Imagine two neighbors, one white and one black sitting down for a cup of coffee. The white neighbor has history in the small town—her family runs the local restaurant, her uncle is the community pastor, her mom is a career teacher at the only primary school, and her great uncle is the mayor. The story of the white neighbor is well known by everyone and it is considered normal. The black neighbor is new to town, so her story is virtually unknown. It is either distorted, rarely heard, or told in small snippets.
This is what it sometimes feels like to be black in America. We are treated as outsiders in a town where those in the majority group know and trust each other because of a known and shared history; but because of limited personal interactions, lack of familiarity, or cultural awareness, it is easy for Americans who identify as white to perpetuate lies and myths about their black and brown neighbors.
Some may ask: Why are we so divided across racial/ethnic and socioeconomic lines in America? I believe people desperately want an accessible way to answer this question, to confront their concerns, and to better understand themselves and their neighbors. People of good will may long to shed their fears of the unknown, reject false assumptions, and enter into relationships with their neighbor, but for this to happen, we must trade in the shallow break room chatter for more informed dinner conversations and long talks on the front porch.
Getting beyond our misunderstandings requires an investment of our time. We can grow healthy relationships and communities across racial lines, but honest conversations must take place. These conversations desperately need more accurate narratives from the black community.
So I find myself coming to the table and putting my bottom on the chair again to write a book. My hope is that this book will give us all an accessible way for better understanding, and help us have more holistic conversations, which lead to real life, relational, and systemic change. More importantly, I hope it provides a hopeful and compelling challenge to culture shapers and Christian leaders to rise up and take a stand on behalf of the “other,” so we can all live in a better world.
We need to hear more accurate stories from people of color. Our voices, our history, our stories, and our lives all matter. So I am challenging myself to vulnerably tell my story to random strangers and any neighbors near and far who are willing to listen. I will also challenge you, the reader, regarding your own spiritual formation, cultural biases, our shared comfort in injustice, misperceptions, and to intentionally confront the ways in which our vision might be distorted when approaching others who are different than us.
My hope and prayer is that we, the redeemed people of God, will truly live as reconciled people. We are at a critical time in American history, and the American church, meaning the body of Christ, must intentionally and courageously confront our own sins, and the various ways we have not loved our neighbors well, been slow to call for justice, or worst, been complicit through our silence.
I am honored to announce that for this project, I will be partnering with InterVarsity Press (IVP). InterVarsity Press has a long history of raising up the voices of people of color, and championing gifted women leaders. Many of the people that I admire and study are IVP authors. Most importantly, InterVarsity Press and I have a shared commitment for sound biblical teaching, theological reflection, and a deep love for the church. I am excited to work with a team that is clear about their mission, and their contributions to the church and the world.
So I ask for your prayers as I will be working on the book for the remainder of this year. Edits and marketing stuff will happen next year, and we hope to have a book ready for pre-order by the end of next year. That’s a long time I know. Trust me, I will need all of it to pray, read, reflect, and discern the words that God wants to land on a page. Additionally, I need to lead and live a little. I appreciate your support, prayers, and encouragement.