Will the Church Ever be Free of White Supremacy? – Introduction Episode

Welcome to the H.U.E Podcast!

This is the introduction episode to the series: Will the Church Ever be Free of White Supremacy?

As your hosts (Ebony and Alyssa), in this episode we introduce ourselves, tell the story and purpose behind the series, and share quotes that bring us hope when we are weary or discouraged.

We believe the insight and wisdom of the series’ guests will encourage, equip, and challenge you to navigate the present, while inspiring you to look beyond white supremacy through the bold prayer: What Next?

Visit ebonyramquist.com to view the resources we discuss and listen to the Lyrical Lesson partnered with this episode.


How to Forgive & Be Forgiven

How to Forgive & Be Forgiven

My Fight with Forgiveness

This was an intimidating podcast episode to create. Before I even began podcasting I sent a survey out to friends asking what topics I should cover within the realm of faith, ethnicity, and culture. When one friend submitted the topic forgiveness I cringed. It’s an area I’ve had to grow in and it does not always come naturally, especially in situations regarding ethnicity and discrimination. In fact, it was only several months ago that I came to a crossroads with God about this topic. I knew in order to be used effectively to create change I could not be bitter or blindly defensive, but I could not get over the history of wrong. The centuries of oppression over multiple people groups that have left consequences in our nation still powerfully effective today. Then, and don’t remember how, I came across Corrie Ten Boom’s story.

Corrie Ten Boom was arrested by the Nazis when she and her family were caught hiding Jews in their home during the Holocaust. She was sent with her sister to the Ravensbruck concentration camp were her sister died days before Corrie was released. After Corrie’s release she set up a recovery home for concentration camp survivors and traveled widely preaching God’s forgiveness and the need for reconciliation. At one of her engagements where she spoke on forgiveness a man approached her who she immediately recognized as a guard at the camp where she was imprisoned. He did not recognize her. Below is the story of her encounter directly from Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography, The Hiding Place.

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent. …

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard in there.” No, he did not remember me.

“But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, …” his hand came out, … “will you forgive me?”

And I stood there — I whose sins had every day to be forgiven — and could not. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” …

And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion — I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand, I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!”

For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then.

Reprinted with permission from Guideposts. Copyright © 1972 by Guideposts, Carmel, New York 10512. All rights reserved. (www.guideposts.com)


I barely got through the story without breaking down because I knew after weeks of anguished prayer over the issue of forgiveness this was God’s answer. I had no excuse. Somehow the fact God requires us to forgive, or that we are not forgiven unless we forgive others did not move me enough to act. Maybe because I heard the story multiple times and became numb to its impact. It was not until I saw an example of a person who had every right to rage and hold on to the injustice they experienced did I understand the power and significance of forgiveness.


Forgiveness is a Mandate

Since Children’s Church or Sunday School the necessity of forgiveness is taught. Before we may fully understand why, we know it is important to forgive our siblings or friends. So, if like me you have struggled with forgiveness then let me provide a brief refresher. First is the biblical definition of forgiveness, which incorporates several elements. Though it is multi-faceted each element is clear and concise providing a necessary foundation in a discussion on how to forgive and be forgiven.

  1. Left (leave alone), immediately, completely and abundantly; Let go of (Matt. 3:15, 4:11, 20, 22,5:24,40; Mark 7:8; Luke 13:8)
  2. Canceled, removed from, Sins are covered (Matt. 18:17, 32; Mark 2:5; Rom. 4:7)
  3. An essential requirement/command (Matt. 6:14-15,18:23-35)
  4. Dealing with sin and slander (Matt. 12:31)
  5. Always, consistent, unlimited, merciful (Matt. 18:21-22,23-35)
  6. Connected to or influenced by our faith (Luke 5:20)
  7. Inspires love (Luke 7:47)
  8. Benefactor commanded to repent, told to confess (Act 8:22; 1 John 1:9)

The following points on forgiveness are taken from the sermon entitled “Giving Grace” by Dr. Peter Vogt of LifePoint Church. Material from the sermon is used with permission, a link to Dr. Vogt’s sermon page will be provided on my website[1].

The first thing we need to note is that we are not discussing forgiveness in the context of someone entering into relationship with the Lord. This discussion of forgiveness does not encompass the act of someone turning from their sin and committing their life to Jesus. This is important because we need to note that our forgiveness — our salvation – is NOT based on whether we have or will forgive someone else. Our forgiveness from God is based on grace. We can’t earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving someone else. Our forgiveness comes from Christ, and is received on the basis of turning to him in faith. In the context I am speaking to forgiveness is part of living out relationship with each other. This discussion is primarily focused on the horizontal requirement of our faith.

