Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Self-Awareness

Self-Awareness Improves Communication
A guest post by Marie W. Watts

Good communication skills are vital to building trust. Without it, we will be unable to bridge the racial divide in this country. The first step in developing your ability to express yourself effectively is to master self-awareness. Tuning into our own feelings, thoughts, and actions is paramount. Also, we need to be able to recognize how our behavior affects others.

I was raised in a rather stoic household. On the one hand, keeping my feelings hidden worked well when my younger brother jumped out and yelled “Boo!” He soon abandoned the game because I did not react. Additionally, when investigating employment discrimination complaints, knowing how to keep a poker face worked perfectly. No one knew my thoughts about the situation.

However, my inability to telegraph internal emotions caused issues in other sectors of my life. I remember my daughter saying to me, “You don’t care.” At first, my tendency was to ignore her accusation. After all, the statement was incorrect. Thankfully, I faced the uncomfortable feedback and, with some analysis, understood that I was not displaying outward signs through body language and tone of voice that reflected my emotions. Others aren’t mind readers, after all. From that point, I began a conscientious effort to use tone and facial expressions to communicate my sentiments to my loved ones and others.

Emotions play a powerful role in our lives. They are neither good nor bad—they just are. We can learn to control them or let them control us. Identifying feelings and the behaviors they elicit is paramount. Only when we know what pushes our buttons, why we do what we do, and how we react under stress can we deal with the upheaval. We can choose to consciously make choices to improve the outcome of those circumstances instead of shutting down.

The following steps can help improve self-awareness:

· Understand what you desire and why.

· Determine your strengths and weaknesses.

· Do things that make you feel good.

· Acknowledge your feelings.

· Analyze your emotional triggers. Do not be afraid to seek professional assistance to help you identify and work through them.

· Reflect on your thoughts and feelings.

· Ask for feedback.

· Monitor your self-talk by dwelling on the positives and not the negatives.

As our self-awareness increases, so does our confidence. The resulting enhanced communication skills will improve relationships with those who are different from ourselves, allowing us to be the change we seek. Additionally, it leads to a higher level of happiness. And we can all use more joy in our lives!

Author Bio:

Marie W. Watts is a former employment discrimination investigator and human resource consultant with over twenty-five years of experience. In pursuit of justice in the workplace, she’s been from jails to corporate boardrooms seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly of humans at work. 

Her on-the-job observations came in handy when she co-authored a textbook about how to behave at work, Human Relations 4th ed. Additionally, her work has been published in the Texas Bar Journal and the Houston Business Journal as well as featured on Issues Today syndicated to 119 radio stations, NBC San Antonio, Texas, and TAMU-TV in College Station, Texas.

A popular diversity and employment discrimination trainer, Marie has trained thousands of employees to recognize their own biases and prejudices and avoid discriminating against others in the workplace. She has brought her experiences to life in the trilogy Warriors For Equal Rights about the struggles of ordinary people who work at the little-known federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

She and her husband live on a ranch in central Texas. In her spare time, she supports a historic house and hangs out with her grandsons. For more information about Marie and her stories about life, visit

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Roseanna's Review of "The Color of Compromise" (book by Jemar Tisby)

Review by Roseanna M. White’s review of Jemar Tisby’s book, 
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism

When I heard about this book, it was with a warning: “This isn’t an easy book. It’s a challenging book. And it’s a necessary book.” Cue me all but running to order it. Because when things aren’t easy to learn about, when they challenge preconceived notions…well, that’s when I really come away with new knowledge capable of changing me. That’s what I wanted when it came to the subject this book tackles: the American church’s complicity with racism.

Tisby begins his book with more modern history, taking his readers by the heart and diving directly into the bombing of a black church in the 1960s that killed three pre-teen girls. This kind of hate is the sort we can all call out today, that we can all stand against. But then the author takes us back in time to the very founding of the Virginia colony. And he shows us through documentation and history how our nation ever arrived at the place where people thought it was okay to destroy a church simply because its worshippers were people of color. He shows us how race was a concept deliberately created by one group of people as an excuse to dominate another, how misinformation and gross misconceptions were taught about the nature of said group of people, and how, rather than standing up against it as an institution, the American church instead compromised. Purposefully. Willfully. Repeatedly.

