationship with them simply for who they are, how God has crafted and shaped them to be.
1 (33m 24s):
Right. And, and in a relationship like that, you know, Race is going to come up. You know, your differences are going to come up with your different backgrounds and experiences are going to come up, but that's not the only thing. Or perhaps they, even in the primary thing that, that bonds you together. So as people develop relationships across racial, ethnic, cultural lines, being very careful to honor people as people and not simply as my Asian friend or my black friend or my Latino friends or whatever it might be. Thank you.
0 (33m 53s):
Go for that. Yeah. I do think that that sense of how do I intentionally challenge myself, especially as a white person to move outside of my neighborhood slash church slash school, if I am only really in those relationships with white people and yet on the same token, not to do that in a way that is utilizing other people. I think that was a challenge, but it is not at all an impossible one. And it all comes down to like the posture of the Heart and recognizing both that I have things I need to learn and receive from anyone I encounter, but also that I have things to give. And that that's what a friendship would be right, is that I'm encountering someone, not just for my own use, but also so that we can enter into I'm a relationship of care towards each other, whether that's about, Oh, we both have sons and we're trying to figure out what it means to raise them in this culture or a, we both have a shared interest in bird-watching or whatever.
0 (34m 52s):
So I'm, I want to also make sure that we talk a little bit about the commitment aspect of your book. And I think that the, maybe the thorniest place to land, so I want to go there is talking about wealth. Ah, you bring up the topic of Reparations at the end of your book. I wrote a big post for Christianity today after Tallahassee coats is Reparations article came out. So whatever that was a decade ago, and I'm aware in terms of the response to that post and conversations since then, I've just, it's, it's a topic that gets people going. But I have been it's interesting. I have like quoted two, my husband multiple times at the same thing from your book, since I read it this week, which is a quotation from Malcolm X and then your own words.
0 (35m 36s):
So I'm just going to read this is towards the end. You right. It is good. That laws had been passed to ban racial segregation, permit interracial marriage and establish holidays, commemorating civil rights leaders. But this is not Reparations as Malcolm X, put it, if you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out to six inches, there is no progress. If we pull it all the way out, that's not progress. Progress is healing. The wound that the blow made and that's the end of his quote, then you right. The racial wealth gap is the bleeding wound of Racism that will not heal a part from a comprehensive and sub substantive policy of financial Reparations for black people in America.
0 (36m 22s):
I really appreciated the boldness of your words there. And I, and even the image, th that's what was so striking to me was using that image of a knife in the back and it being pulled out what my husband and I talked about. We've talked before about how as white people we've run through our lives with the wind at our back, and for anyone who is a runner nos, that you don't notice that the wind is at your back because you're working hard when you're running, no matter what. And then if you turn around, you're like, Oh my gosh, I was not working nearly as hard as I have to in order to run the other direction. I'm and that often we talk about how other people have been born into situations where they are running with the wind in their face.
0 (37m 2s):
And I was like, yeah, and now we're talking about people running with the wind in their phase and a knife in their back. Like that's, you know, obviously even harder, but I am, I'm thinking a lot about what does it mean to actually address the wound, right? Not even as you said, just to pull the knife out, but to be a participant in Repair and in healing. And I'm just thinking specifically about wealth. There's a policy level to that is they're an individual level to that or an institutional level that may or may not involve laws changing. Can you speak to that? Because I think its important and I think uncomfortable for White people, especially, but I think its really important to say at least start the conversation if not get to some real action.
1 (37m 49s):
Right. Right. Well I appreciate you bringing up that, that quote and in that section, 'cause what I was really trying to get at. There was the ideal of Reparations as repair. I'm really concerned about the people in general and Christians in particular who are in whatever way, shape or form comes to a realization that Racism, isn't an urgent issue that we must have asked, but then the immediate reflux to say, okay, what are we moving forward? How do we look ahead and change where there is not the attempt to turn it around and look at the trail of traumatized people left in your wake before you got it before you understood what is an issue it was.
1 (38m 31s):
And one of those things that, that happens when we look back is that we see how much a part of Racism was economic exploitation. And that fundamentally is what race-based chattel slavery was Is yes, it was this ideological white supremacist view of Race that put white people over and above black people and other people of color. But it was also an economic institution that enriched the plantation owners and a slaveholder class at the expense of black laborers who are not compensated. And one of the things I hasten to explain is that this is not just about race-based chattel slavery.
1 (39m 14s):
If you think about it is about what happened and is still happening now. And so in the Jim Crow era, which was, you know, in, in the Color of Compromise, I say Racism never goes away. It adapts. And so after the abolition of slavery, the adaptation of Racism was Jim Crow, segregation and inequality where a black people couldn't go to a, the same schools, which means they weren't getting equipped for the same job, which meant they couldn't make as much money, black people and other people of color we're redlined into a certain residential communities, which we're too low and high poverty, which meant they, they didn't have the tech space for better schools, etc, etc.
