By Melody Copenny
Cherished Women’s Blog Writer
I knew I looked good. Jean skirt with ruffled layers. Neon green fanny pack. Cotton socks paired with my white Keds. Tangerine faux leopard print vest. And the best part of my hilarious fashion? A t-shirt with the faces of New Kids on The Block plastered across it!
Every pre-teen and teen girl has a favorite boy in a boy band. Front man Jordan was my mine. In my 11-year old mind, we were soulmates, especially after I read in a teen magazine that he loved ketchup. I loved ketchup. We both loved ketchup. It was perfect!
I crushed Jordan and my best friend Kahalia loved Vanilla Ice. It didn’t matter that we were two brown skinned girls living in Atlanta attending a black elementary school. It didn’t matter that our celebrity crushes were white and we were not.
So when does it start to matter?
When do our childhood lenses come off and we realize race and culture matter to others?
I’m a black bicultural American woman. I embrace black and white culture, while cultivating a learner’s heart for other cultures. I navigate the waters of my experience and the experiences of others with understanding and awareness.
My elementary, middle, and high schools were predominantly black. I enrolled at the University of Georgia, predominantly white, because I wanted to intersect regularly with people from different races and cultural backgrounds. Those intersections would help me see prejudices in my heart while giving others the chance to build relationships with me.
Race and culture matter. They are immediate identifiers of who we are and the history we come from.
In March, I attended a five-day intensive training that aims to help the Church fight for Oneness by influencing the way Christian leaders see, understand, and act in our ethnically and culturally diverse world.
Many inside and beyond the body of Christ in America desire racial reconciliation. The training opened my eyes to see that reconciliation remains stunted until people at the table in this conversation recognize where the brokenness is among us.
And this table must have seats for everyone.
There are disconnects in the history of America. There are injustices that provide context for the racial distrust moving through decades, and passed down through generations.
We need to understand our stories and how they got us here.
We have to do this hard heart work. And this means digging into racial diversity and cultural engagement. During the March training, my colleagues Michael Sylvester and Emma Tautolo challenged me with these words:
“Ask ‘Where can I find those relationships that can take me where I can’t go’ and ‘Where can we find those relationships that can take us where we can’t go?’” Michael exhorted.
“If we don’t get this, how will the world get this?” Emma pleaded. “The gospel is at stake and God’s heart for Oneness.”
Where is your seat at the table?
How is God calling you to step into this work of Biblical Oneness today?