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My sweet neighbor and friend, Lila, died from complications from lung cancer this week. She was in her late seventies. She read this blog, encouraged me, and told me stories about her life and her grandchildren. She even came to my art opening last month at a little local shop.

The first week we moved into the neighborhood, she came over with some roses she and her husband had grown in their backyard. She was a beautiful person and I enjoyed getting to know over the years we lived across the street from each other. 

I watched her (and her husband) suffer this last year as they treated her lung cancer, an aggressive disease. She lost her hair and often her breath, but not her faith or her hope in the Lord's kindness. She and her husband grieved the loss of the future they had imagined together. She grieved not getting to watch her grandchildren grow up. She grieved for the pain she knew her husband would feel when he lost her. 

Her beautiful black hair peppered with white began to grow back in the last few months. She started to try to walk the neighborhood that she had walked nearly every morning for years.

And then she was gone so quickly this week.

"It is better to go to the house of mourning 
than to go to the house of feasting, 
for this is the end of all mankind, 
and the living will lay it to heart." 
(Ecc 7:2 ESV)

Here in the house of mourning, we, the living, should take heart.

Do you know how very precious your life is as a creature of God's imagining, made in His image? Do you know that you were made for eternity? That you are not a passing jumble of dust, that your soul is eternal, made of the stuff of His?

Do you know that your worth is based on His design, not any standard pressed in on you by your culture? Do you know you can build a whole life around the worship of Him?

Do you know that you are beautiful and dear to Him and that He prepares a place for you for all eternity, the way opened to you freely in the Son, Jesus? That He delights to be with you?

Lila, my friend, what glory fills your eyes and heart now that you behold Him fully?

What work will He put in your hands to do that will fill you with joy and creativity?

Are you singing now with lungs full and expanding, a voice at times trapped in your soul as your body faded, but now free? The harmonies there must be beautiful.

Friend, I hope we can be neighbors again in the new heaven and new earth. The crazy pack of deer that roams our neighborhood won't eat your roses anymore. 

Maybe you'll knock on my door again and bring me another vase of flowers from your glorious garden. I'll marvel at how beautiful God made you and at how much you reflect Him. And we'll talk for hours about how good He is and how good He was.

For now, I'll miss you.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
Psalm 16:1-2

I made this screensaver for you, dear readers, to use on your phone to remind of God's goodness this month. I hope you enjoy it. Just click on one of the images below and save it to your phone.




          



*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 


               

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The house of mourning + Psalm 16:2 Screensaver in English and Spanish


Today was the last day of school for my girls! They've both grown so much this year, and now I'm excited to spend the summer going to the city pool and being off our routine. I also plan to work on a series of watercolor paintings for a First Friday art show at a local shop downtown in August (The Lady Jane if you're local). If I get really productive, I may offer some paintings in the shop, too!

Because of all this, I'll be taking the summer off blogging. In the Fall, I plan to continue the series on anti-racism. I have a few posts in the works about how racism works (the systemic aspect) and another about learning to see my white culture.

In the meantime, I have a little challenge for you, my readers. I'm sensitive to the fact that I'm talking about race as a white woman. I think we all have a place at the table no matter our backgrounds, but I want to take the chance and promote voices of color right now. 

So here's the summer challenge: 

  1. LISTEN TO or READ people of color.
  2. Comment here on the blog or send me an email about what you read/listened to and what you learned!

Daniel Hill, in his book White Awake, recounts a mentor who challenged him with a simple exercise:
"he organized the exercise around four groups of voices: my closest friends, the mentors I looked to for guidance, the preachers/teachers/theologians I relied on for spiritual guidance, and the authors of the books I was reading. The instructions were simple: comprehensively list them. Take note of the cultural backgrounds they represented."
Hill quickly realized that his biggest influences were all white. The same has been true for me most of my life, and it has shaped my culture and how I see both myself and others. My cultural identity then has profound implications for how I follow Jesus!

So, I challenge you to listen to someone who stretches you. I don't mean abandon your convictions. If you embark on reading after people different than you, you'll find you agree with them on some issues and disagree on others. For me, that's okay. I'm learning to be okay with this discomfort that inevitably comes. Practice godly discernment. Return to Scripture. Talk it over with friends, with your church community, with your pastors. Pray and ask God to show you the truth.

I'm going to list a few books and podcasts if you need suggestions (these are affiliate links**). You can comment below with your own suggestions! Also, you can check out a longer list specifically about racism on the anti-racism page here on the blog.


