You Weren’t Born This Way

“Whenever someone shows up in an honest and authentic way, it makes it a little easier for someone else to do the same.”

Charlotte Donlon, Hope for the Lonely

I am grateful for honesty and authenticity. Author Cara Meredith and I became friends before I knew her story, and she mine, thank God. Just a few years earlier, we might not have worked.  

Cara’s book, The Color of Life: A Journey toward Love and Racial Justice describes her growing up in a colorless world. I don’t even know what that means.

I was Born a Negro.

No, seriously; it is printed on my original birth certificate. A dark brown child of the 60s, I was blessed to be born and raised in a Black Nationalist family. All my dolls were black like me. My caramel-toned mother, with freckles, told me often that my skin was the precise shade of chocolate brown she’d always wanted to be (talk about affirmation). I grew up on #BlackGirlMagic decades before it was even a thing, so the notion that someone might be raised NOT to see me irked me more than a little.

Colorblindness is my kryptonite; a micro-aggression I do not tolerate. As a younger woman, I patiently explained the slight, extending grace, building bridges. At this point in my life, I have given myself permission to be who God made, and she is not always ready to play nice. I’m happy to make my case if you’re interested, but this is not about me-not today.

This is why I am grateful for friends like Cara who live Grace and Reconciliation. It is this practice by which we will heal our land. As I finished reading her book, of all things, the words of Brother Malcolm checked me-hard. 

“Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.”

― el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz

Who I am and How I Choose to Live Today? I was Not Born This Way.

Even in my evolving, liminal state, I do best to keep my mind and eyes open, and my mouth shut. That is one of Cara’s lessons, far more gently put. Bridge building is an act of redemption, and I learned from her as I read.  

I remember at least one time when my knee-jerk response to an offense was to condemn something I found personally offensive. God and genuine friendship allowed me to articulate the issue to a friend, who offered in love to mitigate the “offense.” However, we talked through my bias and realized, this time, it was about me. I was wrong and grateful to have been given space to self-correct and learn.  

Being given space to self-correct and learn again might be the greatest gift of friendship Cara has given me. As a result of her genuine earnest seeking, I learned new lessons in Grace. 

If you think you’ve got racial reconciliation all figured out, I guarantee you’re wrong. Like so much of life, it is a moving target; it changes, as do we. If, however, you are committed to the reality that we are connected, women, mothers, writers, warriors, those bearing the mantle of social justice, then know this. There is always something to learn. Even for a smartass like me, who already knows everything. #sorrynotsorry  

Father/Mother/God,

bless the words You poured into Cara that she might offer them up to the world. Pierce our shields, break us open, till the soil of our hearts to receive fresh seed and nurture new fruit. As we are bound to You, whether we like it or not, bind us also to one another, as we are in this together. Open our eyes. Open our hearts. Grant us Grace. Selah, Asé, and Amen. 

I’m the PK daughter of an Ivy-league seminarian member of The Black Panther Party. 

I thought Dr. Cone’s Black Liberation Theology was how everybody learned Faith. I spread the message of #TheColorofLife because as an African-American child of the 60s, I will never be neutral and dispassionate about American race relations. I am not healed and some of y’all keep poking the wounds. 

Furthermore, if I am honest, it is not my calling to fix and educate America, particularly the church. I’m not ready to play nice and feel zero obligation to do so; I’m grown and good, thank you. However, I amplify the voices of people I trust to do the work. @carameredithwrites is one of those people. 

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