I’d like to think I would have been a white ally during the civil rights era. But if I’m not doing it now without much to lose other than some likes on Facebook, I for sure would not have risked my physical safety and social status crossing the bridge to Selma during the civil rights movement.
Read these words from Glennon Doyle:
“We all are really big fans of Martin Luther King Jr. We looooove us some Martin Luther King Jr. It’s much easier to love a dead civil rights activist than it is to love an alive one. Because the dead one is no threat to our status quo. The question is not, ‘Are you a fan of Martin Luther King Jr. right now?’ because that won’t even tell you if you would have been a fan of Martin Luther King Jr. back then. Tell me how you feel about Colin Kaepernick right now. Because that is an indicator of how you would have felt about Martin Luther King. Don’t tell me how you feel about the freedom riders right now. Tell me how you feel about Black Lives Matter right now.”
Do her words make you feel uncomfortable? Do feel the need to defend yourself? Tell me why Colin Kaepernick is wrong? Why Black Lives Matter is not an effective movement?
*We* see the pain and instead of acknowledging and affirm the struggle people of color in our country face, we criticize.
“If they would use different language…”
“If they would protest differently…”
“If Colin Kaepernick wasn’t disrespecting the military…”
“If they would say, Black Lives Matter, because really All Lives Matter…”
“If they didn’t resist arrest…”
Why do so many of us feel the need to invalidate these voices?
For some, the answer may sadly be overt racism but for many, I think the answer is ignorance. We do not know enough about systemic oppression and it’s historical roots, the far-reaching effects of our white privilege, the daily struggles of being a minority in America. We don’t know enough, and we chose not to make the effort to know more.
Those who are quick to argue, tear down those protesting, invalidate an experience of a person of color, would hopefully be slower to speak if they spent some time reading about and learning from those who have walked and are walking through oppression. And not just slow to speak, but ready to elevate and amplify the voices of people who are currently doing the hard work of fighting for equality instead of pushing them down.
I’m two books in and they already have me shook. I’m talking, world-view shattering. I’m not brand new to the conversation of racism. With a background in urban education, this topic is something I am familiar with. But I’m telling you, I didn’t know. (I still don’t.) One of the books took me two weeks to read because I could only stomach so much at once. It made me feel sick. I’m lucky I could put it down and walk away because, for some people, they LIVE THIS LIFE EVERYDAY.
I think a lot of positive change could come from a simple commitment to reading about race. We are, very obviously, not living in a post-racial society.
I’ve committed to learning more about race issues, both past, and present. Through a Facebook group called Be the Bridge, I found a long list of books to broaden my knowledge on this topic. A goal I’ve set for myself is to read through the books listed below in the next year, by the time I turn 31. Sharing here is for accountability purposes and I hope to encourage others to join me in this process of both learning and unlearning. We can’t sit idly by and watch our brothers and sisters struggle.
To make sure I stick with this, I’ve created a book club on Facebook. It will meet once a month (ish) and most likely will be discussing a book from this list. The book selection will be announced a month in advance and then a discussion will take place in the Facebook group. The club will likely meet from 8:30-9:30 pm. Late, yes, but hopefully people are home, kids are in bed, work is over and you have an hour to participate in a meaningful conversation. I would love for YOU to join! Click here to become a part of the book club.
Here are the books I’ve committed to reading organized by category:
The Role of Race in Our World
- Just Mercy
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race
- The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege
- Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism
The Role of Race in the Church:
- The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right
- The Cross and the Lynching Tree
- Bridging the Diversity Gap: Leading Toward God’s Multi-Ethnic Kingdom
- One: Unity in a Divided World
Black and African Narratives:
- Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
- White Like Me
- White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
- Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race
- What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness
- The Blood of Emmett Till
- This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
- Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America
- From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
- They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement
- So You Want to Talk About Race
- The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
- The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
Will you join the Riedys Breaking Rules Book Club? I really would love to work through some of these texts together and hope to grow with others committed to being a part of the important work of racial reconciliation. It doesn’t matter where you are in this process. If you’ve never considered the issue of race in our country or you’re a hardcore activist. If you voted for Hillary or Trump. I would love to learn with and through you. Please, join me.