BOOKS

Gay Girl, Good God by Jackie Hill Perry 





Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Hermanas: Deepening Our Identity and Growing Our Influence by Natalia Kohn Rivera, Noemi Vega QuiƱones, Kristy Garza Robinson

PODCASTS

Truth's Table 
Midwives of Culture for Grace and Truth (built by Black women and for Black women)

Pass the Mic by the Witness
Dynamic Voices For a Diverse Church

United? We Pray by Isaac Adams 
taking churches' racial struggles to the throne

BLOG

Black Coffee with White Friends by Marcie Walker
"I am usually the only black person in the room. That is what this is, what this blog is all about: me being the only one, most days, in most of the places I go."

Trillia Newbell blog


PLAYLIST

And just for fun, here's my summer Spotify playlist.

I want to hear what you learn and what you read/listened to! Comment below or send me an email!

Happy Summer! I made a screensaver for you from a recent painting and a favorite Scripture from this season of life. Download it by clicking on the image below.





*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


               

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE!


This is part two of my series about things I never understood about racism. You can read part one here or watch the introduction to the whole series here. My anti-racism resource page is also up and under construction.

Today, I'm talking about how I never understood a precise definition of a racist idea. Now, it might seem silly to even have to define a racist idea, but as I read, interact with people on these issues, and examine my own thinking, I find that a common definition is helpful.

Racist ideas are a little like the fast-growing morning glory weeds that threaten to take over the beans I'm trying to grow in my garden (p.s. I'm a terrible gardener). Last year I made the mistake of confusing them with snap beans and let them grow. Because I didn't uproot them, they became intertwined with my good plants, making them hard to separate. Eventually, they choked the life out of my good plants. Before planting my seeds this year, I tried tilling the soil and pulling out the pesky weeds that had already started to root, but the soil is still full of them and they keep sprouting up. This year, though, I'm wise to them and can recognize one plant from another, so every time I check on my garden, I pull up new stalks. If I'm diligent, my little bean plants might have a chance. If I'm not diligent, the deceitful little stalks will come back in full force.

Racist ideas are like these weeds. They grow naturally and quickly from the soil we're in, so they have to be carefully and consistently uprooted. Passivity isn't an option if we want to go against the culture. It's crucial that one learn to recognize the good ideas from the bad. In my last post, I talked about how the narrative of racial difference was fostered in this country and became so common sense to us that it's hard to even imagine life without it. It warped our very understanding of what it means to be human, choking the vitality out of us all.

I want to start with five examples of racist ideas from a variety of sources that we'll revisit at the end of this post:

1. I once overheard an African American Navy chaplain friend say to my dad, "The African American family structure is broken because slave owners broke families apart. They've never recovered from that."

2. I remember speaking with an older woman I worked with about my experience living and teaching in Thailand. She asked, "What were they like? In the pictures, their eyes are always so staring and vacant."

3. I lived in Richmond, Virginia soon after graduate school and was teaching ESL at Virginia Commonwealth University. Like most cities, Richmond is very segregated. I remember telling someone how the middle section of downtown where I lived was okay, but just a few streets over the neighborhood turned "bad and scary" (this was a mostly African American neighborhood).

4. Our Declaration of Independence contains this statement: "He [the kind of England] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

5. In June 2015, then-candidate Donald Trump announced a run for president with a speech. Here is part of that speech: "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

Are these ideas racist? This is where common definitions become important.

I appreciate Ibram Kendi's simple, but precise, definition of a racist idea: "My definition of a racist idea is a simple one: it is any concept that regards one racial group as inferior or superior to another racial group in any way" (from Stamped from the Beginning*). This simple definition has profound implications, ones that I think echo the Biblical vision of human equity given by the Creator.

Kendi points out that while we may believe people of a certain color are not biologically inferior (although this kind of pseudo-science is still widely read and reproduced), we may embrace the idea that they are culturally or behaviorally inferior--as a group. We may believe that if the group improves itself (i.e. adapt to the standards of another group), then they will achieve equality. In reality, this is saying the until that point, the group is inferior.

Marcie Walker, of the blog Black Coffee with White Friends, said recently in an interview on the Speaking of Racism podcast, that when we talk about racism, we need to start by talking about what it means to be human. I really love that concept.

So let's ask the question: What does the Bible have to say about how we define and value humans? 