The very definition of forgiveness implies that a wrong has been done and needs to be made right. Ultimately, God is the victim of our sins or disobedience. Disobedience is saying that we know better than God whether it be in how to treat others, what to do or not do in a given situation, and even in how we treat ourselves. This is an assault on the status of the all-knowing, omnipotent God. When we enter into relationship with Jesus, we ask for and receive forgiveness for these things. God himself not only forgives but maintains justice by paying the penalty for us. In light of that, Jesus expects that forgiveness be the mark of his followers. If we are unwilling to forgive, we are suggesting that our status as victims is even stronger than God’s. We are suggesting that we are more deserving of justice than even God is.

But the same standard used to forgive others will be used on us since we are sinners who have been forgiven much (Rom. 3:23). An example of the hypocrisy of unforgiveness is given in the parable of the servant who did not forgive the debt of his colleague after he was pardoned for a significantly larger debt (Matthew 18:21-35). When it comes to the sins of others we demand justice, when it comes to our own sins we expect grace. But we can’t have it both ways. If we believe we need forgiveness and have received it by accepting Jesus then forgiveness is the mandate we follow in our desire to obey and be like the Christ and for our personal freedom.

Because we can’t forget that forgiveness frees us. When we refuse to forgive, we spend a LOT of time thinking about the person or people who wronged us. We replay their wrong actions over and over again. We end up spending a lot of time stuck in a particular moment or period of time. Forgiveness allows us to move forward. We are set free from the situation and the person or people who have wronged us. And we show that we are trusting in God to deal with the people and situation properly. Contrary to how it is sometimes understood, forgiveness is NOT saying that whatever offense has been done to us is ok. When God forgives our actions that seek to dethrone him in our lives, he isn’t saying that our actions are ok. They are wrong. Forgiveness is letting go of our desires for revenge, Instead, forgiving a person means trusting that God will deal with that person and their actions. We give up our “right” to tell God how that person and situation should be dealt with.

Forgiveness is not Magic

We should also note that forgiveness does not mean that there will or should be no consequences for wrong behavior. Even if a murderer sincerely apologizes for their action, they will face a consequence. While forgiveness means that we are letting go of our anger and desires for revenge there are consequences that come from our actions. Trust that has been lost can’t be regained simply by forgiving someone. If you have been forgiven for something, there may still be consequences for your behavior. For instance, a person who is abused by their spouse may forgive them, but they will also establish a boundary for safety until or if their spouse stops the abusive behavior. When someone creates a boundary between themselves and the person or entity that broke trust, that doesn’t show a lack of forgiveness; it simply demonstrates that there are natural consequences for negative behavior.

When a person who has experienced prejudice and/or discrimination in a church context is told that they should stay in the context to help those who are sincerely naïve change, is that a biblical mandate? Does it require any responsibility or effort from the offender to regain their trust? Or is it reasonable and safe for someone to put themselves in a healthier environment while they continue to grow in their faith? Surely if they choose to stay and help others learn and change it is gracious and sacrificial of them, but not an obligation they owe their offenders (those who have wronged them), or a directive from God (unless God told them to do so).

Often, I hear the perspective that those who have experienced prejudice or discrimination should forgive rather than perpetuate disunity. But only half of this statement is accurate. What I don’t hear advocated as passionately or effectively is the desire or will to own or take responsibility for the consequences of prejudice and discrimination. This is where the Christian camaraderie breaks down and the political debates begin. Should someone take responsibility for the consequences of an offense if their intentions were sincere, or if they were naïve of their actions, or if they’re a small gear in a larger machine that is causing the problem? And what percentage of the consequence should they own? It is interesting that when we ask or implore someone to forgive we want them to do so without reservation, covering all aspects that need to be reconciled. But when we are asked to take responsibility for an offense we set criteria to determine how much, if any, responsibility we should take. Again, “when it comes to the sins of others we demand justice, when it comes to our own sins we expect grace[2].”

The command to forgive is clear. There is no choice. We must forgive.

Where do you stand? Before you remind others to forgive have you done so yourself – completely? And if you are in the position of needing forgiveness are you willing to accept the natural consequences of your actions despite the time, commitment, and sacrifice it may entail?

