Last episode we started talking about our antiracism journeys and it got us thinking … sometimes being on an actual journey, like a trip, a vacation, or just traveling somewhere outside our familiar surrounding has impacted our antiracism journey. Seeing life in a new place, comparing our lived experience with the experience we have in a place less familiar, or imagining what it would have been like to have grown up in another culture, in another body, or in another time – these kinds of questions can move our thinking forward in ways nothing else can.
So our multiracial team of antiracism educators and friends sat down and to talk about how moments during our trips and travels have impacted our antiracism journeys over the years.
The Antioch Podcast is a team of Christian antiracism educators who are friends that sit down together each week to have a conversation about Biblical antiracism. It has been a while, however, since we have chatted together about how each of us got started on this journey, so we thought we would take today’s episode to do just that. So four of our regular co-hosts joined friend of the podcast John Williams to talk about what got us started on our antiracism journey … and what we’ve been learning since those starting points.
Over the next hour you are about to hear a candid conversation between myself and Reggie Smith about his experiences at the International School of Reconciliation in Rwanda. Reconciliation is a term used to describe Christian antiracism efforts often, but what reconciliation means – what it really means – takes on new meaning in the Rwandan context. The Rwandan genocide took place between April 7-July 15, 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War between the Tutsi and the Hutu peoples. During this approximately 100-day time period, an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 Tutsis were killed, and between 250,000 to 500,000 women were raped. It is an understatement to say that the genocide and war crimes had lasting and profound effects. Christians played a significant role in these killings … and Christians are now taking a role in the healing of their nation as well. Reggie shares some of these experiences with us here.
Once in a while, the Antioch Podcast gets to take our show on the road, and this month, four of us had the privilege of speaking as a team at Calvin University for their annual Unlearn Week, a week dedicated to unlearning stereotypes, biases and racism. This speaking series, which is open to the public and staff, is a place for students to voluntarily attend a whole host of lectures, interactive seminars, and other learning opportunities to help them grow in their understanding as people made in the image of God understanding other people who look, think and act very different from themselves, who are similarly made in the very same image of God. This lecture series has been going on at Calvin for several decades now, and the Antioch Podcast is pleased to be invited back year after year as a welcomed guest.
This year, our team came to talk about a question we get asked a lot. That question is, “How do you all manage to talk about racism so much and still stay friends?” We thought we would jump on the opportunity and take this hour to talk about that with you all.
Antiracism trainers get to talk to lots of groups of people. Sometimes you get to talk to groups of people who really want to grow and learn. This is the ideal. These conversations tend to be very motivating for leaders and easier for participants because of the level of interest and buy-in right from the start. Other times antiracism educators get to talk to people after a damaging or traumatic racial incident within the organization, or perhaps something in the news. These can be more “high-stakes” conversations. They also can be a little trickier because people come to these sessions with more emotion walking into the room – including the leaders sometimes! And at other times, antiracism trainers are called to talk to groups where some or most of the people in the room are resistant to the training. These are hard sessions to do. Sometimes the resistance can come from one or more very vocal individuals who dominate the space, making it difficult for both the trainer and the other participants who may be motivated to learn, but afraid to speak, to engage with the material. And there are varying levels of complexity based on whether vocally resistant individuals are part of the majority racial or ethnic group, or whether they are a member of a minority racial or ethnic group. This stuff goes deep.
And what happens when the antiracism trainer conducts a training in a damaging way, or makes mistakes, which then leave the groups they teach less-motivated to engage in the work of antiracism? What about that?
So for the next hour, three members of our team have a really honest conversation about what it is like to be an antiracism educator, and some of the hard dynamics in doing this work.
Today we are once again joined by John Williams, Director of the Fellowship Center for Racial Reconciliation in Monrovia, California. John was a former member of John Perkin’s Harambe Center, and is a nationally sought-after antiracism educator who combines history and theology in his justice education initiatives. He joins us today for the second of a two-part series on how racism affects individuals and communities. This episode focusses on white people and the impact of internalized racial superiority.
Today we are joined by John Williams, Director of the Fellowship Center for Racial Reconciliation in Monrovia, California. John was a former member of John Perkin’s Harambe Center, and is a nationally sought-after antiracism educator who combines history and theology in his justice education initiatives. He joins us today for the first of a two-part series on how racism affects individuals and communities. This episode focusses on people of color and the impact of internalized racial oppression.
Imagine for a moment that you are born in a country where you are a member of the majority group. Perhaps it is a country in Africa, Asia, or South America. You do well enough in your English studies that you decide you want to attend a university in the United States. Perhaps you are a Christian, and you want to attend a Christian university! You apply, you get accepted, save up for tuition and arrive on campus after your international flight from home and before long you realize that people here, well, they think because of the color of your skin that you are like some other people who you think you are not like at all. Or maybe there are some things in common, but not all that many things. But what you do have in common is learning about how American racism works.
If you are lucky, your school might have Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff like Antioch Podcast Co-Host Jane Bruin. Jane shares today about what the experience of encountering American-style racism is like vs. racism in the global context. She shares some of her own story, and her wisdom gathered from years of walking alongside students who made this journey from first contact with American-style racism to knowledgeable navigators of it.
