The car ride is the hardest part.
I just wanna get there already. I am pretty sure I’ve always been this way. When it’s time to go on a trip, I wanna skip the journey and get onto the destination. There is fun on the other side of these 16 hours. Or at the very least, a bed is waiting.
I like change, but I don’t like changing. That section of road between how I am now and how I’ll be in one year is bumpy, motion-sickness curvy, and full of hot air blowing in my face because the AC went out. It’s hard. Unpleasant. Long.
I see where I want to be. I see others who have made it there, and I want be like them minus the never-ending road trip across the barren plains of transformation.
Looking back, I see many journeys I’ve made from beginner to intermediate, and in some instances, an “expert” in air quotes. I wiped trays for days as a new employee at Dairy Queen. I taught junior high and high school without an education degree. I became a wife to Dave and encountered all of the challenges of becoming one with another person. We brought home our first baby only to ask, “Why did they let us leave the hospital with him?” I began homeschooling him with two preschool-aged daughters underfoot, being pregnant with twins, and stressing over which handwriting approach was really the RIGHT one. We moved overseas (twice) and became beginners at language learning and cultural adaptation, awkwardly stumbling around like minutes-old foals trying out their wobbly legs.
In each situation, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. And in each instance, from the beginning, I wanted to arrive and skip all the steps to get to the top. I didn’t want to put in the time to be the expert; I just wanted have the title without having to learn anything that required extra effort to attain a level of skill. I shy away from the details required to get there.
Two weeks ago, everything shifted in my heart when I read how George Floyd was murdered and the protests and riots were beginning. I could see that there was a shift coming for the nation, and I wanted to ride the wave and be a part of the healing process. But I found myself back in that beginner space. I felt like I should know more. I took several Black History courses in college. My professor and advisor had trained under Dr. King (and didn’t pass because he couldn’t respond in non-violence during the training), and I learned so much from him in those two years of upper division work. But it’s not enough. I grew up in the South, and the lines of racism are blurry even among my fellow Christians. I know very few people who are actively anti-racist and educating themselves on racial reconciliation. And sadly, I haven’t done much work of examining myself and learning how to be an ally until now.
Being a beginner is not my favorite. It can be a bit humiliating to admit that I don’t know the right things to say. I don’t know enough about white privilege and white exceptionalism. I don’t know what I’m doing. I began looking for resources to help me, and I was overwhelmed because there are actually numerous options for learning about racial reconciliation. I felt a lot of anxiety and fear of plunging into these deep waters that my black brothers and sisters have been swimming in for centuries.
But there has to be a way. I can trace a similar thread in those journeys of life as an employee, a teacher, a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, an expatriate–there were always people there, leading the way, showing me how to take the next step. I went from tray duty to Dilly Bar duty because Debbie taught me how to make them and package them. I went from a college graduate with no classroom experience to a decent teacher because Karen mentored me for the whole first year. I went from a selfish wife to a more gracious wife because of the small group mentorship of Bubba and Rita, Jerry and Ann, Merland and Ann, and Craig and Shirley. I went from a first time mom, trying to do everything perfectly, to a more relaxed mom because of people like Cinthya and Kathy who confronted me about issues I had and showed me a better way. I went from an overwhelmed-by-options-homeschool-mama to a more principle-guided-homeschool-mama thanks to Rebekah, Annette, and Beverly. I went from a bumbling expat to a more adjusted expat because of Liz, Christina, Debbie, and a host of others.
The point is–when you’re a beginner, you need mentors. You need people to show you how to move forward and grow, how to swim in these waters. No one is required to be a mentor. Black people should not have to mentor us through racial reconciliation. But there are some Black leaders doing just that even though it is not their responsibility. And that’s what I hope to amplify in this post–that we need to listen and learn from Black leaders. Their voice needs to be at the forefront of this movement of change. We need to hear their experiences, perspectives, and challenges for us.
The very least I can do is BEGIN. I plan to do much more. I know I need mentors, and because of where I live in Asia, I’m not surrounded by a Black community. So I’m looking to the internet to find men and women who are willing to teach beginners like me. My first step was to fill my Instagram with Black voices (listed below). My second step was to purchase LaTasha Morrison‘s book, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation. I’m considering enrollment in Brownicity‘s membership to learn as much as I can from Dr. Lucretia Berry, a fellow hope*writer. She has a virtual 5-week anti-racism training called “What LIES Between Us” coming up June 16 for $35!!!
We’re not there yet. The tires may still kick up dust or blow out in a stretch of desert. We may say the wrong thing, need to apologize, humble ourselves. It may be sticky and slow-going, but every mile counts. Transformation is still progress even though it isn’t a quick process. But we are going together, moving toward the same goal: love, mercy, and justice.
Instagram Leaders to Follow:
- LaTasha Morrison
- Jo Saxton
- Osheta Moore
- Sharifa Stevens
- Tony Evans
- Dr. Lucretia Berry
- Dorena Williamson
- Carlos Whittaker
- Jemar Tisby
- Trillia Newbell
- Jennifer Lucy Tyler
- Danielle Coke
- Amena Brown Owen
- Jackie Hill Perry
Note: Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list. Feel free to share others in the comments. I was not asked to promote any of these people or what they have to offer in forms of training or books. I am not being paid or using affiliate links. I am sharing because these are the places where I am listening and learning. I hope you’ll check them out as well.