The Narratives of Marginalization
Our guest this week is Pastor James White, longtime friend of co-host Linda Royster. James is a highly sought out consultant, speaker and facilitator for several organizations and companies on issues relating to inclusion, equity and diversity.
James White, Linda Royster, and Dan Allender discuss the distinct narratives in scripture of the so-called “marginalized,” the narratives of race that have been created and embedded into our Western culture to dehumanize the “other,” and the opportunities we have to experience shalom when we truly listen to one another’s narratives.
“Whenever we talk about doing this work of diversity, equity, inclusion, we make it seem like it’s just for marginalized people to gain power. I would say it’s so that we all can become the humans that God designed us to be,” says James White.
About this week’s guest:
James White is a highly sought out consultant, speaker and facilitator for several organizations and companies on issues relating to inclusion, equity and diversity. He is the Senior Vice President of Operations for the United Health Group Equity and Innovation Center of Excellence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the Senior Pastor of Christ Our King Community Church, an intercultural Christ-Centered community living and leading by the grace of God.
He serves on several boards including the Martin Luther King Committee of the Triangle, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, chairs the NC Dr. Martin Luther King Commission where he was appointed by Governor Cooper, and he is a Senior Fellow/Scholar for the Sagamore Institute.
He has served as chapel speaker for over 10 NFL teams, including the Pro Bowl in Honolulu Hawaii. You can listen to his appearance on The Best of the Sports Shop: It’s Wednesday and there’s always More to the Story with James White. on Apple Podcasts.
James and his wife Cynthia have been married for 35 wonderful years, and they have 3 adult children.
Dan: Linda Royster, you know, it is always both a honor and delight to be with you. But today, oh my goodness, we’ve got a very special guest on, don’t we?
Linda: We do what a privilege it is to be in this space with you, Dan, and with, I don’t know quite how to introduce him as friend, James White? or Pastor James White, cause I’ve known Pastor James White for almost 30 years.
Dan: Oh my gosh. Well, we’re gonna get to that in a moment. But let’s just say, and James, we’re gonna let you speak in a moment, but let me just say, it’s gonna take like about 30 minutes to introduce you. I mean, as the Pastor of Christ, Our King Community Church, that’s enough. But you’re also the Executive Vice President of Organizational Relationships for the YMCA in the triangle area, which, come on, that would be enough. That’s way more than enough. But to also be an adjunct professor at Southeastern. And then, Okay. Like, like, do you have time to, like, I’m not even going to ask nonetheless to say. And in addition to that, you’re a consultant for Fortune 500 companies dealing with inclusion, equity, and diversity. And you’re also a husband, and you’re also a father, and, you know, you’re also a black belt. And, and, and, and one of the things that we’re gonna put on, uh, on the website, uh, is like this most remarkable thing. I mean, everything you do is remarkable, and I’m gonna talk about that in a moment, but, this podcast, a sports podcast that you bring about a five to 15 minute sermon in the midst of dealing with sports and cosmological, deeply ontological, profoundly personal conversations within a matter of minutes, Let’s just say. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s hard to introduce you. So James, welcome.
James: Good to be here. Good to be here. Listen, let me, one correction, but all the story that you said is true, but now one correction. I’m no longer the last year, I am no longer at the Y M C of the triangle. As a matter of fact, right now, I am talking with you from Minneapolis. I haven’t moved, but th this is a story within itself. I’m now the Executive Vice President of Operations, where I work primarily with leadership development, curriculum development for the United Health Group Equity and Innovation Center, here at the YMCA of the North. And so now my primary work is dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion. And, and so that’s what I do now. I travel in between Minneapolis and North Carolina, and we do, we have clients that are nationally. So I am talking to you now from Minneapolis. And so that’s been a transition. I spent 16 years, at the YMCA at the triangle in an executive role. But when George Floyd happened, I did some consulting here with the Y of the north. And the next thing that happened is they ended up receiving an incredible, gifts, from the United Health Group of 5 million to start a equity and innovation center of excellence. And I did some consulting, and then they invited me to come and become a part of the staff. So, I’m talking now for Minneapolis. And so that’s led to, not complexity, but a level of synergy because this has sort of been the work that I’ve loved now for 30 some years.
