My Take on Race: From a White Girl in a Multicolored Family {Guest Post}

By Jodie Pine | blog

I was blessed to grow up in a multi-colored family. My “twin” is my biracial brother, younger than me by two months. I have another brother, adopted from Brazil, who is a month older than my biological sister. And she is just 1 ½ years younger than me. My parents had their hands full.

Living in Arkansas in the 1970’s, our unique family experienced misunderstandings and discrimination. Because we were not all welcome at the city park designated for whites, we frequented the “black park.” The local Boy Scouts chapter refused to let my brother join. And I can still remember the fear I felt as we witnessed a KKK cross burning in a friend’s yard. What’s the big deal about skin color, I wondered? Why do some people think whites are superior?

I can recall how proud my sister and I were in the blazing hot summer of 1979. All four of us kids were on an outdoor swim team and, to our great delight, our skin turned the same beautiful shade as our brothers. No longer that sickly pale color. We could actually be called brown. And brown was good in our eyes. We wanted to be like our brothers, not different from them.

Then we moved from Arkansas to a North Carolina mountain town, which was predominately white. It didn’t affect my sister and me much, because we looked just like everyone else, but I’m sure–looking back now–that my brothers were constantly aware of being the minority.

During my freshman year of college at UNC-Chapel Hill, I lived in a randomly assigned suite with eight girls. Seven were black and then there was me. I learned so much during that transformative year from my roommate Sheletha. And even though it was uncomfortable at times to be the only white girl, I’m so thankful God gave me an opportunity that many white people are not privileged to get: to experience being the minority.

After college, God gave me another opportunity to be a white minority by living in the beautiful homogenous land of China. Involved in education, my husband and I raised our three biological children there, who can identify with the image of an egg: white on the outside and yellow on the inside. We adopted our two Chinese boys in 2013 and moved back to the US after 20 years in East Asia.

Last year a Chinese American friend asked me how our boys were doing in American public school, dealing with race issues. I responded that I didn’t think it was a big deal for them and we hadn’t really talked about it much. My flippant comment later made me realize how much I still live in my white privileged world. Another Asian friend at that time encouraged me to join a transracial adoption group to learn more about how race issues affect my children every day.

She wrote, “Society will tell them they’re not white. Society will treat them differently. Don’t be afraid to talk about race and racism. It will benefit them more than you know it. And it will let them know you are not there for the whole ‘I don’t see color’ ideology, because that just means you don’t value where they come from and who they are.”

Growing up as a white girl with brothers of color, and now mothering two sons of color, I am saddened to realize that I still can be sheltered under my white privilege umbrella. I’m therefore incredibly thankful for friends who have challenged me, with their probing questions, to step out from under this umbrella into the world that people of color live in. I have come to see that attempting to better understand the effects of racism on my family and friends will be a lifelong choice.

When we step into someone else’s shoes we gain a different perspective. A better understanding. While will never be able to fully enter into another’s life experience, we can move a step closer.

And we can grow deeper in our conviction that all people are wonderfully and fearfully made, handcrafted by God. Intentionally passing that belief on to the next generation, we never lose hope that–united across the racial divide–we can make a difference in this world.

Martin Luther King Jr. beautifully expressed this view:

“The whole concept of the imago dei, as it is expressed in Latin, the ‘image of God,’ is the idea that all men have something within them that God injected. Not that they have substantial unity with God, but that every man has a capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him a uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity. And we must never forget this as a nation: There are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble white to a bass black is significant on God’s keyboard, precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man. That is why we must fight segregation with all of our nonviolent might.”

The reality is that people born into a life of white privilege will never experience the kind of fear and anger and discrimination directed toward those born with black, brown, or yellow skin. And even though it would be easy to do, I strongly believe that privileged white people cannot shut the door, turn the other way, and ignore what is happening right now all around us. We must join together to fight against injustice. Fight for those who face mistreatment every single day of their lives. Mistreatment simply because of the color of their skin.

Even if it’s not our personal battle, it must become our battle. The people suffering from injustice are our brothers and sisters. Our sons and daughters.

Surrounded by different skin colors…

So much beauty in the color. If we choose to see.

So much racism. If we choose to label.

Injustice seems to be growing in our world today.

How do we fight it?

How can we celebrate the diversity of colors and see past the skin to what is in the heart?

So that we can discover the unity in our humanity.

And realize that we are all people wonderfully and fearfully made,

handcrafted by God.

So much alike underneath our different colored skin.

With human hurts and human dreams.

***

About Jodie:

As a mom, I juggle two different kinds of parenting — long-distance to our 3 adult kids (who are white on the outside but very Chinese on the inside) and our two adopted Chinese boys at home who have special needs. Since being back in the US, my husband has taken up cooking Chinese food, with a specialty of Lanzhou beef noodles (where we used to live and where our boys are from), giving us a taste of “home.” You can follow our story on my blog. I am also on Instagram and Facebook.