1 (39m 55s):
It also meant things like, even if black people, I got the job, they wouldn't get the promotion that would put them over white people in a, in a position of authority. There were many unions which are organizing for a better wages and better working to black people were excluded from there were benefits like the GI bill that black people were excluded from. And so when you talk about the exponent economic exploitation of it all, it goes far beyond even slavery and all that went with that. So, you know,
0 (40m 28s):
Oh, well, so far and beyond just to interject also far beyond the South, because I think as someone who lives in the North, it is also really easy for people to say, Oh, and just be dismissive of what happened in the South, as opposed to recognizing that like Northern insurance companies, we're the ones in sharing the quote unquote property of the slave owners. And throughout these years of redlining, Mo much of that happened throughout Northern cities. And if I look at Connecticut are schools are functionally segregated and that has a long history that goes back to what you're saying and has significant economic repercussions on to this day, white children and black and Brown children in our state.
0 (41m 13s):
So I just want to interject that were not only talking about, you know, a handful of States in one part of the country, but we're talking about the whole,
1 (41m 20s):
Oh yes, that's right. That's right. I'm glad you brought that up. It is everywhere. And one of the things that I often say is that bigotry doesn't have boundaries and Racism, doesn't stop it the Mason-Dixon line. So this is a national issue. And so yes, we have to make sure, I just don't think you're having a serious conversation about racial injustice, unless at some point you're talking about money and as you mentioned, you know, what does that look like? 'cause, there's a federal aspect to it because the federal government permitted slavery for so long and so many laws and policies are, are creating and perpetuating wealth inequality.
1 (42m 1s):
But at the same time, Do Kwon and Greg Thompson are writing a book about reparations and they talk about the concept of a Clesius tickle. Reparations the idea is that Christians can take initiative on their own and not wait for a political entity to pass a law or to have a committee. And what, some of the things I mentioned in the book that, you know, just to get at the financial aspect of it, our, you know, something as simple as paying off the mortgage of a black church that it's having to spend a considerable part of their budget, just to keep the building it by vocational black pastors and pastors of color, what does it look like to fully fund them so that they could do this full-time and not be stretched in different directions?
1 (42m 47s):
You know, there are colleges and universities, so you act, you know, what, what is the role of guns? And honestly, most of the time we were lagging behind w we were learning from other sectors. And so colleges and universities from Princeton seminary to Georgetown university, other places, is to go examining their institutional history. These are really old institutions. So they actually have involvement in a RacismAmy chattel, slavery and what not. And they're trying to make a men's and repair. And so at Georgetown, you can, you can get, if you are a descendant of some of the enslaved people who they sold, right, to keep the university going, you can actually now attend for free.
1 (43m 34s):
And that's a form of, you know, making Reparations are a men's or a Repair for that exploitation that was done before. And I just think we can get super creative about this even as the church and not have to wait on a political body to make decisions for us, right. Is right and wrong is wrong and we can act on it.
0 (43m 51s):
Yeah. And I think, especially for people to have faith who are called by our God to be generous with our wealth, to see it as not belonging to us, but as something we've been entrusted with for the good of our communities, for me, one of the challenges just on a very personal level has been to recognize, Oh, I give in terms of the money that we give away, I get to have been historically giving to white churches, White run nonprofits and lots of essentially white people, not always to only benefit white people, but recognizing that I have not been investing in black churches in black communities and in businesses in schools, all of these different things.
0 (44m 37s):
And that's on a, certainly a smaller level than a Princeton or a Georgetown or the federal government. Nevertheless, it has changed at my consciousness to start thinking, okay, how can I be supporting through my a tie or am I giving causes churches, organizations where they are really led by and serving people of color, you know, both black and Brown. So I just offer another handful of M of ways that people can be looking at their whole lives and saying, what does it mean to participate in as an act of healing that we'll ultimately be healing, hopefully four, the people who have been in a position of oppression, but also for those of us, I mean, it hurts us when we are part of the harm, right?
0 (45m 27s):
So it is a healing work for all of us.
1 (45m 31s):
And I just want to say, you know, to your point about our, our personal giving, you many people have heard, it said budgets are moral documents, right? And the way we spend our money, you know, the Bible says where your treasure is there. Your heart is also in the way we spend our money, indicates something of the priorities that we give to different things. And so, you know, like 2021 be the year where we are intentionally seek out black lead and people of color lead ministries in organizations that we contribute to financially. And I think that's a really important step to take. And I'll also say this, that there is not a one-to-one ratio between one's own labor and effort in giving and the impact of that given.
1 (46m 17s):
And I say that because it seems like, like a, such a little thing to write a check or to go online and to fill out a form, to, to donate money. And And, especially if you're wealthy and you can afford to do that, it seems like, well, I have to do more. Yeah, I'll do that. That would be great. I want you to do more, but I also don't want to undercut the value of financial contributions and financial support, partly because of what we've been talking about. Reparations and the racial wealth gap in all of that, that black people and people of color, we don't have the same access to that kind of Capitol that we need to, to make our dreams in our visions for, you know, godly impact in and for justice, a reality.
