RACIAL RECONCILIATION WITH JOHN WILLIAMS, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR RACIAL RECONCILIATION, FELLOWSHIP MONROVIA

John has diligently and faithfully worked toward racial reconciliation for almost 30 years. He is passionate about training groups who seek to increase their awareness around biblical multicultural and racial reconciliation, and brings years of experience and expertise in facilitating and training to this work.

John uses facilitating dialogue and interactive exercises as a core element in all of his workshops. These workshops are designed to introduce participants to the deceptive and destructive effects of racism in our lives and the body of Christ, and present opportunities to learn and experience the work of racial reconciliation within a biblical framework. John is a graduate of UC Berkeley and USC Law School.

John has been practicing law for over 20 years, has mediated and facilitated sessions for individuals and small groups in the area of alternative dispute and conflict resolution, and is an adjunct professor at Azusa Pacific University and Life Pacific College teaching on Race, Reconciliation, and Ministry.

Podcast Beginning

Many people ask me (Jen Kinney) how I got started podcasting on anti-racism. It’s a long story and I am long-winded, but the following is a word-for-word excerpt from an online conversation I had with a then new-to-me Facebook friend (Noah Lomax) who has now become a regular contributor on this podcast. He asked me what led me to do the work I do and to explain my deconstruction. Here was my reply:

“On one hand, I would say my deconstruction has taken decades, but the bulk of it has really taken place over the last few years.

I’ve claimed myself as an “anti-racist” for decades, and I truly believed I was. But now that I have gone through the bulk of this deconstruction, I can look back and say that I was very mistaken. My intentions were decent, but I had zero understanding of how much I had been shaped by external narratives. I had no real knowledge of history in this nation. I grew up raised and heavily relating to my Native American ancestry, so I had a solid amount of dislike for our founding as well as a severe distrust of our government, but even that wasn’t enough.

I held firmly to the ideology of individualism and subscribed to the idea that being “colorblind” was an enlightened perspective. I became a Christian in my early 20s and felt a strong call to racial reconciliation within the church, but I had absolutely no idea how to approach it. I didn’t understand race, the creation of the concept, the deep roots of white supremacy and how it absolutely saturated medicine, academia, our justice system, and the way we live and relate to one another to this day.

I truly believed that we lived so segregated out of preference. I thought that we could just get along if our minds were open enough. I saw people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton as opportunists, Malcolm X as a hateful man and I blamed them for the division. I looked up to the whitewashed view of a peaceful, docile MLK Jr. I never once questioned how or why I came to those conclusions, and if I’m honest, I probably just assumed it was by my own brilliant, enlightened thinking. But I understand now.

My most significant turning point came when I started learning about the difference between American Christianity and the Bible. As my entire concept of “church” shifted, as I came to the realization that we are so bound to tradition simply because it’s the tradition, other things started to fall away as well. Cultural norms, race… all of it. It was perfect timing really. My white family had moved and was living in a predominantly black neighborhood, I was questioning everything about what formed my perspectives and why I held the beliefs I did, I was being moved into more in-depth work on racism, and my eyes were open to injustice all around.

The icing on the cake was when I was finally given permission to get off my butt and start speaking out. Until then, I didn’t really know where I fit. I actually needed my friends of color to tell me that they were tired of taking on the fight, tired of talking to people and hearing the same old crap and that they wanted white people to start doing the heavy lifting.

Since then, I’ve been hosting dinner party/discussions, speaking openly about racism, and most importantly-reading, listening and learning from people of color.

Here’s the thing that blows my mind. It took me moving my white family into a predominantly black neighborhood, spending years listening and observing, developing deep friendships with people of color (I can’t tell you how many white people ask how to even meet people and do that), going to events and classes, and being part of a racial reconciliation group- to even begin to see what my friends of color have known all their lives!

It’s breathtaking, and I know it will be my work for the rest of my days on this earth. But I know that reconciliation is the heart of god, and I have experienced a depth of love and grace and beauty, heaven on earth, as I have pursued this work, bridged gaps, and worked toward unity. “

Moving Toward Humanity with Marcie Walker From Black Coffee With White Friends

On this episode, Marcie Walker from Black Coffee With White Friends joins Jen to talk about her life, her passions, and the inspiration behind her wildly popular website and Instagram space- Black Coffee With White Friends. Marcie shares her passion for human connection, truth-telling, and authenticity as she navigates life as a mother, storyteller, and peacemaker. You can find her website at www.blackcoffeewithwhitefriends.com and follow her on Instagram @blackcoffeewithwhitefriends.

The History Behind Stereotypes with Calvin Moore

On this episode, Calvin Moore from Leading Questions joins us to discuss stereotypes, history, and the importance of understanding our past. Calvin is a historian with a passion for engaging difficult conversations and he opens up about what life was like as a black man living in predominantly white spaces. He gives advice on engaging anti-racism work and shares some of his top book recommendations on the topic.

The Power of Photography in Storytelling and Reclaiming History

Michael W. Thomas is a photographer and life-long student of history. He sits on the Board of Directors at the Marietta Museum of History and teaches classes on African American history. In this episode, we talk about him growing up in Marietta, the importance of history, and the power of photography in telling stories and reclaiming history. Michael will join us a regular contributor on Speaking of Racism.

Why Confederate Symbols Belong in a Museum

Join Jen and Charles Johnson from Straight Talk With Charles Johnson as they talk about the recent decision by Ole Miss to remove a prominent Confederate monument. They talk about everything from the presidency of Donald Trump, and the Lost Cause History of the Confederacy, to reparations for the descendants of slaves, and more.