Sign up for my newsletter by February 28th and be entered to win a copy of Beyond Colorblind! (U.S. residents only)

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

How is God calling you to enter the race conversation? 

This month we’ll be discussing racism, privilege and bridge building. If you’d like to guest post on this topic, please email me at scrapingraisins(dot)gmail(dot)com. Yes, this is awkward and fraught with the potential for missteps, blunders and embarrassing moments, but it’s necessary. Join me?

I’ll go first.

(Consider joining the Facebook group Be the Bridge to Racial Unity to learn more about how God is moving in this sphere.)

If you are a writer, consider using the hashtag #WOCwithpens to showcase the writing of our black and brown sisters of faith every Wednesday specifically, but anytime as well! You can find the explanation for the hashtag here.

If you’re a white person who’s new to all of this, I compiled some resources to start you on your journey (because I’m not much farther ahead):

70+ Race Resources for White People

80+ MORE Race Resources for White people

**Contains Amazon affiliate links

Interview with On Ramp Hosts Shane Blackshear & Kerri Fisher (+BOOKS!)

A few years ago I started listening to a podcast called Seminary Dropout. The host was thoughtful and the guests were usually influential authors and interesting voices in Christian circles. Shane Blackshear and Kerri Fisher started up a spin-off podcast back in 2016 called On Ramp that’s meant to be a starting point (an “on ramp”) for those just entering the race conversation. Season 2 was released in December of 2017. As I’ve really benefitted from the podcast, I reached out to them and Shane and Kerri agreed to answer a few questions for me. I’m excited to share this interview with you!

1. Could you tell us a bit more about yourselves? Where do you live? What’s your day job? Who are your people?

Kerri: Well, my name is Kerri Fisher. I live in Waco, Texas. I work at Baylor University as a full-time lecturer in the school of social work. My people? Hmmmm, members of the Branch Church in Abilene and Doxology Church in Austin (both now defunct in the literal sense but alive in the supernatural sense).  Also, I suppose, my people are writers, readers, comedians & other creatives/contemplators as well as my literal family The Charles Fishers and all my chosen family accumulated over the years. That’s as brief as I can be if I am to be accurate and appropriately inclusive.

Shane: I’m Shane Blackshear. I live in Austin, Texas. I host a podcast called Seminary Dropout in addition to On Ramp with Kerri, and I work in real estate. My people are my wife Kate, my two kids Margot and Amos, and my church family of Austin Mustard Seed.

2. How do you two know each other and how did you decide to start this podcast?

Shane: We met and became good friends in college, and have been ever since. Through my other podcast, Seminary Dropout I had some eye opening conversations with people who are, in my opinion, some of the greatest thinkers in the area of race and racial justice. Meanwhile I think Kerri had also been working through some issues on race through her own family history and her career in social work. We’d talk about this stuff when we saw each other here and there. At some point the idea popped into my head and I asked Kerri if she would do a podcast with me on race through the lens of our Christian faith. The rest is history.

Kerri: Yes, Shane has relayed this accurately.

Shane Blackshear and Kerri Fisher, the hosts of On Ramp

3. For those of us who have no idea what goes into producing a podcast, what is the process involved in creating it?

Kerri: It is hilarious for me to answer this question first. I want to say, “I have no idea?” For my part the process is thinking and talking with Shane about what we want to communicate, then going to Shane’s house to record and then sending academic or other research support for any claims I have made during the recording. Shane can now explain everything cool and technological that I actively avoid learning.

Shane: Kerri’s downplaying her role. The planning part is one of the most important steps. Also On Ramp couldn’t exist without the academic and other research, and Kerri with her academic background is much better at that part that I am. We’re big on truth at On Ramp, so obtaining reliable information is everything. Beyond that, the technological stuff is pretty boring, but basically I set up the mics, mixer, and recorder, do some sound editing, write show notes, and upload the audio file. I should probably do more promotion afterwards, but by the time I get to that part I’m exhausted (Please tell your friends about this show).

4. Do you have a favorite episode? Why?

Shane: It’s hard to pick, partly because they all kind of blend together and partly because I’m proud of them all. Actually the first one stands out to me. That’s where we got to really lay out our vision and heart for On Ramp and what we wanted it to be.

Kerri: In general my honest answer is that I always get a kick out of the ones where we get a little giggly, it reminds me of our college glory days and its sweet to have that recorded. As for a specific favorite, I agree they all blend together a bit, but I remember really liking our first episode of season two more than I thought I would because we got “Jesusy” and I am always nervous to suggest  or have the appearance of suggesting that I have a better idea than anyone else who Jesus is,  or how to be a Christian,  or how to navigate this human experience, but as I re-listened to that episode I must say, I felt touched at what we stumbled on together about the holiness—the otherworldliness of laying down privilege. It made me feel warm. And I hope it did for others too.

