The Problem with Redemption: #metoo

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This post is mostly in response to the article posted on GQ The Problem With Redemption in regard to serial abuser and restaurateur, Ken Friedman.

A few weeks ago, as I was rather aimlessly scrolling through my Twitter Feed, I found a link to this article under a tweet by a guy asking how men that have been named in the #metoo movement can, if at all, regain societal standing.

As you may guess, the comment section ranged from brutally honest to downright appalling. But, then I saw a link to an article with an instruction: read this.

The author of ‘The Problem with Redemption’ begins her post with this:

As a graduate of a Quaker high school, restorative justice is near and dear to my heart. The practice, often used as an alternative to stricter forms of punishment, focuses on reconciliation and rehabilitation rather than sending the offender to jail or shunning them from the community. Ideas of community consensus and collective action were drilled into my head by my educators, and when someone did wrong, instead of immediately expelling them, we tried to foster communication and understanding that would help everyone heal. However, any time this happened, the first step was always the same: the offender had to take responsibility for what they had done, and be actively trying to make amends. This was the only way to redemption.

Throughout the article, the author posits this theory again and again: redemption begins with the acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

But what is redemption? Who gives redemption? Does redemption imply a return to “normal life?” And, perhaps dangerously, is redemption always the point?

One of the most problematic pieces for me when considering redemption in regard to sexual assault is that the idea of redemption often centers whiteness and white innocence vis-à-vis a White Christological framework and purity culture.

There is a value system on whom we believe matter and whom we believe are innocent. There is a value system on whom “deserves” to be abused and those whom don’t. Legally, the Justice System values some people over others. It’s in the way we tell the stories. It’s who we believe is innocent. It’s whom we believe matters.

Think Nia Wilson and Mollie Tibbits.

Think Emmett Till.

Think Charlottesville 2017.

Think refugee children in cages.

And, how we learn to value other human beings remains deeply interconnected with our theology and how we understand whom deservessalvation.

To be candid, these tendencies pervade mainstream, Western theology. And, more often than not, whiteness becomes centered and intrinsically interconnected with the salvation message of Jesus. 

Indeed, theological ideology broadens our understanding of how whiteness “establish[es] and defend[s] who and what Whites can be, what others can and cannot do and/or be and what kind of feeling and action by others is allowed or disallowed in reference to Whites.”

It is plausible to suggest that mainstream, Westernized Christian theology as a social institution is positioned as a conduit through which whiteness is calculatingly preserved, fortified, and disseminated as superior.

Consider the ways in which society socializes and sexualizes young women in juxtaposition with the way in which the Church, particularly Conservative and Evangelical Churches, socialize young women with purity culture. While both are inherently problematic, these socialization tactics often center on a white framework by centering white values and white concepts of acceptability.

In her critical work, Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School, Monique Morris offers this important insight:

As children are routinely told to “speak only when spoken to” in many cultures, so too were those who occupied the status of minors. To be a “minority,” a colored person, or a woman in this context was to bear the mark of subjugation and relative insignificance. Over time, this wound has deepened through invisibility, violence and objectification, and for Black girls who have lived in ways that align with and result from a castigated identity, the struggle to be a “good girl,” especially in the ghetto, is connected to performances of power.

For Black girls, to be “ghetto” represents a certain resilience to how poverty has shaped racial and gender oppression. To be “loud” is a demand to be heard. To have an “attitude” is to reject a doctrine of invisibility and mistreatment. To be flamboyant – or fabulous- is to revise the idea that socioeconomic isolation is equated with not having access to materially desirable things. To be a ghetto Black girl, then, is to reinvent what it means to be Black, poor, and female (19).

And, while Monique’s book is particularly geared towards the criminalization of black girls in regard to educational settings, I think that her book offers relevant truths which extend well beyond the reach of normative educational settings.

While certainly not a universal or monolithic verity, I have found that my experience as a black woman and as a sexual assault survivor includes finding ways to make myself look more credible. To look more palatable. To look more white/innocent. Because, I know, statistically, what happens to black women and girls in regard to sexual abuse and rape culture. And, I know that society still hasn’t found us redeemable.

