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I am so giddy about my forthcoming book on racial reconciliation. I feel like a kid in a candy shop every time the publisher contacts me about the next step on the publication process. There’s a long backstory behind this book
I spent 10 years immersed in the Christian racial reconciliation movement, from 2006-2016. From the beginning, I was plagued by “Yes, but” moments, but that didn’t stop me from being all in.
I loved being in spaces where diverse Christians had honest convo about race and racism. I had only experienced that previously in Black church spaces.
My view of the movement was rose-colored for a long time, probably because I was surrounded by its best: folks like @wilsonhartgrove, @DDGilliard, @ZakiyaNaemaJack, @PastahJ, @profrah, @bantu_hustle, & the late @richardtwiss. I thought they represented the norm (they don’t).
It honestly took me a while to recognize the movement was almost wholly evangelical. It was an “oh shit” moment but I stayed.
Since childhood, I’ve always had an “outsider within” status that helps me bridge diverse groups. If we share common cause, I can be down with you and we can work through our differences.
So there I was: a radical womanist theologian in an evangelical world, bringing my full hermeneutic of suspicion amongst folks with inerrant and infallible views of scripture. Talk about the lion lying down with the lamb! (Wait, am I the lion or the lamb?)
It was bonkers. But again, I was surrounded by a “guilded ghetto” of radical evangelicals so I thought there was greater possibility of progress than there actually was.
The movement has a very shallow theology of reconciliation. Ok, it has NO theology of reconciliation. It’s more like a vague biblical inspiration lived out through a weak relational praxis. (That kind of describes most of White US Christianity, doesn’t it?)
There are some great scholars who’ve examined the idea of reconciliation. James Cone and J. Deotis Roberts wrote books debating the idea with each other decades ago. The movement NEVER pays attention to them.
Allan Boesak and Curtiss DeYoung have also produced rigorous thinking in this area. But the racial reconciliation movement prefers literature about friendships among Black and White men.
The dominant evangelical paradigm of reconciliation is so weak that it disintegrates whenever issues of intersectionality arise. That’s why womanists generally don’t even fuck with the concept. We know evangelicals ain’t about that life.
It’s a mistake, though, to assume that Black women and other WoC don’t write and teach about reconciliation. We do it all the time, but we don’t use the word “reconciliation.” We don’t even use language that most evangelicals would recognize as being about reconciliation.
There is a whole canon of Black women’s literature envisioning what healing and justice look like in a world fractured by racism, patriarchy, and classism. All of it is about reconciliation.
Then there’s the kitchen table wisdom handed on from Black mothers, grandmothers, and aunties who know “relationship” is not the answer to racism. We have ALWAYS been in relationship with white folks in our forced roles as domestics. And that doesn’t protect us.
So that’s what I attempt to do in my forthcoming book, “I Bring the Voices of My People.” I try to bring all that wisdom to describe how race and racism work, what reconciliation really looks like, and how faith can help us to work toward it.
There are no “Can’t we all just get along?” stories here. Honestly, I want to blow up the whole racial reconciliation movement, turn it upside down, inside out, eviscerate it, and then say, “Start all over.”
But because I’m pastoral caregiver, I won’t tear down without at least attempting to build up. So I’mma give y’all some tools. I pray that they’re meaningful.
Did I say I’m excited? My publisher just sent the cover and I think it honors what I’m trying to do. I’ll reveal soon. amazon.com/dp/0802877206/…
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