Sunday, January 31, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Why Racism is Wrong

Racism Against People of Color
A guest post by Sherrinda Ketchersid

Since George Floyd’s death, I’ve been educating myself about racism and White privilege. Most of the books, magazines, and online articles have focused on Black voices, but as I have friends and family members who are married to Latinxs, I’ve begun to investigate the issues that this and other underrepresented groups face. My findings have been eye-opening. As people of God, we cannot close our eyes to the mistreatment of God-created human beings.

Let’s talk about the Latinx group. I did not know this, but Latinx is the biggest minority group in the United States—not by much, with Blacks coming in close behind. I also learned that Latinx are the second most discriminated ethnic group after Blacks. Like Black people, the darkness or lightness of their skin contributes to the level of discrimination.

From a survey done by, four in ten Latinx say they have recently experienced one of the following incidents—called offensive names, told to go back to their home country, disparaged for speaking Spanish, and given harsh treatment because of their ethnicity.

Let’s not forget the issues with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Centers—families separated, poor living conditions, poor medical treatment, etc. There is a history of abuse and neglect dating back to the early 1900s. Allegations of rape and unauthorized sterilizations abound. Even for those Latinx born in the U.S., many of them live in fear for family members and friends.

Now let’s turn our attention on Indigenous Americans. We all have heard about how colonization of North America forced Indigenous Americans from their homes and their sacred lands, many slaughtered in the process. They were told untruths, endured broken treaties, and forced into segregation on reservations. Today, Indigenous Americans face discrimination across a variety of areas such as medical treatment, interaction with police, educational processes, microaggressions, and racial slurs.

Statistics show that Indigenous Americans who live in a heavily populated Native area are more likely to experience institutional discrimination than those in a less populated Native area. In regard to housing, a few years ago in North Dakota, a law was passed that made having a photo ID with a street address a requirement to vote. This targeted the Indigenous Americans, many of whom used P.O. Boxes. Voter repression is still happening, just as it is for the Black community, where the war on drugs and mass incarceration makes voting impossible.

Now let’s look at Asian Americans. Some of you may have seen on the news this year instances where some have been told to “go home”, all because COVID-19 was first reported in China. The virus has been called the “China Flu” by some, which in and of itself is racist. But this is not a new thing, according to history.

Discrimination against Asians goes back a long way. Back around the 1850s, Chinese workers began to come over to U.S., fleeing from wars and economic hardship. At first they were welcomed, but soon were seen as competition from lower-class whites. In 1870, The Naturalization Act gave naturalization rights to those of African descent, but not those of Asian descent.

In the 1960s, during the anti-black discrimination uprising, Asian-Americans became the poster child for the new term “model-minority”, stating they were better at abiding by the law and being hard workers. While this may have looked good on the outside, it constituted the idea that Asian Americans did not need government assistance.

Asian Americans face discrimination today. In one study at the University of Toronto, it was found that those of East Asian descent were thought of as extremely competent, but lacking leadership and dominance, making them overlooked for leadership positions. This is alluded to as the “bamboo ceiling”—and why Asian Americans don’t consider advanced degrees as profitable as for whites.

Black people have been discriminated against more openly and ruthlessly. The injustices they have been dealt with have been reprehensible and violent. From slavery, to segregation, to voter suppression, to lynching, to mass incarceration, to police brutality, Black people in America have been dealt a heavy blow.

I know I am excluding other underrepresented groups like Middle Eastern, South Asian, and others, which I know experience discrimination as well, but to be mindful of the length of this post, I am focusing on other people of color at this time.

The discrimination and racial injustices against people of color … all colors … is perpetrated by people of white skin. This was true even before American colonization. It is pervasive and though we try to make things better, other structures of suppression pop up.

As believers in Christ, we cannot stand by and be silent any longer. Scripture clearly tells us of God’s heart for all people. Each one of us are His creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are to treat every person with respect and love.

We should not favor whites over people of color because, as Christ’s followers, we follow His example and teachings. It was Jesus Christ’s disciple Peter who said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35 NIV)

In the book of Revelation 7:9-10 (NIV), we see that in heaven “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!” Everyone, no matter their nationality, their ethnicity, or their skin color will be excluded from God’s kingdom. If God does not exclude, why would we?