Dan: Well, it is a good example, and my mistake that it’s hard to keep up with you. It is a lovely gift to be in your wake, but nonetheless, not easy to comprehend all that you do. But what I wanna do first is just in some sense to introduce how the two of you got on this, for us, a screen. But, you know, for the audience, obviously our voices is a 30 year relationship I’d love to hear the two of you just put words to, like, what’s this been like?
Linda: Sure, sure. I was a very, very young, young woman when I met Pastor James White and his wife Cynthia. I was a college student, and, James White would come down and do ministry on campus sometimes, and sometimes a group of us would end up and, at his and Cynthia’s home and they would minister to us in our very young, fragile places of figuring out what does it mean to be a believer and live this life, as African American people on college campuses, and what would it mean to, take our faith seriously once we left the college campus. And so James and his wife, Cynthia, have been a part of my spiritual formation since, and I may give away my age, but literally since I was about 20 years old, around there, 19 or 20. And, and so it’s, I have known them through over decades, through different seasons of life. And so they’ve been pastoral, they’ve been friends, they’ve been like parents, they’ve been like aunts and uncles. And so it’s, it’s just been an incredible privilege to have journey with both of them, and their family over the course of nearly 30 years, through incredible highs and incredible lows. And so, they’ve watched me grow up and, and I get to enjoy the privilege of, it will never feel peer to peer, but it’s kind of like engaging, not necessarily adult to young child, but adult to like, this is, she’s a, she’s, she’s younger. She’s like, she’s grown up, she’s an adult. She’s younger though. And so it feels like there’s been a sweet shift from, and that I can enjoy the privilege of friendship and not just mentorship.
Dan: And James, what do you remember about this wild woman?
James: So, so first of all, I think one, it is so, beautiful. We can’t put it into words we could spend the whole time just on this but I think one, the fact that Linda, she’s mentioned my wife, and this is where my wife, Cynthia and I, who we’ve been married for 35 years, I think it’s an example of journeying in ministry and a covenant dynamic. Yeah. And what can happen through ministry. But, for us, Linda met us, and that’s why you’re hear her called me James, and then Pastor White, cause she’s known me as James, who was definitely not a pastor, but was, a person at campus ministry trying to disciple students. But Linda is part of what the division that my wife and I have always had of that made us serve African American college students. That the world can be changed and African American college students that are exposed to maybe a white evangelical framework without minimizing your African American beauty and the African American reality of who you are creating in the Imago Dei. And so that was something that was always very important for us. And I, and I think in this journey, part of what can make it interesting for me is that this is always what I’ve dreamed of. My theme is developing influential leaders for lasting cultural change. And so that’s always been a big idea for me. I’ve never really approached and even pastoring never approach it from the, the standpoint of this framework of walls, but of relationship. And so Linda to me, has helped me see that the scripture is really true. When you see the narrative in scripture, that it seems mysterious, that Jesus would say to his disciples, and you should do greater works. Well, Linda is the greater works. She’s the, she is done far more than what I could ever do. She’s in spaces that I will not be in. Even what she’s doing here, is an example of that. And so, and then you see the legacy and the, the reality of the disciples. And you see Jesus really being manifested. And I see Christ and Linda having had the chance, very few of us have a chance to see 30 years of, of fruitfulness and maturity. But it’s, Linda is an example of the idea of brokenness and blessedness. And most of us who are engaged in ministry, we don’t have the opportunity to understand that what Jesus was talking about and what Peter talks about in the planning of the word of God is a seed. That Linda is an example of that seed growing into something you would’ve never imagined. Here we were just simply teaching scripture, loving, guiding, using scripture to admonish, to exhort. But now we get a chance in Linda’s life to see the real fruition of what ministry is about, of a person being able to do exceedingly in abundant beyond all what God would ask her think. And so we get a chance to live into that by simply loving and caring for people. So Linda is an example of that.