I know that if, in my Predominately White Community, I communicate with my “white” English and wear my “white” clothes, that I will receive better service at the mall/doctor’s office/bank/grocery store.

I know that if I wear my “white” hair that I will receive more compliments at work andnobody will grab it.

And, I know that when I tell my stories of sexual assault which include black men as the perpetrator, people will roll their eyes because that is no longer a problem…that is just a “cultural issue.”

When I think about redemption and sexual assault, I find myself – more often than not – reflecting on pieces of my own story. I share the story below, un-analyzed and raw because I think it is important to understand the inherent problematic nature of how rape culture works. Of what voices become centered. Of how “reconciliation” isn’t always reconciliation. I truly believe that until we are able to understand how individual actions remain complicit with a larger rape culture framework, we will be destined to continue to perpetuate and abuse marginalized and vulnerable members of society. 

————————————–* Warning: Trigger Warning*————————————————

Whenever, I think of the #metoo movement in terms of redemption, I often remember something that happened to me back in June of 2009. That summer, like most summers during High School, I worked at Camp Deerpark as a Kitchen Assistant. Because my older brother worked at the camp full time, I often started work a few weeks earlier than the rest of the staff in order to help out with odd jobs. This particular summer was no different and, after a day of cleaning out art supplies, I decided to play some basketball with another staff member, Gerson.

Now, it may be important to note that during summer camp, summer staff were not supposed to be alone with members of the opposite sex. But, it wasn’t quite summer camp. And, the basketball courts were in full view of the main office and surrounding buildings. I figured I was safe.

So backstory: Gerson and I played basketball. I came down hard on my ankle – and I hobbled off the court, ready to make the long trek up the side of the mountain/hill to my brother’s cabin. Gerson picked me up and groped me. I yelled at him to put me down. When he finally does I tried to walk up the hill towards the main office. He followed me asking me “why are you trying to run away?” I walked through the Main Office building and out the back door to put away a paint bucket. I didn’t realize that Gerson was still following me, He followed me inside the shed before picking me up and groping me again. I scream and yell at him to stop, to put me down and to leave me alone before he finally puts me down. I continue my way to my cabin. Gerson continues to follow me up the hill. I report the incident to my brother. A few days later, I have a meeting with Admin. 
I will never forget the meeting with Admin (Ken Bontrager, Veronica Dingwall and Gerson). Mostly, because I took written notes and some transcripts of the meeting. To be fair, what is shared below is strictly from my notes: I thought that sharing a bit of what happened is important in order to understand how rape culture works.

*First, Ken asked Gerson if he knew why he was there and what he understood happened and if he did the things in which he was accused. Gerson said that he did but that he didn’t really think he did anything wrong.*
Ken: Gerson, do you understand where Boni is coming from?
Gerson *slouched, half smirking* yeah
Ken: Do you understand how she could think your hands were in inappropriate places?
Gerson: Yeah
Ken: Okay. did you pick Boni up in your arms?
Gerson: Yeah
Ken: More than once?
Gerson: Yeah
Ken: Did you hear her tell you to stop and to put her down?
Gerson: Yeah
Ken: Did you?
Gerson: After a while
Ken: After a while?
Gerson; Yeah
Ken: Veronica, help me out here. I’m not sure where to go. 
Veronica: *to Gerson* So what do you think about this?
Gerson: Um. I don’t know.
Veronica: What do you understand about this situation?
Gerson: That I was helping her up
Veronica: So you don’t feel like you did anything wrong?
Gerson: No, but I guess I did because you all are accusing me.
*Ken excuses himself to take a phone call*
Veronica: So how are you feeling then? You upset?
Gerson: No
Veronica: You look mad. I mean, if I was accused of something that I didn’t feel was wrong, I would be mad.
Gerson: Well, I’m feeling something…just not mad
Veronica: Okay, then what are you feeling?
Gerson: Not mad.
Veronica: Okay. Um
…..
Ken: How do you both feel about working here together this summer? Like, do you feel like you can both work here? Boni?