5. What was the hardest episode to record? Why?

Kerri: I would say for me generally the hardest episodes are when I am sharing personal things about what it means to be a person of color rather than academic considerations. My childhood self is very shocked and appalled at how frequently I am telling the truth about the challenges of oppression and privilege—she was very happy to ignore race and its consequences, so sometimes that still creeps up in episodes like the one from season two about being a black woman in white evangelical spaces. In the moment of the actual recording though, the hardest episode for me was the final episode in season 1 where Shane and I processed our own relational and podcast related hiccups related to our own identity-related behaviors. Even though those hiccups were very minor, I still felt shaky as we discussed the impacts of privilege and oppression in our own very real relationship. I think that’s crazy because Shane and I have been extremely close friends for over 15 years and there are still ways that talking about race can feel awkward even for the two of us.

Shane: The episodes that require the most vulnerability are always hard. I see my role in this podcast as one that is first one of a listening posture. As a biracial woman, Kerri has the lived experience of having racism directed at her as all people of color do. As a white guy, my lived experience is one of privilege. So my hope is that I model a listening posture, and a willingness to lay down my privilege as much as I can and be a champion of Kerri’s words and experience. That’s not easy, so while I can’t nail it down to a specific episode, the times when I’ve needed to be quiet and acknowledge & lay down my privilege are not comfortable.

6. What are your favorite/go-to books about race?

Shane: I love this question. I always love recommending books because they say it so much better than I ever could. For me these books make up my required reading list when it comes to matters of race in no particular order:

The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

The Myth of Equality, Ken Wytsma

Let Justice Roll Down, John Perkins

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, Drew Hart

Disunity in Christ, Christena Cleveland

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White—Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?, Leroy Barber

 

Kerri: Oh boy. Yes to lots of Shane’s suggestions. I also really have been touched by at least portions of each of the following:

The Souls of Black Folks, W.E.B. Dubois

Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama

The Hidden Wound, Wendall Berry

The Color of Water, James McBride

Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, Toure

The Devil’s Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea

Negroland: A Memoir, Margo Jefferson

I am eager to read:

The Potlicker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, John T. Edge

Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, Amy Tan

The Warmth of Other Sons, Isabel Wilkerson

7. Have you gotten any push-back or criticism from listeners? What kinds of things?

Kerri: I have been really surprised, relieved and grateful for how kind and supportive our listeners have been to us. I think we’ve had a few people who wanted to hear more theology or more or different content on a certain race-related concept but that is to be expected and as long as it is delivered in a gracious manner it is encouraged. We are very interested in what our listeners are interested in.

Shane: Like Kerri I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the lack of criticism, especially harsh criticism. Unlike a written blog post, you can’t skim a podcast. I think people who would be harsh critics just don’t take the time to listen. The criticism we have received has been scattered. Someone took issues because we “changed the definition of racism”, but the definition we used, “prejudice plus power”, is the definition that relevant professionals have used for a long time. Someone else gently asked why we haven’t talked about oppression towards women, which is a subject I think we both care about deeply, but we can’t say all truths in the world at the same time. On Ramp is specifically about race through the lens of Christianity so we focus on that. So the criticism has been light and for the most part respectful. I assume that if On Ramp picks up steam the longer it’s out there, we’ll start to receive heavier push back.

8. As this interview is published, the much-anticipated Black Panther film is about to come out. In your opinion, what is all the buzz about? 

Shane: There’s another podcast that’s great (and I have to admit more popular that either of my podcasts), called “Truth’s Table” hosted by three black Christian women. It’s fantastic! In the first episode I happened to listen to the women just talked about how excited they were for Black Panther. The trailer had just come out and they were dissecting every frame. Their excitement was contagious.

There have been over 55 feature length Marvel & DC movies made since the year 2000 and none of them have featured a black main character. Even Ghost Rider got 2 movies in that time, and Ghost Rider is terrible.

People of color are not only under-represented in super hero movies, but in all media, and when they are represented it’s done poorly. Too often people of color are represented as criminals or people with low morals, or they’re the black best friend stereotype existing for the white leading characters benefit. The general story of Black Panther is an empowering story of a man and a society who don’t need help from white people. The characters are extremely intelligent and their society is advanced.

Kerri: Well, I know literally nothing about Black Panther and had little interest in seeing it, but Shane has now convinced me. I am certainly interested in supporting films that represent the complexity of black people and blackness because that has been a lifetime longing of mine that has rarely been offered or available to me. Fingers crossed for Black Panther and more and more good storytelling to come.

