Talk It Out At Fellowship North: Conversations Across Race
My church hosts this class once or twice a year called Talk It Out. And I want to invite you to be a part of it.
It’s a class for anyone who wants to learn more about race issues inside and outside of the church.
The provided reading and listening material alone is worth the effort to participate in the class, but nothing can take the place of the unrehearsed, impromptu but guided discussions you will have face to face with someone who is different from you.
To say that hearing a brother or sister alongside whom I now worship tell a story from his or her own experience is eye-opening is to grossly understate the experience. It is heart opening. It is nothing short of life changing. It is the fuel we need in our souls to stay hard on the path of seeing the church become a reconciled body of Christ.
Each Talk It Out class is as different as the people who attend it. The memories you take from a simple gathering together with others for a meager four sessions are greatly varied but consistently meaningful.
For me, the moment I remember most vividly was learning that it is common practice today in some neighborhoods that if you are an African American trying to sell your home, you would be asked by a realtor to you hide all evidence that black people live in your house.
Put away your family photos. Take down art that might seem ethnic.
For some reason, it was this experience that stayed with me even longer than stories of growing up in segregated schools. I think the reason for this is that it happened just recently. In my lifetime, in the day I (we) live in, right now, people don’t want to buy a house because the race of the owner is different from their own. Because this story happened right across from me and I could not alleviate its pain or take it away, I was ultimately most moved by it. Even now as I remember her telling it, I feel the sting of how much I hated its truth. I cringe. It was something I wanted to look away from.
I did not know it at the time, but the part of Talk It Out that I needed was a tangible understanding that I don’t have to live with these kinds of common insults because I am white. I will not ever have to explain to my children that I’m taking their pictures down because someone won’t want to buy our house if they see them.
There is a name for this collection of concerns that I don’t carry with me every day of my life. This not having to think about race. It is called white privilege. I didn’t earn it and I can’t give it back, but it is as real as the chair I am sitting in.
Because I have it, I can look away. I can turn my head. I can choose to not listen to the stories. I can try to pretend that there is no such thing as racism in America.
But this mission, this most worthy journey of all people being reconciled in Christ Jesus, calls me to keep looking. To keep listening. To stop pretending.
To keep having conversations across race.