Me: …yeah
Ken: Gerson?
Gerson: Um. (slouches more, rubs eyes and rolls his eyes). I don’t know. Not really.
Veronica: Okay, why not? What do you feel? Awkward? Uncomfortable?
Gerson: Uncomfortable
Veronica: Why?
Gerson: I don’t know. I just do. *smiles*
Veronica: Why do you feel uncomfortable?
Gerson: I just do. *talking to me* what did you want outta this? An apology? What?!!
Me: I just want you to stop touching me….like, I want to be your friend. Just stop the touching.
….
Ken: *to Gerson* Now is the time to apologize
Gerson: *stares* *whisper* I’m sorry
Veronica: Speak up
Ken: Well, are you actually sorry? Don’t apologize for something you are not sorry for
Gerson: Okay
Ken: Are you sorry?
Gerson: Not really
Ken: But you can see where Boni is coming from
Gerson: Yeah
Ken: Well can you be sorry for what happened?
Gerson: I guess
Veronica: We are not out to get you here. Nobody’s thinking that you’re the bad guy
Gerson: *laughs*
Ken: So, you have the floor
Gerson: I’m sorry *smirks*
Ken: See, speak up. You have a beautiful voice. Everybody should hear that voice *laughs*
Veronica: Yeah, it’s a beautiful voice…
Ken: So, do we have peace?
Me: *small voice* sure
Gerson: *rolls his eyes, scowls* sure

Later that summer, Gerson was fired for groping a camper.
In my situation, Gerson wasn’t sorry. And, he explicitly articulated this.

And yet… nothing happened. Because nothing is normative in rape culture.

No one reported it to the Police. No one took it over Ken’s head.  

And, no one confronted Ken for his decision.

This story is inherently problematic for many reasons. Not all of which will I list or elaborate upon. And, its faulty argument aligns well with the disastrous and heinous assumption that there was equal blame, that there was equally “very fine people on both sides”.

While, I have chosen to name where the incident took place and the names of the person involved, I also recognize that telling this story does not simply change the larger culture. Kate Harding, in her critical book, Asking For It, offers this:

Rape culture manifests in a myriad ways…but its most devilish trick is to make the average, noncriminal person identify with the person accused, instead of the person reporting the crime. Rape culture encourages us to scrutinize victims’ stories for any evidence that they brought the violence onto themselves- and always to imagine ourselves in the terrifying role of Good Man, Falsely Accused, before we ‘rush to judgement.’

We’re not meant to picture ourselves in the role of drunk teenager at her first college party, thinking ‘Wow, he seems to think I’m pretty!’ or the woman who accepts a ride with a ‘nice guy,’ who’s generously offered to see her safely home from the bar. Or the girl who’s passed out in a room upstairs, while the party rages on below, so chaotic that her friends don’t even notice she’s gone.

When it comes to rape, if we’re expected to put ourselves in anyone else’s shoes at all, it’s the accused rapist’s. The questions that inevitably come along with “what was she wearing?” and ‘How much did she have to drink?’ are “what if there was no rape at all? What happens if she is lying? What happens to this poor slob she’s accusing? What if he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit?

This conceptualization of how rape culture works helps me to understand how this ideology pervades everyday life in addition to how rape culture functions as a site of public pedagogy.   

Does Gerson deserve redemption? Does Ken? Is that even the best question to ask?
The author of “The Problem with Redemption” would argue that they would not deserve redemption because neither of them provided an admission of guilt and/or wrongdoing.

And, while I would be inclined to agree that they do not deserve redemption, I find myself conflicted with the redemptive nature of Jesus Christ. What does redemption mean? 

Or maybe asking about redemption is the wrong question.

When I think back to myself as a 15-year-old, I often find myself resonating with feelings of anger, intense loneliness, hurt and betrayal. I felt voiceless and powerless and dirty. As a 25-year-old, I can now give voice to that 15-year-old. I can now speak truth for that 15-year-old in ways that I couldn’t then.

As a follower of Jesus and a sexual assault survivor, the idea of redemption has often been one of those topics that have been unsettlingly problematic for me.

