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This post is the third in a series I've been writing about things I never understood about racism. You can read the previous posts here and check out the anti-racism resource page for further learning.

I used to say that the first time I saw racism was when I moved from a diverse community of military families in Okinawa, Japan, to the coastal town of Jacksonville, NC as a Junior in high school. Overt forms of racism were easy to pick out there: the ugly racial epithet flung at my African American police officer neighbor, that racist joke I heard from white girls at a sleepover, the truck flying the confederate flag.


What I didn't understand then is that racism is much more than individual prejudice. Even if we all were kind to each other and worked really hard on resolving our personal prejudices (which we should!), racial inequities would still exist.

Inequities continue to be reproduced in our country because racism is systemic or institutional. Bear with me if this is new to you like it was to me.

Here's an example: A study by EdBuild released earlier this year found that "nonwhite school districts get $23 billion less than white districts despite serving the same number of students." Schools in the U.S. are funded by local property taxes. Think about your neighborhood. How diverse is it? Think about the wealth of the people in your city. How does it break down racially? Think, then, how this affects the funding of your local schools.

In the example of funding for education that I gave above, I doubt if any of us functioning in the educational system are intentionally wanting to disadvantage non-white schools and students. When we (speaking as a white person) buy homes in mostly white neighborhoods and pay taxes our properties, we're not intending that they go only to our white children in their mostly white schools. But, whether we intend it or not, the impact is that inequities will continue to exist and persist because the system is functioning in the way it was set up.

Sobering, right? (Journalist Nicole Hannah Jones has a lot of interesting things to say about racial inequities in education. I'll link to some of her work below in the resources section.*)

Here's a simple challenge. Take any area of interest to you, your family, your community, or the industry you work in and do a Google search for research into racial disparities in that area.

Here are some suggestions of things you can look up:
"disparities in health care." 
"disparities in infant mortality"
"disparities in maternal mortality"
"disparities in school funding"
"disparities in school discipline"
"disparities in life expectancy."
"disparities in arrests at school"
"disparities in hiring practices"
"disparities in military promotions"
"disparities in mortgage lending"
"disparities in sentencing or incarceration"
"disparities in farm loans"
"disparities in public transportation"
"disparities in income or generational wealth"

In all of these searches, I suspect you will find a similar pattern of disadvantage and advantage. Beverly Daniel Tatum writes that "every social indicator, from salary to life expectancy, reveals the advantages of being White" (Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria).

And there's a reason for this. It has nothing to do with anything inherently good or bad about the "races" (we are all equal in our humanity in all its complexity), and everything to do with how race was socially constructed in this country. The racist narrative that shaped the very founding of our country (see Part 1) also shaped the fabric of our society in such a way that it no longer needs active racism to work; it only requires passive cooperation with the status quo. 

Racism and racist ideas became a part of the way every system in our society functions--healthcare, banking, housing, education, law enforcement, incarceration, employment. Daniel Hill, in his book, White Awake,* on white cultural identity (yes, we have a culture), explains this well: 
When left unchallenged, the narrative of racial difference inflicts catastrophic damage on every level of society, starting at an individual level moving into communities of people before infecting the roots of our socials systems . . . A social system is made up of the elements that work together in towns and cities, such as schools, police departments, businesses and manufacturing, hospitals, grocery stores, housing, and other entities. Though these entities provide services or play certain roles, they also form what is often called a social system. Each element within a social system is supposed to serve people of all backgrounds equally, regardless of race or any other social marker. But the narrative of racial difference prevents that because it is built around a calculation of human value based on race, which reproduces inequalities.
Studies show that race alone impacts these disparities regardless of social status or other factors. According to a report called "The Groundwater Approach: building a practical understanding of structural racism" by Bayard Love and Deena Hayes-Greene of the Racial Equity Institute,* "in today's economy (even excluding the impacts of multi-generational wealth), one's racial designation is actually a causative factor in one's socioeconomic status."

For example, according to the Groundwater Approach report, "The most recent CDC data show racial disparity in infant mortality, even when we compare black and white mothers with the same level with the same level of education." Another study shows that "in K-12 education . . . while independent racial and income gaps exist, black and Latino students underperform white students at each income level."

The Groundwater study proposes that these disparities are not a "people problem," as we might be tempted to assume, but a "groundwater" problem, meaning that the underlying systems are functioning in a racist way, without anyone in that system even being intentionally racist.

I'll say it again: because we all function in systems that operate in racist ways, as long as we're cooperating with the status quo, it doesn't matter if we're individually actively racist or not; the results are the same.This idea of infected social systems is called systemic racism or institutional racism. The term white privilege is used to describe the resulting advantages of systemic racism for white people. 