9. Will there be a season 3 of On Ramp? If so, what are some of the topics you still hope to discuss in future episodes?

Kerri: Well, as of this writing Shane and I haven’t discussed season 3 very much but I guess I would say I would love to do a third season if we have evidence that people are listening to it and find it useful. I’m not sure what topics we would discuss next—I loved hearing listener questions and interests at the end of season 1 so hopefully that would give us some ideas. We both love discussing entertainment and politics, so I could see us finding news and entertainment stories and applying some of the concepts from seasons 1 & 2? I don’t know though. I’ll eagerly await Shane’s answer.

Shane: Like Kerri eluded, I think it depends on the feedback. It is a considerable amount of work, and although we like to do it, if people aren’t connecting to it, or if there are more affective resources out there, then we have no problem ending On Ramp at season 2 and being proud of the work we did. That all sounds pessimistic but I don’t mean it to be. I hope that On Ramp is meaningful and helpful to many people and that we’ll keep going for seasons to come. So if anyone out there has feedback or suggestions of what they’d like to hear in the future, please let us know!

***

Thank you, Shane and Kerri for providing such a wonderful podcast for all of us. And I am so grateful you took the time to answer my questions for this interview!

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast yet, you can find On Ramp Season 1 and 2 here!

Sign up for my newsletter by February 28th and be entered to win a copy of Beyond Colorblind! (U.S. residents only)

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

How is God calling you to enter the race conversation? 

This month we’ll be discussing racism, privilege and bridge building. If you’d like to guest post on this topic, please email me at scrapingraisins(dot)gmail(dot)com. Yes, this is awkward and fraught with the potential for missteps, blunders and embarrassing moments, but it’s necessary. Join me?

I’ll go first.

(Consider joining the Facebook group Be the Bridge to Racial Unity to learn more about how God is moving in this sphere.)

If you are a writer, consider using the hashtag #WOCwithpens to showcase the writing of our black and brown sisters of faith every Wednesday specifically, but anytime as well! You can find the explanation for the hashtag here.

If you’re a white person who’s new to all of this, I compiled some resources to start you on your journey (because I’m not much farther ahead):

70+ Race Resources for White People

80+ MORE Race Resources for White people

**This post includes Amazon Affiliate links

Ten White Privilege Metaphors

Metaphors and analogies help bring clarity to fuzzy thinking. These ten privilege metaphors not only apply to white privilege, but also to economic inequality. Of course, every metaphor breaks down on some level, so keep that in mind as you mull these over.

1. Different Starting Lines

If life is a race, then people of color have a different starting line than white people. This video, called The Unequal Opportunity Race, is a fantastic depiction of the additional hurdles and roadblocks people of color face as they “race” white people in life.

2. Monopoly Game

Privilege is a like a monopoly game where black people are invited to play after white people have already been playing for three days—the property has been sold and the resources handed out, and yet the people of color need to somehow make it around the board. (I couldn’t find a specific source for this metaphor, because it seems like a widely accepted one.)

3. Tall and Short People

This metaphor by Omar Ismail, explained in greater and more comedic detail here,  removes some of the emotions from this discussion. He compares white people to tall people who can reach higher shelves and experience more conveniences because they are tall. It simply means there are advantages to being tall.

4. Bikes and Cars

This article, “What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege,” suggests that privilege is like being a bike person or a car person. Cars are less aware of bikes and bikes need to cater to the cars on the road.

5. Gaming—Easy, Moderate, Hard Settings

In this article, “Straight White Male, The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is,” John Scalzi explains white privilege using a gaming metaphor. While you can still lose on this setting, you are playing against others who are using moderate and hard settings, so you have all the advantage in the game.

6. The Closest to the Goal

I recently attended a seminar that used this metaphor for white privilege. The men used an image of three people in a row trying to throw a paper ball into a trash can. They said the teacher gave the directive that if they make a basket, they get an A on the exam. Obviously those in the front row have the advantage. And there’s the added layer that they are not aware of the people in the rows behind them. A teacher adapted this idea into a lesson plan to teach his high school students about the concept of privilege.

7. The Invisible Knapsack

This is possibly the most well-known way to identify white privilege, which Peggy Macintosh describes as the “invisible knapsack.” She shares statements for people to check off to identify whether or not they have privilege. This Privilege Walk Lesson Plan uses a similar format, but has  students in a gym take steps forward or backward based on a list of statements that highlight their privilege or lack of privilege. 

8. Born on Third Base

Cactus Pryor describes privilege as someone who was born on third base and thinks they hit a triple. They don’t recognize that they are privileged from birth.

9. The Caterpillar and the Snail

“Sometimes You’re a Caterpillar” is short (and cute) story about a caterpillar and snail who are friends trying to get under a fence. The caterpillar doesn’t understand why the snail can’t just fit under the fence. She eventually has some epiphanies about the struggles of her friend.

10. No Left Turn Lane

White privilege is having a left turn lane, while people of color must wait for the oncoming cars to pass before turning left. (Chicago city drivers have first-hand experience with the joy of turn lanes when you’re not used to having one.)