I like Jesus. I like His ideology. And, I also find His message unsettlingly and startlingly forgiving.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Forgive. Pray for those whom persecute you.

I don’t know how to reconcile any of that with my experience.

I don’t know if I even want to.

As you know, as someone that is super Type A, I like to have answers. I like rules and regulations, and this messy stuff feels…messy.

So, I’m muddling through this redemption idea.

And maybe, if you’re muddling too, we can muddle along together.

Shalom always,

Room At the Table: Who Is My Neighbor?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Maybe you’ve seen this sign. Or, maybe you’ve heard about it. In an age of ever-increasing political decisiveness, it’s nice to see these signs dotted along the streets in which I work and the locations in which I visit.

But (and really – you knew the but was coming) I can’t help but notice the distressing trend between the physical location of the signs and the socioeconomic status and racial demographics of the neighborhoods.

The places I generally see these signs are in the following places and spaces:

  • Affluent white Mennonite communities
  • Affluent white hipster neighborhoods 
  • White, liberal, suburbia
  • Liberal “ally-oriented” community centers
  • In that one bookish professor’s office. You know- the one that hands back papers with coffee stains on them and smells like, what he affectionately calls, herbal awakening, but you know it’s really just pot
  • At that one person’s house that you really can’t stand because he really is a racist asshole, but he’s got that sign so…you just nod at him glibly and hope he never actually becomes your physical neighbor
Okay, you’re probably thinking – “okay, yeah…but those are just the places that you’ve seen.”  And, you’re right. I haven’t seen everything and I’m not infallible. Originating from Harrisonburg, VA by Matthew Bucher, the pastor of Immanuel Mennonite Church, this sign was and is a response to the hate-filled rhetoric fueled in the 2016 and 2017 Primary Debates.

And yet, I wonder about the implications. Depending on where you live, posting a sign is easy. Living out the implications of the sign is harder.

In the Bible, Jesus consistently emphasizes the importance of loving ones neighbor, and as I thought about the ubiquity of hateful contemporary public rhetoric, I realized that I needed to revisit what it means to love my neighbor. 
As I struggle with racism and being the target of racist rhetoric, I find myself wondering: what does it mean to love my racist neighbor? 
As churches across denominations struggle to reconcile their interpretations of Christ with LGBTQIA, I find myself wondering: what does it mean to love those whose Christ excludes others?

In the wake of #metoo and #whataboutus, and the ubiquity of rape culture, I wonder what does it means to love persons whom are committed to systems that do not and/or are unwilling to address systems and institutions which victimize and sexualize others? 
Part of my practice in the past month, is learning to address others as my neighbor. For me, words are incredibly powerful and so changing the way in which I think about others fundamentally changes my behavior.

For example, I have found that it is much harder to curse out my neighbor than to curse out a stranger.

Rethinking how I engage with others also requires me to think a lot harder about what I hope to achieve from the situation. When I am centered, I find that my interactions with others remain healthier when I am able to check-in with myself first and allow myself to notice my own body and my own expectations.

  • Am I hoping to prove a point? 
  • Am I hoping to convince the other about the stupidity of his/her/it/their(s) opinion? 
  • Am I hoping to gain more understanding or more compassion? 
  • Am I hoping to listen?

When I allow myself to recenter and consider the other person as a neighbor, I also allow room for transformation to happen.

For me, this process requires intentional commitment towards leaning into relationship with others in respectful dialogue. However, this commitment does, for me, also come with precautions.

