Lean Close and Listen: A Mashup

I’m disturbed. To my very core.

I’m disturbed by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. I’m disturbed by the deaths of five police officers in Dallas. And now, more death in Baton Rouge.

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Life is life. Valuable. No matter what.

Death is death. Tragic. No matter what.

And I’m disturbed.

I’m also afraid.

But not in the way you might think.

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Right now, it is unclear what motivated the shooter in Baton Rouge to open fire on police officers. But as soon as news broke, the narrative was set in motion. Social media became abuzz with assumption: the shooter associated himself with Black Lives Matter.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Right now, that’s unclear.

And I’m afraid.

I’m afraid my white friends, whether they admit it or not, see things like the Dallas shooting (and potentially, Baton Rouge) as justification to dismiss the outcry from the black community.

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I’m afraid my white friends will see the anger and sometimes, the violence and aggression displayed by protestors, and thus, discredit the entire reason the #blacklivesmatter movement exists.

I’m afraid my white friends won’t ask WHY.

Why is there a movement? Why are people so angry? What is going on?

I’m afraid of a particular line of thinking that goes something like this:

If #blacklivesmatter weren’t a thing, then police officers wouldn’t be getting shot.

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Or, not quite as overt, but just as pernicious, I’m afraid that my white, Christ-professing friends won’t want to hear it anymore. I’m afraid they’ll see the hashtag and roll their eyes.

I’m afraid they will refuse to listen to the black community, which is overwhelmingly saying, “There is a problem here!”

Yesterday, my son said, “Mom, I wish you wouldn’t keep telling me to clean my room.”

To which I said, “Guess what, buddy? If you don’t want me to keep telling you to clean your room, then CLEAN YOUR ROOM.”

I’m pretty sure the same principle applies here.

Until things change. Until we stop ignoring and de-valuing the feelings and experiences of an entire people group, the sharing needs to continue.

And we all need to get honest with ourselves.

Have you felt annoyed when another #blacklivesmatter tweet pops up in your feed? Now in the same breath. Have you done any investigating as to why this is a hashtag? Or do you avoid the articles because you’re already convinced you disagree with them?

Or what about this:

Did you get upset over the deaths of the police officers in Dallas without first getting upset over the deaths of Alton and Philando? In your heart of hearts, the place only you and Jesus can see, do you believe one of those lives is more or less valuable than another?

This is where it starts. A good, hard, honest look at ourselves.

Maybe for you, annoyance isn’t a thing.

Maybe you’re just afraid to speak out.

Because if you speak out, you might align yourself with the wrong group. I see this from my conservative friends all. the. time.

To which I say:

Social injustice–any injustice–is not a political party thing. It is an Imago Dei thing. A Jesus thing. If we profess Him, then we need to care about the things He cares about. As far as I can tell, justice and mercy and human life is pretty high on His list.

If you’re sitting there worried that standing with the black community means standing against police officers, please just stop. No matter what either/or rhetoric is making the rounds, this is and will always be a both/and issue.

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Maybe these aren’t your fears.

Maybe your fear stems from a lack of understanding. 

Maybe you avoid the issue because you don’t feel qualified. You aren’t educated on such matters.

If that’s you, I have GREAT news!

You can get educated.

Might we begin here?

Follow these people

I’ve asked it before and I will ask it again. Who are you listening to? Who are you letting be the authority on topics of race and racial injustice? Other white people?

If so, might I call attention to the inherent problem this poses? Would you go to a conference on parenting if the keynote speaker wasn’t a parent?

We have to start listening well to voices in the black community.

For me, I look to Christian voices in the black community, because at the end of the day, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The people I list below love Jesus and they are part of the black community. Follow them and see what they have to say.

Of course, this is just the tippity-top of the iceberg. There are so many others. Find them. Listen. Hear what they are saying. Not the media. Not politicians. Not your grandmother. Them.

Stop saying All Lives Matter

It sounds good, but it’s counterproductive.

Confused?

Read this:

The Next Time Someone Says All Lives Matter, Show Them These Five Paragraphs

Watch this quick, informative video

Have you, perhaps, used one of these arguments in the face of #blacklivesmatter? This video is yours.

4 Responses You’ll Probably Hear When Talking About Black Lives Matter

Read these four articles

They are utterly eye-opening and I hope everybody who is reading this blog will click and read them in their entirety. I’ve included the link, followed by a couple snippets taken directly from the articles.

I’m a Black Ex-Cop and This is the Real Truth About Race and Policing

“On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.