As we move forward in 2021, I am challenging myself—and others—to examine our lives to see we show favoritism. Do we watch TV and movies that only feature white leads? Do we read books that are white centered? Does our friend circle all have the same color skin? Do we initiate conversations with others who look different from us? Do we seek to befriend and truly know and understand others of different backgrounds? Are we calling out racism when we see it…in ourselves and in others? These are questions I am asking myself this year.

I pray that my heart grows in bravery in the face of injustice, and that I will expand my circle of friends to include more diversity. What about you? How will you work on your heart in regard to racial justice?

Author Bio:

Sherrinda Ketchersid is an author of historical romance and a minister’s wife who loves to paint in her Bible.

She loves to read, spend time in her flower garden, and try her hand at new crafts. She likes to blog and is part of a group called The Writers Alley. 

Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her husband of 35 years. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love.

Connect with Sherrinda:

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Thoughts on what it takes to improve race relations

Know Better, Do Better
A guest post by Marie W. Watts

Being the change we seek in race relations requires a different mindset.

Have you heard the following?

“If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always got.”

For the sake of our nation, we cannot continue business as usual. But what’s the first step in breaking the cycle?

The psychological phenomena, the Pygmalion Effect, offers clues. This paradigm focuses on self-fulfilling prophesies. High expectations in a certain area led to enhanced performance. If I expect race relations to get better, they will get better. While I cannot change other people, I can change myself.

Ask yourself this question: Are you a person who wants better race relations or are you a person who improves race relations?

Just wanting something is nice but working for it makes all the difference. Once we begin with the mindset that we are someone who works to improve race relations, then we can begin to build habits that support our identity as a change agent.

Our mindset is enforced by small wins. And these small victories become habits. Soon these new behaviors become second nature.

These are some examples of small personal wins on the journey to racial equality:

· Do you hear/read something that reinforces negative stereotypes? Research it. Is it true?

Offer different opinions to others. Ingrained cultural stereotypes are difficult to tune out. Recognize yours and change your habits—stop acting on them.

· Smile and greet persons who are different from you. Do not ignore them.

· Be thoughtful while voting or contacting your elected representatives. Do you urge them to support legislation that furthers your goal of improving race relations?

· Volunteer or donate to causes that support your identity.

· Watch programs or read books about the effects of inequality on those who are different from us. Have you seen the PBS award-winning series “Eyes on the Prize”?

· Cultivate friendships with people who are different from yourself.

Set a goal for 2021 to remake your identity. The changes you make within radiate to those around you, setting the trajectory towards equality.

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

Connect with Marie:
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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: The power of telling your story to the world

Tell Me Your Story
A guest post by Roseanna M. White

In the tumultuous spring of 2020, when the world was shut down with COVID and there was rioting in the streets and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests all across America, I was sitting at my computer with edits for a book called Dreams of Savannah

I had to turn these edits back in to my publisher soon…and I was scared. Because this story, as you might be able to guess, was set in Savannah, Georgia. The heart of the South. During the Civil War. With a heroine who was from a slave-holding family. Yes, there were themes of racial reconciliation in the book already…but were they strong enough? Had I handled them well? Would I be able to adequately share my heart through this story? Was my heart where God needed it to be?

In the tumultuous spring of 2020, my family did a lot of soul-searching. We did a lot of talking about what was going on around us and why. We did a lot of evaluating of our own biases, prejudices, passions, and actions. And we changed. We changed some of our opinions, previously never thought about too deeply. We changed our conversations with others. We changed our approach to a lot of things.

And I worked on this story. In it, my heroine has to do what we did—reevaluate what she thought she knew. She has to learn to see the people around her as people. To love them not for the roles they played in her life, but to see them as worthy of stories of their own. And that was the crux of the matter for my characters, who always wanted to be a heroine in one of her beloved tales. She had to realize that she gets to write her own story—she has to make choices that will let her live the story she wants to tell. And she has to see the stories of those around her to recognize that the same is true of them. Because while she’s so focused on being her own heroine, what if she ends up a villain in their story?

As I wrote this character who learned to see the stories of those around her, I realized that it was a real passion of mine too. I’ve always believed that stories are powerful things—that stories touch our hearts and minds and souls in ways that simple facts don’t. But before, I always focused on how fiction does that. I began to realize the same power is held by any story—any sharing of experience and insight. Through stories, we can come to know each other. Understand each other. Love each other.

I want to know your story. I want to know what makes you tick, what factors into your reasoning. I want to see your experiences through your eyes to help me open my own wider to the life you live. I want to understand the trials of the immigrant; the burden of the person of color; the fears of the marginalized. I want to know you, so I can love you like the Father loves you.