  1. Are we both committed towards respectful dialogue?
  2. Are we both safe? It is important to note that being safe is very different than merely being  uncomfortable. Additionally, it is important to note that safety and discomfort hold an implicit hierarchy often associated with racial and economic status(es). What 
  3. What are the supports and/or tools which we need in order to facilitate this conversation?
As a Christ-follower, I believe that Jesus fully equips us to have hard discussions with one another, and that as Christ-followers we can be more than conquerors: we can love our neighbor, we can eat with the stranger, we can clothe the naked, we can love the refugee, we can stand up for the oppressed. But, I wonder what happens when our “can’s” are limited to signs behind white-picket fences in “safe” suburbia. 
  • What if loving our neighbors means laying down our idol of safety?
  • What if loving our neighbors means declaring that no body is illegal?
  • What if loving our neighbors means having that hard conversation about race at a family function?
  • What if loving our neighbors means that Black Lives Matter?
  • What if loving our neighbors means that equity can only happen when those with more, go without so that those without have a little more?
  • What if loving our neighbors means believing sexual violence survivors?
  • What if loving our neighbors means that we stop using plastic?
  • What if loving our neighbors means that our churches are no longer physical locations but people?
  • What if loving our neighbors means losing our fear of death?
In the aftermath of the 2011 Alexandria bombing in Egypt, the BBC reported a story about Christians forming a human chain around a group of praying Muslims in order to protect them from the protest crowds. This story is one in which I don’t think that I will ever forget because it illustrates so well the action-oriented call to consistently love our neighbor. What if loving our neighbors means taking a risk and/or protecting those whom hold different religious views?
What if…fear and safety and mere signs are not our centers?
I want to be clear. This blog post is not hoping damn or point fingers at anyone who may have a sign. Loving and welcoming our neighbors is an integral piece of Christ’s call and it provides a wonderfully hopeful atmosphere. 
However, I hope that this post does perhaps nudge forward a response for us to think further than our sign posts. 
I have recently been attending a church who is exploring the theme: “Things I Wish Jesus Would Have Said.” When I think about loving our neighbors, I think that Jesus not only said a lot but his actions aligned with his faith. Jesus said to love his neighbors so he healed the lepers and fed the hungry and talked with the prostitutes and went into the synagogues and spoke his perfect truth even when faced with death. 
I believe that loving our neighbors requires more than a tweet or a Facebook status or a sign or a blog post. 
I believe that loving our neighbors requires more than a rally or a protest or a moment. 
I believe that loving our neighbors requires more than that one time we talked about racism and it was hard and we had our feelings hurt. 
I believe that loving our neighbors requires more than our own strength. It requires consistent, intentional commitment to do that unconditional love thing, that gritty, leaning in relational thing, that Jesus-thing. 
As I move into love, I am continually amazed by how love continues to move into me. I have more and more capacity to love others. I have more and more capacity to stand centered even when it is hard. I have more and more capacity to hold space for grace in the midst of my own brokenness and imperfections. 
And yet. 
I also have more and more questions. Uncomfortable questions. Questions that you can slap a Sunday school answer onto, but still persist: 
  • What does it mean that Jesus was from the line and lineage of King David, a classic sexual predator and murderer, and that God not only used David, but God loved David fiercely. 
  • What does it mean that Esther is continually glorified when really Vashti was an empowered woman committed to not being sexually violated? 
  • What does it mean when the Church, specifically the Mennonite Church, has a contemporary and historic precedent of not listening or believing survivors?
  • What does it mean when the Church has a history of excluding and oppressing black and brown and LGBTQIA voices?
  • What does it mean when the Church becomes an echo room instead of a diverse body rooted in Christ?
  • What does it mean when safety becomes the Church’s first God?
  • What does it mean if we are called to love radically and transformationally all people? 
  • What would it mean if our signs read: No Matter if you are Conservative or Liberal, we are glad you are our neighbor. 
For me, following the call of Christ requires actions. My mom would tell you this is because I am an action-oriented person and it aligns with my Enneagram. She would probably also notice that each person has been blessed with many different gifts, and not each person will “act” in the same way. 
This is true. (But, my mom isn’t writing this, so you’re just going to get my opinion). 
For me, following Christ means naming and stopping hate speech. Naming and noticing lies. Using my body to gently and nonviolently resist all forms of oppression. Using my voice to speak for those who may not be able to. Using my ears to listen more deeply to those whom are marginalized and using my hands in compassionate and life-giving ways. And, guess what? Asking uncomfortable questions and (hopefully) having enough grace to hear alternate views and corrections. 
What does loving your neighbor look like to you? What, if you are comfortable, questions are you wrestling with? And, if you have a sign – what does it mean to you?
Shalom,
B

#dearwhitepeople #charlottesville #thisisreallyus

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I’m a fixer. A type-A perfectionist that likes to keep her shit together. When I do vulnerable – I want to do it on my terms. When I do angry – I want to do it on my terms. 