That’s a theory from my friend K.L. Williams, who has trained thousands of officers around the country in use of force. Based on what I experienced as a black man serving in the St. Louis Police Department for five years, I agree with him. I worked with men and women who became cops for all the right reasons — they really wanted to help make their communities better. And I worked with people like the president of my police academy class, who sent out an email after President Obama won the 2008 election that included the statement, “I can’t believe I live in a country full of ni**er lovers!!!!!!!!” He patrolled the streets in St. Louis in a number of black communities with the authority to act under the color of law.”

And this …

“The reality of police abuse is not limited to a number of ‘very small incidents’ that have impacted black people nationwide, but generations of experienced and witnessed abuse.”

I Won’t Keep Your Secrets Anymore

“Why can’t people admit that their experience is not the only one? We all walk very different paths across this earth. When black people speak of the experiences they’ve had, why can’t white people just acknowledge? Why do so many feel compelled to argue and bristle and fight back?”

And also …

I can’t be the only white person who’s been privy to this kind of closet, subversive racism. I know there are a lot of white people standing up and speaking out and supporting the black community in saying, “This isn’t right. There needs to be change. We still have work to do.”

But not enough of them.

I’m telling you, as a member of the white community, not enough of you are speaking up. Not enough of you are being truthful about the racism you grew up with. The racism your friends spew. I hear it. I’ve been to your parties and your barbecues.

I know you hear it, too.

I won’t stand by and keep your secrets any longer.”

Dear White Christian Woman

“I know it’s my privilege to serve a savior that is near to the broken hearted. But I want to walk alongside a community of believers that are near to me as well.  Sadly…that’s just not the case. For every #AltonSterling and #TamirRice, I notice an overwhelming silence from my white Christian sisters. It’s deafening. I support every missional cause that my white Christian sisters push on social media for every impoverished country. But where is my community of believers when injustice is happening right in our own backyard? Is it less of a cause because there are no artisanal crafts to sell in honor of the slain? 

I’m hurting here. Really hurting. Like the kind of hurt that leaves you with no eloquent words…just sobbing. This. Should. Not. Happen. Whether you believe the victims are criminals or not, they deserve to make it to the police station, just like the police officer deserves to make it home.”

If You Don’t See the Tragedy in Black Neighborhoods, You’re Not Looking

“I do not think white Americans are guilty, as more militant people believe, of wanting black people dead or repressed. I also believe the answer lies in conservative principles and rule of law as opposed to socialism. But I do think white Americans are guilty of willful blindness, of thinking a problem has been solved when it hasn’t, of living in a bubble and not seeing the struggle of their fellow Americans.”

Read this book

Time for another honesty moment.

Have you ever thought something like, “Slavery ended forever ago. The Civil Rights Movement happened already. Jim Crow is a thing of the past. Can’t we all just move on?”

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How can something as devastatingly horrendous (and also, disturbingly deliberate and pre-meditated) as black slavery and Jim Crow not have long-lasting and far-reaching impact?

What book addresses this, you ask?

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Alexander lays it out. The full scope of American history (the rise and fall of slavery, the rise and fall of Jim Crow, and the after effects) as it pertains to black oppression. And that’s just in chapter one. I’m only on p. 48 and I’m already wrecked. I’m only on page 48 and I already know I can’t stay quiet or sit on the sidelines anymore.

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I hope you start this journey with me.

I hope you read the articles and follow the people on Twitter and watch the video. If you’re feeling ambitious, I hope you order the book and give it a read.

I hope you don’t shoo this post away in annoyance, or scratch your head in confusion, and move on.

I also hope you don’t read this, feel a moment of understanding and passion and conviction, and move on.

You could if you wanted. Doing so is your privilege as a white person.

For our black brothers and sisters, though? It’s not a privilege they have. These aren’t issues they can turn off because they’re sick of the drama. This is what’s happening to their sons and their fathers and their cousins and their neighbors.

For the sake of justice and freedom and healing, this privilege needs to be set down. We need to roll up our sleeves, lean in, and start listening.

Who’s ready to take this journey with me?

Please feel free to ask questions or share your thoughts in the comments below. You by no means have to agree with me. I encourage dialogue, so long as it is kind and respectful!

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I’m adding some stuff, because I’m at this beginning of this journey and my knowledge is so incomplete. Here are some more recent resources that are really helping me to understand this from a more complete, Christ-centered point of view:

Blog Series: FAQ about Racial Reconciliation from Trillia Newbell (there are two blog posts as of right now, with at least one more to come)

Podcast: Real Hurt, Real Hope: Racial Tension and Perseverance (if you have time to listen to ANYTHING, please let it be this)

Blog Post: It’s Not Either Or by Courtney Miller

The Year in Review

 

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At the beginning of 2015, I marked off these words in my Bible and held them close to my heart. Then the year commenced, and a wild ride it has been.

Fair warning: excessive use of exclamation points ahead. Proceed with caution.

