“Is racism still a thing?”
The question hung in the air as I tried to muster a response. I was at a Christian conference event, preparing to attend a “Women of Color” luncheon, when someone near me loudly asked this very surprising, and somewhat untoward, question. I wasn’t emotionally prepared to answer. I just politely responded “yes,” and made a quiet exit.
As I walked into the small movie theater room, where this luncheon took place, I had to pause to take in the beauty of this room. Women of all ethnicities were represented and I was instantly welcomed in. After we worshipped to predominately gospel music, we shared a meal and began the most life-giving conversation. We talked about what it was like to be a woman of color in the North American Evangelical Church.
Because I am half Thai and half white, I have always been keenly aware that I was different. When I was younger, it was the fact that my tan skin and pitch-black hair stood out.
When I was a little older, it was the racist jokes at my expense that painfully stung me and caused me to be uncomfortable in larger crowds of my peers. Journeying through my teenage years, the sneers and disgusting innuendos from distasteful men also confirmed my separateness. As an adult, I am still grappling with what it means to be a woman of color and how this specific descriptor impacts every aspect of my life.
As I listened to these women share their hardships, and subsequent deep pains about racism and the complicity of the church, I was moved to tears. Women unpacked stories of feeling unseen, or even being unwelcomed. Water streamed across a multitude of faces as we lamented the current situation in the church and in our culture. As the lunch ended, women stepped up to the front and prayed over us in their nativelanguages. One woman prayed in Spanish. Another prayed in Mandarin Chinese. The last woman prayed in Swahili. It was here, in a tiny movie theater in Dallas, TX, that I first heard Latasha Morrison speak.
Latasha Morrison is a Christian author, speaker, and the Founder of the Be the Bridge organization.
She is passionate about seeing racial reconciliation happen in our day. She believes that the church should be leading the way towards bridging the gap between the racial divide. She says that racism is a complex issue, that people approach this topic from different angles and lived experiences. She says that “our stereotypes and assumptions happen because we are not in relationship with each other.”
In order to curb the hurt, and foster healing, she founded the Be the Bridge organization. The Be the Bridge organization empowers people and culture toward racial healing, equity, and reconciliation. This is done through “Be the Bridge” groups that encourage real relationships to develop.
In 2015, Latasha gathered a diverse group of women, women of all ages and stages, to begin a conversation surrounding race. These women, representing a plethora of ethnicities, came together regularly with the goal of listening. They also committed to educate themselves about our country’s racial history. The result was life-changing.
Be the Bridge was born out of a need for real relationships, and the live-giving need for reconciliation.
Several months after this gathering in Texas, I was back in the rhythms of serving in military ministry. During a Bible study that I was teaching, there were two separate issues of racism within a two-week period. Prejudice and racial slurs were thrown like knives. The wounds and cuts were deep. My heart broke all over again.
As a military missionary, I know that the military is unique. The military is unique, in that, our community is composed of people from every background, culture, and ethnicity. We are placed in a room, a ranking system is imposed, and we are told to “get along.”
However, second-hand prejudice and racism still exist in our spaces. So, I held our first Be the Bridge group, and for several weeks, we committed to meet together and have the hard conversations. It was transformative. Nine women (and ten kids) came together, shared vulnerable moments, and came out forever changed.
We explored awareness, shared stories of how racism had impacted our lives, cried together, and even confessed our own complicity. We talked about repentance and forgiveness. We took strides toward restoration.
During the last meeting, we pulled our children into the conversation. We asked “How many races are there?” To which, our children answered, “One. The human race.” We then asked them how they could celebrate their differences. One boy, age 5, said “I can tell Mimi how beautiful she is and how I love her curly hair.” Another child commented on another’s freckles. They hugged and, as parents, we could see the hope of a future where our children knew love.
I believe that Latasha Morrison, and the Be the Bridge organization, will change the world as we know it. She is a pioneer, leading the way towards unity and reconciliation. Her newly released book “Be the Bridge,” is changing the way we view racial reconciliation- specifically our role in seeing it come to pass today. As a woman of color, I have hope that the church will rise up to be the change. I have hope in that, in Jesus, we have already been ascribed value, worth, and equity. We just have to d the hard work of living in that truth every day.
That lunch in Dallas was a defining moment for me, an awakening of sorts. I have never been more passionate about being a “bridge builder.” I want to lovingly invite you into the conversation. Read the book, join the movement, and be the bridge.
“If we love our neighbor, we must ask ourselves why we build walls instead of bridges.”Latasha Morrison
If you would like to get involved with Be the Bridge, check out Latasha’s new book here– and join the online Facebook community here. To learn more about starting a Be the Bridge group, or hosting Latasha to speak, visit https://bethebridge.com/.
Megan Brown is a seasoned military spouse and military missionary. She is the Military Liaison for the Speak Up Conference Global Missions Military Scholarship and the 2019-Armed Forces Insurance Robins AFB Military Spouse of the Year. She is passionate about military mission work, teaching and preaching about Jesus in and out of the local church. She lives in middle Georgia with her husband, Keith, and their energetic kiddos. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, and freelance writer. To learn more or connect with Megan, visit www.meganbbrown.com.