White People! Let’s Talk About Racism

Hello my white brothers and sisters. My name is Todd “OC” Shoemaker and I am a white guy, who wants to challenge you to confront and talk about racism in America. I know most of you don’t want to discuss this issue, but we can no longer ignore it. Racism in America still exist and we must deal with it. We can no longer hide behind our gated communities in the suburbs.

I can hear the moaning and excuses. Todd, things are better in America since the Civil Rights Movement. People just need to get over the past. I am not a racist. I have several friends of color. My coworker is African-American. Good for you, but have you ever had a conversation about racism with your friends or coworkers of color? Does your church talk about racism and the effect it has on your church and community? Or do you only have those discussions when a African American man/boy is shot and killed? Ouch! I know, I am making you uncomfortable. Good! I hope reading this makes you uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable for me to write. But unless we are made to be uncomfortable, we will never take the steps to change things.

Todd, why are you so passionate about this topic? I am glad you asked. Every since I can remember, I have been passionate about civil rights in America. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a civil rights attorney. Of course that never happened, but my passion for civil rights, social justice and racial reconciliation never left me. Growing up, some of my best friends were African American. They always made me feel welcomed. More importantly, they pushed me to have real conversations about racism in America. These were not always easy conversations to have, but they helped me become the person I am today. The person I continue to strive to be. Most of the time, I just sat there and listened. I took the time to hear the pain, frustration and racism my friends of color dealt with everyday. I asked questions when appropriate. I learned about African American History. A history that I was not being taught in school. My African American friends taught me how to talk about racism and confront it. I am thankful these friends from childhood were patient with me. It is because of them that I am the person I am today. Never comfortable with the injustices I see around me. Never afraid to confront these injustices. Never afraid to have those tough conversations about racism and injustices in America. To never stop learning.

I want to encourage my white brothers and sisters to have the courage to have these tough conversations with each other, but more importantly to have these conversations with brothers and sisters of color. These conversations could be messy. That’s okay. Those messy conversations will help you and America be a better place for all of us. ~OC

Talking About Race and Justice

When is the last time you cried out to God for racial reconciliation and true justice. I have been praying for racial peace and justice for many years. If these issues truly grieve our hearts, we need need to be in continuous prayer.

Besides prayer, there are several steps we can take to help bring about racial reconciliation and justice. Here are a few steps, I believe can help us as we navigate these most important topics.

Respectful Conversations. It is so important that we approach these conversations with respect. Respect for the the centuries of pain faced by our brothers and sisters of color. Respect for the differences we bring to the conversation. We must respect the people we are engaging with. I believe coming from a place of respect can help make these conversations meaningful and bring about change.

Examine Your Motives. Why are you engaging in conversations about race? Is it to feel better about yourself? Is it the popular thing to do? If those are your motivations, you might need to examine your heart. Conversations about race have to be more than a feel good moment. Our motivation needs to be to address the real issues confronting America. That is what will truly lead to meaningful change.

Embrace Learning. Do not beat yourself up because you do not have all the answers. Keep asking questions. Most important, admit when you don’t have all the answers. The only way we can see real change is by asking questions. Join groups that are dedicated to racial reconciliation and justice. Read books on the issue. Most importantly, reach out to people that look different than you and get their perspective.

Listen. We have to listen to each other. Do not dominate the conversation with your own thoughts and beliefs. That will not lead to productive change. Take time to listen to everyone at the table. Dominating the conversation will only stop the flow of ideas and drive people away from the table.

Commitment to Change. Change is hard. Do not expect people to change overnight. To help change come about, everyone needs to commit to seeing real change take place. That is going to take patience and time. The racial issues we are facing did not happen overnight and will not be solved overnight. Make the commitment to stay involved for the long haul.

These are just a few suggestions. There are so many more steps I could have shared. Maybe I will have a Part 2 at some time. This journey to racial reconciliation and justice starts with you and me. My prayer is that we will all commit to having real conversations about the racial issues and injustices facing America. I am dedicated to having these conversations. Will you join me? ~OC

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