There’s too much history for me to share in a short book review, and honestly, my advice is simply to read this book yourself. But there are a few things I want to touch on, because they represent a history that’s usually ignored, overlooked, or denied. The first being how from its very inception, the Virginia colony acknowledged the duplicity of its stance in its laws. First, it recognized that the slaves being imported from Africa were indeed people with souls capable of being saved—something that had been debated at the time, sadly, but which missionaries insisted upon. But secondly, that they were an inferior sort of person who could be saved, but for whom the usual side-effects of salvation were to be denied. In Europe at that time, if one’s bondservant became a Christian, they were freed from their terms of service. This was the reason slaveholders in Virginia fought to establish a rule that said Black people were not people capable of salvation—they didn’t want to be forced to set them free. So when the missionaries insisted, they struck a compromise: people, but lesser people. Freedom of the soul, but not of the body. That was all the Church was allowed to teach.

And so began a history and a gospel diluted and perverted by our own greed.

I can’t say I enjoyed this book—it’s impossible to enjoy something that shines a light on the evils done not just by one’s country, but one’s brothers and sisters of faith. And yet I couldn’t put it down. With a vivid writing style and carefully chosen examples, Tisby really brings to life the history too long ignored. And ignites in the reader a desire to be better. To right wrongs. To cleanse our lives and churches from the stain of this sin.

Until reading this and Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison, I’d never really pondered that the very splits in many denominations—such as the Southern Baptists breaking away from the original Baptists—were over slavery. But they most assuredly were, which just illustrates the main point of this book: that many Christians not only didn’t speak against slavery, they spoke for it. They believed and taught that it wasn’t only not sinful, it was righteous. It was what God intended. And even though Northern churches drew a different line on slavery itself, very few leaders were willing to take it so far as equality of the races. Even in the North, Black pastors were required to have a White man supervising them, for instance.

The history of racism in America is long and grievous; and though the terminology has changed over the years and acts of violence have become nearly universally condemned, the seeds of it are still there. Harmful ideas are still being taught.

But there’s hope. That’s what I also loved about this book. Jemar Tisby doesn’t just illuminate and condemn—he offers real-world advice for how to systematically change systemic prejudice.

And it begins with each of us making a decision to change it. As individuals, as families, and most importantly, as the Church. God calls us to be His love to the hurting, not to be the oppressors. So what can we do today to turn a pattern of prejudice into one of agape love?

Well, as with most things, the change has to begin with acknowledgment. Admission. Repentance. And then, my friends, our hearts will be ready for effecting true change in the world around us.

I highly encourage everyone to read The Color of Compromise and to find someone to read it with you so you can talk about it as you go or once you’re finished. There are supplementary materials for churches and small groups as well.

Reviewer’s Bio:

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. 

When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing for WhiteFire Publishing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself.

Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books … to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

You can learn more about her and her stories at

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Blurb for The Color of Compromise:

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller!

An acclaimed, timely narrative of how people of faith have historically — up to the present day — worked against racial justice. And a call for urgent action by all Christians today in response. 

The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don't know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.

The Color of Compromise:

· Takes you on a historical, sociological, and religious journey: from America's early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War

· Covers the tragedy of Jim Crow laws, the victories of the Civil Rights era, and the strides of today's Black Lives Matter movement

· Reveals the cultural and institutional tables we have to flip in order to bring about meaningful integration

· Charts a path forward to replace established patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, immediate action

· Is a perfect book for pastors and other faith leaders, students, non-students, book clubs, small group studies, history lovers, and all lifelong learners

The Color of Compromise
is not a call to shame or a platform to blame white evangelical Christians. It is a call from a place of love and desire to fight for a more racially unified church that no longer compromises what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality. A call that challenges black and white Christians alike to standup now and begin implementing the concrete ways Tisby outlines, all for a more equitable and inclusive environment among God's people. 

Starting today.

Author Bio:

Jemar Tisby is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Color of Compromise, president and co-founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, and co-host of the podcast, Pass The Mic. 