More Resources:

On Ramp Podcast is a fabulous podcast for succinct, yet in depth discussion of race issues through a conversation between a white man and an African American woman. These two podcasts on white privilege are very informative: Privilege and White Privilege Revisited 

White Privilege Explained in One Simple Comic (language alert)

Another comic from The Wireless

***

Sign up for my newsletter by February 28th and be entered to win a copy of Beyond Colorblind! (U.S. residents only)

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

 

How is God calling you to enter the race conversation? 

This month we’ll be discussing racism, privilege and bridge building. If you’d like to guest post on this topic, please email me at scrapingraisins(dot)gmail(dot)com. Yes, this is awkward and fraught with the potential for missteps, blunders and embarrassing moments, but it’s necessary. Join me?

I’ll go first.

 

 

(Consider joining the Facebook group Be the Bridge to Racial Unity to learn more about how God is moving in this sphere.)

If you are a writer, consider using the hashtag #WOCwithpens to showcase the writing of our black and brown sisters of faith every Wednesday specifically, but anytime as well! You can find the explanation for the hashtag here.

If you’re a white person who’s new to all of this, I compiled some resources to start you on your journey (because I’m not much farther ahead):

70+ Race Resources for White People

80+ MORE Race Resources for White people

**This post includes Amazon Affiliate links

Ten Metaphors for Understanding White Privilege

It’s Time to Hide My Hashtags {for SheLoves Magazine}

Where does the time go? Mostly, my smartphone steals mine. Months ago, I downloaded a simple app to put limits on the time I spend on my phone. I used it for a week, and then gave up. What I didn’t realize was that the app continued tracking my phone usage—for months. When I finally opened it again and saw the stats, I felt queasy.

I unlock my screen 100-150 times a day. On average, I spend two hours a day on my phone. That’s 14 hours a week, 56 hours a month, and 672 hours a year. That is 28 full days of life, or 40 days if you factor in sleeping 7 hours a night.

I surrender 40 days a year to my smartphone.

As an extrovert, I used to feel if I didn’t tell someone about a thought or experience I had, it was as if it never happened. Now, if it is not documented electronically, it’s as if it didn’t happen.

Some jobs—like being a writer—require us to “build a platform.” But is this a pitfall? Maybe it’s not as much of a win as it seems—like the checkout clerk who tells you, “You saved $30 today!” when you have to spend $150 if you want to “save.” What is the cost of social media and smartphone use? We forfeit time alone, time with friends and family, time to observe life, and time with God, just to gain three followers, 40 likes, and 6 comments.

What if in my frenzy to post small slips of joy, wonder or beauty, I’m actually missing them?

Sometimes I hide in the bathroom, pretending to shower, when really I’m posting on Instagram. I squander minutes checking my email, scrolling through Facebook, tapping in and out of Facebook groups, feasting on Instagram eye candy, and clicking on links listed on Twitter. I document every book read, every sweet moment with my children, every inky black tree silhouetted on a salmon sky.

I try not to make my life look too perfect, too beautiful or too interesting. I don’t take pictures of my food. Ninety-nine percent of the images on my phone never meet a stranger on the internet. I tell myself I’m not addicted. I can quit. I could not check my phone all day—if I wanted to.

But the other day I had to volunteer in my son’s class and leave my phone in the closet for two hours and I felt genuine anxiety. Like a junkie. If there were such a thing as smartphone rehab, I would check myself in immediately. I’m writing from the middle of my story, but if I’m describing you, too, then pull up a chair and let’s brainstorm treatment together…

Continue reading at SheLoves

Why Do We Have to Keep Talking about Slavery? (The Facts We Like to Hide.)

You can see from my headshot that I am very, very white. I’m mostly German,  part Irish and part English. God made me white on purpose–just like he made you the way you look on purpose.

But whiteness carries invisible baggage from the past that often gets pushed under the rug in the name of “colorblindness.”

“Can’t we just forget and move on?”

“Why do we have to keep talking about slavery? Let’s focus on now, not then.”

“I didn’t have slaves.”

“I have friends from all races and am not racist.”

“I don’t see color, I just see people.”

It’s time for white people to recognize that while the past may not seem to be affecting us, it impacts people of color every single day.

The past soaks deep into our souls like ground water polluted by a gasoline leak so many years ago.

It is naive to assume history has no impact on the present.

But the truth is that we don’t want to be reminded. The fact that there are so few museums in the U.S. dedicated to slavery testifies that white people prefer to forget this aspect of our nation’s history.

So as I begin this month-long theme on racism, privilege and bridge building, I want to state some facts that I as a white person prefer to hide. They are the things I hesitate to tell my children because I don’t want them to know they are born into a tarnished, shameful history. But today, let’s drag these facts into the blinding light.

Because healing begins in the light.