1 (46m 59s):
So that small gesture on your part to be, it could have a massive impact on from the perspective of the actual organization. Are you supporting?
0 (47m 10s):
Yeah, I agree. And I think that it's really important not to minimize the importance of wealth and a half of the economic aspect of all of this. Well, we're coming to a close at our time. So I'd just want to ask you one last question, your book and on a note of hope, and I don't think it would of made much sense to it if you didn't have hope. So I just wanted to end by asking that what gives you a reason for hope were, does it come from, what are you seeing? Where does your hope come from?
1 (47m 40s):
From several places, obviously from scripture where, you know, throughout the Bible, it's, it's never the case that as you're pursuing justice, if things get easier or you'd see results immediately, Sometimes you labor for a lifetime fruit of your work is, is seen in the next generation, which, which, which on one hand can be discouraging, but on the other, it means that none of our work is wasted in the Bible. Also prepares us for, for what comes in this work. It, it, it, it just stands out to me profoundly that essentially the climax in Matthew five or the sermon on the Mount is that Jesus says you will be persecuted.
1 (48m 25s):
It's like all of this beautiful prose about, you know, the beak shall inherit the earth and bless it out of the poor in all of this stuff. And you will be persecuted
0 (48m 34s):
Well, and you will be persecuted for righteousness, which should also be translated injustice, right? Like you can be able to be persecuted for justice. Yeah,
1 (48m 42s):
Exactly. Jesus is guaranteeing that it's not an issue. You know, maybe if you do it wrong or if you're on the wrong place, the wrong time, are you going to be prepared to do for a dozen? He said, Oh, if you're going to pursue this stuff, you're going to be persecuted. And so that gives me hope in the sense that it means when stuff gets hard, it doesn't necessarily mean I'm doing it wrong. So you mean the opposite. It doesn't mean I'm doing exactly what the right thing. The other thing that gives me encouragement is looking to the ancestors. And so as a student of history, I gain so much motivation and encouragement from looking to others, particularly black Christians who have done in this work. The, the Fannie Lou Hamer is of the world, the Ida B Wells of the world, Martin Luther King, of course, and, and, and looking at their example under honestly much harsher conditions that I'm facing now in the 21st century, as a black person and seeing how their faith really motivated them and help them through.
1 (49m 39s):
And then lastly, you know, what gives me hope is that, you know, we're having conversations or conversations like this, that as much as I desire for many, many, many more people to get on and stay on this journey of racial justice, there are people on that journey and there are more people coming and it's never going to be really the majority, each one would say, but it's that small group of committed people who have truly been changed, who have truly been catalyzed to want to make a difference who are scrappy and resourceful and creative, and to make a difference. And we see signs of that.
1 (50m 19s):
Maybe not in a national law has changed yet, or maybe not in the total eradication of a particular injustice, but we do see change. When do you see progress? And the last thing I'll say is it's not just about the world changing outside of us. It's about changing us to write that as we pursue justice, as we endure persecution for righteousness sake, it changes who we are and refines our character to be more like Jesus. So that's an important aspect of this journey as well.
0 (50m 50s):
Well, thank you for that. Thank you for writing both your book's. Thank you for talking today and yeah. Thank you for the encouragement that it gives me to get to engage with all of these ideas.
1 (51m 1s):
Absolutely. I always love talking to you. You see it as such great question, and it's a privilege to, to share and be on that.
0 (51m 9s):
Well, we we'll look forward to next time, which I'm guessing it might be a couple of years before your next book. It comes out. So maybe will have you on in between just a check it out. Thanks. All right. Well, thank you Jemar and I hope that the book launch goes really well. I'm gonna say the name of your book one more time, how to fight racism, courageous Christianity and the journey toward racial justice sped your Martez B I highly recommend it to anyone who is listening. Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear as always. We will note everything that was said here in the show notes. And I would love for you, especially at the start of a new season to share this episode with people who do you think might be interested, not just in this conversation, but in a series of conversations about hope and healing and the ways in which we can in our very everyday Lives respond with our heads, our hearts at our hands, too, the brokenness and social division, all around us.
0 (52m 8s):
If you're new here, I invite you to subscribe to this podcast. You'll get a new episode every Tuesday morning. And of course, it's always helpful if you'll give a quick rating or review, if you will share this on social media or respond to me directly, and just let me know if there are guests that you think I should consider for future episodes, or if you just want to give me some feedback on how the podcast is going. I also always want to thank Jake Hansen for editing this podcast and Amber Berry, my social media coordinator, who puts everything else together behind the scenes. Thank you. Thank you to both of them. And for all of you listening, as you go into your day to day, I hope that you will carry with you.
0 (52m 49s):
The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.