Race and Trauma, Part One
This week, Dan is joined by three friends and colleagues: Allender Center teaching staff members Wendell Moss, Susan Kim, and Abby Wong-Heffter. Together, they begin a conversation around race and trauma, inviting listeners to engage as learners. The episode includes an honest conversation about race in light of The Allender Center’s history. Finally, the four address a few of the common myths around racial trauma. It is our hope you’ll join us by engaging this conversation with humility, curiosity, compassion, and courage and know that we see it as vital to our work with trauma on behalf of the kingdom of God.
Dan begins by introducing the friends who will join him for this series and the topic of racial trauma that they will cover.
He explains that the point of this series is not to take sides but to start a conversation. Listeners are invited to take a posture as a listener and learner.
Next, the three guests introduce themselves.
Wendell: I am here as a therapist, specifically an African-American therapist who wants to have an honest conversation.
Susan: I’m not here to offer any particular response. I’m here as a Korean-American woman who often feels I need to be in a position of silence. I don’t want to share false hope.
Abby: I’m part of this conversation because I believe I can’t take someone where I haven’t walked myself. I want to be honest and also be confronted where I am not honoring myself.
Dan: This is not a conversation to be critical of America. As Christians, we believe our country is in constant need of reform. But we can’t escape the issue of race. We want to address how the issue has played out in The Allender Center.
Susan: As I facilitate in our programs, I’m always very aware of my Koreanness. Some projects have seemed like very white projects. One moment stands out in which Dan, from the front of the room, connected the “epitome of beauty” with Swedes. When I first brought it up, there was a lot of defensiveness, and we lacked time to have a good conversation. I would have typically eaten it, but it ate me instead. I again approached Dan and said we needed to have a conversation. I needed to be seen and heard.
Dan: We only started the conversation around what we are doing with the view of beauty, but the conversation unfortunately dissipated. Let’s talk for a bit about the myths around racial issues.
Wendell: Too often “racial reconciliation” is about white people going and talking to people of color. It needs to also be people of color talking to white people. It goes both ways.
Dan: Another myth is when a person says they are “just color blind.” There’s a level of self-righteousness and naivete in that statement.
Abby: With what has been happening in the country and with the big T Trauma around white supremacy, there is greater complexity to the conversation. You can’t just take yourself out of it because you are not a white supremacist.
Dan: Many people argue, “Why can’t we just find commonality?” While there is an element of truth in this statement, there will still be divisions and misperceptions no matter what. We have to have courage to name our failures and assumptions. We have to be able to name our shame. When we are working with people we love, the stakes are even higher. We are wanting to go beyond a knee-jerk response.