Here are a few of the facts. I recommend reading them aloud so you don’t glaze over their weight:

Most black people came to North America as slaves. They were enslaved by white people, my ancestors.

Slavery lasted from 1619 to 1865. That’s 246 years of enslaving an entire race based solely on the color of their skin. If a generation is 25 years, that’s about 10 generations of slavery.

African Americans have been free for 153 years. Just six generations ago, our co-workers, friends, spouses, and classmates of color would have been born into slavery.

Segregation in schools was made illegal in 1954–just 64 years ago. But most schools, like my county in Tampa, FL, did not integrate schools until they were under court order to do so in the 1970’s. I attended schools in all African American neighborhoods under court order to desegregate. But today those court orders have been lifted and most schools are more segregated than ever.

All legally-enforced public segregation was abolished in 1964. Just 54 years ago.

My parents drank from water fountains only white people could drink from, ate in segregated restaurants, and attended segregated schools.

Interracial marriage was illegal until 1967. Just 51 years ago, it would have been illegal to marry a person of another race.

From the NAACP website:

Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US population, they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.

African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites.

The imprisonment rate for African American women is twice that of white women.

In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.

African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.

1 in 3 black men will be incarcerated in their lifetime.

Unarmed black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer, according to a Washington Post article from 2016.

By the time their kids are entering kindergarten, my African American friends and friends who have adopted children of color have already had conversations with their children about how to safely interact with teachers, police officers and white people in general.

***

And yet most white people still believe we live in a “post-racial society,” lumping slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, unequal incarceration, and housing, education, and wealth disparities together as “the past.”

But James Baldwin wrote, “History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” (“Black English: A Dishonest Argument”)

Our first step in pulling up a chair to the table of the race conversation, then, is to acknowledge that the trauma of the past is still rippling and raging into today.

***

This is an interesting resource about slavery education in U.S. classrooms: Teaching Hard History: American Slavery

If you’re a white person who’s new to all of this, I compiled some resources to start you on your journey (because I’m not much farther ahead):

70+ Race Resources for White People

80+ MORE Race Resources for White people

How is God calling you to enter the race conversation? 

This month we’ll be discussing racism, privilege and bridge building. If you’d like to guest post on this topic, please email me at scrapingraisins(dot)gmail(dot)com. Yes, this is awkward and fraught with the potential for missteps, blunders and embarrassing moments, but it’s necessary. Join me?

I’ll go first.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

 

(Consider joining the Facebook group Be the Bridge to Racial Unity to learn more about how God is moving in this sphere.)

If you are a writer, consider using the hashtag #WOCwithpens to showcase the writing of our black and brown sisters of faith every Wednesday specifically, but anytime as well! You can find the explanation for the hashtag here.

Why Do We Have to Keep Talking about Slavery? (The Facts We Like to Hide.)

Can I Say “She’s Black”? (Why White Christians Need to Talk about Race.)

When you’re white, talking about race can be awkward.

Can we call someone “black” or should we say “African American”?

Will people think I’m a racist if I mention race?

If I actually like rap or hip hop, would it be weird to bring that up with my African American friend at risk of seeming like I’m stereotyping?

Can I compliment an African American woman on her hair?

Should I say “mixed,” “biracial,” or something else?

Can I ask my Asian friend where she’s from?

Should I say “Latino,” “Latina,” “Hispanic,” “Mexican,” or something else?

Did that just sound like I was trying to talk “black,” I hope he didn’t think I was making fun of him or trying too hard  …

I’ll just pretend race doesn’t matter, I “just see people”–race is “just a social construct,” after all … I’m colorblind.

***

One friend admitted that entering the race conversation as a white woman feels like walking in a minefield. For the white person who fears saying, thinking or being the wrong thing, there seem to be hazards everywhere.

But white people–white women in particular–need to engage in this difficult conversation.

Here’s why.

Because white women raise white children who grow up to be white men and women.

Because white women have the ear and heart of the men in our lives who still carry more power in the country than we do.

Because white women have greater influence than we realize.

Yes, discussing race is awkward. We’re going to mess up and use the wrong words, say stupid things and feel angry, confused and misunderstood. But if we say we love our brothers and sisters of color sitting next to us in the church pews, then it’s time to listen.

When we finally stop covering our ears, squeezing our eyes shut, and pretending the past doesn’t impact our today, we hear them crying out for allies and advocates to notice and speak out against their current struggle. Because though we are not separate, we are not treated equally.

Though I as a white woman have the luxury of being colorblind, my black and brown sisters and brothers do not.

This is from a post I wrote last year, called Does Talking about Race Perpetuate Disunity?:

The book Divided by Faith, a highly-researched book on evangelical’s views on race, concludes that the white perspective often dismisses institutional and systemic racism. Most white evangelicals do not acknowledge that we currently live in a racialized society. The authors push back (with documentation for each sentence in the book).

