A Worthwhile Journey

I am a White, heterosexual, Jesus-following, married, educated, 50-year-old woman born and raised in the predominantly White suburbs of Richmond, VA , which was once the capital of the Confederacy.  I now live in the predominantly African-American/Black inner city, just a 1/2 mile from the lowest income census tract in the Metro Richmond area. You probably wonder why I started off telling you all of that.  You see, not everyone who reads this knows me.  In all of the diversity training I have attended at work, we were encouraged to own your identity…to name it. “I’m speaking from a white woman’s point of view.”  So, I wanted YOU to know from where I speak.  And… I want to own my identity.

I have read a number of articles, watched the news, and have discussed the “Paula Deen situation” with friends of different races, backgrounds, cultural contexts, etc. One of the most interesting took place in my friend, Emmanuel’s barber shop – Edify 360, while E was cleaning Louis up.  Although this is a horrible and complex situation all around, we can’t stick our heads in the ground like an ostrich, but we should be intentionally engaging in loving dialogue with others about it….especially those different from us.

I’m not ‘going there’ with this post, but want to share this one piece, 7 Stages of White Identity, that I just read and want to pass along. Christena Cleveland states that her “passion is to help the body of Christ find the power of unity. Using social psychological insights, biblical principles and practical applications, I equip people – from head to heart to hands – to do the work of unity and reconciliation.” She has a blog that you can find at www.christenacleveland.com. This post was written by a guest author, Daniel Hill, Pastor of River City Community Church in Chicago.

7 Stages of White Identity is a MUST-READ for everyone. I know it’s long…a really long post…and has 7 Stages.  But, it is well worth the read.  And I will be reading it again…and again.  It’s a journey. A worthwhile journey, not an event. Oftentimes, it’s a painful journey.  I have learned so much about myself, about God and about others along the way….and I am still learning.  I haven’t arrived  – that’s for sure!  I didn’t end up living in and loving my neighbors in Southern Barton Heights, married to Louis, without first going intentionally embracing this journey.  I am grateful for many friends and experiences that have furthered me in my journey, especially for my dear friend and Pastor, Don Coleman, and his loving wife Florence. I met Don in my first year of moving to Southern Barton Heights, and things would have been much different without them in my life.

I really resonated with this post and see much of my story laid out in these 7 Stages.  As much as I wish I could have skipped over some of the stages, it’s not gonna happen – nor would I have wanted it to.  Stage 7 is a place I think I am entering… Empowered.  Take a read as the author talks about how Dr. John M Perkins (you know I’m a fan of his!!!) significantly impacted his life.

What Dr. Perkins said next became a beacon of hope for my life.  In response to her story, he talked about his own journey of understanding and embracing his racial-cultural identity.  He said it like this: “I am not Afro-centric, but I haven’t forgotten who I am.  I use my blackness to extend the Kingdom of God.  You need to live from who you are – you were created for a specific purpose. We must not err to ethnocentrism, but we must also not err to forgetting who we are.”

So – the question Daniel Hill goes on to ask is….

What does it mean to use my whiteness to extend the Kingdom of God?

This is where I do want to go…

If you are on this journey, where do you find yourself? What stage?

What does it mean for all of us to use our race to further the Kingdom of God? What does that even look like?

So, take a read, if you dare.  Be sure to read the comments, too. They were very informative and insightful as well!