This last week, Derrick DeLain and I launched The Reconciliation Conversation. It had been in the works for a while, before our current events. So, the timing of its launch feels providential. Just in case some might say it seems opportunistic more than providential, I wanted to make four things clear.
ONE _ I am white and have a lot to learn, and if you’re white you do, too.
Even though I grew up with roots and relationships in the black community of New Orleans, I will not even pretend to know all that it means to be a black man in America. And if you’re white, you don’t know either. Quit pretending otherwise. And let’s quit ignoring it, too. Most of all, let’s not think we have the answers. Let’s instead come to the conversation with something to contribute but with plenty to learn. Let’s drop the superiority subtleties that have, for some even unintentionally, dominated the white narrative for so long.
TWO _ I am white, and I didn’t just become “woke” to the present and long-standing reality of racial injustices weaved into almost every fabric of American culture.
I have longed to prompt a reconciliation conversation for a long time now. It is more than overdue. Unfortunately, the inability of most of us to even have a civil conversation means we will no doubt struggle to have a civil rights conversation concerning injustice toward Americans whose skin is black. But we must. It is imperative. Especially for those of us who say we believe the gospel of Jesus, which is a gospel of reconciliation (2nd Corinthians 5) that conquered the hostility plaguing humanity by resurrecting a new humanity, a renewed unity of image-bearers of GOD (Ephesians 2).
THREE _ I am white, but I am committed to the arduous heart work and hard work needed to re-imagine and make reality a renewed American Dream together.
Already on social media, black leaders are cautioning other black leaders not to put too much faith in the white voices speaking up right now while the fire is hot. They warn that we will not stick around once the moment fades and the trending on social media returns to matters of COVID and Presidents and football and more. But we must be resolute. We must stand alongside black brothers and sisters who have stood alone for so many years. We must commit to stay in this conversation for the long haul. No matter how long it takes for interpersonal and institutional renewal to come.
FOUR _ I am white, and I believe this will become more than a black / white thing.
I know this one is a topic for a later day, so I am not suggesting this insensitively, but let’s go ahead and acknowledge that reconciliation is more than just a black and white thing. However, for the moment, it is absolutely valid to focus on the black-white dynamic. And, for as long as it takes, it is absolutely priority to stay focused on black-white reconciliation.
We must stand alongside black brothers and sisters who have stood alone for so many years. We must commit to stay in this conversation for the long haul. No matter how long it takes for interpersonal and institutional renewal to come.
What would you add? How might you see it differently? Why do you feel the same way? Let me know. Join the conversation. Let’s pray for on Earth as it is in Heaven.
May it be so.