Saturday, August 12, 2017

perspectives on privilege & racial reconciliation: week 1

A few months ago, my dear friend Mika came to me with an idea. I love when Mika has ideas.

She invited me to be part of a blog collaboration on the topic of racial reconciliation and privilege. The Lord has used a number of circumstances over the past year to awaken my eyes and heart to the marginalized in our world. Rather than apologizing for the life of privilege God has given me, I am now seeing ways He asks me to use my privilege to speak up rather than look away. I refuse to believe Satan's lie that this problem is too big, too heavy, and is better to just ignore. Writing is one way I speak up.

It is my great honor to welcome Mika as a guest writer to 44 & Oxford. She is getting us started by sharing her heart for this collaboration. Over the next month, you will hear from myself and two other beautiful women on the topics of privilege and racial reconciliation.



By Guest Writer, Shamika Karikari

Heather and Holly were the first friends I made in school. It was back in 1990 when I was 5 years old and in kindergarten. They were also twins which made our friendship extra special for my twin sister and me. And they were white. I could not have anticipated that our afternoon kindergarten class at Becker Elementary would be the beginning of my ability to build genuine friendships across race. 

From a young age I noticed segregated spaces around me. I vividly remember my twin sister and I often being the only Black faces in a sea of white spaces. We had a way of making white people feel comfortable. Some of this rubbed off from our parents who were always open to white people, even when the gesture was not returned. We dated white boys, had white friends over for dinner and sleepover, and my parents were unfazed. Looking back, I see how my upbringing forced me to navigate white spaces with ease and confidence, but also at a cost. The cost of giving up some of me in order to be more palatable to white people was high. I didn't have the language to articulate this then, but now I understand that tension more deeply.

As an adult, I see the racial divide continues. Although I haven't been called a nigger, I have experienced other racial slurs and microaggressions. In recent years I have witnessed countless Black women and men killed by police officers for being Black. People like Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Sam DuBose, Mike Brown, and the list goes on and on. Our Black skin continues to be reason enough to be feared. 

I've organized spaces to grieve these unjust deaths. 

I've participated in discussions to process these unjust deaths. 

I've protested these unjust deaths. 

And yet, I still have a desire to do more. I've felt God lay on my heart the role I should play in regards to racial reconciliation in the Christian community. 

I go to a church whose values are devotion, discipleship, and diversity. 
I have Christian friends of many races. 
And yet, the divide still feels great. 
Sometimes the weight of racial division in the U.S. feels so great I'm left paralyzed to do anything.
And I think a lot of us can agree with that feeling. 
We think the problem is too big, so we do nothing. 
And although this is an easy place to land, I know God has called me to do more.
To trust him to bring racial reconciliation to our community and for me to do my part in that. 

So I asked myself, what could I do in my sphere of influence? What could my contribution be? I love writing and love people; why not start there? And this is how this blog collaboration was born. Since I write in my blog, albeit infrequent, I know I have a diverse readership, which isn't something I see often. Typically I see blogs that either speak to white women or women of color. I rarely find writing that intentionally has both in mind. I wanted to change that, so I decided to bring three of my friends along for the journey. Precious, Amy, & Joy are all insightful and engaging writers who love Jesus. They are women I admire, women I trust, and women whose lights shine brightly. These are the type of women everyone deserves to hear from. We each committed to write an essay focused around themes of racial reconciliation and privilege from our unique lived experiences. We also committed to share the other three posts on our respective blogs so our readers are exposed to multiple perspectives.

A four week blog series isn't going to end systemic racism or racial division; however, I know God has called me to do something, and I will obey. As well, I know God can and does use us to advance his kingdom even if I have no clue what the outcome of this collaboration will be. God has only asked me to have a willing heart and trust him to do the rest. And that's what I'm going to do - follow God's prompting and trust he will use four women to begin conversation around racial reconciliation because God's heart is to see his people unified and reconciled.

So as you journey with us, I pray your heart will be open to what God wants to reveal to you.

I pray you would open your heart to each of our perspective that were uniquely designed by God.

I pray you are empowered to do something based on your role in racial reconciliation.

I pray you would be quick to listen and slow to speak.

How gracious of God to use someone as broken as me for his glory. How will he use you?


*****

Mika Karikari is a proud Black woman who loves Jesus, baking, sports, and writing. She currently spends most of her time reading and writing for her PhD program in higher education administration. She lives in her beloved hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio with her handsome husband. Mika's writing can be found on her blog, I am Enough. It currently focuses on grief, social justice, poetry, and faith.


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