I have started a 13 week course through MIT and edX called ULab: Leading from the Emerging Future. About 12,000 participants from 145 countries are involved..many in work groups across sectors of government, health care, business, environmental science, and more.... The opening of our live video last week grabbed me: "We are living in an age of disruption." "We see communities responding in one of three ways." 1. Downloading. We listen from a habitual place that reconfirms old patterns and beliefs. This keeps us stuck in a status quo, doing what we've known to do but not getting us to a better place. 2. Another response is to move backward as the mind, heart, and will closes in hopes of protecting self and the familiar. 3. Leaning forward through a mind, heart, and will that is open to seeing with fresh eyes, sensing/connecting in different ways, being still and surrendering, letting the new come, and working to co-create through curiosity, compassion, and courage. This experience is aimed at helping us move from an ego-system of me to an eco-system of we. Its premise is that leaders have results they produce and processes they use, but under both of those are the sources from which they operate. Most of the time we cannot see the source from which we operate; we aren't aware of the place from which our attention and intention originate. The challenges we face require us to become aware and change the inner place from which we operate. "The essence of leadership is to become aware of the blind spot from which we operate, both individually and collectively, and then shift." I have been thinking so much about all the Scripture that undergirds what's being taught in this diagram. -Be still and know that I am God. -Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. -You are a new creation in Christ, the old is gone the new is here. -Do not fear. (over and over through Bible) -Love your neighbor as yourself. -Invitation to join Christ in his redemptive work. In this first week of class, I am reflecting on ways that I'm personally involved in the absencing arch, and I'm considering where I'm living in the presencing U. I'm also thinking about this regarding privilege and systemic racism. And I'm thinking about this regarding the white American Evangelical Church. Much to chew on as I jump into module one! You can check out this course yourself, if interested: https://www.edx.org/course/u-lab-leading-emerging-future-mitx-15-671-1x-0 "We cannot solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them." -Albert Einsten
"As Christians, we must embark upon an awakening journey- a path that will lead us into direct confrontation with the narrative of racial difference. We must open our eyes to the uncomfortable racial hierarchy that has been the basis for the structure of our entire society. We must wake up to the ways that the narrative of racial difference played a major role in identity formation in the early days of our country, and to the ways it continues to play a dominant role in our sense of identity here and now. One of the primary issues we must face, especially in this socio-political climate, is the need for white people to do the hard work of wrestling with what it really means to be white. This points to one of the core messages of White Awake (by Daniel Hill); the poisonous impact of the narrative of racial difference does not land solely on people of color. The narrative of racial difference has also profoundly affected white people. But unlike people of color, most white people remain completely unaware of the ways this narrative has affected their sense of identity." -Dr. Rev. Brenda Salter McNeil (wrote Forward to White Awake: an honest look at what it means to be white by Daniel Hill.) This weekend I read through the forward and the first two chapters of Hill's book, White Awake. To my white friends who are trying better to understand what is happening around race in our country, I urge you to order this book and embark on a journey. It will be a journey that will interrogate what you've grown up believing about racial difference. It will be a journey that leads to transformation by the renewing of your mind. It will be a journey that is necessary for the healing and liberation of ourselves and our neighbor.
May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, And superficial relationships, So that we may live deep within our hearts. May God bless us with anger at injustice, Oppression, and exploitation of people, So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless us with tears to shed For those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them And to turn their pain into joy. May God bless us with tears to shed For those who suffer from pain, rejections, starvation and war, So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them And to turn their pain into joy. May God bless us with enough foolishness To believe that we can make a difference in this world, So that we can do what others claim cannot be done. And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and Remain with us forever. Amen.
Lately, I keep going back to the notes and experience I had some years ago while taking an Undoing Racism class hosted by People's Institute of Survival and Beyond. The second day of our workshop, we got into groups and had to reflect on two questions together: What have you known about racism that you've pretended not to know? How has that impacted your humanity?
Some answers in our group to the first question were: -we pretend we have equal opportunity -we deny our own racist thoughts -we pretend we can separate ourselves from institutions and systems -we pretend racial profiling and targeting doesn't happen -we pretend we've made huge strides and that racism is a part of our past -we pretend that we can solve the problem without coming together ...and some answers to the second question, "how has this impacted our humanity?" -we live in fear, not love -it has hindered our creativity, potential, and our pursuit toward wholeness and healing -we are not true to ourselves or others -it gives us an 'us-them' mentality -it inhibits relationships -it reinforces a judgmental, competitive nature At the end of our conversation, our instructor said, "When it comes to racism, until we know what we've lost, we won't do anything. We won't be moved to change until we recognize what has been lost of our humanity." May we all recognize the cost of racism on our humanity, and begin to educate and organize to deconstruct the evil that it is.