It was driving home from church one day just a couple months ago that this desire, and our continued talk of racial reconciliation, and the final edits on Dreams of Savannah, all coalesced in my mind. I looked over at my husband and said, “We need to collect people’s stories. And create a site where they can share them. Where anyone can.”

And so we did. We created a site called that is a place for story-seekers, story-tellers, and story-collectors to gather. To share, to read, to watch, to listen. To get to know people who are nothing like them…yet just like them. To learn what it is to walk in each other’s shoes. To love each other.

If you’re reading this post on this blog, then chances are you have a flame in your heart for understanding others and loving them. You want to learn better how to do that. So I’d love to invite you to come take a peek at Seeing the Story

Read some of the stories up already—it’s just launched as of when I’m writing this, so there aren’t many yet. But you can help with that. We’d love it if you would share your story. Maybe the one about how your family came to live where they have. Maybe a story of hardship overcome or joy found where you least expected it. Maybe the story of what set your feet on this path toward racial reconciliation, or one you’ve lived out while traveling it.

Stories really do change the world—because they change the hearts of the people who fill it. And we get to choose what story we live, what story we tell.

I’d love to hear yours.

Author 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. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: The Beloved Community

Beloved Community
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
– Luke 10:27 (NIV)

As we approach the celebration of MLK Day, your thoughts may turn to Dr. King’s dream of a Beloved Community. His was a narrative of a collective community. A community committed to embracing the philosophy of nonviolence. A community where its inhabitants share the wealth of the earth and where the coexistence of racism and poverty are no longer. A community where by engaging the principles of nonviolence, conflict or international disputes are resolved peacefully. It has been said that to Dr. King, the enactment of Beloved Community was as realistic as the racist world in which he lived.

My personal vision of Beloved Community developed as the result of years of longing for an authentic multiracial and multiethnic worshipping community. I envisioned a sacred space where Christians embraced and lived reconciled with one another the way the Kingdom of God is portrayed in Scripture. I saw a sacred space where in spite of what took place outside, inside, loving God also meant loving your Black or White neighbor as yourself. When I think about the many communal experiences I’ve personally encountered, I realize it was the authenticity of loving relationships developed in those spaces that brought me joy. On the other hand, the effects of racism in that same space have affected not only the way I see and experience community, but at times it caused me to fear the possibility of believing genuine relationships between Blacks and Whites could ever exist.

Today, intentional racial reconciliation happens as I do the work of loving my White neighbor as I love me. As I reflect back to my first experience of allowing a White person to enter into my relational space, I am almost embarrassed at the level of resistance extended. My dear friend of now thirty some years, approached me in Bible college after hearing I was having car trouble. She offered her help in getting me to class.

As a new Christian who had recently spent five years of college studying African-American studies, finding myself in a multiracial/multicultural church was the last place I thought I would worship or find authentic White folk for that matter. After only a short time, because of some of my initial encounters at the church when Whites turned away after the pastor asked everyone to reach out and touch or hug their neighbor, I immediately distrusted my friend’s motive. The more I resisted, the more she insisted she could pick me up for class. We laugh about it today because in reality neither of us was intentionally trying to befriend or hurt the other. She was just being her naturally giving self; I on the other hand, was naturally protecting myself from further discrimination, which had become a normal way of life, now in and outside the church. Her intentionally reaching across the invisible color line to offer help, was all it took for me to risk letting my guard down to finally accept her invitation.

It has been theorized that since slavery in America, social categorization of race construct, and superiority and inferiority complex theories have been used by Whites to subjugate Blacks and other minorities. As a result, this social construct has through the years caused Blacks and others since slavery to continue to be looked upon as inferior to the majority race in this country. For this reason, years after the physical and emotional traumatization of Blacks, many African-Americans still carry the scars from slavery, while trying to deconstruct the myth of being inferior.

This trauma has affected how Blacks often respond when approached by Whites. Even when Whites may have good intentions, Blacks subconsciously may be wondering, “What is your real motive?” or asking themselves, “Is the person just trying to relieve themselves of guilt by doing something nice for a Black person?”

Even against the resistance posed, this White woman who is now one of my dearest friends, pressed to make a difference in someone’s life. More importantly she did it without allowing color to be a barrier. Although our relationship may have been divinely orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, we did have to obey the promptings to allow this organic friendship to develop between us. What may have started as an unplanned relationship, at some point we had to become intentional for it to flourish authentically.