He grew up just north of Chicago and attended the University of Notre Dame. He went on to join Teach For America and was assigned to the Mississippi Delta Corps where he taught sixth grade at a public charter school and later went on to be the principal.

He received his MDiv from Reformed Theological Seminary and is presently working toward his PhD in History at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.

Jemar and his family call the Deep South home and especially love the weather, people, and food! His new book, How to Fight Racism releases in January of 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: God is My Defender

My Defender

A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
– Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)

As a racial reconciler and facilitator, one of the most common push backs from the opponents of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) or current social justice movement, is the issue of fatherlessness in the African-American community.

Often contenders of the BLM Movement, will use resistance statements such as “due to the lack of fathers in the home, Black boys resist arrests,” supposedly warranting the many unjust deaths at the hand of White police. As a Black minister serving in majority White churches, like in other spaces, after hearing it for so long, I must admit, I found myself agreeing with my colleagues, that many of the ills in my community just may have been caused by fatherlessness. Truth is, this along with other narratives are often used to deflect from the real root cause of absentee fathers in African-American homes. After years, I realized, I had upheld this belief system for way too long.

Finally, after years of wisdom learned from living, I’m aware that for any effect there must be a cause. Reflection on my own personal journey allowed me to dismantle the untruth. History rejects the myth of fatherlessness being the number one reason for problems in the Black community. To my White Christian brothers and sisters, I have recaptured my Black voice, from now on, I will use my personal story to address the problems that affect my community, and ultimately, my life, in spite of your rejection of Critical Race Theory.

As a poor, fatherless Black girl from the Glenville community, on the East side of Cleveland, OH., as a first-generation college student, I decided to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in African-American Studies. I believe the most important thing I learned from this part of my journey, was that I was of African descent. Why is this so important, you ask? My response, “for those who never have to question their ancestral history, it may not be important.” For those wondering from where, and from whom they came, it becomes one of the most important questions they could ever ask.

Like many others, mine is a story of a girl who doesn’t really know biologically, from where she came. No, I wasn’t adopted, but sixty-three years later, I’m still not sure, who was my biological father. Although I have a speculation, I have nothing to prove it. Truth is, now that all contributing parties are deceased, unless two bodies are exhumed, my patriarchal identity will likely remain a trivia question that may never be answered. Except by God.

Of course, as a child, I never thought much about how his not being around would impact my life. Neither did I think of myself as a statistic. In the same way, I didn’t think about how not knowing my Black history affected me either. In the same way I embraced the father God gave me without knowing if he was really the one from who’s seed, I came, I also embraced that I was a Black American. Unfortunately, unlike immigrants from other countries Blacks didn’t have the same proud ancestral connection with Africa to give me reason to naturally connect.

I do remember however, how learning that Eden, Egypt, the Nile and other rivers mentioned in Scripture, when written, all rested in Northern Africa, finally gave me reason to be proud to be a “Black” Christian. I learned, that as important as slavery is in American history, my ancestral lineage did not begin with the enslavement of Africans. This new narrative was one that made me desire to embrace my Blackness in the same way that learning that God was a defender of the fatherless, helped me to accept the love from the father I called “Daddy.”

The connection between racism in America and fatherlessness goes back to the fact that racism has historically affected every societal structure. Yes, even the idea of fatherlessness stems from the root of racism. It is through the ugly lens of racism that slaves were viewed as inhumane and uncivilized. In so-called Christian missionary theology, the continent of Africa was seen as underdeveloped, filled with non-Christian religious heathen needing to be evangelized spiritually, culturally and nationally. As a result, American history continually portrayed Blacks and especially Black men as unable to learn, lazy, and docile while many were used specifically as sexual breeders. Sadly, these and other stereotypes remain when describing African-American’s in today’s society.

Honestly, I never thought I’d live to see the day when any of the current racist structures in America would be overturned. However, in the short time since this current wave of racial turbulence, the uncomfortable narrative of the history of racist America keeps rearing its ugly head. No matter how much of a Christian, or religious nation we claim to be, our true truth keeps marching on. Fortunately, new curriculum is being provided no longer by Whites telling our stories through their lens, but by those of us penning the stories shared from family historians. Authentic American history is being told.