Last week, I was moved by a powerful Global Leadership
Summit. Bryan Stevenson was among the
many gifted speakers at the 2017 Summit.
Stevenson spoke about ways we have to go about leading
change in our communities and nation. He
spoke about changing the narrative that
fuels what we think. I wrote about
this some in my last blog post.
Stevenson also talked about becoming proximate with people.
Distance will never lead to healing and justice. In the same breath, being proximate without
taking the journey into the race narrative that has fed our worldview has
potential for further wounding. The
superiority that lies below in me will manifest in unhealthy ways of thinking
about or working with people if I am not aware of how I’ve been socialized to
think about people. Paternalism, judgment, power, control all want to spring into
action unless I am doing the work of being transformed by the renewing of my
mind into a Kingdom of God worldview.
Stevenson talked about brokenness. The more I can recognize my brokenness, the more
I can recognize my need for others different from me. The more I can receive grace and give
grace. The more I can experience collective power in
growth comes from being awakened to and broken by the realities of systemic
racism and a new understanding of my own broken place in the system.
Earlier this month, my daughter returned from a high school
trip called Caravan, and the theme this year had 4 R’s: Rethink, Receive, Remain, Respond. During the return celebration, I thought
about a few more R’s that I need in this race recovery:
Rethink—I need the Spirit’s guidance to continue to challenge
the narrative that has shaped my thoughts and beliefs.
Repent—I need to confess and repent of the evils of institutional racism
that lives in our society and in me and
has affected my thinking, beliefs, actions in my life.
Receive—I can receive the grace and forgiveness of Jesus who
nailed racism to the cross and rose to make us new. I can receive a Kingdom worldview where
Christ and His power are central, not the power of economics. I can receive the hard truth because there is grace and freedom and hope
found in Christ.
Remain—I am given Christ’s Spirit and invited to remain in
Him to find wholeness and life to the full.
Reorder—I can examine my life, listen for God’s calling for
me, and reorder my life accordingly to pursue the whole of the
Gospel which includes healing, reconciliation, loving my neighbor,
justice for all.
Without brokenness, repentance, and grace my being proximate
will not lead to a new way of seeing and being that leads to healing,
reconciliation, or justice. But brokenness, repentance, and grace + proximity = mutual interdependence and power.
God created humans
who have a rich variety of ethnic heritage, cultures, languages, personalities, physical
Humans created race,
a construct intended to create a hierarchy of human value for the purpose of
power and economic gain.
There’s so much I still need to learn about the history of
this construct called race and both the psychological, spiritual, and social
impact it has had on others and on me, a white, middle class Christian woman
from the Midwest.
As in any good recovery program, we are asked to explore our
families of origin, the narrative of our upbringing. So, too, with race. I need to learn about race and racism through
the generations in this country and how I have been taught to think and see and
believe through a racialized worldview.
In 2011, I took an Undoing Racism class led by the People’s
Institute of Survival and Beyond. I
learned about internalized racial oppression that results in internalized
inferiority for those who have been oppressed, and internalized superiority for
those who are among the oppressing people group. We studied how both manifest themselves in
our society, and I thought, “uh-oh, I have some serious work to do to become
more adept at recognizing, naming, and working to recover from my own internalized
Manifestations of internalized
superiority are things like privilege, individualism, denial, defensiveness,
intellectualism, exceptionalism, protected status, entitlement. So much of this is wrapped into what I have
been raised to believe is the normal and right way to see the world, so I have
to be very diligent about taking a journey with Christ and others so that I
might “be transformed by the renewing of
my mind.” (Romans 12:2)
In the video below, Joy Degruy Leary describes the multigenerational
trauma that racism has caused and the persistence of a hierarchical, racialized
worldview that has been passed on from one generation to the next with no
corporate reckoning or healing of any sort along the way.
I need to study the history that I never learned in America’s
public schools. I need to hear from the
voices who encourage me to look and think critically about history and the
narrative that has been promoted broadly.
I need to ask myself, “How did I grow up thinking about people of color?” “How and what did I think about inner cities,
discrimination, injustice?” “What messages did I receive from history
books and classes? From media?” “In what ways has institutionalized racism impacted
my own humanity?” “What have I gained and what have I lost due to racism?”
The first step in recovery is always an awareness of what
lies beneath in me. How can I do
this? By opening myself up to other
voices who share their truth and experiences, I can begin to identify and name my own brokenness
within a racialized society. Why can I
do this? Because of Jesus Christ. Because He gives me the grace to do it. His mercy and forgiveness allow me the safety
and assurance to face it. He is the
healer whose reconciling power can help me heal and see myself and my neighbor
in a whole new way. I read this on
Twitter today: The battle against racism within ourselves can begin with a
simple prayer: Lord, show me the lies I believe. Forgive me for believing them. Amen.