Dan: And, let me go back though. What do you remember about this young woman?
James: Quiet. Quiet. But you could always tell she was thinking, quiet thinking. And when, because of that, it made her voice even more powerful. So that when, because Linda was so quiet, when she did speak, you would listen to her. But a deeply contemplated student is what I saw. Cause she would sit, say very little, but her eyes would be locked in. And then when you engaged in conversation, you go, wow, there’s a level of depth to her, uh, that was just beautiful and incredible.
Dan: And what did you see in this mature, but also wild man that caused you to say, I have something to learn from him?
Linda: Mm, yeah. Wow. Still, I feel so, so blessed by, you know, what, what, what Pastor White, what James has just named, and I think back to 30 years ago and being in such a desperate place, longing for Jesus, but also bringing a depth, of hunger. And knowing that I had not yet engaged my story. But knowing that there was something there. And I watched James and his wife expound and teach the scriptures, and I watched them engage my heart. And I think that was something that was most transformative for me in, in that season. But throughout the course of our friendship is the way that, that he and Cynthia have engaged my heart, but not only ours, all those that they’ve been, mentoring, pastoring, engaging, befriending, is that they were able to see and see beneath the surface. That they were able to not only see but to hold with care and kindness, and didn’t back away from naming what was true then back away from calling to more, but did so with such a kindness. And with such a clarity of heart, that yes, we see you both the beauty and the brokenness, and we’re not gonna lean away because of what, what we see. But James and Cynthia leaned in and I am living into the reality in this moment. This moment is a byproduct of what was, imparted in those seasons long ago that truly indeed sees were planted. And I am living in the fruit of that. And then there others get to benefit from the fruit of what they invested in me long ago.
Dan: Well, I’ll simply add that I don’t know, two more articulate and compelling, both preaching, teaching prophetic life, giving people than to have the two of you, at least to be privileged with the two of you. And the sentence about his kindness. Your kindness, again, if we go back to that simple phrase from Romans to it, is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. That is a framework where you both have engaged levels of, of truth that could be cruel, truth that could so disrupt. But the presence of kindness on both your parts opens the door to what we’re beginning to focus further on. And that is what, what is it that, you know, the community of God and I mean beyond just the white church, the community of God needs the experience of two ,of African American presence to deepen further and in many ways elucidate the gospel. So how, if I can just put it this bluntly, how has the shaping of one another together opened the door to engaging these difficult issues?
James: Sure. You know, I, I would say that what’s, and this is what is, this is what is also I think very powerful, in what you’re saying. I would say one of the things is that both Linda and I both come from communities that even to this day, manifests the oppression, the trauma, the violence of, I would say the legacy of 250 years of slavery in 99 years of Jim Crow. In the fact that both of us come from communities where unfortunately we would be viewed as an anomaly even misunderstood by many in our community. So both Linda and I have taken this journey where we’ve decided, and Linda decided this by even being a part of Seattle, even being a part of the journey she’s on now, that she would run the risk of being a person without a country that she would, and navigating in a space, when you communicate with truth, you end up becoming Ralph Ellison talks about the invisible man and always trying to help people see that you are visible. And so when you made that, so both of us come from that framework where if you were to look at our full story, you would go, How in the world would they end up in this space? And, and I would say Dan, not just special because of, and this is where hopefully we don’t misunderstand not just special because of the idea of race, but because of the false systemic idea of race. And, and it’s a false idea that we encountered, it embodied in our very existence. Cuz both of us come from very rural communities where the, the framework of of race existed. And it still exists today. You even see that when you look at the number of people and if you to go back to our communities, you see a dying community. So much so where the conversation around African American people has always almost been diminished. And now that conversation is with other marginalized people in the Hispanic, the Latino community. And, and so both of us come from that background. And so even as we have this conversation, the only thing that is fascinating to me, and I hope I’m not going someplace you don’t want me to go, but even when we talk about the margins, what’s interesting is I would expect Linda and myself to be exceptional Bible teachers. Not exceptional Bible teachers necessarily, because we’ve studied the Greek and the Hebrew, but because our lived experience mirrors more of the marginalized communities that you find in scripture. And what you and, and what you see. So, so the need for line eyes, not just simply because we’re good preachers, but it’s because we inhabit much of the narrative that you find in scripture. And, maybe, maybe that’s why there’s a much more emotive response when we encounter a text because we see our story in the text because the text is filled with marginalized people. Any story, pick a story when you talk about Joseph, Linda has had a Joseph experience to where she’s had to flourish in the house of leadership and authority in the narrative that she’s been robbed from even as a slave and, and even Linda, some of her dynamics, this is where you even look at the complexity of Joseph’s story. We know what it’s like to be sold by your own brothers and sisters.
