Since I wrote the previous article on Healthy Conversations on race, I’ve found more resources that are so helpful for understanding racism, it’s historical roots, and the attitudes that allow racism to continue. I’ll be honest, these resources have helped me understand the struggles of the modern African-American community, and it’s given me a greater sense of compassion for my friends who are a part of the majority culture. My eyes have been opened to the racism that still exists today. There have been some tears shed. Like many of you, I believed the lie that the schools fed me. I thought the civil rights movement got rid of most legal racism. I knew it didn’t stop people from being racist, but I didn’t realize that racism still existed in legal forms, but in disguise.
For the past 9 years, my family and I have volunteered for an organization that serves families who live in low-income and under-resourced areas in Austin. Recently, my children were interacting with other volunteers who had spent a week connecting with children from these low-income areas. One of the volunteers made a statement that startled them. He called the children dumb, and he complained about having to dumb down his communication in order for them to understand.
Keep in mind this is a teen who lives in an affluent, suburban area who has access to a great education, who has wonderful parental involvement and support, and whose parents are also educated. It was culture shock for him to encounter children who have none of the things he probably takes for granted. Most of these kids have no stable home environment. They are surrounded by people who are just as poor as they are. They live in an environment where survival is of utmost concern, where fighting is normal. Many of these children are exposed to things that children should not see or experience, and many of them are abused and neglected. Would you expect to reach your highest potential is this kind of environment? If reading isn’t valued in your home, would you expect to have an expansive vocabulary? What kind of English vocabulary would you expect for a child whose parents speak little to no English? I’m not mad at the kid who said this. He just didn’t understand. And you don’t know what you don’t know.
Here are some resources that I recommend listening to WITH YOUR CHILDREN, to help you understand the issues of racial injustice. I pray that as you listen your eyes are opened to new perspectives that evoke a greater sense of acceptance and appreciation for others that are different from you. I pray that as you encounter these uncomfortable truths, you experience greater freedom. I also ask our Great God to reveal to each of us how much we really need one another.
This the best discussion on racism in America that I’ve ever heard. I’ll fully admit that it’s long, but it’s so worth your time. I’ve listened to this at least twice and I plan to listen to it again. I learned some things I didn’t know, and I was reminded of things I did know. It made it clear to me, that I live a privileged life. It also opened my eyes to my own judgement of my people, even my family. I shed a lot of tears listening to this one. (They also discuss code switching. I definitely do this, though it’s something I do unconsciously.)
The Verge Network provides a series of videos on Racial Justice that I highly recommend. Most of the videos are pretty short, but full of honest, grace-filled conversations on race. It’s a six part series. Here’s the link to part one. http://www.vergenetwork.org/2016/07/08/racial-justice-a-conversation-with-propaganda-part-1-understanding-the-problem/
This podcast focuses in on how the educational system has failed minorities in that it has failed to do what Brown vs. the Board of Education legally mandated–integrate the schools. I hadn’t thought about it, but now it makes perfect sense. Schools are very segregated today. Yet, studies have shown that students perform better in integrated schools. New York Times Reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones shares the struggle of a family in Normandy, MS who tried to leave her poor performing, all minority school district, in order to transfer to a school district where she would be able to get a better education.
Warning: Have your kleenex ready. It’s heartbreaking, shocking and it might expose some attitudes you may have yourself.
This next recommendation is an article. It’s a good one. It’s written by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a white professor of multi-cultural education, who spent years studying why white people become so defensive and uncomfortable around issues of race. Very, very eye opening! https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/white-fragility-why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism-twlm/
Lastly, I want to recommend this video. Michelle Higgens gives a challenging message to the church concerning our role in racial injustice. She challenges us to embrace ALL people as valuable, whether we agree with them or not. She challenges us to open our eyes to the truth. This one may leave you feeling uncomfortable and maybe a bit offended. But hang in there, my friend. We have to be willing to engage in these difficult conversations if we want to move forward. https://vimeo.com/150226527