By Rev. Dr. Phyllis Tippit
The protests and marches that are taking place all over America and all over the world seem to be one of few ways black Americans can express their anguish and anger over the totally unnecessary death of yet another black person stopped by the police. I feel touched by the pictures of white and black protestors marching and praying together and horrified when the videos record violence and looting. We’ve seen these so many times before but nothing seems to change. I want black Americans to have the same opportunity for a good life that I have had, but how do we get there?
There are two things that encourage me. First, one of the differences between this period of protest and earlier protests is that more black Americans have found their voice. In the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, a handful of leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke passionately and beautifully for the people they represented. But this time there are many books, articles, interviews, videos which allow a new generation of leaders and performers and educators to speak directly to the white Americans who are the key to changing a system that is broken.
The second difference is that many of us white Americans seem willing to listen. New books like I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown and How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi, older books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, and many, many others are flying off the bookshelves. Perhaps this time we whites will begin to understand what it costs to be black in America. If, as Kendi says: “Racial inequity is a problem of bad policy not bad people,” perhaps we can find ways to change the policies so the United States of America really becomes “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”
I encourage you to become part of this movement toward justice and equality. We were all created in the image of God, whatever degree of brownness our skin shows. As Christians we are all called to care for the oppressed, the poor, the sick, the marginalized. We are called to work toward justice for all. But let’s begin by learning just what the problem is and, perhaps, the ways we unwittingly contribute to it.
How to Start
Join a small group to read and discuss “Waking Up White” by Debbie Irving.
We are forming Zoom groups at the church to read this book together.
If you want to be part of a group, contact Phyllis Tippit at tpcmckinney.org/contact.
A good video to start with is this interview with Adam Hamilton and three of his staff:
What about children? You need to start talking to your children about racism so they learn now not to make the mistakes we older folks have. Start with one of the books for children and youth found on this list from New York Magazine:
Test your implicit bias—the prejudices you don’t know you have.
Consider taking an online class, tickets $20.
We’ll have more suggestions as we learn more.
Let me close with Nadia Bolz-Weber’s words to her congregation:
“So, children of God,
Have curiosity. Listen to Black people. Be teachable. Pray your [heart out]. Do the work.
I know you can.
I promise to do the same.”