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.


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 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.


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.


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!


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

15 thoughts on “Lean Close and Listen: A Mashup

  1. It is sad to know that you are faced with such horror in the real life. I fully share your feelings about this tragedy. I hope that the guilty will be punished.

  2. Lynne Waterman

    Wonderful article and resources. Thank you Katie! It does nothing but add value to another person’s story if we can just lean in and listen. I don’t need to be “right” or “defend” if I can just listen and learn from those who have experienced things I haven’t. It doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. My heartbreak for image bearers is for all of them…not just ones like me. There’s a much bigger story than what we can see with our limited view. Another voice to listen to out of Chicago – Shawn Casselberry – engaging in the lives and stories of people that are different than him. It is a Jesus thing and justice and mercy are high on His list of important things and He defines them…not us.

  3. Anyone who has ever been devalued or marginalized for any reason should feel profound empathy for others. I am tired of hearing about white privilege, however. Being white does not guarantee a life of ease,of respect, nor of power. For me, that phrase stops the conversation. I’m also tired of being told I can’t understand because I’m not black. I’ve never been a victim of sex trafficking, but I empathize with those who have. I’ve never had an abortion, but my heart aches for those touched by it. I’ve never had cancer, but I’ve wept and prayed with those who have. I agree that we all need to be more informed and slow to respond, but I find the two things I’ve mentioned as stumbling blocks to communication and understanding.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Deena – I appreciate your thoughts. White privilege doesn’t mean we are bad or that we have a life of ease, respect, or power. That’s not at all the definition. Can I kindly ask if you read any of the articles? Particularly, “I Won’t Keep Your Secrets Anymore”. The author of the article gives a very good example of white privilege.

      I understand that the idea of white privilege might rub you the wrong way. But with as much love as I have, can I urge you to push past those feelings and listen/dig in to what white privilege really is?

      I just read a very eye-opening article written by a black woman who talks about specific experiences she’s had throughout her life and how each one is an example of white privilege.

      She defines white privilege quite succinctly at the end of the article as: the privilege a white person has to not be judged, questioned, or assaulted in any way because of race.

      She goes on to say:

      “Trust me, nobody is mad at you for being white. Nobody. Just like nobody should be mad at me for being black. Or female. Or whatever. But what IS being asked of you is to acknowledge that white privilege DOES exist and to not only to treat people of races that differ from yours “with respect and humor,” but also to stand up for fair treatment and justice, to not let “jokes” or “off-color” comments by friends, co-workers or family slide by without challenge, and to continually make an effort to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so we may all cherish and respect our unique and special contributions to society as much as we do our common ground.”

      Here is the link to the full article (#5 has some language in it, so if that offends you, you can skip over that one and read the others): https://goodblacknews.org/2016/07/14/editorial-what-i-said-when-my-white-friend-asked-for-my-black-opinion-on-white-privilege/

      As far as not being able to understand because you’re not black … again, that article will help as you lean close and listen. Nobody is saying that you can’t sympathize. In fact, the more we educate ourselves and read these types of articles, the more we CAN sympathize. I don’t think I said that anywhere in my article. I simply said that when it comes to the “experts” in any particular topics, it should be someone who has hands-on, life experience.

  4. Connie Saunders

    You have voiced what I have been feeling but you can say it so much more eloquently than i ever could. I am also fearful and I believe that only our continued,constant and consistent prayers to our Father can bring a chance!

    1. Connie Saunders

      Bring a change

    2. Katie Ganshert

      Praying with you, Connie!

  5. Shari Bradley

    Oh Katie… yes, I live in privilege and such joy right now – retired, enjoying my children and grandchildren, not experiencing oppression because of my Jewish heritage and only slightly aware of that experienced by our Black brothers and sisters. Growing up in L.A. in the 60’s, we had students from many cultures in our schools, so prejudice was not a big issue for me. Visiting the South in 1976 on the Bicentennial Wagon Train, I heard it and saw it quite profoundly. Always surprises me when I see it because I wasn’t raised that way. There is such confusion now. Who is innocent, who is being brutal, who is being “a thug.” We just never know. And certainly, there is a why to both questions. Could this be the festering of a long-ignored wound, finally being cleansed of the purulence of prejudice? I hope so. Thank you for expressing these difficult thoughts and feelings. I will try to grow with you.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Shari! You’re right. There is SO MUCH confusion floating around. Praying we would dig beneath it and figure out the context of what’s going on and why. Thanks for reading this post!

  6. For such a time as this. ❤️ Well done friend.

    1. Katie Ganshert


  7. Kristen Terrette

    I’m on the verge of balling right now at the pool of a fancy resort location with my family happily playing, unaware of the turmoil going on in this world. You’re words are exactly right and SOOOO mimic my thoughts! Thank you for sharing! In posting this to all my social media now!

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Thank you for sharing, Kristen!!

  8. Holly

    I so appreciate your humility and authenticity in engaging with this topic. It is so important. Well done.

    1. Thanks girl. ❤️❤️


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