In light of my personal journey with my friend, I learned that the opportunity for genuine fellowship between Blacks and Whites will only reach its maximum potential when the participants are intentional about loving the other as they love themselves. By allowing this sister in Christ to be the authentic and genuine person that she was and remains to be after years of friendship, I am a better person and I believe she would agree, so is she. We have had countless discussions about race, how we grew up, our parents, and how all these factors have made a difference in how we view one another.

Even though we are both Christians, we found having a lot in common still did not keep us from running into challenges as we grew to learn about one another. I am sure we would both admit that our friendship has weathered the racial storms of the decades since our first encounter. Through political debates, church traditions, ministry, life and other major differences that we faced as we were becoming the women we are today, we are both better because of the other. More importantly, we have modeled authentic Beloved Community for our friends and families.

As we celebrate this upcoming MLK Day, there is only one way to capitulate the seemingly shrinking imagery caste by Dr. King. If nourished, the sixty-year-old vision will remain alive to never die. As we strive to authentically love one another, one life, one church at a time, may Beloved Community prevail. 

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.

Connect with Dr. Angelle:

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A real-life story about a woman of color's experiences in America

Kristen Rimer Terrette’s interview with Amanda Brooks 
for Sharing Our Stories

Today, Kristen is sharing an interview that she conducted with her friend Amanda Brooks.

Read a bit about Amanda below then enjoy her interview!

Amanda's Bio:

Amanda Brooks has been married to her college sweetheart for fifteen years. 

They live in the Atlanta area with their two boys and their dog who doesn’t realize lap dogs are not 110 pounds.

Being surrounded by dudes means there’s never a dull moment in her house. She attended church as a child, but her faith journey was solidified her freshman year in college through the campus ministry, Campus Outreach. She’s an Instructional Specialist which means she teaches both students and other teachers. 

Amanda worships and serves at her local church, doing life with lots of different types of people. She believes in the importance of this type of faith community. It is this group who have held her up and pointed her back to the cross during difficult times and celebrated with her during life’s triumphs. 

The Interview: 

I’m excited to introduce to our readers, my longtime friend, Amanda Brooks. We went to high school together, and, thankfully, through social media, we’ve been able to keep in touch. I’ve followed and loved her faith, intelligence, and reason, all while using her voice and influence with kindness, laced with hope for changed minds and communities.

Tell us about yourself, Amanda!

Amanda: Well, I turned 40 this year, so I think that makes an Xennial, right? I’m the wife to Nick for the last 15 years, and mom to two boys, Preston and Asher. And to Monk the dog who doesn’t realize lap dogs are not 110 pounds. Yes, I’m surrounded by dudes, so there’s never a dull moment in my house, but I’m pretty sure I was meant to be a boy mom. I grew up in the church but didn’t truly come to faith until my freshman year in college through a campus ministry called Campus Outreach. And I, of course, was forever changed. Today, I’m an Instructional Specialist in Atlanta which is a fancy term to mean I teach students in part, and train and support other teachers and staff in part, so let’s just say I’m busy. I worship and serve at East Point Church where I have the honor of doing life with lots of different types of people who have held me up and pointed me back to the cross in my most difficult days and celebrated with me during life’s triumphs.

Kristen: You’re awesome!

Now, being that we went to high school together, even though you were in the super smartie classes, we were taught the same version of historical facts. As an adult, I’ve learned a lot of what’s found in history books is full of half-truths and incomplete or one-sided versions (the White man’s point of view) of events, wars, and time periods. I’m curious, as a child or teen, did you know there was a different narrative of history? Were you taught facts and told of stories by your family members apart from school teachings? Or did you accept as truth the totality of what we were taught?

Amanda: In high school, I had a great history teacher named Mr. Timmons. As a former military man, he was straight forward and didn’t romanticize the uglier side of our nation’s history. Even so, his approach was more like flying in a jet surveying the scene below. Very high level. We learned the information, and he was a great storyteller, but the point was passing our AP exams; to understand causation and overall impact so that we could write about it well. I think this is true for even the better history classes our children learn in today. They are either the half-truths that gloss over actual facts, or they are merely a collection of them from a distance which neglects to discuss what our history means for the everyday lives of people today.