We know that we are all equally dignified and valued, "crowned with glory and honor," by nature as image-bearers of the Creator (Genesis 1:27). We know that God is "mindful" of us. This Psalm proclaims the dignity and position of men and women in God's created order:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:3-8 ESV)
We know that God has ordained "every nation of mankind" and the places and times in which they live. God has ordained the diversity of his creations. It is in these places and times that we find God, who is near to all:
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)
 We know that all of us are under sin and fall short of God's glory. Paul, ethnically a Jew, wrote: 
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:9-12 ESV)
Although all equally under sin, all of us were counted worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus, worthy of his stripes (Isaiah 53:5). The sacrifice required for all of us was the same--the life of Jesus. Thus the cross says to every human: your life matters.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 ESV)
When we assign value to a group of people, we have ceased to sit under the mercy of the Judge of our souls, and have stolen into His seat. Sitting in the judgment seat is always damaging for others and for our own humanity:
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. And if you judge the law, you are not a practitioner of the law, but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2, ESV 
Lastly, we ought to always question the values assigned by our culture and ask if they line up with Kingdom values. Jesus said this about who is valuable:
So the last will be first, and the first last. Matthew 20:16 ESV
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Mathew 25:35-40 ESV
Jesus says here, "See me in the poor, the hungry, the stranger, the sick, the imprisoned--and help."

I think we can conclude that there is nothing that is beautiful and good and glorious that is not true of us all--whatever culture we've been brought up in, whatever family, whatever country, whatever neighborhood.
As an exercise in application, let's revisit the five ideas I opened up this post with and apply anti-racist ideas (or do a little "weeding," to circle back to my gardening metaphor):

1. The idea of the missing Black father and the broken Black family. This is actually now considered a myth, although an extremely pervasive one. I'll link a couple or resources* below that speak to this, but let's apply antiracist ideas. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Black family that isn't wrong with families in general. We all deal in brokenness. Slavery didn't irredeemingly mar Black families or Black humanity in general. Black families never lost their human dignity despite their treatment. Black families survived and found a way to flourish, even under slavery, and even if their families looked a little different than the traditional nuclear family. In fact, the first thing freed slaves did was attempt to find children and family sold away from them (see this collection to see the ads put in newspapers). 

Those things being said, we can't talk about Black families without talking about the impact of the wealth gap and generational poverty. According to the New York Times, "for every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04" (from this article). This gap is only increasing. We can't talk about the wealth gap without understanding the history of housing discrimination, redlining, and loan discrimination. We also have to look at the devastating effects of the War on Drugs, the over-policing of Black neighborhoods, harsh sentencing, and the resulting mass incarceration we now have.

(Note: I notice our current culture has a tendency to oversimplify social justice issues in two ways. One one hand, we might say that oppression is the source of all problems, and neglect personal responsibility and sin. On the flip side, we say that it's all about personal responsibility, and that people need to try harder and stop playing the victim, as if our context has no influence. I'm no expert and I'm still learning, but I would argue that the Bible calls for both righteousness and justice. We humans are complex and we should beware of oversimplifying problems or solutions, especially if this leads us to mute either compassion or the Gospel.)

2. The idea of the vacant-eyed, other-seeming Asians from my friend whose only interactions with Asians was probably limited to pictures flashed on a screen by a visiting missionary. I replied to my friend that day, "Well, they're just like us. They love their families, they have dreams for their future, they play and laugh, they want good things for their lives."

3. My idea of the "bad" part of town in Richmond. If I say a neighborhood is bad, I'm by implication saying that there is something deficient in the people living there. I would never admit that out loud, but so much of our racist ideas are implied and never said. But the impact is the same. The truth is that there are humans full of variety and complexity living in any neighborhood. Neighborhoods may have higher concentrations of poverty and unemployment, but that doesn't make the people deficient. These conditions speak to available opportunities and systemic injustices, not the character of a racial group as a whole (also see note on #1).

4. The line about "Indian savages" from the Declaration of Independence. Daniel Hill, in White Awake, writes of this line, "The founders accepted a distorted version of the dominion that God entrusted to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But this form of dominion was especially sinful. Not only did they anoint us with a power that was not ours, they also used it to name other human beings." Naming a whole group of people "merciless" and "savage," was both inaccurate and dehumanizing, but was an effective way to reign in power and control. At the same time, it robbed the dominant group of the ability to see the dehumanized group as equally human and to respond to their needs.