The Antioch Podcast is excited about today’s returning guest to the podcast, Mark Charles. Mark is a Native American activist, public speaker, Reformed pastor, and author on Native American issues. He was an independent candidate for President of the United States in 2020. Mark is the son of a Navajo father and a Dutch-American mother, grew up in Gallup, New Mexico, and currently lives in Washington DC after living on the Navajo reservation with his wife their young family after graduating from UCLA.
As an activist, Mark is known for denouncing the doctrine of discovery and for his opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Mark was a former pastor at the Christian Indian Center in Denver, Colorado and currently is a consultant for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, as well as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Native News Online. Since 2008, he has written the blog Wirelesshogan: Reflections from the Hogan. He coauthored the book “Unsettling Truths” with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and currently is on a tour promoting the book, which is why we invited him here today. Mark is a regular guest on the Antioch Podcast, and so we were excited to welcome him back.
This week on the Antioch Podcast, we are focusing the spotlight on Libby, one of the white cohosts of the Antioch Podcast, whose theological insights and wisdom nuggets you’ve been hearing over the years. Libby shares with us her thoughts about her antiracism journey over the time that she has been on the podcast in this episode we are calling “On Gentleness and Growth.”
This week on the Antioch Podcast, our team had a conversation with spiritual director Josh Banner. Josh is a spiritual director working with all kinds of people – including people experiencing incarceration near his home in Holland, Michigan. Josh spent an hour talking with us about contemplation, spiritual direction and social justice. You can find out more about Josh, by listening to his podcast, The Invitation, wherever find podcasts can be found.
If you’ve listened to the Antioch Podcast for long, you know that we six co-hosts are friends who also make this podcast. We meet every week for at least two hours to talk, one of which is recorded for the podcast, and the other of which we just have relationship time. A lot of the time we use this time to catch up on one another’s lives, plan the episode, or tell stories.
So the other day, we all were talking before we were recording and Libby said, “I like what we are talking about. Can we just hit record and let people hear what we sound like when we don’t have a topic?” So that’s exactly what we did. If you ever wonder what we talk about before we hit record … this is what we sound like. We are calling this episode “An Off-Mic Conversation: Thoughts, Theology and A Little Bit of Therapy.”
For context, usually we identify who is on the recording, giving our racial/ethnic identification and so in keeping with tradition: those present were Libby, who is white, Reggie, who is African-American, and myself – also white. The first voice you will hear is Libby’s.
This week, on the Antioch Podcast Michelle shares her thoughts about what she has learned since joining the Antioch team a number of years ago. What she shares is thoughtful, vulnerable, and powerful – about what you would expect if you have been listening to Michelle on the podcast. And if this is your first time listening, this is a great episode to start with.
Let’s go now and listen, to this conversation!
Anyway – Attributed to Mother Theresa, Written by Kent Kieth
I’ve been producing the Antioch Podcast since 2016, and a lot has changed since those early years. Today, I wanted to take a moment to share a few thoughts from a talk I gave about six months ago. This talk, called “12 Lessons I’ve Learned from Producing the Antioch Podcast” has a little to do with the history of this particular podcast, but has a lot more to do with the way I’ve been socialized as a white man – a white man who as an adult began getting curious about, and involved in, diversity and antiracism efforts in my community – particularly my faith community. It’s a talk about things I’ve thought and learned, mistakes I’ve made, and hopefully, how I’m learning from those mistakes and continuing to grow.
We usually make it a practice on the Antioch Podcast that when only white folks can make it to record that we only talk about the things white people know the most about, which is whiteness. This is one of those rare times when on a recording day all the other members of the team were called away on pressing business, and so in keeping with this principal, I am going to share a little about these thoughts about my own whiteness that I’ve had this year.
It is impossible to work towards systemic change without working within an institution. Staffing, decision-making, writing and passing policies are these slow, incremental processes that seem like they take forever, and yet when they happen they can make life so much better for so many people. Policy change is where justice happens, and so when it doesn’t happen at an institutional level – it can be a real let-down. The motion isn’t accepted, the policy get’s shot down, the law isn’t passed, the bill isn’t ratified, the person you wanted to placed in a key position of influence doesn’t get the job. These moments can make a person think, “What’s the point? Should we just give up? Is there any hope?”
Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends gathered to talk about the emotional journey of the slow, incremental work of change as we gathered around the microphones.
Last episode we talked about discernment – looking at telling the difference between what we can’t do, don’t want to do, and shouldn’t do. It was a great conversation, so if you didn’t get to listen to that, go back one episode and listen to our conversation. You might remember at the end of the last episode, we talked about needing to have a follow up conversation on how to recover from those things that we do. Well, we did not want to disappoint you our listeners – so today, we are back with that conversation. A conversation all about recovering from those things that we can’t do, don’t want to do, and shouldn’t do. So without further ado…
Ever have one of those moments when you are trying to decide if you should say something or not, say yes to something – or not, or maybe get involved with something … or not. Sometimes these decisions can be hard, maybe even tug at our heart-strings or run circles in our minds, wearing down our emotional reserves. In antiracism circles, there are lots of times when the spiritual gift of discernment is something we need. Our team decided to talk about exactly this in this episode we are calling Discernment: what I can’t do, don’t want to do or shouldn’t do.