Linda: Yes. Yes.
James: And so when you look at narratives like that, African American people can see themselves in the text because the Bible is more about the marginalized people than it is the people of power. It’s always fascinating to me that sometimes we have to do these intellectual jumps and we go, you know, and I look at strange and go, Well, how in the world could you somehow place America there? Because what you don’t realize is that the savior that you serve is a savior who represents the powerless rather than the powerful. And so, but that should be obvious. But for us, and not just us, any other marginalized person can see themselves in the text far clearer than those who have been influenced, and I’m gonna say this carefully than those who have been influenced by systemic whiteness. Because I wanna be careful, the issue is not white people. And this is an American conversation because globally this has a very different conversation, but systemic of whiteness, which causes you to reinterpret narrative, which really is what America has done. America reinterprets the narrative. And that’s why you have many who are afraid of giving the true narrative, and why do we have to go there? But you reinterpret the narrative to somehow represent that who is powerless to now give power that he never endorsed in the first place. So if you’re gonna interpret the scripture correctly, you gotta take a marginalized point of view. So even your conversation you’re having about marginalization, if you don’t have a marginalized point of view, then I would say it’s far deeper than somehow just how do you get connected with marginalized people. But marginalized people help you get closer to understanding the texts because there’s a narrative and story that you can literally have an opportunity to see and experience.
Dan: Mic drop
Linda: Absolutely. Absolutely.
James: I’m sorry, I probably went away from the conversation question that you asked.
Linda: No, You’ve taken us, you’ve taken us beautifully into the conversation precisely where we need to be. And I’d love to hear your thoughts, both you James and Dan on, on the idea around, the labeling of marginalization. If we were to look within our own communities, we wouldn’t look at each other. I don’t look at you Pastor White as a marginalized person. I don’t label you as that. But marginalization is a kind of labeling that seems to come from the outside toward, the so-called other group. And so I’d love to hear your thoughts about just the, the power of marginalization, the power of naming.
Dan: Well, it, the beginning for me is that everyone knows something of the experience of being excluded and know something, of someone having power and utilizing that power to exploit. And in that exploitation eventually silencing the victim or blaming the victim. So that, that’s a human condition. But unlike mere personal, which I’m not saying is anything other than powerful, it, most white people have not experienced anything close to exclusion because of the color of their skin. They have not faced something like black coats. They’ve not faced something like 99 years, of political, social, economic. And in many ways the power of shame in the way that has been utilized. So there is something in all experience that creates relatability to scripture. But what you’re beginning to put words to James, and you’re concurring, Linda, is that the experience of being African American puts you closer into the experience, therefore to the textual reality of what the scriptures are calling us to experience on behalf for the power to feel the power and to know how power is misused, to know as a victim what indeed it is to be in the presence of those with power who exploit and then silence. So that’s the beginning point to what I’m hearing.
Linda: And, if I may interject just for a moment, it’s not only that by being African American or Black, that it’s through that marginalization that I get to read the scriptures and get to understand it on a deeper level. But on the other hand, it is that Jesus himself was marginalized, not just that he was leading marginalized people, but Jesus himself was marginalized, who suffered, in many of the ways that African American people of color are suffer today, false imprisonment, living on the fringes because of systems and political and religious systems that put him on the outside or threaten his safety or tell him that he is somehow wrong and his faith is wrong, his gospel, if you will, is wrong. Right? And so, so much of what we experienced today, we see Jesus having lived into a marginalized experience so much so that when he spoke truth to power or so-called power or systems of power, it certainly ignited the process of him moving toward the cross.