5. Donald Trump's comments on Mexicans. First I think it's helpful to distinguish between asylum seeker, migrant, and refugee, because these terms tend to get thrown together inaccurately. You can read definitions of those terms here. When Trump states that "they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems," he's placing value on human life. "We" are the best people and "they" are the problem people. An anti-racist view would say that people can be poor, oppressed, desperate. Some can be criminals who do bad things, but that is true of all racial groups. None of these factors affect human worth. How to handle immigration is certainly debatable, but human worth is not.

Racism causes us to make assumptions like the ones above. We make assumptions about who is dangerous, who is trustworthy, who is worthy of being a citizen, who is worthy of state support, who is moral, who should be policed, who is a problem, who we want to live next to and go to school with, who deserves compassion and care, whose life matters more. We might not ever give voice to these beliefs, but they are there none-the-less, and we act on them.

Racism warps the way we see and then treat both individuals and communities of people. It's one thing to make these assumptions personally; it's another more devastating thing when these assumptions infect our social systems (more on that institutional aspect of racism in Part 3 of this series).

I think the Gospel demands that we examine very carefully how we think about people, how we talk about people, and how we then treat people individually and as a society. This is not about political correctness (our Kingdom values will not always line up with what the culture finds "correct"); this is about theological correctness for those who love and follow Jesus. 

It takes some imagination to imagine a society of equals, but I think it is the beauty of this vision, even more than a conviction of wrongs or injustice or past sins (although important and necessary for reconciliation), that will propel us forward.


If anyone can imagine a society like this, it should be Christians. We have this vision of the heavenly Kingdom:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9-10, ESV
It's a heavenly community where the distinctions of tribes and languages are not erased, but where a diverse people stand before the Lamb, adoring and worshipping as equals, not because now they are equals, but because they always were, in all their diversity.

The Lamb always knew for whom he was slain.


I created this Psalm 8:3-6  Bible verse coloring page (with talking points below) for you to share with your own kids or the children you teach. You can download the page in Spanish HERE or in English HERE or by clicking on the images below.**



TALKING POINTS for KIDS

  1. What do these verses say about the "created order" (our position in the world that God made--God, angels, mankind, all things God created)?
  2. How does God feel about humans in these verses?
  3. How does God treat humans in these verses?
  4. What is the job of humans in these verses?
  5. Racism says that one group of humans is higher or lower than the other based a set of physical characteristics (their race). We know that this goes against what God says about humans. God sees us as crowned with glory and majesty. 
  6. Racist ideas are all around us, and we have to work really hard to fight these ideas with the truth about humans (see my garden analogy above). We have to learn to recognize these ideas when we see them--in ourselves and around us. Do you see any of these ideas in the world around you? How might we fight against them when we see them?



*FOR FURTHER READING/LEARNING




PODCAST |  Pass the mic:  The Myth of Absent Black Fathers

WEBSITE | Race: The Power of an Illusion. Companion website to the three-part documentary with excerpts of the series with articles, interviews, classroom guides, and videos.
PDF | Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race (From Race: The Power of an Illusion)




*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 


               

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Let's talk about anti-racism: four things I never understood about racism (Part 2) + Psalm 8:3-6 Bible Verse Coloring Page

Isaiah 55:3 screensaver image

One practice that has been helpful in my spiritual life in the past few years is to increasingly pause in the multitude of my thoughts and anxieties, and ask, "God, what do you want to say to me right now?"
"Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David." (Isa 55:3 ESV)
It's a discipline that I'm growing in. It is not independent of God's Word, but flows out of it, as God applies it to my specific situation and thoughts. That's why consistent study and growth in God's Word bears so much fruit, even if it doesn't seem to be relevant at the moment of study or learning.

Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, talks about the practice of meditating on Scripture. He writes, "Whereas the study of Scripture centers on exegesis [interpreting the text], the meditation of Scripture centers on internalizing and personalizing the passage. The written Word becomes a living word addressed to you."

I think of this Scripture:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16 ESV)
As I talk to my girls about situations they are experiencing, I'm trying to teach them to listen for God's voice too. 

"God speaks to you? What does He sounds like?" they ask.

"He speaks to me through His Word and through the Holy Spirit that lives in me and you, but you have to practice listening to Him. I'll pray that He speaks to you too."

After encouraging one of my daughters to pray about a situation recently, she excitedly recounted later that God had given her a picture of a particularly truth that comforted her. 

I can think of no greater comfort I could offer anyone. 