This is our 200th episode of the Antioch Podcast, and our team gathered around the mics today to look back at what we’ve learned over the years leading up to now. We started as a podcast way back in the last few months of the Obama presidency in 2016, and so much has changed in antiracism conversations, and our podcast, since then. We had a lot to say, so…
This is part 2 of our two-episode conversation called Antiracism vs. Compositional Diversity: Why seeking justice matters to have true unity in Christian spaces. This live conversation was part of the Unlearn program offered at Calvin University through the Center for Intercultural Student Development. During this week, students, faculty, and the community are invited to educational events and forums to learn and have conversations designed to unlearn biases and promote Biblical antiracism. Jane Bruin, a friend and occasional guest on the Antioch Podcast is one of the organizers of this program. At the end of this broadcast, you will hear Jane as she vets questions from the audience that came in during this live event.
If you missed part 1 of this presentation, go back and listen to Episode 159… or just keep listening – the conversation has been a good one.
When we left off, we had just begun discussing the topic of antiracist worship design – asking questions about song choice, representation in worship, and looking at who gets to make decisions about how worship is done within a particular Christian space.
As we rejoin the conversation, Michelle continues the conversation with another provocative question.
The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World – Sandra Maria Van Opstal
Unlearn week is a yearly program offered at Calvin University through the Center for Intercultural Student Development. During this week, students, faculty, and the community are invited to educational events and forums to learn and have conversations designed to unlearn biases and promote Biblical antiracism. The Antioch Podcast team was invited to participate in this event, so buckle your audio seatbelts for this two-hour episode.
Jane Bruin, a friend and occasional guest on the Antioch Podcast is one of the organizers of this program. At the end of this broadcast, you will hear Jane as she vets questions from the audience that came in during this live event.
Our topic: Antiracism vs. Compositional Diversity – why seeking justice matters to have true unity in Christian spaces.
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.
The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World – Sandra Maria Van Opstal
For the past few years, the Antioch Podcast has partnered with the Christian Reformed Church of North America’s Office of Race Relations, Calvin University, and the YWCA in their annual Stand Against Racism events, as well as some other antiracism education livestream events. For the next several weeks, we will bring you encore episodes of those events, including this episode we called White Work: Understanding Whiteness and Rightness. You will notice a few additional guests on our podcast from the first White Work episode, who we invited back a second time.
For the past few years, the Antioch Podcast has partnered with the Christian Reformed Church of North America’s Office of Race Relations, Calvin University, and the YWCA in their annual Stand Against Racism events, as well as some other antiracism education livestream events. For the next several weeks, we will bring you encore episodes of those events, starting with the episode we called White Work: Antiracism Journeys of White People. This has been the Antioch Podcast’s most listened to episode to date, which we are proud to share with your now. You will notice a few additional guests on our podcast, who have been featured in earlier episodes which you can find in our back catalogue.
There have been hearings in recent weeks about the insurrection that took place on January 6th, 2022 when self-described white nationalists and others – some waving Christian flags – broke in to the capitol building. It was a time when for a while we had bipartisan condemnation of this attack on the nation’s capitol… a unity that has since disintegrated, returning back to the polarization that has characterized so much discourse in recent years.
We remember those days, and wanted to take this moment to release this episode from our archives which first aired the week following the uprising. There wasn’t consensus in the media, or on our team, about how to talk about what had happened … and you will hear that reflected in our word-choices as we converse.
The first voice you will hear will be mine, introducing the episode as I did on January 9, 2020.
So you meet someone for the first time, and you have just a couple moments to try to make some assumptions about them so you can have a conversation. You have very little information to go by, and most of it is based on how they look, how they sound, and what if anything you know about their background. Usually, we are making these assumptions in a matter of seconds, based on stereotypes. Sometimes, these are helpful shorthand ways of navigating the world, but other times, these generalities are … well… wrong. And what do you do with that when you are mid-sentence and realize that what you thought about someone was not actually correct. How do you change the conversation? How do you remain open to expanding your categories to really see someone for who they truly are?
Our team of Christian antiracism educators and friends take some time to talk about our stereotypes and the times they were busted in today’s episode.
Michelle Loyd Paige is one of the 6 co-hosts of the Antioch Podcast you have gotten to know over the past few years. Some of you listen because Michelle is on the podcast, and some of you keep listening because while you don’t know Michelle personally, you feel like you do after listening so long. Her voice is a voice of wisdom, having served as a chief diversity officer for decades at her institution. Michelle is going to retire at the conclusion of the 2022-2023 academic year, and we took the opportunity today to talk about this transition a couple weeks after the public announcement of her retirement.
Michelle shares about her long tenure doing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work – doing this work long before the acronym DEI even became an acronym… as well as what it means to actually get to retire from, instead of resign from, an institution working tirelessly for antiracism in the classrooms, task rooms, and board rooms of her institution.