Book Review: Raise Your Voice

Why I picked up this book:

Raise Your Voice book cover.jpg

InterVarsity Press is the publisher of my forthcoming book. Long before I became an InterVarsity Press author, I was and am a devoted InterVarsity Press (IVP) reader. I don’t get to read all of the books that I want, but most of the time I am reading books that are written or influenced by InterVarsity Press authors. I find that IVP books are thoughtful, timely, highly theological, and engaging. This book delivered on that standard of consistency and excellence.

 

Who Should Read Raise Your Voice: Why We Stay Silent and How To Speak Up:

 

Today’s culture is bombarded with noise, messages, and information. Sometimes it is easier to tune out when we really should be dialing in. At other times, we may feel so overwhelmed or powerless by the messages that we receive that we opt to do nothing. Regardless of whether or not we find ourselves actively watching, listening to, and engaging the constant stream of information available on our televisions or electronic devices, we need books like this one.

 

We need a book to remind us of who we are and why we speak up even when it is hard and when we are afraid.

What’s in Store for You:

 

I should probably start by saying that I love Kathy Khang! I appreciate her willingness to take risk, use her voice, and speak up even when it is hard, when she is ridiculed or scandalized, and when she is afraid…she does it anyway because of Jesus, because of her love for him and his people, because of injustice, and because using her voice is her right and it is righteous to do so.

 

Kathy lives authentically and that is a human characteristic that I value. I like to know who I’m dealing with, and not having to guess or question someone’s words or motives. Kathy means what she says and this book is no different. This value of honesty is particularly important because we are living in a strange time when truth is being the taunted at the expense of alternative facts and flat out lies.

 

In the face of an American cultural and church that is dominated by the voices of white male patriarchy, domination, and nationalism, Kathy rises as a Korean American woman and naturalized citizen to tell her story and speak her truth. We all become better for the privilege and opportunity to listen and learn from people like her.

 

Khang uses the biblical narratives of Esther and Moses for as theological backdrop. She chooses these stories because both Moses and Esther were unlikely leaders, and I have found that people of color just read and glean more from theses stories particularly when they have come from a marginalized people group. Khang writes, “I can’t teach the story of Queen Esther the same way a white man would because our minds and hearts encounter the story from such different starting points.” Kathy is an ethnic minority who is also a woman. That matters to God and it matters for the redemptive story that he is writing so that she and others like her can rise up. We raise our voices, the voices of the marginalized because it is necessary, important and spiritual. The simplistic yet most profound statement in the book is, “Using our voice is holy work…”

 

My personal take-aways?

 

As I was reading this book, I was reminded of a conversation that I had with one of my Latina girlfriends who is also an author. She said something along the lines of, “I often find myself trying to communicate and speak through the lens of my African American friends.” Then there was a statement that followed which implied or questioned whether or not someone would want to read or buy a book where her story, history and cultural was center stage. I pondered as she spoke and hoped that the real answer to her thoughts was more open. I wanted to respond with a confident, “Yes, or course people want to hear stories like yours.” At least, I hope that is true.

I’m not so sure though. As I read through this book, I learned so much about Kathy’s family, history, and cultural. I actually learned her real name for the first time! We never talk about that. As women of color within evangelicalism, we most often talk about what we are up against and how we are going to fix it.

 

Yet, when I read her story, there was enough African American narrative and history included which caused me to laugh out loud sometimes and think, “Of course, I know about that.” The “that” which I mention is common to many African Americans without our speaking a word. Kathy knows because she is a friend who listens and pays attention to her African American friends. She knows, at least in part, our story. The truth is: I don’t know or understand, nor can accurately articulate enough of her story to respond in kind. I’m sad to say that in an American culture and history where so much of the turmoil has been about blackness and whiteness, we have lost (or maybe we never had the desire) to understand our sisters and brothers who have a different heritage. We don’t love Kathy or her people enough to know their stories and have them stand and be valued on their own. That is what I regret. That is what I confess. That is what I want and need to change. That’s why we all need to read, listen to, and buy this book and others like it.

 

I have a book to give away (and yes, you should still pay it forward and buy one for a friend). This is how you enter –

 

Complete actions 1 or 2, and action 3:

 

  1. Follow @mskathykhang and @asistasjourney on Instagram, and then use the #RaiseYourVoice hashtag to tell us why you raise your voice.
  2. Follow @mskathykhang and @asistasjourney on Twitter, and then use the #RaiseYourVoice hashtag to tell us why you raise your voice.
  3. Comment below telling me about the way you are using or want to use your voice right now and why.

 

A winner will be selected and the book will be mailed next week. This offer is available until Monday, August 6, 2018.

 

Quotable:

 

“Women of color sit precariously and boldly in the intersection of race and gender, where raising our voices is a subversive, countercultural act that can earn us the labels of defiant or threatening.” Kathy Khang

 

“Our healthy whole selves are meant to be a testimony to God’s goodness even in times such as these (especially in times such as these).” Kathy Khang

 

Being a Jesus-follower trusting God’s sovereignty, and believing in our hearts that God is in control doesn’t absolve us from taking action or speaking out against injustice.” Kathy Khang

 

Tweetable:

 

“Sometimes we stay silent because we think that it’s our only choice to survive.” @mskathykhang 

 

“I didn’t understand how power my words and my voice could be until someone made sure I wouldn’t be heard.” @mskathykhang 

 

“Women of color need to be part of the reconciling work of the gospel.” @mskathykhang 

 

“Speaking up doesn’t increase division. It brings injustice and sin to the forefront.” @mskathykhang 

 

Next Up on this Topic:

 

A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World” by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Yes, I wrote it and yes, I have already read many drafts multiple times. However, it is most likely the next book that I will hold in my hand and read about similar topics and themes when it officially releases on October 9, 2019.

 

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2018

 

 

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