❤️

Today's screensaver from Isaiah 55:3. I didn't have time to get the Spanish version, but I'll try to add one soon (drop me a line if you're interested)! You can click on the image below and save it to your phone. 




*I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 

**affiliate link. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


               

If you like this, you can get these posts in your inbox by signing up HERE!


Hear, that your soul may live + Isaiah 55:3 Screensaver


I hope you were able to watch the video of my introduction to this new series on anti-racism in my last post.  I've been doing a lot of reading and writing to prepare for these next few posts on the things I never understood about racism. 

At the end of today's post, I'm sharing a coloring page from Acts 17:26 (in English and Spanish), along with some talking points you can use with your kids when starting the conversation about race and racism. I know starting these conversations can feel awkward and produce anxiety, so I hope to help you by providing these resources. Also at the end of this post is a collection of resources for further study and learning. I'll be collecting all these resources together on an anti-racism page soon!



I never understood that our ideas about racial difference were never biological or natural, but were formed and fostered from the very birth of our nation for the purpose of consolidating privilege and power and oppressing people of color.

For most of life I have had an understanding of race that goes something like this: racism was practiced by people who were evil, hateful, and ignorant. But now that we are more progressive, more informed, and don't hate each other anymore, our racism problem is limited to those individuals who are still evil, hateful, or ignorant. 

Isn't that neat and tidy?

The racial hierarchy--whites on top and black on bottom (and everyone else somewhere in the middle)--and where it came from wasn't something I really considered. It seems like something that just developed naturally. At the same I didn't believe any skin color was naturally inferior or superior. These two opposing beliefs existed comfortably in my mind.

Biology, especially modern DNA research, has confirmed what the Bible has always told us about our origins from one family of men. Modern science continues to confirm that skin color means just skin color and that biologically, we are all the same species. In fact, a person of one color can have more DNA in common with a person of a different color than that of a person with the same skin color. There are no set of physical characteristics that are defined and limited to one race of people.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)
Yet the hierarchy seems so inevitable. We say things like, "That's just how things were back then." Or, "He/she was just a person of his/her times." 

But the inevitability of racism is far from historically accurate. I just finished reading Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram Kendi.* Kendi painstakingly reconstructs the ideas that shaped our nation and our narrative of racial difference. He writes:
I was taught the popular folktale of racism: that ignorant and hateful people had produced racist ideas, and that these racist people had instituted racist policies. But when I learned the motives behind the production of many of America's most influentially racist ideas, it became quite obvious that this folktale, though sensible, was not based on a firm footing of historical evidence. Ignorance/hate > racist ideas > discrimination; this causal relationship is largely ahistorical. It has actually been the inverse relationship--racial discrimination led to racist ideas which led to ignorance and hate. Racial discrimination > racist ideas > ignorance/hate: this is the causal relationship driving America's history of racial relations. 
Some of our brightest minds--scientists, sociologists, lawmakers, judges, economists, educators, journalists, and even our pastors and theologians, fostered and formulated America's narrative of racial difference (to borrow Bryan Stevenson's term*) until it became simply common sense to many of us.

Motivated by our favorite idols of self-interest: power, money, influence, control, and reputation, white Americans found a way to justify discrimination and quiet their own consciences, and the conscience of the nation. Sadly, much of the church met the evils of racism with either silence or complicity. You can read a survey of the church's complicity with racism in Jamar Tisby's The Color of Compromise.*

The stratification of the races has its roots in the Enlightenment (see this article), but further developed in colonial America as the need to rely on and justify slavery increased. (The episode of Race: The Power of an Illusion called "The Story We Tell"* chronicles this history.)

Race wasn't always such a factor in American life. For example, take this entry from this timeline of the development of race in America:
In early colonial America, social identities are fluid and class distinctions trump physical ones. On Virginia plantations, European indentured servants and African slaves mix freely - they work, play, and make love together. In 1676, Bacon's Rebellion unites poor Africans and Europeans against Indians and wealthy planters. Although the rebellion is short lived, the alliance alarms the colonial elite, who realize the labor system based on indentured servitude is unstable. Coincidentally, captured Africans, perceived as stronger workers by Europeans, become more available at this time. Planters turn increasingly to African slavery for labor, while granting increased freedoms to Europeans.
The planters' bottom line needed cheaper labor, so a stricter racial narrative was developed. The first slave codes were passed in 1705: 
As wealthy planters turn from indentured servitude towards slavery, they begin to write laws making slavery permanent for Africans, and dividing Blacks from whites and slaves from free men. African Americans are punished more harshly for crimes and their rights are increasingly curtailed. Poor whites are given new entitlements and opportunities, including as overseers who police the slave population. Over time, poor whites identify more with wealthy whites and the degradation of slavery is identified with Blackness. (found here)
And so race-based chattel slavery for life took shape at the same time our pursuit of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" was taking shape. (For more information and research into these ideas, check out the documentary Race: the Power of an Illusion and its companion website.* )

The honing of the racial narrative didn't end there, of course. It continued and continues to take shape, changing to suit the needs of the moment.