Here are a couple of things that I find helpful in talking about systemic racism and white privilege:

1. This doesn't mean that all people benefit from or are disadvantaged by systemic racism equally. It's just a broad way of understanding the social fabric of our country. You'll find lots of variation in the individual threads (again--because we're human).

2. Generalizing about social-constructed concepts like White and Black are helpful terms for breaking down the system as it was constructed. We first have to acknowledge it and see it to change it. This does not, however, speak to anyone's worth or value. I know that we white people can feel called out when our race is even mentioned. This is not about your individual worth; it's about your social context.

In conclusion, it's complicated. It's weighty, and it's overwhelming to begin seeing something that was actually always right in front of me. These are hard, uncomfortable truths that must be grappled with.

Can I encourage you in this? There is so much grace and mercy for us as we come to God repentant and brokenhearted over these things. There is tremendous freedom for white people when the burden of white supremacy is lifted. There is beauty in understanding our shared humanity. There is much to be learned from those our society called "the least," the "minorities."

Here's something that gives me hope: this system was constructed, so it can also be deconstructed. I like this metaphor from Beverly Tatum, from her book, Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?:


That brings me to my calling as a Christian, a calling to be an ambassador of reconciliation, a royal priest, an image-bearer who reflects the beauty of God and His Kingdom.

I highly recommend Latasha Morrison's new book, Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation* if you want to look more into these issues of what racial reconciliation looks like for a believer and a church.

After each chapter of her book, Morrison provides prayers of lament and repentance. Here is one:
"We have not required justice, we have not loved others well, and we have not walked in humility in our brokenness."
Will you join me in lamenting and praying over these things?
"If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:15-17 ESV)
"Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them." (Ecc 4:1 ESV)
"When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." (Isa 1:15-17 ESV)
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Mat 6:10 ESV) 
I made this screensaver of Isaiah 1:17 for you to use this month to remind you of the actions you can take towards justice. You can download it in English or Spanish by clicking on one of the images below to save to your phone. I'd love for you to share this post if you've found it helpful.

   

*FOR FURTHER READING/LEARNING


ARTICLE/REPORT | The Groundwater Approach: building a practical understanding of structural racism by Bayard Love and Deena Hayes-Greene of The Racial Equity Institute





               

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Let's talk about anti-racism: four things I never understood about racism (Part 3)

There are moments when all of us feel alone and forsaken, burdened "beyond our ability to endure" (2 Corinthians 1:8). Life can feel like way too much fo us. We cry out with the Psalmist:
"Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help." (Psa 22:11 ESV)

In this Psalm, David goes on to vividly describe how he feels surrounded by attackers, how his "heart is like wax," and his strength is dried up "like a potsherd" as God lays him down in the "dust of death."

I recommend reading through this whole Psalm. As David laments, he cries out to God for help:
"But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid!" (Psalm 22:19 ESV)
As David experiences God's comfort in response to his cries, David's lament turns to praise:
"For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!" (Psa 22:24-26 ESV)
What do you do when you are so pressed you can hardly breathe? God provides the model right here in this Psalm and throughout Scripture:

lament > cry out > praise

God does not despise your suffering and demand you ignore it so you can praise Him. God hears your cries.

He delights to rescue you. In fact, He rescues you because He delights in you! (see Psalm 18:19)

You will be able to say to the next generation "that he has done it" (Psalm 22:31)

I have cried out many times recently, and God has shown up in so many ways.

I have seen His help in:
an encouraging Scripture
The balm to my soul of the Holy Spirit's presence
Meals from friends as I recover from surgery
A friend's encouraging words
A prompting to action helping me navigate a difficult situation
A friend who shared what she's been learning at work
A prayer app helping me with my practice of prayer

I am two weeks out from a successful surgery to remove endometriosis. Thank you all who prayed for me and checked in. I am doing well and slowly regaining my strength, but there have definitely been times of lament and crying out along the way.

Friends, praise Him, but lament what you need to lament. Cry out for the help you need. He will not despise it.

In turn, don't despise the lament of others around you. I am so thankful for all those who have entered into my suffering in such a Christ-like way.

I made this screensaver of Psalm 54:4 for you to use this month. You can download it in English or Spanish by clicking on one of the images below to save to your phone. And please share this post with a friend who might need some encouraging words!

Also, if you are looking for more ways to share Scriptures on this topic of God's help with friends, I have a whole set in the shop called "comfort and hope." It is full of Scriptures that are dear to my heart and have shaped the way I see God. You can purchase them as a printable, printed set, or in coloring book form.

 


 





*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 God who helps + Psalm 54:4 Phone Screensaver in English and Spanish


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. 


               

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


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.


               

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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