James: Yeah, as Linda says that, here’s what is interesting when we use words, and I’m telling two people who understand that, is that when you look and study American history, and, and incidentally, for some of your listeners, I have to say this is not critical race theory. I’m just simply having a conversation, that one of the things that’s always been fascinating to me is why believers have to put an emphasis on this conversation when we’re supposed to be people of grace and truth when we fight for truth. And so if I’m doing is communicate some things of truth, when you think of marginalization, I think when you gotta begin and look at, and this is gonna sound like two words that don’t belong together, but the genius of the intellectual violence of the forming of America. Now I love my country, but there’s a genius of the mental violence that took place. And you all have used the word violence, and I think you’ve used it well. But, and sometimes we miss that word because it’s very much embedded in almost everything that we have experienced in our American story. There’s a genius that somehow you could take a narrative and take a narrative and it lasts this long to the idea that somehow you had these heroic people who came and discovered a place. And yet you leave out the narrative of the brutal murder, broken treaties, and you leave out a narrative of indigenous people and to the point where you can have little children even marginalized if you want to call us that, that we too would be want be cowboys rather than Indians too. I mean, the genius of that, the genius of people not understanding, and this is where you gotta be very careful, and you wanna think in terms of systems sometimes, rather than people when we say white, when we say black, et cetera. But the, the fact that in these sports teams you would have, you would have black people who say, well, why we gotta change the name? You know, it’s not that bad because there’s this genius to be so embedded someone to not be sensitive to another person’s story. The fact that you could literally, for 250 years, nine generations dehumanize a person and, and not understand that you have nine generations of dehumanizing people. And again, it wasn’t just the south will benefited from that others benefit the north and the whole country did because of the dynamic of cotton. But the fact that the Virginia House of Burgess, and if you, you need to read Thomas Jefferson, who again framed an incredible, incredible document that we live by. But the fact that you could do that, and it would still stand, there’s a genius there. The fact that you could build statues and say you’re celebrating again, a group of south a heritage that is embodied with all of this. And then, you know, the truth of the matter is those statues were not put up until many, many years later to enforce the idea of Jim Crow and segregation and to continue to have this narrative. I mean, even I used to sing way down south in the land, the cotton, forgot. Look away. Look away. I wish I was in Dixie. We used to sing it in elementary school. What the heck? But it’s the genius of that narrative being woven so deeply in the psyche that even as we say these words, it’s gonna have an embodied response to some that may think that some would suggest that I’m being un-American in saying this. No, I’m just being truthful. And so when you look at that and we have these words, all of these words come from a place of navigating with power and systems that I think we all have work to do. Most of us don’t know that the word with our words, cause people will often ask, Well, how’d you come up with some of the words? We either name marginalized people. So there are words I struggle with because we missed the, the history of those words. I mean, negro absolutely because of the slave trade. And Portugal, this is the word that was embodied within those 250 years of slavery, colored continued to perpetuate the false idea of race. Because race is not so what you have to do, race is not this biological reality. It’s a false construct that was made up. But that’s embodied within the highest courts of the land because you go back and look at Dread Scott, you look at Plessy versus Ferguson, in 1896, which initiated, and these are genius, brilliant people. And so you have, and so you literally have these words that we don’t understand come from roots that really have been damaging. So now we talk about BIPOC, you know, Black, Indigenous People of Color and I, I understand it, but part of what those words are there for, it’s an attempt to center the humanity of people that we typically don’t wanna talk about. And so sometimes we don’t even understand some of the words that we use, which remind us there’s still a journey that we have to go.