When I do whatevertheeffhappenedthisweekend…I want to eff it. I feel the tension inside of me that wants to polarize and alienate and condemn. That tension, for me, the noticing of it, the ability to name that when I am at my weakest, I want to turn inward is the part that sustains me because I know that by noticing where I could go when I am in weak reinforces my desire to lean into community instead. I know that at my core, my center needs  transformative, holistic, diverse, shalom community. 

But this weekend wasn’t on my terms and it wasn’t shalom-oriented.

 It was finally a WTF moment for white America. And, I use the word “finally” intentionally because I think it is incredibly important for us to look at how and why this happened. This weekend wasn’t surprising. Black and other persons of color have been talking about racism, the alt right, the KKK, the system…. for years.

And, (***controversial thought***) I would argue that this weekend wasn’t just because of Trump and his continued inability to denounce the symptoms of systemic racism. 

It is important to note that this wasn’t something that just came out of nowhere. And it wasn’t ever about the statues. The statues are a symptom of a much deeper problem. 

Remember: The American system was founded on the bones of brown nations.

There has always been blood (or lead) in the water. And, it was planned that way. 

So yeah, this is really us, and I wonder at all the goodwell-intentioned white persons that use the hashtag #thisisnotus, or #thisisnotamerica because who are they protecting? Who continues to hold the risk if we all are unable to sit in the really big shitfest that is us?

Let me be clear:

Pretending it away only protects the system.

Pretending it away only protects those that can keep pretending.

The ability to pretend it away is a function of privilege.

So Charlottesville. You want to fix this. You are asking – what can I do? You’re that one at home reading and re-reading that quote “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Maybe you’re that one still in bed with the mound of tissues and that pile of really expensive chocolate you’ve been saving. Maybe your numb, you’re at work, you’re tired, you’re exhausted. Maybe you’re angry.

There isn’t a self-help book to get you through this. 

There are just other people.

 Other real people.

 Lean into them. 

Share your tissues and your chocolates.

 Ask questions. 

Educate yourself. 

Don’t expect people of color to lead you right now.

Too often the white community relies on Black America to lead them through the (fill in the blank) moment.

Breathe and fight back (and, as a mennonite peacebuilder, I am advocating for nonviolence). 

Reach deep into that righteous anger and find your strength.

Don’t just rely on Google to tell you where to donate…what books to read…what podcasts to listen to. While these things are important (and I will share some of these resources with you, don’t stop there) Remember that where we are now comes from years of a system protecting some yet always polarizing us from each other. And, it was designed that way.

If you have zero friends of color, this isn’t the time to try to be their best friend. This is also definitely not the time to try to quiet people with those cute sayings of “oh…you are not really black/brown…whatever.” (Whole other rant on why that is NEVER appropriate). So yeah, this isn’t the time to ask them what you can do. This isn’t the time to go to that black church and be the good, white person. 

Instead – show up and interrupt white spaces. Talk to that friend, that cousin, your parents. Use your body by entering into spaces that you haven’t before…

Talk to other white people. Talk to your friends. Your community. Take a good look around the spaces and places in which you frequent. Look at your bookshelf. At your movies. At the places you get your news. What are the ramifications if these spaces/places/things are all or mostly-all white?

(In addition to the usual news sites, -and yes, I do check ALL newsites including Fox…whole other discussion on why it is important to know how things are being reported on all “sides”…in short, I want to lean into relationship with those I disagree with, and it is hard and trying, but I think critical…anyways, I usually check these out daily: aljazeera.com, theroot.com, poetsreadingthenews.com and medium.com). 

Learn to interrupt hate. Part of this practice requires internal as well as external interruption. Knowing how to pay attention requires learning how to pay attention. For many white people there is a need to be innocent – to distance themselves between “those racists white people” and distinguish themselves as “good white people.” Lean into that tension. Interrupting hate also interrupts our own patterns of how we interpret and understand truth. If those we seek “truth” from are primarily of one race and that race benefits from a system that was designed to benefit them over others…what are the ramifications? What does that mean for those who wish to be change agents?

