I looked out at the hundreds of moms and asked, “Who grew up believing that colorblindness was the answer to racism or that you were a racist if you talk about race or racism?” Just about every mom in the room, with eyes widened, leaned in to testify, and arms of various skin tones sprung up waving hands like flags in solidarity.
The MOMcon workshop session was slated for an hour, so we didn’t have time and space to hear each mom’s specific story. Although most were strangers, their unified response to my prompt elicited an instant familiarity, the type usually found among long-time friends. They were moms of different ages, from different backgrounds and regions, gathered in a room in Louisville, Kentucky and connected around a common story.
I then asked, “If you were told to be colorblind, to not acknowledge differences in skin color, to pretend that everyone is treated the same, and to not talk about race and racism, then why are you here? Why are you attending my workshop on how to talk about skin tone and race with your children?” They responded with guilty grins that warmed the space to family-room temperature. I broke from my cadence of questions to induce an intentional pause.
I paused to acknowledge, recognize, and honor the sacredness of what was happening. They and I, at some point in our lives, had been silenced, robbed of language, power, and the right to express the parts of our stories related to skin color, ethnicity, race, and racism. Directly or subconsciously, we had been conditioned and expected to muffle and muzzle those parts of our lived experiences. We had been forced to fracture ourselves, to compartmentalize our lives into classifications — certain parts approved for comfortable consumption and those other parts branded too risky to escape the tongue, let alone grace listening ears.
And there we each were with our fragmented stories, collectively ready to push past the typically validated parts of our stories so we could unleash the parts that had been suppressed into invisibility. We were compelled to no longer hide those parts because we were in resurrection mode! Where our stories had been broken into pieces to be discarded to dark space, we were now positioning them into the light to bring new life.
And so, in reflective quiet, we paused to venerate the sacred space shaped by sharing our stories — our whole stories and our whole selves. We had been told not to talk about skin tone, ethnicity, race, and racism as a part of our lived experience, but we would no longer adhere to a social norm that lessened our validity and forced unnecessary and unhealthy restraints.
In that pause, the air was heavy with the weight of a collective acknowledgement. A room full of moms (mostly white) were taking a risk to speak life into that which for most of their communities was a dead issue. They were being courageous. They were breaking the rules. They were stepping out and beyond. They were choosing discomfort over convenience. They inhaled the bravery in the air and exhaled the hope that had been stifled by silence. I was so proud of them!
Each of our lives is an impressively elaborate story written by God. When parts — especially the less popular, painful, ugly, or unpolished parts — are muted, we dilute God’s brilliantly crafted details.
Your whole story matters. I can appreciate fantasy and fairytales, but you — all of you — are a gift to the world. Your whole story reveals God’s love in its uniquely designed way. Your whole story enriches perspectives, shines light in dark souls, brings connection to isolated hearts, unfolds understanding, and cultivates appreciation and empathy.
Please don’t deny the world the privilege of your whole story.
And for those of us who get the opportunity to be impacted by someone’s whole story, including the parts that may make us uncomfortable, let’s welcome it as an invitation to be touched and transformed. We stifle the fullness of all that we can gain from the whole story, and we miss out on the fullness of God at work in our lives. We lose when we silence authentic and real lived experiences. So, instead of coddling our discomfort, let’s open our hearts, minds, and eyes to receive the gift extended through it.
Each of our lives is an impressively elaborate story written by God. - @brownicity: Click To Tweet