[1] https://lifepointmn.org/media/

[2] Dr. Peter Vogt, LifePoint Church – https://lifepointmn.org/media/



6 Ways Any Parent or Child can Stop Racism

6 Ways Any Parent or Child can Stop Racism

Have you heard about the Black Panther movie? Black Panther is an upcoming Marvel Comic release that I am excited to see. As I researched the movie I learned about a Go Fund Me campaign that was started to give underprivileged and underserved children in Harlem an opportunity to see the movie. The campaign was started by Frederick Joseph with a goal of raising $10,000 which would go toward purchasing tickets and refreshments for the children and their chaperones. Any donations exceeding the cost would be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. Within 10 days the campaign had tripled its original goal with more than 700 people donating[1]. Frederick Joseph said his intent in starting this campaign was to give young people an opportunity to see themselves in a story, and in particular a story that Clarkisha Kent of TheRoot.com writes, “remains socially and culturally relevant because it imagines a world where black people continually triumph over the influences of capitalism, Western imperialism and white supremacy[2].” To this date, Frederick Joseph’s campaign has raised $43,367. The latest update shared that through the generosity of Ellen DeGeneres and her team paying for the entire event, all donations would be given to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem where a new program will be created that teaches children to critically consume content and create their own stories. The new program will be called the BGC Harlem Storytellers.[3]

So how does this relate to redeeming the race narrative?

I would respond to that question with this question: have you ever wondered why prejudice, discrimination, and the ethnic divides in our society still exist? Studies as recent as 2017 show that millennials, the generation applauded as being “aware” and different than those that went before them, are actually divided on the same ethnic, discrimination, justice and opportunity issues as their parents and other generations before them. When categorized as African-American, Latino, Asian and white these groups showed the same divisions and preferences as polls taken in the past. This reality shows that unity cannot be accomplished via a trend. It can never be popular enough where one generation automatically falls into it. Change does not happen without intentionality.

We wouldn’t assume our children will have a strong foundation of belief in God by chance. There is a reason we follow Proverbs 22:6 in training up our children in the way they should go (The Bible, NASB Translation). There is a reason God said to the Israelites “fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19, The Bible, NIV Translation). It is clear that consistent intentionality in teaching children the “way they should go” is essential in building up their identity in Christ. We teach our children who God is so they can know who they are. But sometimes we focus so much on the fact that we are not of the world, that their identity is in Christ, that we forget we are still in the world. The societal issues of this age influence and impact us.

Creating change via children is no small effort or impact, especially when we realize that prejudice is not a biological tendency – it is learned[4]. A research study published in Psychology Today shared that a child’s awareness of race and racial identity is present as early as three years of age[5]. By the tender ages of 3-4 children can already show preferences toward one particular race. The rationale that a child is color blind and will have no bias in choosing friends or in how they treat others perceived as different from themselves is false.[6] Children’s biases occur as a child notices differences in others and recognizes that these differences determine how people are treated. This suggests that children also notice these differences determine how their loved ones (parents, siblings, grandparents, etc.) respond to others; whether it be with nervousness, discomfort, confidence, ease, or even forced comfortability. A child observes difference, creates value judgements, and acts on the judgements they make.

A researcher named Banaji in a study published by the Boston Globe states, “the odds of aging children losing or at the very least lessening their bias against out-group people are only increased… when responsible adults in their lives consciously place their children in a position to see different groups interacting as equals[7]”. “As equals” is a significant element to stress. Often when we bring children to different contexts they see one group of people helping another, or one group that is not in a position to do as much as another. Though it is good to show our children the importance of giving, helping, and kindness, if they only see a particular group in a certain context it is natural for them to believe all people of that group are part of that context. “It is not the fault of the children, Banaji states, that they grow up to see a majority of power and influence concentrated among one race [group]. So if we don’t act in their lives, as they age, to show context to that imbalance, they may continue to believe that one group is better or worse than the other, based on nothing more than color, features, or expressions”[8]. This explains so much of the perpetual division we see between people groups. How are generations able to change their engagement with one another if the preceding generation simply cannot give them the tools to do so? You cannot give what you do not have. If it is difficult or intimidating to speak with others different from you about socio-ethnic issues, let alone maintain healthy, close, equal friendships, how can your child be expected to develop this skill?