Linda: Considering what you just named James. And part of what, I wondered, and what I think about in light of what you just named, is the amount of fragmenting and splitting that has to happen within those who oppressed, but then also in those who are oppressed by systems that are profoundly destructive. So in order to dehumanize someone, I lose something of my humanity. And to be the, the one to receive that kind of dehumanizing behavior, What do I have to lose of myself in order to make it from day to day living under unrelenting systems that degrade? And so I just think of that, the power of that word. Speaking of words of like fragmenting and what is the cost? What has been the cost to dehumanize and to live under the boot of dehumanization?
Dan: The dehumanization does require a narrative that creates justification. And what I was gonna say about Cotton Mather is that, you know, in seminary, in a significant class had to read the Puritan writers Cotton Mather in particular. And not once, not a single time was it ever mentioned that he was a slave owner, nor that he justified that from the vantage point that America was the new Exodus. And in the new Exodus there would be in many ways the taking of land. In other words, he, he’s absconding a Bible category and story justifying in some sense manifest destiny, and ultimately the reality of destruction of people because the righteous have now landed, and therefore it makes everyone else the unrighteous, but with the benefit that the white settlers are bringing the gospel and therefore taking the land, destroying the power of that past civilization in order to Christianize. So you can see, you know, again, a narrative that if I can make it poultry, when I put it this way, how people will justify harm within their own families by creating a narrative that allows to escape the reality of power, misuse, exploitation, and silencing. So what, what you’re naming, what you’re both naming is that dehumanization requires a narrative that justifies, explains that exploitation.
James: So what you just named Dan, I kept my mind kept thinking, Absolutely Dan, so let’s continue. So then why we surprised that we’re still fighting over what happened at the White House. I mean, we’re watching people who literally, the very institution that they say they love, to do bodily damage to that institution. And, and what you talked about, that idea of that internalized violence, that fracturing even causes you to have a bit of mental illness. Because here, Mike Pence, here Mike Pence is a man who you’ve esteemed. And now in a moment’s time you’re saying, let’s go and do bodily damage to Mike Pence or anyone who stands in our way. And so what, what you’re talking about is the work that we haven’t done. And when I say we, this is why this work is all of our stories always interesting. Whenever we talk about doing this work of diversity, equity, inclusion, we make it seem like it’s just for marginalized people to gain power, I would say its so that we all can become the humans that God designed us to be. That’s why it is always fascinating to me that this work now has to have a department, rather than this work being interwoven in everything that we do, especially an institution that is seeing that they’re dealing with the emotions of the soul and mental health. I would say this has to be interwoven in everything because part of what we seeing in our world right now is the continued lack of healing from those hundreds and hundreds of years that really we continue to reap what we sow.
Dan: And this is where your work, Linda on Shalom as the contrast to fragmentation. I just wanna make sure, if that thoughts in your mind that you follow that lead.
Linda: Absolutely. Absolutely, Absolutely. That this counter or anti antithetical to this system of supremacy or system of white supremacy is, I believe what God intends for us. And is this idea of shalom, that it’s this ongoing perpetual sense of wholeness, wellness, the sense of provision and protection that’s meant for the flourishing of the group and not just the individual, but it’s, but my concern based on, just what I’ve observed in this season of life is that I think a lot of people will call what they experience in their perhaps gated middle class, upper middle class communities, and their high paying jobs and their privileged schools and their lovely Christian churches and their green lawns and on and on and on. My concern is that they would call that life and lifestyle, shalom, not, acknowledging that it has been predicated and, and it exists on the backs of those who they’ve marginalized. And so I no longer wanna call privilege that’s been ill gotten privilege that comes from systems of racism or supremacy, privilege that comes from having degraded or destroyed another so that we get a leg up or step up. I no longer wanna call that or identify that as shalom. We can call it something else, but let’s not call it shalom because my understanding of shalom is that we don’t get it based on destroying someone else to get more or to have a bigger or greater status. Right. And so this system, this idea, this reality of shalom is meant for the flourishing of everyone. Those who I would consider my tribe and those that would be considered outside of my so-called tribe. And it’s not only for me, it’s for all of us.