Even though as in any society, there may have been some lazy members, it is impossible that the majority of Blacks could have been lazy or unable to learn, if so, this country’s buildings and infrastructures, most built from the free labor of male slaves would not still be standing today. This includes the White House as well as the many institutions surviving today as a result of the services of underpaid “essential workers,” many who are Black men. Many who are the missing Black fathers.

I am reminded that God is the ultimate defender of the true history of fatherlessness in America’s Black community. It is the story of missing melanin bodies. Incarcerated Black bodies. Dead Brown bodies. It is not a story Whites can tell. I will tell my story.

Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 

Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: The things we say

Please Stop Saying …

A guest post by Kristen Rimer Terrette

“Slavery ended over 150 years ago … I never owned slaves … I’m not privileged. I’ve had hardships too … Everyone has the same rights now!”

Do these sentences make you sigh? Part of me wants to rant when I hear them. Part of me wants to cry. White brothers and sisters, can I speak solely to you for a moment?

In my experience, these words are usually said in defense by my well-meaning white friends or acquaintances who feel they haven’t contributed to racism or displayed hatred toward people of color. They feel they’re not part of the problem. And in part, that’s true, because they don’t use racial slurs, shy away from friendships with different ethnicities, and may work cordially alongside people who don’t look like them.

But my frustration with these statements is that they degrade people of color’s experiences with racism, prejudice, and injustice, as well as their victories.

They also put us, the white majority, in a position of complacency and indifference.

Let me lay out some realities …

A few weeks ago, November 14, 2020, marked sixty years since six-year-old Ruby Bridges walked into a previously, like literally until that very moment, all white school in Louisiana. What a brave little girl! What a courageous mother to send her that morning!

To back up a bit more, in May of 1954, only six years earlier, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that “state-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment and was therefore unconstitutional.” It took six years for this decision to trickle down to Ruby Bridges’ town. Six. Years. For a ruling over something that should have never been in place at all.

And my mother’s city, Chattanooga, TN, took even longer. It was 1963-1964 when her school desegregated. Almost ten years after Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling! Ten years for her school, and the surrounding area, to implement desegregation.

So, let’s talk some facts. I’m in my thirties (though my very late thirties, but let’s not go there). I have school-aged children, with one still in elementary. And my mother (my kids’ grandmother), who is only in her mid-sixties literally witnessed (as in a firsthand account) the very first black children being admitted into her previously all white grade school. And she was ten years old at the time—not a baby, not a kindergartener, but a child about to go into middle school.

This should put things in perspective for those who feel like the civil rights movement happened a long time ago. There is only one generation—mine—between the children who witnessed desegregation and the children who are seeing the racial tensions we’re witnessing now.

Only ONE generation.

Truth is slavery as an institution ended on paper roughly 150 years ago, but that’s only about six generations back by my count. And its oppressive affects lasted much longer. In fact, they are still being felt today.

Please, hear my heart, and let my information dump serve as a plea for us to live as Paul asks us to in 1 Corinthians 12. He eloquently discusses the importance of being of one accord in a passage aptly titled, Unity and Diversity in the Body (the church). According to this passage, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 (NIV), “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 

Our Christian brothers and sisters have stories to tell. Ones of grief and ones of triumph. So, we must rid our minds and tongues from the demeaning phrases above. And, instead, listen to people of color who still struggle with the painful effects of racism, but who are afraid to tell their stories because of the responses they get in return. We must also celebrate greatly all minorities who have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time instead of diminishing their victories with flippant responses or, and possibly even worse, by acting like we understand their pain in these areas.

Let’s take Paul’s advice and approach our diverse relationships by asking Jesus for spiritual eyes and ears to listen and celebrate each other. We are one body of Christ after all.

People of color, do you have a story to tell? We’re ready to listen, so let’s keep the conversation going! Comment below or on social media to tell us your story, whether one of heartache or victory. We want to listen, learn, and celebrate with you.

Author Bio:

Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus. 

She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at

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