It is also important to equip children to deal with prejudice and discrimination. Children are most equipped when they have language and examples to directly address it. The most deconstructive instruction can be to “just ignore it” – ignoring can translate into powerlessness. It is necessary for parents and role models to show examples of how to directly address issues of prejudice and discrimination. It is also significant, per the Black Panther movie campaign example, to surround children with a fair representation of different people. I recognize this is not possible for everyone based on geographic location, etc. But that leads to my next point, you can find examples of role models and achievers who look like your children in the age of the internet. The ultimate question is: are we engaging our children at their appropriate age level regarding general differences and even specific socio-ethnic controversies? Here are some questions that serve as a basic litmus test for discerning our children’s (and our own) depth of understanding on differences and the ability to engage them:

  1. Do our children know that biological races do not exist?
  2. Do they see white as the standard or norm?
  3. Have they been exposed to different faces and cultures (including their own) through teaching tools such as children’s books or shows?
  4. Can they speak comfortably about people’s differences, and their differences from other people, without attempting to downplay or belittle them?
  5. Do they see consistent examples of leaders and world-changers who do and do not look like them?
  6. Most importantly, do they see parents and/or mentors set a positive example by having meaningful, equal interactions with people who are different from them?

We teach our children the Bible, show them examples of living the Christian faith, and surround them with a community of believers (even if that is not all of who they interact with). We do this because we recognize if they do not see models of faith in Christ it will be harder if not impossible for them to walk out their faith in Christ, especially when it is challenged. Why would we not give the same intentionality to teach our children to walk not in uniformity but in unity?

Do you have insights, recommendations, agree or disagree with this podcast? Go to my website: ebonyramquist.com to leave comments and check out the lyrical lessons and additional resources I have provided for you on this topic.

Grace, Peace and Mercy brothers and sisters.


[1] http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/10/entertainment/iyw-black-panther-gofundme-trnd/index.html

[2] https://www.theroot.com/wakanda-forever-on-the-importance-of-black-panther-1820459283

[3] https://www.gofundme.com/help-children-see-black-panther

[4] Boston Globe, Racism Learned, James H. Burnett III, June 10th 2012

[5] Bailey-Fakhoury, Chasity. Navigating, Negotiating, and Advocating: Black Mothers, their Young Daughters, and -White Schools. Michigan Family Review, Volume 18, Issue 1, 2014, pp. 57-79


[6] Psychology Today,” Are Kids Racist?”, Kristina R. Olson, Ph.D., April 2013

[7] Boston Globe, Racism Learned, James H. Burnett III, June 10th 2012

[8] Boston Globe, Racism Learned, James H. Burnett III, June 10th 2012


Hope… A 4 Letter Word

H.U.E PodcastRedeeming the Race Narrative

Heal. Unite. Engage. – Cultivating transformative unity in our homes, circles of influence and churches through informed, Christ-centered, cross-cultural perspectives and actionable faith.


H-O-P-E… A 4 Letter Word

HOPE is a four-letter word. It’s risqué and can be spoken with derision or disgust. The difference is that the definition of HOPE is not crude. Webster’s dictionary defines HOPE as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  If you study the biblical definition of HOPE the meaning is even more dynamic. There are two parts to the definition:


  1. The essence or very nature of a promise (Acts 26:6); An act/action (Acts 26:7); Requires belief in potential or promise (Romans 4:18); Expectancy (Acts 28:20); Produced by character (Romans 5:4); Deliverance (Romans 8:20)
  2. Reliant/based on God (Acts 24:15), Does not disappoint because of the love of God in our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5); Wait for it through the Spirit, by faith (Galatians 5:5)



If HOPE is defined by these two parts then why do we ever develop a love/hate relationship with the word? When I heard about the latest police shooting of an African – American, particularly Philando Castile, I was done with hope. I was bitter. I was finished with the Church and all her good intentions – especially with my white brothers and sisters.


You see, when all the events around race had been tearing our nation apart I saw an overwhelming number of responses from BIPOC friends. But in contrast, the vast majority of white friends on my Facebook feed or in personal conversations were painfully quiet, it was like the absence of even white noise – just still.


I raged to God and asked, “What’s the point of starting a podcast”? What’s the point of meaningful, constructive conversations when sincere Christians I know, respect, admire, and love are so oblivious or disengaged? The level of disengagement made me question my conviction, what I saw with my own eyes. I thought well maybe things aren’t that bad, or maybe it isn’t wrong, or maybe it isn’t injustice, because if it was injustice surely my friends would say something. I was beyond weary of Christian clichés to address or more accurately dismiss the issues and their impact. Scriptures that were given to comfort felt more like placation. The theology of: “focus on God, it’s ok, it will get better, don’t be mired down by what’s not good, you should always be up and encouraged in the Lord” was disheartening.