I can’t speak for all people of color, but I think that for many who belong to big close families, there is an inherent need to pass on our oral histories of “how we overcame.” I can’t think of one elder that hasn’t shared what it was like to grow up in America (particularly in the South) and how much harder life had been because of their blackness. And they didn’t share to incite anger, or frustration but rather to inspire the next generation by their fortitude and encourage us to be kids and later adults who could persevere because they knew we’d need to. I was blessed to grow up with older family members who loved to share their life stories and fill in the gaps of what the schools either refused or were unprepared to teach. My greatest observation was that though they had lived full lives of love and family, they all knew that their lives were not valued in society in the same way (if at all) by the country they still loved.

I poignantly remember my grandfather’s stories of his service in the Korean War. He shared that often the “negro” soldiers were placed on the front lines so as to be the first to die and in one instance, he had been part of group that went ahead to detect land mines. He witnessed a comrade being blown up. The fact that experiences such as these had not left him broken and bitter were only a testament to his faith and character.

Amen. Thank you for sharing about your family, their service, and their overcoming mentality. It’s an inspiration.

Now, as a teacher and mother, how has this knowledge shaped the way you educate your kids and students?

Amanda: In undergrad, I majored in secondary education for social sciences and minored in African American studies. So as a high school social teacher, I pride myself in providing my students with a complete picture of the world they live in without bias. I ask my students to come to conclusions based on complete facts and solid reasoning. I try to be as neutral as possible because I think history, culture and other world studies speak for themselves when given proper context. So, when we discuss hard topics like slavery in America, or the Holocaust, or any other instance of human suffering, I don’t shy away from delivering the full complete picture, but it’s important they put all this in proper perspective and investigate the “whys and how’s.” Like, why it was possible for slavery to exist in the country so long? What could be the potential impact of these things? What does this mean for you? Where is your place in this narrative or how does this impact how we live today? I guess I don’t ever want my students to simply parrot me, but to instead, walk away from our brief time together better understanding the world so they can be better citizens in it.

As a parent, my approach is far less academic, LOL… I have had to be very REAL with my children, more so than I ever imagined, especially so young. Raising children is hard, but raising black boys today is especially so. Much like my students, I also wish to teach my children HOW to think, not WHAT to think. But in an effort to try and keep them safe and heighten their awareness of the world they live in, I don’t have the luxury of just letting them explore to just figure it out. In so many life lessons, we’ve had to throw out the debate about what’s “fair” or “just” when it comes to what they can or can’t do, because at the end of the day, we are teaching them not just how to thrive, but basic survival skills. Our conversations are laced with lots of “though it’s not fair…this is why you must do things this way or not do things that way.” They understand that until the world is different (which may only be a hope of Heaven) they must engage in it differently than their peers.

Your thoughtful answer about your students proves what I already knew—you’re an awesome teacher, and I applaud how you’re championing them to take hold of their future.

And as a mom, your words brought me tears. As a white woman, please accept my apology. I am sorry for the way the world is, and we on the Sharing Our Stories blog series hope the words we put out to the world plant seeds and change hearts and minds.

Now, Amanda, you were our senior class president, a top dog, a stellar student, and super popular—in a predominantly white high school. Our class wasn’t very diverse statistically speaking, and though our area of town gets more diverse each year, it’s still a predominantly white school. Did being a person of color in leadership amongst a lot of white peers affect you in any way, good or bad?

One of my most vivid memories was of running for class office in middle school. I had shared with what was known at the time as my gifted teacher, my intention to run for student government president. He told me, “Amanda, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I don’t want your feelings to get hurt if you don’t win. Though you are well-liked, it’s not likely they will vote for a black person.” Of course, I went home devastated and shared what was said with my mother. She was furious and marched into school the next day, demanded a meeting, and explained that under no circumstances should he ever attempt to tell her daughter what she could or couldn't do on the basis of her skin color. She went on to help me decorate a GAZILLION posters and craft my election speech. Now I don’t know if it was the bombardment of posters, the carefully prepared speech, or that it was 8th grade, and I had a lot of friends, but I won!

Nevertheless, his words still scarred me. They made me believe that even those teachers I thought cared for me and knew me, saw me first as black. I think much of my desire to lead was to prove my worth, and it’s something I had to unlearn as an adult and am still “unlearning.” I have had to recalibrate my own understanding of what gives a person value and dignity. And interestingly enough, it has nothing to do with leadership ability or accomplishments.

Kristen: Thank you for sharing that story. I never knew this, but I’m so glad you didn’t let his hurtful words define you or stop you from leading us! I’m wondering, did you feel you had the same opportunities as your fellow white peers in school? Have you felt that way as an adult?