This leads me to some concluding thoughts and questions:

1. This understanding of the roots of racism seems important for understanding how to reverse or undo it. 

If I assume that racism is based on ignorance, then education and changed hearts should eradicate it. But if I understand that racism is rooted in deeper idols of entitlement, greed, privilege, and power, then education alone won't change the underlying dynamics at work.

If I assume that racism stems from hate, then love will solve it. If I understand that racism is more deeply entrenched in our society than the level of our feelings towards one another, then I understand that something greater than just "good will" must counteract the underlying entrenchment.

Sociologists call race a "social construct" meaning that race took on the meaning that we gave it in our society. It's the house that we built, solid and firm, and it stands until we tear it down. Ignoring it in an attempt at colorblindness doesn't change it.

2. If the church was complicit in justifying the racial narrative, how might we be complicit in allowing it to continue? How might our consciences be numbed still to injustice around us? How might our interpretations of the Bible be influenced by the racist ideas of our times?

Those are the things I'm thinking about as I learn this history and contemplate its consequences.


I created this Acts 17:26a Bible verse coloring page (with talking points below) for you to share with your own kids or the children you teach. You can download the page in Spanish HERE or in English HERE of by clicking on the images below.**

 

TALKING POINTS for KIDS
  1. What does this verse say about where all people came from? 
  2. What does the rest of Acts 17:26-27 say about the people God made and the places he determined they would live?
  3. Racism is the idea that one race of people (a group that looks mostly the same) is either better or worse than other races of people. How does this idea go against what the Bible tells us about humans?
  4. Science tells us that we are actually all the same race--the human race, and that scientists can't tell what race we are by looking at our DNA. In fact, a person of one race can have more DNA in common with a person of another race than a person of the same race. 
  5. It's important for us to talk about race (and what the Bible says about it) because in America, at the same time our country was being formed, people began to tell the story that one race was better than another, that white people were better than people of color. I know that seems like a silly story, but it became really important. Why would they do such a thing? They thought more about what they wanted than what was good for others. They wanted land. They wanted people to work for them cheaply. They wanted to keep their power and control others. They needed a reason to feel like they were doing the right thing, so they created the story that the races are different. As a result, people of color didn't have the same opportunities as white people. Racism was completely legal! Life became very, very difficult for people of color in our country. I wish I could tell you that it's better today, but there are still many ways that races are not treated equally and don't have the same opportunities. It takes a long time to change these things, so that's why we're talking about this--so we can pray and work to make things better for all of us.


*FOR FURTHER READING/LEARNING


WEBSITE | Race: The Power of an Illusion. Companion website to the three-part documentary with excerpts of the series with articles, interviews, classroom guides, and videos.
PDF | Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Race (From Race: The Power of an Illusion)

I'd be happy to engage with you on this topic. If this post spurs questions or thoughts, you can email me or leave a comment below.


**I'm so happy for you to enjoy my coloring pages and printables for your personal (not commercial) use! Use for Bible studies, church groups or events, and Sunday school classes are all fine! If you're in doubt, I'm happy to answer any questions. All artwork and photos are copyright Marydean Draws. If you share this, thank you (!), and as a courtesy,  please link back to this post and not the PDF file. 



               

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Let's talk about anti-racism: things I never understood (Part 1) + Acts 17:26 Bible Verse Coloring Page



Today on the blog, things are a little different! I'm jumping into a new series that I've long wanted to write about, but instead of just writing it out in the safety of my thoughts, I felt God urging me to make this one a little more personal. So to do that, I recorded a video introducing this new blog series on racism. The video is below (or HERE if you don't see it below), but I'll include the transcript too. Make sure to check out resources I mention in the video at the end of this post.



transcript from the video:

Hey friends! Thanks for clicking on the video. I'm Mary, the artist behind Marydean Draws. I'm doing something a little bit different today. I'm recording this video, an introduction to this series about racism. I felt convicted to do a video, because on a topic that can be so fraught with a lot of feelings--it can be scary, it can feel shameful, [we can feel] angry, intimidated, fragile. I wanted it to feel more intimate. For me, it's more comfortable to be behind the screen, behind the art, but for this, I wanted you to hear my heart and to put myself out there so you can see me talking about this if I'm asking you to talk about it with me.