Maybe you’re coming from a different perspective, where the police shootings, BLM protests, the KKK Charlottesville rally and other issues have come as a shock in their existence and intensity. You had no idea things were so bad and now it seems they can only get worse. Your HOPE has been blindsided.


Or maybe you’re the turtle in the shell. Regardless of how these events have impacted you or loved ones you simply can’t engage on any level. There’s no time, energy, or emotion that you have to give, so your HOPE is more of a wish than a belief.


Why Does Faith Matter?

But we are called to HOPE. Not because it is good, or the right thing to do, or even a practical way to live peaceably as a society. We are called to HOPE because we know God. HOPE is contingent on the power and love of God. I know it sounds like another cliché when I say it like that, but here’s why I think HOPE that depends on God makes a difference. Here’s how I answer the question: why does faith matter?


There is nothing significant about addressing the concept of reconciliation, the reality of white supremacy, and the practice of discrimination through the Christian world lens. The Christian is no different from a person who wants to do good, encourage others to do the right thing, and create change – outside of God. In fact, you could argue that more impactful, practical solutions are offered by non-faith based initiatives through regulations, policies, and laws than through the prayers of good intention that are offered by many Christians. This doesn’t mean that I don’t understand, believe, and know the power of prayer, but those “good intention prayers” ironically (given the power of prayer) are rarely coupled with effective action.


At the same time, all of the policies, regulations and laws are not inherently sustainable. They don’t change hearts. They can be reversed. You can look at society and our nation’s laws today and see that. There is no magic bullet in mentoring inner-city youth, or supporting organizations that are fighting systemic poverty, or even in engaging and listening to different perspectives. None of those actions will make us stop holding on to advantages and privileges we are and are not aware of. There is no three-step process that will allow us to completely forgive and trust others, whether they have asked for it or not. There is no salve placed on our eyes that will immediately reveal all of the connotations and complexities that are a part of another person’s experience so we’re inspired to sacrifice our rights and comfort for theirs.

This is why faith is critical. Because we as believers have THE resource to create transformative, sustainable unity – HOPE based on God and in God. As the church we have the calling and capacity to lead not because we know the gospel or even because we’ve responded with affirmation to it. We have the calling and capacity to lead because we’ve given God full permission to shake us to our very core and give substance, evidence, and accountability to our beliefs so we can live like Jesus. Our HOPE for that transformation is reliant on God so we can trust that it will actually happen.


What Next?

Instead of catching up with whatever initiative and policy society creates to address the ethnic and historical divisions in our society and putting a Christian twist to it, I want to see the Church lead. To have the leaders and influencers of nations come to us and say, “How do you do it? How do you love and trust each other to the point of sacrifice?”


Let me give a real-life example of a situation that has recently given me HOPE. I have a friend who posted on Facebook regarding white evangelicalism and some of the discussions that have been going on recently from leaders within the Christian domain. She had several people from her church respond with interest, surprise, and sincere lack of knowledge about the topic. From these responses she felt led to invite those who were interested to her home for a conversation around the Facebook post, ethnic division, and how the lack of ethnic inclusion impacted their local church. Everyone invited had to be an attender or member invested in their local church and also had to read material before they came. She did not want to be in the position of a lecturer or educator. She also wanted to be sure that those who were coming to discuss solutions and their impacts were coming with a base of knowledge needed to discuss creatively, effectively, and sincerely.


She asked me to come as a source of support and I was very excited and honored to do so. I did not know what to expect. Honestly, I would not have been surprised if it was just a small gathering of like-minded church members. However I was amazed at the turnout, those who responded to the post not only came but brought friends. I was also amazed by the preparation of each woman that was there, each had not only taken time to read the required resources but processed through them as well. What came from this meeting was a discussion that provided a variety of views, sincere questions, a sharing of different experiences, and challenges of certain perceptions. It was an opportunity to dialogue respectfully and sincerely. Following the meeting my friend proposed drafting a letter to the leadership of their local church body to inform them of the solutions that had been discussed and resources available to implement the solutions.


But as I walked away I thought, “Why am I feeling disappointed?” I quickly realized it was because there was nothing spectacular about the meeting. We didn’t walk away with this one-time, fix-it-all solution that was going to rock the foundation of the Church. There was nothing epic, there was nothing easy, and there were definitely moments of awkward silence. The overall lesson I walked away with is that the process of hoping and thereby acting for change is not sexy – it’s not flashy, it’s not enticing. But when we are called to HOPE because of the God we serve there is no excuse or another option.


