A leading advocate for racial reconciliation offers a clarion call for Christians to move toward relationship and deeper understanding in the midst of a divisive culture.
With racial tensions as high within the church as outside the church, it is time for Christians to become the leaders in the conversation on racial reconciliation. This power-packed guide helps readers deepen their understanding of historical factors and present realities, equipping them to participate in the ongoing dialogue and to serve as catalysts for righteousness, justice, healing, transformation, and reconciliation.
I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Publishers for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
Last April, I attended a conference in Montgomery, Alabama. Several of us from my department in undergrad were presenting at this conference, and when we weren’t busy with that, we were walking all over the city and seeing some of the museums and attractions. As the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, you can only imagine the depth and importance of their history. We walked through these museums that talked about the horrible injustices inflicted on human beings because of their skin color, and told the story of heroes such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. I realized that of all the places I have traveled and all of the museums I have gone through, this was the first time that the focal point was not on Caucasians, and I was shocked at how much this revelation taught me.
Thus began my interest in racial division in America. Since then, I have read countless articles, watched documentaries, and even written a research paper for school on the topic of racial discrepancies in rural education. Then when I saw this book available to review, I jumped on it. Morrison does a phenomenal job of illustrating just how white-washed our culture is. She tells stories from history that I’d never heard before, shares experiences from her own life and family, and uses a variety of sources (including current events) to back up her message. She addresses the issues from historical, political, societal, and personal perspectives, which gave the book a comprehensive feel. I loved the variety of sources that she quotes, and she did a wonderful job relating the issue of race back to the Bible. I also liked that she included a prayer and discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
My big complaint with this book is that the problem felt over simplified by the way that she juxtaposed White people against racial minorities, especially African-Americans. The whole issue was portrayed as White people mistreated racial minorities, so they need to repent and make restitutions, and the racial minorities need to forgive them. The problem is not really that White people owned slaves, mistreated Japanese Americans during World War II, or took advantage of Native Americans to obtain their land. The problem is that our sin nature causes us to categorize and dehumanize people and place ourselves above them. This is why slavery has been a prominent institution in the large majority of cultures throughout history and why we still see it today. This is why Nazis murdered millions of people perceived to be genetically inferior. This is why up to 90% of Africans shipped to America were enslaved by fellow Africans and then sold to to the European traders, and then were sometimes owned by fellow African-Americans. Not because White people are bad, but because everyone has a sin nature. Without this perspective, our efforts to solve racial division will be like trying to put a band-aid on cancer. It might fix the immediate problem, but it won’t do anything to solve the larger and more deadly one.
During the first half of this book, I would have said that every Christian needs to read it. It was so full of information that just doesn’t get talked about in everyday life, but needs to be. But during the second half, I felt as though I was being scapegoated – being forced to take the blame for something I don’t even know if my ancestors did, all because of my skin color. Reconciliation is something that needs to happen, especially in the church, and Morrison does a good job of pointing out solutions that individuals can implement. I just wish that she had embraced a broader perspective. The bottom line is that this book offers a valuable story that needs to be heard. I would recommend reading it, because it forced me to look at this issue in a new light, and caused me to think about these topics deeply whether I agreed with Morrison or not.