So, it may be awkward, but that's just me. So thank you for being here and being willing to listen.

Dr. Beverly Tatum wrote a book called "Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" It's kind of a classic on race. She talks about education. If you're a teacher, I definitely recommend that book. Look her up, watch her videos. She's amazing. I'll put some links below.

Dr. Tatum often gives talks to big groups of people and one of the first things she asks is, "What is your first memory of race?" So I was thinking and I remember I was probably eight, and we were living in California. That's how I remember how old I was based on where we were living at the time. We were at a grocery store with a Black family. It was a mother and her daughter. The daughter was a little younger than me and she reached out to hold my hand and I pulled it back. I don't remember the reason being the color of her skin, at least consciously, but my mom was horrified that I didn't want to hold this little Black girl's hand and she kind of scolded me. I remembered it feeling confusing. I didn't know exactly what was happening. I felt shame. And that memory has stuck with me. 

I think we all have memories like that, experiences like that, and they probably all felt differently depending on your skin color and what that experience was.

The next question she [Dr. Tatum] asks after this first question is: "Did a caring adult come alongside you and talk with you about this experience and explain things clearly and comfort you and give you clarity about this experience." She says that most of the time people say "no."

For me, I don't remember having a conversation with my mom. I grew up like most white families. We were not actively racist. We didn't want to cause any harm, but we kind of had a colorblind approach. We don't see, race is not important. And I think that the continues to be the case for many of us.

Wendell Berry wrote a book called "The Hidden Wound" and he talks about his experience of race growing up. He says that the issues of race were wrapped up in silence and that silence spoke volumes of what was underneath. And that silence became a source of great tension and anxiety.

And that's what I feel has happened in our culture. Because we don't talk about it we are not able to heal and move forward. That silence speaks volumes about what's broken.

I would argue that if there's something in our life that causes so much fear, so much shame, anger, confusion--that's an indicator that something is broken. It's a cry for something to be restored--in us and in the world.

The Gospel speaks to that. We need to let the Gospel speak to this issue. We already know that what the Gospel says about us is that we're sinful. So we don't have to cover it up. Let's start with that. We spend so much energy trying to convince ourselves that we're not racist, that we're not part of the problem, that we can't slow down and ask ourselves, "Hey, do I have any racist ideas?" "Is there any way that I have been affected by my sinful culture?"

Just to put it in context, my husband's great-great grandfather was born a slave in Virginia. We recently found the plantation where he was a slave. That is not that far away when we think of it like that. I have slave-owning relatives. They were Alabama planters, the same generation (as my husband's great-great-grandfather). That is not that far away. We cannot believe that we have escaped that heritage without some destructive and sinful consequences on us.

We have to start looking at this issue. So that's why I want us to have freedom. I want us to get to the point where we can be empathetic, we can be informed, we can be courageous, we can be humble, and we can be active in the pursuit of both righteousness AND justice.

That, to me, proclaims the Gospel. We can do it in word and in deed. There is no Biblical justification for a split between faith and action. We're reading [the book of] James in our Bible study and that point has come to me. That is an unnatural and unbiblical distinction.

So you may be wondering how it all started. Actually it all started, funny story, with Instagram. So about three years ago I was looking at my Instagram feed and I realized I wanted to diversify who I was following. Probably most of the people I was following were white like me. So I was going to find some African American women, so I found a few women to follow who were Christians.

Soon after that in July 2016, two black men were shot by police in one week. I tear up because I'm looking at their names. Their names were Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. I think Alton Sterling was a father of five. 

These weren't the first police shootings, but for the first time I saw these men's lives through their eyes [the women I was following]. Sorry, that made me more emotional that I thought. For the first time I saw these incidents through the eyes of these women I was following. And they were grieved and they were angry. They were fearful for their husbands and their brothers and their sons. They knew that their sons, their beautiful sons, would always be perceived as more dangerous than young white boys. as more suspicious. They had to have conversations with them about being so careful about how they responded to police.

