An Island of Calm in The Storm

“Justice and Spirituality are not opposed to one another. They are parts of the whole and each strengthens the other.” Our monthly Conversation About Race will be wrapped into the worship service this morning. The Second Sunday Share Plate Collection that morning will go to NW Tap Connection Close The Gap Scholarship Fund.

Testimonial by Jenny Hall
I was raised in segregation. Now, I’m sure my Democratic parents didn’t consciously choose to live in neighborhoods without people of color. Of course not! They said that everyone is equal, that skin color doesn’t matter. But none of the neighborhoods we moved to in northern California and southern Arizona provided me with any playmates of a different race.
So when Robin diAngelo came to East Shore to give her workshop, “Seeing the Water,” and she asked how diverse my neighborhood was growing up, whether I’d ever had a teacher who didn’t look like me, and how race had shaped my life, I had to respond: Not diverse, all my teachers were white, and I really couldn’t say how race had affected me at all.
But this brought to mind a conversation I’d had in fifth grade with a student teacher whose name I’ve long ago forgotten. After a lesson about the civil war, I said I thought the solution to racism was for everyone to marry inter-racially and eventually we would all wind up the same color. She replied that she thought that would be sad, because we would lose the variety of cultures that make us interesting. Whether she was making a politically correct argument against mixed-race relationships, or she genuinely did appreciate and celebrate cultural differences doesn’t matter. The impact on me was the idea that those differences might be valuable.
And it started me on a journey of wanting to learn about those differences. I’ve progressed at a snail’s pace, to be sure. I majored in Anthropology in college, but I did not pursue it as a career. Most of my travel has been of the armchair variety, through books and movies. I’ve only recently sought out genuine relationships with people of color. Participating in the first cohort of Beloved Conversations was a real turning point in my spiritual growth. I began to see parts of myself and my life from very different angles.
I frequently muse on something else Robin diAngelo said in her workshop: as a white person, I could live my entire life in segregation, and no one would suggest that I’ve missed out on anything.
I beg to differ.