Why We Talk about Race, Every day

Cara Meredith is a new friend, and I am just so glad she said yes to a guest post here today. She’s living and writing about things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately – namely race in America and how to love our neighbors better, especially those who look or live differently than we do. I appreciate her fresh, honest voice so much, and am really excited to see where God leads her next.

 

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Post by Cara Meredith

Sometimes I take for granted where we live.

I take for granted that talking about race is a part of our everyday existence, the salt and pepper of our dinner table conversations. I take for granted that my neighbors – who are black and white, Latino and Asian, lesbian and gay and straight – occupy the same space we do and aren’t afraid to talk about what others sometimes feel is the elephant in the room.

As I type these words, though, I realize this isn’t always the case. It’s not this way in many parts of America, including where I grew up, and it may not be the case where you live, too.

But I don’t think it has to be this way.

In the mostly white, suburban town I was raised in, we celebrated diversity when our teachers made us attend the once a year, all school assembly. We didn’t think about what might be like to be different, just as we didn’t think issues of race had anything to do with us.

So we just avoided the topic altogether. Talking about race was impolite and uncomfortable. It wasn’t what we were supposed to be doing or saying.

But by not talking about race, we denied some children their very identities, the individual parts that made them who they were.

We denied them their stories.

“In the end,” Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

His words haunt me. How many times have I kept silent, because I didn’t know what question I should ask, because I felt talking about a certain subject made me uncomfortable?

I guess you could say I’m on a learning journey now.

After teaching high school English for four years, I worked in a diverse environment, as a youth ministry director. As I got to know these teenagers, I learned that denying a student their ethnic culture was to deny their very being. Asking questions became my mission: Who are you? Who’s your family? What makes you so gloriously spectacular, so uniquely you?

 While none of the questions implicitly asked about race, I found that race was almost always in the answers. And the more stories I heard, the more I wanted to know and hear and engage with the world around me.

By the time I met my husband – whose skin happens to be a beautiful shade of chocolate brown – I knew that I’d never be able to avoid the topic of race again.

We knew when children came along someday that they’d experience a whole new understanding of color, solely because of their mixed-raced identities. We also knew they’d come to understand race differently because of how their grandfather broke down barriers for all Americans during the Civil Rights Movement. But mostly, we knew they’d simply be loved for who they were. And isn’t that the hope of every parent, everywhere?

As for my family, we’ll continue to talk about race around the dinner table. But then we’ll stop. And pause. And thank the good Lord for who he’s created us to be on the inside.

And we’ll give thanks for every part of our story.

Cara MeredithCara Meredith is a writer and speaker from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and co-host of Shalom in the City’s monthly book club podcast. She’s also currently writing her first book about her journey into learning to see color. She holds a Masters of Theology (Fuller Seminary), and can be found on her blog, Facebook and Twitter. She and her husband, James, try to dance nightly and live life to the fullest with their two young sons.

What Your Hard Feelings Tell You about God’s Truth

Kaylee Page is a new Internet friend — someone who reached out recently to connect, and I’m so glad she did. She writes real, raw stories about loss, disappointment and navigating everyday faith, and I so appreciate her authenticity and honesty. Be sure to stop by to visit Kaylee at her blog, www.kayleepage.com.

 

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Written by Kaylee Page

He’s driving me crazy! My friend’s voice proclaimed over the phone as I pulled into a parking lot and brought the car to park right outside the front of a 7-Eleven.

I listened to my friend explain how her first-born little girl had been so easy because she would just play by herself, but her second born was a little bit needy and would just haaaaaang on her.

My first reaction was to laugh because I knew the feeling all too well.

It’s our basic human desire to have two things, I said to my friend — to be intricately connected BUT ALSO, completely and totally free.  I think, in some weird way, the fact that you get annoyed when he is climbing all over you is simply a truth that God made your body one hundred percent whole without another little being. Your little guy wants connection. You being annoyed is just one truth. The other truth is that you do love him and you do want connection. There are two truths sitting together in the same room. So maybe you just say: I see your annoyance. Thank you for telling me I DON’T NEED another human being to complete me. Thank you for that truth – now please go take a seat somewhere else while I lean in and hug and enjoy this little moment of physical touch with my son.

Kaylee, you always wear your heart on your sleeve, a high school teacher once told me when I was disappointed I didn’t make the cut for an upcoming competition. I felt embarrassed and ashamed of my heart as soon as she said the words. It was then I assumed feelings were something to hide and my heart was not to be shared with anyone.

And so, years later when I heard someone say, I’m trying to live a life led by faith and not feelings it sounded noble. Like maybe that was the “right way to live.” I felt a deeper nudge to hide even further; convinced that to honor God was to hide my voice and how I felt – to just follow the rules and do what I was told.

I believed feelings were a sign of weakness.

But slowly, God has invited me to see feelings differently.  The past few years my counselor, Doc, would always ask how I felt about whatever it was we were talking about, and he always used those feelings to help me better understand who I was and what I was wanting and desiring in my relationships.

Thing is, I was never scared of the happy feelings.

I was petrified of the not-so-happy feelings.

Feelings like grief, anger, fear, annoyance – they all were feelings I tried to push aside. I was convinced Christians were always supposed to be happy, always thankful even in the losing, never angry and never annoyed.

But grief  tells us we lost something that meant something to us.

Fear tells us that something we have means a lot and we don’t want to lose it.

Anger tells us we got hurt and the reason we feel hurt is because we value ourselves.

I started to see the feelings I had run from for so many years were actually a gift; that God gives us the not-so-happy feelings to reveal deeper truths.

What would happen if we started honoring our feelings, listening to them and letting them inform and guide us? What if instead of running or hiding from them we used them as a tool to help us lean into our relationships with deeper understanding and connection?

Kaylee PageKaylee Page is author of the children’s book, Pursey’s FPIES Surprise. She is a featured blogger at the International FPIES Association (I-FPIES), where she also sits on the advisory board. She was a guest blogger at Plywood People, and her essay “Stillness in the Shadow” can be found in It’s a Good Thing Children Are a Treasure: They’ve Broken All My Other Ones. 

Post-graduation, Kaylee spent 10.5 months in AmeriCorps aiding those affected by natural disasters at the Red Cross Greater Carolinas Chapter. Upon returning to the midwest she worked as Project Manager for C2 Media Productions producing curriculums for Zondervan Publishing. She later joined the team at Pomegranate Studios working on projects such as ArtPrize and 5×5 Night. She’s currently Project Manager at Start Garden, helping to build the start-up ecosystem in the Midwest region.

Stop by to visit Kaylee at www.kayleepage.com.

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