I don't know why it hit me finally, but I realized I didn't feel the same as they did. And it grieved me and perplexed me and caused me to question the way that I saw the world. And I wondered, "What do they see that I don't see? What world do they live in that I don't understand? Why did I not grieve over these lives the way that they did?

That was three years ago and that led me on a really long journey that I'm still on. I began to read a lot. I joined the Be the Bridge for Racial Unity Facebook group and that was really transformational. They provide a continuous source of resources and articles and videos. I'm still going through a lot of things they shared. I started to read our history. I read "Lies My Teacher Told Me." The first couple chapters talk about Columbus and then slavery and reconstruction. It really set the context. The other book I read was "The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson about the Great Migration and that just changed the way I saw everything. It explains the way a lot of our cities were formed. It has so much history. It's just jam-packed. It's biographical. It's just an amazing book.

So it began to change everything for me as I began to learn and as I listened to people whose experiences were different from my own. 

And so I began to be convinced that this was more than I realized, way more, as a problem. 

I feel compelled to write these blog posts and start this series. I don't know how long this will be. I have several things I want to write. So I'm just asking you to come on this journey with me. I'm not finished. The more I learn, the more I realize there's more sin in me. I think that's the case with sin and pursuing holiness--is that there's always more.

I am in no way setting myself up as an expert on this. In no way am I saying I understand what it's like to be a minority. I'm definitely coming at this from White privilege. And what I mean by that is that I could walk away from this and not have to think about it as a White woman. That's a good definition of White privilege. You can walk away if you want to. It's not daily in your face. It's not life or death for me.

Racism does affect me as a White person--what I mean is that the ideas of White supremacy affect me negatively. Those are things I have to sort through, but I am not experiencing oppression. I never have. So I come at this with certain blind spots. I do want to acknowledge that. 

My hope is to always direct you to people who can talk about that, who are authorities on that, who have studied that history. I want to facilitate that for you. That's kind of how I see my role.

To me, this is a family issue. This is a family of God issue. We all belong to each other. We may not go to the same churches. Our churches may be segregated, but that doesn't mean that we're not one body. 

1 Corinthians 12: 25 says that we should have "no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another."

So I think the issue of race is a family issue. 

Galatians 6:10 says, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."

Obviously, we should care about those outside of the church. Yes, that's our mission field. but especially for the body of Christ, for our brothers and sisters of color.

Secondly, I think this is a Gospel issue. It's an issue of bringing glory to God. I think so much harm is done to the name of Jesus through racism. So much harm is done through our inability to really love people and see their needs and see the way racism has affected them.

Thirdly, I think racism becomes an identity issue, a matter of how we see ourselves. We absorb the message and traditions and culture around us in ways that we don't even understand. That message is going to be different depending on the color of your skin, so we all have to look and say, "What are we believing about ourselves that is not true?"

I hope that my intentions behind this series are clear. My intentions are not to shame anyone. A really good book I'm reading is called "White Awake" by Daniel Hill. He says it's really helpful to distinguish between shame and guilt. Guilt is an appropriate response to sin, and guilt leads us to repentance. Guilt is actually so healthy. Shame is not healthy. Shame gets us stuck. Shame says we're bad, not that something about us is sinful, but that we are ourselves is bad. So that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying any race is inherently bad--that's just shame. We are sinful people, yes. So let's take a look at that courageously and ask God to give us the eyes to see it, the humility to repent, and let's go out and change the world with the Gospel.

I'm excited. I'm terrified. Feeling lots of things here, but I'm excited and I hope that you'll join me. And you may not agree with me. That's okay. I just hope we can all grow and see the room for growth.

If you have question about this, you can email me or leave a comment on the blog. Again, I'm not an expert, but I hope that I can walk through this with you. 

Thank guys, bye!

RESOURCES MENTIONED:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (book)
Interview with Dr. Beverly Tatum (video)

The Hidden Wound by Wendell Berry (book)

Be the Bridge to Racial Unity Facebook Group (this is a private FB group, but you can apply to join)
Be the Bridge (organization website)

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Great Migration and the power of a single decision | Isabel Wilkerson TED Talk (video)

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White by Daniel Hill
Interview with Daniel Hill (video)


I'm excited to walk through this series with you! I'm thinking about artwork to supplement what we'll be talking about that you can use as a resource as you teach and encourage others in these truths!




               

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Let's talk about anti-racism: an introduction and an invitation