James: And I would say to add to that, I love what Linda is saying. I think there’s a another piece that we don’t wanna miss. You also don’t get shalom by destroying yourself. One of the things that concerns me is I’m not so sure we even know what we mean when we say the word shalom, especially in a capitalistic, materialistic culture. Now, hear me, as soon as I say that, somebody’s gonna say, they’re gonna take that sound bite, say, I’m a Marxist. Now Marxism and socialism doesn’t give you that either. But real is part of what we’re doing in this conversation here. It’s embracing the truth and it’s being willing to own that truth and to grow and to see, and to live with. This is the beauty of the scripture, to have a life that is full of the Psalms where there blessedness and there’s brokenness to where there’s rewards and there’s repentance and that become a part of the lifestyle. But I think all of us longing for what real shalom is. I think even, and I thought about this as well, even in this conversation, and many will listen to this conversation. And even as I say that word, I think part of what’s been lost, when you don’t have peace, when you don’t have shalom you can’t even listen effectively. I mean, we assume that just because we’re giving knowledge and we’ve covered a particular curriculum that people have heard us. But in order to listen, we often listen, Dan and Linda, we often listen to answer a question versus listening to understand and to have empathy with a person. So if we engage someone who we have othered, because the opposite of belonging is John Powell says is othering. If we engage someone who we’ve othered, we often will engage them. Well, lemme ask you about this. Tell me what it’s like for you to be a Black woman, in a framework that’s not evolved for you. Okay. Linda, show what has it, what has it been like for you as you’ve navigated through that? Well, you’re not asking that question to really engage her, but you’re just asking a question. You’re listening to answer the questions that you have. Because I guarantee you, even when someone listens to this podcast, this conversation, they will again wonder are we gonna answer their questions that we had, that they have rather than fully being present to really listen, to fully engage, to empathize, to not just know my story, but to feel my story.
Dan: Well, the cost, the cost is not just letting your questions go, but also letting your defenses come down. Cause as Linda speaks about the green grass, I’m looking at my green grass. I have the benefits living on an island that’s largely a white world. You know, the realities that you’re describing are easy for me to then refer to as shalom. So even as you speak, I feel defensive. And I can feel it in my body and begin to go, Linda’s not accusing, she’s inviting. And in that invitation to come back to that question of what is true, what is honoring and what indeed is shalom, and how much of what I could call the piece I know is actually bound to the particular dwelling, and the setting that I’m in. And I think even that becomes now easy to make this a racial issue, versus a racial issue that was created in order to oppress. But actually it’s a deeply human issue that has to do with the question of, if there is not shalom for us all, then what does it mean for there to be an experience of shalom for oneself? So I think that’s where, again, I wanna say to both of you, Thank you. This conversations already, meant to be much longer than what indeed we can allow at this juncture. But to say, James, any last words?
James: Oh, these are last words. Well, one, I would say this, I would say this day, and first of all, you did not have to apologize for having a green lawn. And I would want you listeners to understand that’s not what we’re talking about. But now, biblically, you, you can have a green lawn, but according to first Peter, what he said to that audience, you are an elect exile. You are an alien and a stranger. It is when the property owns you rather than you owning the property. Right. I think that’s, that’s what robs you of your peace. I think for me, Shirley Raf sort of captured in her Emmys acceptance speech and it’s gone viral. But Shirley Raf, and she really got it from the, the jazz singer, Diana Reeves. But, but these are the, what she says, She says, I’m an endangered species. But I sing no victim song. Mm. I’m a woman, I’m an artist, and I know where my voice belongs. And you know, I think for those who are listening, that’s really the way I think many of us have to navigate this space. And for many of us, for Linda, myself, as Black people who understand and who also understand that our tribes may not be as big as we’d like for it to be, and we also represent a time period that is moving on because there’s another generation that does not have the seeds of evangelicalism that can be harvested for good. So Linda and I both are endangered species, especially as we navigate in spaces where we are the only one but we are not singing a victim song. And so, even, even in this conversation today, hopefully nothing that I’ve said sounds like a victim. But we just simply know that again, we’re artists and we know where our voice belongs.
Dan: Thank you both.