I have had wonderful opportunities to interact with brothers and sisters in Christ this spring during this season of travel and speaking engagements. I have loved reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. One of these new friends is Mark Moore, Director of Church Mobilization at International Justice Mission. Mark attended a forum titled, Grappling with Race & Reconciliation as Resurrected Sons & Daughters, where I was a featured panelist at the Missio Alliance conference a couple weeks ago. During this time, I shared how one of my white male high school teachers impacted my life and influenced the trajectory of my future. Mark, a white male, was overcome with gratitude and thanksgiving as he shared his similar story with me following the forum. His was my story in reverse. It was an African American male that positively influenced his life and changed his future. I shared with him the importance of sharing these positive stories and changing the negative narratives that are far too common and stereotypical in our society. I am honored to share our encounter and part of Mark’s story here:
I went to the Missio Alliance Truly Human conference to present a workshop and hang out with my friends – those were my intentions. After sitting in on a forum on race and reconciliation, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion and unable to restrain my tears – those were not my intentions, but they were the Lord’s.
The forum I attended was called Grappling with Race & Reconciliation as Resurrected Sons & Daughters. The four panelists were Don Coleman, Brenda Salter McNeil, Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, and Nikki Toyama-Szeto – one African-American man, two African-American women, and one Asian-American woman.
As I sat and listened, I quickly realized that no matter how much I think I understand racial issues, I simply don’t. There is a simple reason–I am a white middle-class American male. That’s just a fact. It means I see the world from a position of privilege, from a position of power.
I am a well-read and thoughtful person, someone concerned with social issues. Therefore I would not consider myself ignorant of the challenges facing minorities in our country, but it wasn’t until I sat and listened to these four people that I began to realize just how ignorant I am.
Remember, being ignorant is not the same as being stupid. If you are stupid it means you lack intelligence; if you are ignorant it means you lack knowledge. These are very different. I am an intelligent person, but what I lack is first-hand knowledge of what it means to live as a minority.
Continue reading at the Missio Alliance blog.