The tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are the tragedies of 2020, but the need for racial reconciliation is unfortunately nothing new. Some who have been working to solve these injustices are tired and wonder if it will ever get better. For those who are not impacted by racism on a daily basis, many have had their hearts turned in recent weeks and want to do something to bring healing, but don’t know where to start.
The truth is, we can come together and eradicate racism. We can, together, bring healing from the past, honor to the black community in the present, and hope for all Americans as we look toward the future. We must start with Redefining Reconciliation. This is the first pillar of Race for Reconciliation and the first step we can each take in understanding how we each can play a part in ending generations of injustice and inequality.
In this episode you’ll discover:
- How to begin a conversation with someone of a different race
- What is reconciliation and why is it necessary to be redefined
- Why racial reconciliation needs to be more than just becoming friends
- The historical origins of racism
- What transparency and truth look like in reconciliation
Karin: Vonnetta, one of the things that we have been working on is as we walk into the space as an organization, one of the things that we wanted to do is provide a place where people feel like they can participate, that they can learn, that they can be educated and then become a part of the solution because you having walked in the space know that this is not just solving relationships, this is not just asking for forgiveness. There is a whole side to racial reconciliation that has to address some of the systemic problems that exist in our country.
One of the things as you and I have dialogued about is how do we major on the majors and how do we minor on the minors? How do we not get sideways energy and get distracted or allow things to enter in that would distract from our mission of wanting to bring healing, honor and hope?
So we have developed what we’re calling the five majors of R4R and what we’re hoping to do and you have been gracious to help us with a series of podcasts, is that as we go through to really kind of set a foundation so that just like you said, we can have these conversations, we can ask the questions, but we also have kind of you know in the bowling alley language, we put some gutters in, you know, some boundaries in so that we don’t end up in the gutter.
What I’d love to do as we come into this podcast is today to really talk about that first major. Because these are foundational to who we are I want to actually read if you’re on video you’ll be able to see this on the screen but read what this first major is and then for us to have a conversation about it. For you to help us to understand really what this journey is all about.
So that first major that we’re talking about we’re calling Redefining Reconciliation. We say we believe that reconciliation is one step toward each other, standing together in transparency and truth, then stepping forward together in love and justice. It is not a pledge to simply get along but to connect, to correct what has been harmful.
Now that’s several sentences that are just packed with a lot of meaning. I think maybe as we start out and we think about this kind of first major, first pillar of who we are and what we want to do, we’re talking about redefining reconciliation. For some people, they need to understand maybe even why we would say it needs to be redefined. What would you say in that context?
Vonnetta: Reconciliation has to be redefined because for many it seems to mean you know, let’s just get along. Let’s just pretend as though we don’t have these brutal systemic issues and also overt racism, and then also the language that supports it, rhetoric that supports this racism. So it’s more than I’m just going to agree to be friends.
I hear a lot of talk about I need more friends who are different. That doesn’t mean much to me anymore. The older I’ve got the more I realize I have like 10 white friends and I can have white friends who have each of them 10 black friends. That doesn’t mean systems are changing or racism is being eradicated, that just means I may have some personal relationships that helped me be comfortable, may help me learn more about different groups of people. but if these systems aren’t changing then we’re really doing a disservice and injustices remain. Children are still in the school to prison pipeline.
So I explain it to people this way; I have a nephew who’s very dear to me, I have 6 nieces who are very dear to me. If you’re saying to me Vonnetta, I want to be your friend and I want racial reconciliation and then we begin to talk and I discover that you’re not willing to really put any work into getting my nieces and my nephew out of the school to prison pipeline they’re in because they’re black or you might not be concerned about systems that would criminalize my nephew simply because he’s black. What that says to me is we don’t really have a relationship, we’re not reconciling. We’ve just agreed not to really dig into issues around racism and that’s why racism continues to persist in this country and in the world.
You have diversity but that’s not justice and we have what we call inclusion but that’s not addressing systemic issues. I can be included, we can have diverse spaces, we can say we reconciled but true reconciliation means we’re coming together and we are agreeing to move forward towards love and justice together. That’s different than Rodney King who said why can’t we all just get along?
I always joke that I think people have confused. Dr. King’s philosophy with Rodney King who was brutalized by the LAPD and in response to the violence that broke out at a not-guilty verdict for those who beat him, he said why can’t we all just get along? That’s not quite what Dr. King was talking about, it was much more intrinsic than that. So reconciliation, it does, it has to be redefined.