They claim this perspective misses “that whites can move to most any neighborhood, eat at most any restaurant, walk down most any street, or shop at most any store without having to worry or find out that they are not wanted, whereas African Americans often cannot.

This perspective misses that white Americans can be almost certain that when stopped by the police, it has nothing to do with race, whereas African Americans cannot.

This perspective misses that whites are assumed to be middle class unless proven otherwise, are not expected to speak for their race, can remain ignorant of other cultures without penalty, and do not have to ask every time something goes wrong if it is due to race, whereas African Americans cannot.

This perspective misses that white Americans are far more likely than black Americans to get a solid education, avoid being a victim of a crime, and have family and friends with money to help when extra cash is needed for college, a car, or a house.” –Divided by Faith (p. 90)

Yes, God’s love sets us all on equal ground, but when American society does not, God’s love should be the fuel that sets his children on fire for justice.

Followers of Jesus should be on the forefront of the race conversation.

We should advocate for equal treatment, housing, justice, education and rights for our black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ.

When others are silent, we should speak out. But we also must follow, listen and learn.

Solidarity demands a posture of humility.

Yes, we are called to love God and rest in who we are in Christ as representatives of the Imago Dei, but we are also called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And loving our neighbor requires entering uncomfortable conversations and spaces for the sake of love. It’s time to admit that just because we can’t see the mountain, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, looming behind our white fog.

***

How is God calling you to enter the race conversation? 

This month we’ll be discussing racism, privilege and bridge building. If you’d like to guest post on this topic, please email me at scrapingraisins(dot)gmail(dot)com. Yes, this is awkward and fraught with the potential for missteps, blunders and embarrassing moments, but it’s necessary. Join me?

I’ll go first.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

 

(Consider joining the Facebook group Be the Bridge to Racial Unity to learn more about how God is moving in this sphere.)

If you are a writer, consider using the hashtag #WOCwithpens to showcase the writing of our black and brown sisters of faith every Wednesday specifically, but anytime as well! You can find the explanation for the hashtag here.

Check out this spoken word poetry by Micah Bournes today. I cry every time I watch this.:

***This post contains Amazon Affiliate links (no extra cost to you, pennies to me!)

Weak is the “New” Strong {Guest Post}

By Nicole Woo

My best friend’s daughter hates her middle name. As a parent, how do you not take that one personally? After all, most of us spend about nine months contemplating, debating, and often agonizing over the matter. We sift through the millions of options, scrutinizing name meanings with a fine-toothed comb. We do the nickname test with first, middle, and last names to ensure survival through middle school, and then veto all options that remind us of mean people from childhood.

Some of us are so weighted down by this heavy responsibility that we are still deliberating on our drive to the hospital. (This happened to my grandparents, who succumbed to the stress by drawing names out of a hat. Thankfully, my uncle was named “George” instead of “Machine Washable.”) Somehow, we all arrive at the “perfect” name. Nailed it!

At least my friend thought so.

10 years later …

Daughter: “Ewe!!!! You named me after a ewe, as in ‘a female sheep’?” she recently lamented in tween dialect. So now she uses just her middle initial on official forms. Although it feels a bit to her parents like a slap in the face, I’m starting to see her point.

After all, the tide has turned in American culture. Who wants to be named after a female sheep when “strong” and “woman” may now proudly exist, side-by-side? This dynamic message is in plain view, everywhere: “Strong is the New Pretty” has replaced “Daddy’s Little Princess” on t-shirts, while Wonder Woman is smashing box office records. (Yeah, you get it.)

This “Strong Girl” movement is fascinating to observe. I sprouted up in the 80’s when playing football at recess and collecting GI Joe’s often earned me “weird girl” status. But now being strong, aggressive and independent is celebrated, embraced and even expected. Pop culture is riding this wave, so shouldn’t we too? It’s easy for me to get swept up in the excitement of it all, and what it might mean for this generation of girls. Lately, though, a few questions are nudging me to proceed with caution:

Is this celebrated version of “strong” the one that’s best for us to hear?

Is weakness really such a bad thing?

Are they mutually exclusive?

Last night I made a mental list of the strongest women I know personally. Honestly, I was pretty surprised at the names claiming the top spots.

My Strong “Girl” List:

• A mentor, in the throes of cancer, thanking God for the captive audience of clinicians who regularly drained fluid from her lungs: she boasted of His faithfulness and goodness at each appointment.

• A loved one, who rises each day resolved to forgive the man who blind-sided her, abruptly ending their long marriage.

• A friend, who recently endured the most complicated and high-risk pregnancy I’ve ever seen. Despite her pain, she selflessly and sleeplessly drags herself out of bed when her needy newborn cries.

Not the top three I imagined.

