I have just listened to Jen Hatmaker’s podcast in which she interviews Austin Channing Brown-and it is challenging, it is a hard pill to swallow. It is about racial justice, about inclusion and equality.
It could be easily dismissed with ‘that’s just the situation in America’, we don’t have the same problems here in the UK.
But I am not so sure, I see separation all over our city, churches and schools that seem singular in the colour. I live on the edge of Bristol, in an area that is predominantly white-but not entirely and not as white as the cafe dwellers and schools would make you presume. I watch the majority of our small non-white community of teens travel on the train everyday to a large secondary school in the city centre, passing other schools as they go. I watched a similar picture happen when we lived on the other side of the city.
Our churches are a similar tale, I wonder how the few people of colour in our church feel in a predominantly white setting.
Statistics reveal a narrative that seems disproportionate across many settings; unemployment, finishing education, incarceration and the list goes on.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I feel like to ignore this subject is not helpful to us or future generations.
I want Faith to grow up in an environment that is more full of grace and equality than the world is now. I don’t want her to fear difference, but embrace it. I don’t want her only understanding of those from other backgrounds be entirely based on what she sees and hears on the news.
This does not feel inclusive.
This does not feel Godly.
It isn’t just an issue of race, but it is also an issue of race. It is of gender, sexuality, religion/ disability and culture.
Avoiding difference does not equate to equality, it just equates to separation and contributes to misunderstanding.
In the podcast Austin Channing Brown talks of how we need more than just to sit down for coffee, we need to acknowledge the history we have all come from;
“There’s a lot of folks, not a lot, there are church folks who would really like the racial reconciliation, racial justice conversation to begin today, so we start from today and we build and we just forget about the past, and we just ignore that anything ever happened, and we just start today.
The truth is, you can’t fix what you don’t talk about, right? You can’t fix injustice if you’re not going to talk about what the injustice was.”
(You can find the whole transcript of the podcast here http://jenhatmaker.com/episode-04-austin-channing-brown.htm )
We all find it hard to acknowledge the bias we carry…I know I do. I think I can’t be racist… I have good friends/family who are people of colour and I love them (And although its almost laughable to write down, that is probably the defence I have in my mind most of the time). We could maybe have the same argument for any number of differences.
But we need more than that don’t we. We need more understanding here. We need to acknowledge the history, and the current context we are all in…we need to unlearn some things and open our minds and hearts to new things.
We need to have the difficult conversations, and think about what we are saying through our actions and our choices when we are not speaking.
I feel like this is just the beginning of a long journey I am in right now, one that should have started ages ago but I put off thinking by being too defensive to actually explore what I thought and why.
I am not very good at structuring my thoughts. But if, like me, you want to have this conversation about how we look thoroughly at inclusion, integration and truly celebrating diversity then I would love to hear from you.