I have been entrusted as the mama of three of the most handsome black boys. This magnitude of this is never lost on me. I’m not black. I don’t have a clue. I’m white as white gets. A rural country girl who loves farming, country music and line dancing. I’m terrible at the whip and nae nae and hit the quan. For real, I have a responsibility to allow them to be who they are. To embrace their roots. Their African culture and the new culture they will embrace as black kids being raised in America. So race relations and relationships with AA peeps is on my radar big time. I long for it, chase after it, pursue all of it. And I’ve learned along the way, that this isn’t just for my kids. It’s breaking down the walls in my heart as well. It’s changing me. The journey is making me better. Opening my eyes. Helping me to understand other cultures and to be able to get it. Really get it.
Last August I had a longing to start a racial reconciliation group of some kind. I wanted to do something. Our city seemed to have misconceptions about people of color and I was starting to find that out now that I had lived there a couple years. And the shootings of unarmed black men that I saw all over the media were making me sick. There has to be a better way. I want to leave a better legacy for my kids. I longed to be the change. I knew that God’s heart was all over this. He longs for us to be in unity. To be love to each other. So I started the conversation with a couple people in August, but I had nothing to use to start a movement of healing. God had a plan. He always does. I attended the IF conference in February of this year and watched Latasha Morrison speak about Be the Bridge. This was it. The answer to prayers and longing. God clearly told me RISE UP, start a group, be for this thing. And so it began in March with my sweet friend Keisha co-leading. These last couple of months have changed my life and my families’ lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine. We have such huge grace and wisdom when it comes to other cultures. We can more clearly understand what it feels like to be a minority. My husband and I weren’t raised around people of color. We had one black girl in our high school. ONE. So we know nothing. And when you know nothing, you judge and you fear. But when you take the steps to really get to know people, to really be aware of what is happening, you are changed. Made better. Man am I grateful that I said yes and that Keisha said yes and that brave people showed up and said yes to racial reconciliation.
Folks need the gospel. We need to have our hearts changed. We see people from a skewed point of view. We need to see people the way GOD SEES THEM. -Trip Lee
Saying yes to this group made me grab all the books and start reading. Listen to all the podcasts. Read every FB post about race relations. I just wanted to grab a hold and be knowledgeable. Without understanding, we jump to conclusions and judgments that just aren’t true. The relationships I have been blessed to form are amazing. The stories I have heard blow my mind and make me cry. Sometimes in our little town, we hear people say, what is the point, why come, I’m not racist. It’s not about not being a racist but being anti-racist. I have three black kids and I’ve thought and said some pretty racist things. We all have preconceived notions of how a person is until we hear the stories, create the relationship, understand the history. You may think a certain way about me just by sizing me up, but you don’t really know me until you hear my heart. THAT is the point. To create relationships, to hear each others heart, to love each other freely. Like my friend Keisha says, you may see a black person walking around with their pants low and their headphones on jamming out and you may feel some type of way. But the way you feel isn’t the truth of who they are. The key to breaking down the walls is getting to know each other. Getting to the heart of the matter. You get to know that person and all the sudden your thoughts have changed. It’s called justice. Treating each other fairly, equally and equitably. Imagine how the world would change if we all attended a Be the Bridge group, we all got to know one another and our eyes could see clearly the truth about each other. As each community starts breaking down the walls, there is a movement of love and healing that changes the world. I want to be a part of this thing that God is doing, this incredible work of healing a nation. If you haven’t joined a group because you don’t see the point, the point is that we all need to be for each other. The point is that the word N***ER can no longer be said in our schools and written on people’s driveways. The point is that there can be no more shootings of unarmed black men. The point is that there can’t be African American boys and girls who long to be white because being black isn’t seen as good. The point is there can’t be any more “driving while black.” The point is we are called to create a better world. We are called to create unity, love, justice and peace. To be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The point is to commit ourselves to allowing God to break down the walls that exist in our lives regarding racial issues. To break down our preconceived notions, our sinfulness. What if we allowed God to change our judgement and stereotypes, what if we work together to change the narrative of race in this country and soon it becomes a massive movement that changes everything. This movement is happening and will continue to grow because unity and love is God’s heart. His greatness always wins, his promises never fail and his will WILL BE DONE!! He just asks us to join in the holy work of bringing heaven to earth.
This movement that Latasha built, it’s happening all over the country, and it’s epic. It’s life changing. Be a part of the solution, be the change, rise up, love freely.
If you haven’t joined a be the bridge group yet, I urge you to get on the band wagon. To do this thing. To stand up for the rights of all. Be brave!
Vicki Bruening is a mama of six, a bridge builder, a champion for the vulnerable, judged, and oppressed. She is passionate about living out God’s call to bring heaven to earth. You can find her online at vickibruening.com