Get involved. Maybe you don’t know anyone of color. Maybe you’ve never even met someone of color. Maybe the first time you really thought America had a race problem was when Trump became elected. Maybe you still don’t know what is wrong but you know something is. Get involved by becoming more educated.

On the national scale, there are a plethora of racial justice groups. Here are just a few (and, you’ll notice my answer is particularly tailored towards those in Central PA).

Showing Up for Racial Justice(SURJ) offers resources to engage, mobilize and educate white persons on racial injustice. There are platforms in both central PA and the Harrisburg Area.https://www.facebook.com/centralpasurj/

Dr. Amanda Kemp leads workshops and seminars in which she advocates for racial justice and healing, by empowering cross-cultural dialogue on the issues. I’ve been profoundly impacted by a mentoring workshop she provides online and would definitely recommend each and every one of you, particularly those of you who are maybe not quite “beginners” to RJ and who want to develop your own RJ spiritual formation. https://www.dramandakemp.com/

YWCA – Racial Justice Institute 
https://ywcalancaster.org/calendar/anti-racism-analysis-workshop/

Crispus Attucks Community Centerstrives to improve the quality of life for youth and families in Lancaster by providing services that promote community prosperity, physical and mental health, and by offering programs and cultural events which preserve the African American heritage. http://www.cacc – lancaster.org

Listen & Lean In via multiple mediums. Listen to other white people. Listen to people of color. Listen in different ways. Try some poems. Below are a few of my favorite listening apparatus’ (and yes, I’m an NPR fan).  

Podcasts:

Our National Conversation about Conversations about Race – aka: Show about Race. Love this show even though it has been discontinued. Features Baratunde Thurston, author of How to be Black,Tanner Colby, author of Some of My Best Friends are Black, and Raquel Cepeda, filmmaker, journalist and author of Bird of Paradise.https://www.showaboutrace.com/ 

It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders
http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510317/its-been-a-minute-with-sam-sanders 

Code Switch: Race and Identity Remixedhttp://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/

Hidden Brain. Okay. You caught me. So, this particular podcast isn’t entirely about race, but I love how it talks about why we think the way we do…and that has racial implications.http://www.npr.org/series/423302056/hidden-brain

Books (There are so, so many to read. Here are a few off the top of my head – you will note that most of these are Black Literature, but don’t limit your scope. Stay committed, engaged and intentional. The scope of racial injustices is massive. Remember to engage in your own self-care):

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas(YA Novel – Black Lives Matter)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

The Souls of White Folk – W.E.B. Dubois (HS/College Level).

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf – Ntozake Shange(HS/College Level.)

The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros (reads like a novel)

Brown Girl Dreaming – JaquelineWoodson (YA Novel)

“Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” – Beverly Tatum

Young, Gifted and Black – Theresa Perry

Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison(YA/Adult Novel)

This Bridge Called My Back – Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

MusicI feel particularly spiritually connected when I listen to music. Below are a few of my favorites…old and new. Feel free to listen to them…or not. You know what kind of music you turn to for healing and for sustenance.

Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson
Imagine – John Lennon
Lean on Me – Bill Withers
I Am Light – India Arie
‘Til No One is Free – The Steel Wheels
Draw Me Nearer – Meredith Andrews
You Can Do Anything – Forever Jones
Think – Aretha Franklin
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
People Get Ready – The Impressions
I Wish I Knew How it Felt to be Free – Nina Simone
A Change is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

Remember to practice self-care. In an earlier blogpost, I shared a few of the things that sustain me. You can check it out here. Christena Cleveland, social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor also offers some profound and moving practices here.

Of course, I am just one voice. And, I come with my own unique background. Dig into others. Find people to hold you accountable. Lean into community. Ask hard questions…to yourself and to others.

Show up for the journey and for the process. Stay intentional and committed. 

Peace to you. Peace and discomfort and outrage and bodies willing to interrupt hate, voices willing to speak out and hearts willing to risk more than what you risked before.