All week I’ve been watching the news and social media and thinking about what to say and do. It’s horrifying to hear of the violence enacted against an unarmed man in the way that George Floyd suffered and died. It’s even more horrifying that this is far from an isolated incident, in the United States but also here in Canada. How do I react in a meaningful way? What can I say? Should I say anything or should I just shut up and let others speak. Yes, I should but I also don’t want to stay silent in the face of racism and hate. I’ve been thinking and reading about how to react, particularly as a Christian.
There was a time, when I thought I understood the experience of being a minority. Because I wasn’t born in Canada, because I grew up in a predominantly Asian neighbourhood in Vancouver and attended a high school where being white made me stand out, made me a target of certain comments or assumptions, I thought I knew what it was to experience racism. Systemic racism however is an entirely different experience and one I have never known and never will. I can freely tell my children that, when they are in trouble, they can go to the police. We live in a town where most people look like us.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to believe that when someone tells you that you’re hurting them, Believe Them. Don’t offer a defence, don’t tell them all the ways you couldn’t possibly be. Believe them. Ask how you can protect them, how you can stop hurting others.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.Matthew 5:9
When our brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, tell us they are in pain, let’s not search for examples of those who are fine. Let’s listen. Let’s help the pain end.
In that spirit, I’ve added a lot of books to my TBR this week. Black people, Indigenous people, minorities across the US and Canada (and Canada is definitely not exempt for racism) are telling us they are in pain. Will we listen? How will we stand with them and enact real change to end their pain?
- Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
- Halfbreed – Maria Campbell
- Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
- Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
- Black Writers Matter – ed. Whitney French
- The Gospel of Breaking – Jillian Christmas
- Thunder Through My Veins – Gregory Scofield
- From the Ashes – Jesse Thistle
- Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Books I’ve Read:
- They Said This Would be Fun – Eternity Martis
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground – Alicia Elliott
- Conversations with Canadians – Lee Maracle
- Beloved – Toni Morrison
- The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
- The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
- I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You – David Chariandy
- The Jade Peony – Wayson Choo
- Dear Current Occupant – Chelene Knight
- Mamaskatch – Darrel J. McLeod
- The Lesser Blessed – Richard van Camp
- The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas
- Americana – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- An American Marriage – Tayari Jones
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
These are only a handful of the books out there that speak of the pain of racism in one way or another. There are many other voices that have been silenced. If you have a recommendation that would fit in and you don’t see it, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to expand my list and read a greater diversity of writers.