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The Art of Losing Yourself became a RT Top Pick!

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After a long, hard, rubble-strewn road, we welcomed our daughter home.

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My fourth novel released!

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We had to say a very sad goodbye to our Bubba Bear.

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We celebrated my daughter’s third birthday on the earth, first birthday with us!

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Brogan graduated kindergarten!

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I wizened up and became a Mac person. 😉

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I indie-published my first ever young adult book under the nom de plume, K.E. Ganshert!

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Ryan and I celebrated our 11th anniversary!

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My third book baby won a Christy Award!

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I indie-published my second ever young adult book under the same nom de plume.

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I got a handle on this hair thing. At least, sort of.

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I signed another 2-book deal with Waterbrook Multnomah!

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I won the TIARA! Y’all. This is no joke.

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The final installment in my young adult trilogy released out into the world!

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Brogan started first grade and lost a whole bunch of teeth!

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He also asked Jesus to sit on the throne in his heart.

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Miss Salima Bean was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and oral-motor apraxia (and continues to show us every day how determined, resilient, and strong she is).

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I won a Carol, which was cool. Even cooler? Meeting one of my all-time favorite authors. Hello there Francine Rivers!

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Salima became a U.S. Citizen and a Ganshert for life!

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My second novella released!

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I dabbled in Amish fiction!

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That dabbling ended up on the ECPA best-seller list.

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We dedicated our daughter to the Lord in front of our church family.

Oh, 2015. The Lord’s goodness, you most definitely showed me. And while the highlights were many, so much of it was just … real life.

I lost some friends. I made some friends. There were days filled with joy and many filled with stress. I got a whole bunch of new gray hairs. Became very familiar with the world of speech therapy and occupational therapy and individualized education plans. I cried tears and dried tears. I laughed a lot and prayed a lot and ate a lot of chocolate. On more days than I care to admit, I forgot to choose joy. I let tiredness or crankiness or stressed-out-ness or in-a-hurry-ness win. But God’s grace sustained, regardless. God loves me still, regardless. And through everything–the highs and the lows and the nitty-gritty in between of everyday life–His glory shines.

Here’s to having open eyes, open ears, and an open heart to God’s relentless pursuit of me in the year ahead. God’s relentless pursuit of you in the year ahead. Here’s to a fabulous 2016!

How did 2015 treat you?

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, readers! I love you muchly!

A New Look and A New Adventure

new adventureHey friends! If you’re here, wondering what looks different, good eye! Thanks to my fabulous web designer, I did some redecorating.

I’m not completely finished, so it’s sort of like you’re coming over mid renovation. There are some tweaks I’ll be making and some things I’ll be adding over the next few weeks, so come back often to have a look around.

I figured the remodel was a long time coming. First, because my hairs got longer. And second, I really needed to get with the times and make my cyber home mobile friendly. So there you go. That’s me up there in that header. That’s what I’m looking like these days. Scratch that. Most days, I’m in sweats and without makeup. BUT! The hair is the right length.

You may have also noticed this whole K.E. Ganshert thing (it’s more obvious if you go to my home page). And under books? What is THAT!? Young Adult? I promise to share more about this new adventure soon (I’m crazy, giddy excited about it). For now, just know that it isn’t a typo. I am going to be coming out with some young adult fiction under the nom de plume, K.E. Ganshert (I know, super mysterious, right?). If you’d like to stay up-to-date on the latest (and be among the first to see cover art), please subscribe to my K.E. Ganshert mailing list.

Now to the newsletter sign up. Something else you may have noticed.

In the past, I’ve collected email addresses and sent out a welcome note and complimentary devotional. I’ve decided to forgo the welcome note and devotional and send out a quarterly newsletter instead. Each will include a message from my heart (whatever God’s putting there), a Bible verse that’s been ministering to me, a book recommendation, as well as any good deals/sales that I think my readers would like to know about. And, of course, pertinent book news (new releases, cover art, etc). There might be one or two other things. I haven’t fully decided yet. The first newsletter will go out in April. I’m pretty giddy about this, too! I think you should sign up. 🙂

Two more things really quick:

Have you heard of The Grove? It’s a new website/blog that I’m incredibly honored to be a part of. We’re all about finding our stories at The Grove. The real-life kind. Not the fictional kind. I shared about plot twists last Tuesday and my friend Beth Vogt shared about beginnings on Thursdays.  You should hop on over and say hello.

And if you have the time, I’d love your feedback on this very quick survey. My marketing director and I are trying to figure out which social media sites my readers like best. It’s a quick and easy survey, I promise, and the data will be of great help to us. Thanks in advance!

I believe that should cover it. Wishing you all a fabulous Monday!

What new adventures are YOU starting these days?