“Race is one of those topics nobody wants to touch. Like religion or politics, people seem to want to stay out of it. The problem, though, is that in not talking about race, we are letting it fester. We are putting our heads in the sand and pretending not to see the bias that people have to endure every day. Talking about racism does not perpetuate racism. Let me repeat that: talking about racism does not perpetuate racism. We won’t solve anything if we are too scared to speak about it. One of the comments that annoys me the most, when I blog about race, is when someone says, “Well, you are just passionate because your kids are black.” Shouldn’t we all be passionate? Are we content ignoring a problem just because it doesn’t effect us? Should we ignore bullying unless our kid is actually being bullied? It’s time for everyone to care.” – Kristen Howerton
My husband often urges me (and whoever is listening — he preaches, you know,) to find their “holy discontent.” This term, coined (I think) by Bill Hybles, refers to the particular injustice in the world that boils your blood differently than it does other peoples’. Differently than other equal injustices bother you.
My head won’t stop spinning these days. I think I’ve found my holy discontent.
No, it isn’t what you might think. My holy discontent isn’t the one hundred and fifty million orphans in this world. While my heart soars at stories of orphan care and adoption, this isn’t even what drove us to adopt Amelia. In fact, it was only after we’d started Amelia’s adoption process that I began to truly understand the vast need for orphan care, and how beautifully the adoption process taught about our own spiritual adoption to God’s family.
So. What is my holy discontent?
I realize this gets moans from many of you. You think it’s an exhausting, overhashed, contrived and unhelpful conversation.
Once, I may have agreed with you. As we picked which country we’d adopt from, Uganda stood out because it fit our logistical needs. The one hang up — that we’d be white parents adopting a black child — seemed inconsequential. “Who cares this day in age?” I figured.
I was right, mostly. Race was an afterthought for most of our friends and family, who doted on Amelia lavishly. Of course, they did coo over smooth brown skin and obsessively fondled her baby afro. But to them, her race seemed little more than an accessory.
But me? My worldview in terms of race would soon be rocked.
Maybe it was when my toddler slid tiny chocolate feet into my “nude” heels… or when “flesh colored band-aids” didn’t blend so well into her flesh.
Maybe it was when I realized that (nearly) every black adult I’d exposed Amelia to so far in life was hired, either as a nursery worker, or janitor, or babysitter.
Maybe it was when I rejoiced that other church-members were adopting black children, because finally Amelia would have some friends in the congregation who looked like her.
A discomfort stirred in my soul.
If this country had really been through racial reconciliation, why didn’t we worship with and spend Friday nights hanging out with many black families?** Why was our interaction with an entire group of people limited to work, school, hiring, adoption, and charity? Where was the unity Christ prayed for before his crucifixion?
I spend a lot of time speechless and brokenhearted on this issue.
I haven’t figured out what to say or do.
And I’ll admit — if you find me on the weekends, I’m still most likely playing or praying with other white people, with the exception of Amelia, of course.
(What do I do, anyway? Strike up conversation in the grocery store and tell the nearest black mom that I’m in need of more black friends? Awkward!)
God has more for us than this.
We are meant for more unity than this.
Silence will keep us separate.
The rift is broad, and no one can build bridges without discussing blueprints.
We must converse.
So, I have a few resources for you.
I pray you’ll read, and consider joining the conversation.
- Today (Tue. 7/23) at 2pm CST, click here to peek in on an important conversation about race, the Church, and the Body of Christ.
- Learn what white privilege is. It is not an accusation. The true definition shouldn’t stir defensiveness, but foster understanding.
- Become a fan of listening to different perspectives. (One great place to listen is this series, where many different writers of various backgrounds are invited to share their own experiences with race.)
**I don’t mean to harp exclusively on the relationship between blacks versus whites. This is my focus because 1) I’m white with a black daughter, and 2) I live in the South, where the history of black/white relations is complex. Despite my focus, let’s step back now and recognize that Jesus intends for His entire and diverse Church to be One in Him.