I’ll take a break from my reminiscences of friends in our past to talk about today. Right now. What’s happening here. In my life.
I was invited to join a group called “Be the Bridge.” It’s a gathering, for just ten weeks, of five white women and five women of color. We haven’t all been able to meet every week, but always a majority met and the conversations have been quite instructive. Our lessons are all Bible-based, with pertinent scriptures underlying everything we do and discuss. Participants often quote scripture as we talk.
Most of these women I’ve known for years—many since birth. I don’t know if that made the conversations easier or harder. All attend integrated churches. We agreed from the beginning that our conversations were for sharing information, not trying to convert anyone to a certain belief. Humility and transparency were emphasized.
Three of us are biracial. One white woman has adopted two Black children from South Africa, and another teaches primarily undocumented immigrants from various countries. One woman of color said she was taught to overlook white ignorance and the others agreed.
We learned about “colorism”—that both Black and white families prefer lighter skin and give more attention and respect to lighter-skinned people of color. We talked about family dynamics when some children or grandchildren are lighter than others. We learned that older Black women often stress the importance of having their hair straightened. It’s all due to what works best with white people. Black children were often taught “white is right.”
Another thing I learned: When Blacks were dying by the droves due to crack cocaine, very little was done to help those people. When whites started dying due to addiction to heroin, it became a big issue—more public outcry, better rehab, more organizations helping. I had no idea.
Another: Being “color blind” is not the goal. We must recognize diversity and embrace it, encouraging equality.
We learned the “platinum rule,” which is even higher than the “golden rule.” It’s to respectfully treat others the way they want to be treated.
We’ve been seeking truth-telling without fear, humility without pride or defensiveness, respect for voices and struggles, patience, forgiveness, and grace.
Our lessons included
- awareness (1 Corinthians 5:14-21)
- acknowledgement and lament (James 4:8-10)
- shame and guilt—even if we didn’t do something overt ourselves (Ezra 9:5-6)
- confession (James 5:16)
- forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4)
- repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10)
- reparation (Philemon 1:1, 3-21)
- restoration (John 21:9-17)
This outreach was initiated by Latasha Morrison in 2012. She began by gathering a group of friends, white and Black, to study scriptures and learn from each other. The mission is to inspire the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racial unity. Since then she has written a book, Be the Bridge, that I recommend everyone should read. Even though we may not agree with everything in it and parts are painful, it’s very thought-provoking.
I love this group so much! Next Sunday will be our last meeting. When the weather is better or we can meet indoors safely, we hope to start other such groups so that we can work toward unity and love throughout our church, our country, and the world.