Who’s With Me?

What is your role? What is your next step as a pastor, a business owner, or like my friend in the above example, as a predominantly stay-at-home mom who is 37 weeks pregnant?


Who’s with me?  Not doing anything scares me almost more than change never happening. We don’t have all of the answers, but to look back on this point of history and have done nothing? Have contributed little?


That will not be said of me. And may it not be said of you.


Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Sharif El-Gamal was slammed when his proposal to build a mosque near the grounds of the 9/11 attack were publicized. Passionate protests were held in the streets of New York with advocates from both sides declaring why they did or did not support the construction of what was to be a 15 story, $100-million-dollar mosque[1]. A firefighter who responded during the 9/11 attacks filed a lawsuit against Sharif and his backers, stating that the building of a mosque near Ground Zero would impede his ability to commemorate[2]. Ultimately Sharif won the lawsuit, however the mosque he envisioned was never built.

At face value, the responses were extreme in their attacks against the establishment of a religious institution. But in order to understand the passionate reactions of people on the street, you need to know the historical and emotional context of 9/11. In our current, tension-filled and racialized society this truth also applies. When I read through Facebook quotes regarding police brutality, the most common sentiment I hear questions the validity of seeing these cases as systemic problems, accusing that approach of simply being an excuse to deny or gloss over the individual facts of a case. This begins a cyclical debate of accusations, where both sides ridicule each other’s awareness, sensitivity, and knowledge of “what is really going on”.

The problem is, both sides can be woefully unaware of why their debates exist in the first place. To be clear, the current non-majority people groups (i.e African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American) are not unaware of our nation’s white supremacy on an experiential basis, but all groups can be lacking the historical information that put us here in the first place. The issues of police misconduct and the sincere disconnect between both sides knowing and understanding one another’s experiences are not happenstance – they were intentionally created and developed through social and legal strategies for the exact results we have today.


It is easy to demonize another person or judge them from a safe distance. Are all white people really born pathological “racists” and ignorant of all other people but themselves? Are African-Americans really born pathologically violent and self-destructive? To be honest, if I didn’t know many white people, I would be tempted to think the previous judgment is true, based on what I’ve seen and heard. But I know too many African-Americans to believe the latter judgment, even if I know some people who practice those qualities.


Noticing the Past

It’s important to understand that in our nation’s history it was illegal in many states for whites and other groups of people to live by each other. Neighborhood contracts banned white residents from selling their homes to African-Americans, and cities created school and housing borders that told whites and other groups of people where they could and could not live[3]. You can guess which areas had significantly better living conditions.

And before we assume that these practices were restricted to southern states, we only have to look into the past of a northern state like Minnesota to learn that legal methods were not the only ones used to prevent people from living together.

Arthur Lee was a postal worker and World War 1 veteran who bought a home and moved in to the Linden Hills neighborhood in 1931. Protest over his family’s presence escalated until a mob of 4,000 white Minnesotans stood outside the home pelting it with rocks and threatening the police officers and friends who stood outside to defend the Lees in their home. Ultimately the Lees fought back and stayed for several more years, but not without experiencing several months of severe trauma.[4]


Why are We Here?

These basic laws and social practices that strategically blocked us from living together in the past, are the roots of disconnect and division that now block our ability to see or hear one another today. This is the definition of a systemic problem, a basic problem that has affected the whole of our perspectives and dialogues.

At this point, living next door to someone who does not look like us will not be enough to erase the decades (or centuries if we consider the full history) of misinformation, limited impressions, and stigmas that have been learned consciously and unconsciously. Our next step is to use just as much intentionality as the laws and social norms that shaped our divisions in the past, to learn the history or the “why” behind our current problems.

I believe many of us want the current deep divisions in our society to change, for everyone to sincerely and with complete equality “just get along”. But engaging the issues without knowing the history behind them causes us to talk in circles. If we believe the real issue is a problem that occurred recently or even in our lifetime then we are attacking a weed from the top down, grasping at what we see while leaving the root of the issue in the ground. This approach simply delays inevitable re-growth of the problem. Progress happens when we learn and act to change the root of the problem.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/nyregion/new-quiet-effort-for-big-islamic-center-near-ground-zero.html?_r=1

[2] http://abcnews.go.com/US/ground-mosque-wins-legal-battle-build/story?id=14062701

[3] http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/10/30/mpr_news_presents

[4] https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2011/07/victims-1931-racial-incident-be-honored-ceremony-s-minneapolis