Amanda: This is a tough one. There’s been a lot of conversation around the word “privilege” in recent years. And though I don’t disagree with the tenant that in America, whiteness affords a certain privilege over peoples of color, I also can’t say that it’s a one dimensional conversation. I too grew up with a certain amount of privilege, but mine were attached to socioeconomics. We weren’t rich by any stretch, but I came from a household with two working parents (four really because I have step-parents whom I adore), lived in a middle-class neighborhood where we were THE ONLY Black family for 15+ years, and I was involved in “all the things.”

I was an athlete, a decent scholar, attended church regularly, and had a loving stable family. I am also a black woman and, statistically, tend to fare better than my brothers of color. So, on its face, yes, I seemed to have similar opportunities as my peers for a myriad of reasons.

However, as an adult, I’ve come to realize that so much of opportunity is about exposure. Though I had things, there was a lot about the world that I didn’t know, because it had not been a part of my parents or their parents (and so on) experience. And this lack of knowledge affects so many of the decisions that are made. For example, how does one choose a college to attend (my grandparents went to the ones that accepted blacks and my parents went to the ones they could afford coming from poverty). So, for my family, going to college and finishing was the ultimate goal, so just pick one!

Now don’t misunderstand me, I do not regret my choice in school. It was some of the best years of my life. It’s where I became a Christian, where I met my husband and now father of my children and where I made lifelong friendships. But no one who understood how the system worked (counselors, teachers etc.) shared with me that given my grades, test scores, and extracurricular activities, I had options. No one encouraged me to dream big like they did for so many of my friends. And I can’t account for why not. This is only one example, but I saw this in so many other areas of life.

I’m frustrated for you, but so appreciate your willingness to share and the amount of grace you demonstrate in doing so, which brings me to my last question.

As a brother and sister in Christ, I want to be a good listener and be a part of changing our culture’s misgivings, especially when it comes to racial unity. I believe you feel the same way. What’s something you want someone like me to know? To do? That you feel could help us meet this goal. Maybe something you never been able to say out loud? I’m listening! And so are our readers.

Amanda: You know, I have often said that I don’t expect much from “the world.” When people outside of the body of Christ act without love, refuse to listen and affirm, and perpetuate the systems that seek to uphold the status quo, it may sting, but I recognize that I can have no expectation of these things where Jesus does not reside. But...when my family in faith refuses to acknowledge these truths, it’s especially painful. How can one who says they value life from the womb to the tomb as it were, disregard the cries of an entire people group when they say they’re hurting? Systematic racism exists. I think when some white people hear this, they think a finger is being pointed AT them personally. And they say, “I didn’t do anything. I’m kind to my neighbor. So, this argument is flawed, because I am proof things have changed.”

What’s interesting about this stance is that as believers we understand that through Adam’s original sin, and not necessarily through any action of our own at birth, we are born into sin. We have inherited a “system” because of the actions and fallenness of our ancestors. And we don’t take offense when people call us sinners. We rightfully shout, Hallelujah, thank God for a Savior. But when asked to acknowledge that the sins of forefathers have established systems that are present today which directly benefit white people and harm people of color, there is shirking away.

So, it makes me question, is it the sin you don’t want to acknowledge or the benefit you don’t want to lose? I love being an American, even with all its challenges. However, I think our national identity of being individualistic has eroded a central mission of the church. We’ve forgotten what it really means to live in community and to provide for the “least of these.” We’ve allowed ourselves to believe that if we’ve contributed to the can drive, coat closet, mission fund, we’ve done our part. Loving our neighbor means being willing to sacrifice some of our own comfort, so that “the least of these” can also live with dignity and without fear.

So, I would challenge us all to think about how we are really living out the Gospel mission.

I would also challenge believers to diversify their circles. @ohhappydani on Instagram sums the importance of “taking inventory of your inclusivity” nicely. She challenges us to take stock of whether we have diversity in the following areas: our inner circle of friends, the leaders we learn from, our place of worship, our beauty standards, the toys we buy our kids, and the businesses we patronize. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start. If you look at this list and realize the people in your areas all look the same, that should call for pause and reevaluation.

Amen! I was literally clapping and nodding the first time I read your response. Readers, go back and reread those words again!

Amanda, you are a voice to be heard! Keep speaking! I’m hearing you and honored to know you. May God bless you and your family greatly for your courage and grace. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Readers, you can connect with Amanda on Instagram at @ladybrooks625.

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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