Over the last two weeks, I’ve shared part of a conversation I had with eight different ladies who attend The Crossing and meet together weekly in a group devoted to pursuing racial reconciliation in the context of community. (If you didn’t have a chance to read the first and second parts, I’d recommend taking a look at it first before reading this week’s installment.) This week, I’ll share the third and final part of our interview that helps us to think about practical steps we can take in our own lives.
AnDrea: I would tell them to seize the moment, but before you join, be willing to ask yourselves some questions.
- Are you willing to listen and are you willing to share and not just what seems to be polite or what you think is expected to be said?
- Are you willing to put yourself out there, abandoning all pride in order to dig deep and think deeply with your brothers and sisters about a subject that’s really hard?
- Are you willing to be real, honest and vulnerable before God? You have to ask yourself, will I allow Him to sift me and prune me?
- Are you able to be there for those in your group, really be there, to be inconvenienced at times, so that others can share their load?
- Are you willing to be frustrated and challenged and pulled out of comfort zones?
- Are you willing to speak your heart even if others disagree, and stay there to work through those disagreements? Are you able to hear hard things without running away?
- Once you do join the group, you have to think about what you’re going to do with what you’re learning. Are you going to engage in conversations with others, even with complete strangers, in order to move the race conversation forward?
Intentionally seek out opportunities to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you’ve had honest conversations with people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds, there is a good chance that you’ve heard them mention experiences that are different from your own. Here are some practical ways to get a glimpse of their experience:
- Go to a place or an event where your culture, race, or ethnicity is not the main one represented in order to see what others might experience when they are the only person of their culture, race or ethnicity in the room.
- Consider attending a worship service or event at one of the black churches in town.
- Attend different festivals and events around the city of Columbia in order to expose yourself to new cultural experiences. For instance, go to India Night, an annual program that highlights classical Indian and Bollywood dance, instrumental music and folk songs.
- Ask a friend whose culture and background is different from yours if you can attend one of their family get-togethers. This is a great way to learn more about their culture, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to learn more about your friend.
- Invite a coworker or friend whose life looks different than yours over for dinner.
- Read one of the books recommended on Every Square Inch About Racial Reconciliation. If you are a parent, do the same with your children.
- Watch a documentary that tackles some of the issues surrounding race.
Remember, building relationships is a key component to building bridges.