When you enter a space what percentage of people in that space need to look like you in order for you to feel comfortable? Sometimes for me that number is one, but only if I’m with the right people.
As a white man married to a Chinese woman, I remember some of the first times where I was aware that I was the only white person in a place. I remember standing out. I remember people being curious about me – especially when it came time to eat – to see if I would like eating the traditional Chinese foods my wife’s family enjoyed that would be unusual to my rural, white American palette. No one was color-blind to my whiteness. I still carried my white privilege with me in these situations, but I also experienced and adjusted to the fact that when I was with her family, my cultural ways of doing things were considered, but not centered. If I was to be a part of this family, I needed to figure out how to adapt and learn do things in Chinese ways, while still being myself. I’ve learned to appreciate new foods, new manners, new ways of decision-making, family structures, and ways of resolving conflict. Sometimes the way I see things offers a unique perspective, while other times sitting back and listening to what others say is really much better, as I can learn from what others think. Because they are not colorblind in the way they treat me, I know I am loved for who I am. And because I am not colorblind with them, I am growing too. I’m not where I’ve started from, and I’m still learning to this day.
While my Chinese family is not colorblind to me, some institutions do the exact opposite by adopting a colorblind policy when it comes to diversity efforts, as if not talking about it somehow is a way to treat everyone fairly and equally… but ask many people who study these kinds of programs and the evidence is that these kinds of policies end up being quite hurtful to people of color or other people with diverse backgrounds. We are going to talk about how Christian institutions in particular – like churches, Christian Educational Institutions or Christian social outreach programs – can recognize the pitfalls of institutional colorblindness, so they don’t perpetuate these harms, and look at an example from scripture that is the antidote to these kinds of structural maladies.
So this week our team of Christian antiracist educators and friends jump back into the book Christianity and Critical Race Theory: A Faithful and Constructive Conversation by Robert Chao Romero and Jeff M. Liou to talk about this pertinent topic!