I thought it would include women like Jessie Graff, acclaimed Ninja Warrior and celebrated stunt double for Super Girl. (Disclaimer: I don’t really know her, but I did get my picture taken with her, so I’m counting it.) I recently saw Jessie complete a Ninja course on one leg, due to a knee injury. That was after she climbed a 40 foot rope, using mostly arm strength. No sweat.

But physical strength was not the defining trait I linked to “strong.” Nor were a slew of other qualities we often associate with the “Strong Girl” movement, like “confident,” “independent,” “leader,” “bold,” and “outspoken.” I am not editorializing these traits; in fact the women on my list have many of them. Rather, it was their entanglement with weakness – their faceoff with uninvited adversity – that spelled STRONG to me. It was their weakness that gave birth to strength.

I’m imagining it now: A rack of sparkling t-shirts at Target proudly proclaiming, “Weak is the NEW Strong.” I know. It’s not like we would just veer our carts over and grab one for those special girls in our lives, right?
(It’s funny how the truth is so often counterintuitive.)

These portraits of weakness, strength, and adversity reminded me of someone else’s. Maybe this “New Strong” is not so new.

The Apostle Paul’s first century resume included blindness, shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, and a slew of other undesirable hardships. I’m not an expert in ancient rhetorical criticism, but I think Plato would agree with me that you’d want to hide these red flags for credibility’s sake. But this man, in his relentless pursuit of Christ, did just the opposite. In one letter, we find him celebrating debilitation:

“… I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” –2 Corinthians 12:10

Forget personal image and self-promotion. Strength yielded from weakness was Paul’s M.O. throughout his tumultuous life. (We see this repeatedly in his other letters.) The result: A flame, igniting a radical message – a new way of living – that still burns today.

This ancient antithesis didn’t just start with Paul. It’s a marvelous and mysterious undercurrent throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. We find it running through the stories of people like Ruth, David, Joseph, Rahab, Ester, and Daniel.

This theme flows through the New Testament, too, with no one embodying it more than Christ Himself. Here we find the power Source, and it’s not from ourselves. Paul unabashedly names it in the midst of his own oppressing frailties:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” –2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Christ’s power. This is the catalyst that sweeps us beyond “the triumph of the human spirit” as we lock horns with adversity. I’ll freely admit: this is a mystery I’ve experienced, but still can’t understand. This is the same power I see carrying the strongest women in my life. It’s the power I want my friend’s daughter to see and embrace as she witness Christ’s strength in others, and discovers it in the inevitable hardships she will face herself. Because someday her own strength will not be enough, and she’ll be stuck on a 40 foot rope that she cannot possibly climb.

Do I want to see a generation of strong daughters?

Absolutely.

But the Source of strength we can point them to eclipses anything a t-shirt or even a movement can offer: When it begins with weakness, it can end extraordinarily with Christ’s power. It’s then that we, and our beloved daughters, are truly strong.

Maybe even strong enough to embrace a middle name.

As Christ followers,

How can we underscore this message of “strength in weakness” to the girls and women in our lives?

Can we inject this truth into conversations within the “Strong Girl/Strong Woman” movement? What would that look like?

About Nicole:

Despite a deep desire to belong, Nicole Woo often finds life nudging her to the margins. She’s been the only girl on the team, the only public speaking teacher afraid of public speaking, the only Caucasian in the extended family photo, and the only mom who lets her kids drink Fanta. She calls the Rockies home, often pretending to be a Colorado native in spite of her flatland origins.

GIVEAWAY:

A Book Review of A VOICE BECOMING {plus, A GIVEAWAY!} If you share my last post and tag me in it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, I’ll enter you to win either a copy of A Voice Becoming (see my review here) or the first edition of a fantastic new magazine for girls called Bravery. The giveaway will end on January 31, 2018. Sorry, I can only mail to U.S. residents!

 

 

Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

***This post contains Amazon Affiliate links (no extra cost to you, pennies to me!)

Favorite Picture Books, Etc. for Raising Strong Girls

Favorite Picture Books, Etc. for Raising Strong Girls

 

Some online friends personally recommended the following list of outstanding books for raising strong girls. I own or have checked out many of these from the library, so I can vouch for their value in fostering creativity, strength, character and confidence in our girls.

Another Giveaway!

If you share this post and tag me in it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, I’ll enter you to win either a copy of A Voice Becoming (see my review here) or the first edition of a fantastic new magazine for girls called Bravery (description at bottom of the post). The giveaway will end on January 31, 2018. Sorry, I can only mail to U.S. residents!

Picture Books:

Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty (author) and David Roberts (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!”

Beautiful, by Stacy McAnulty (author) and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Much more than how one looks on the outside, true beauty is found in conquering challenges, showing kindness, and spreading contagious laughter. Beautiful girls are empowered and smart and strong! BEAUTIFUL breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends. This book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential. ”

Girls A to Z, by Eve Bunting (author) and Suzanne Bloom (illustrator)

From Amazon: “A picture book celebrating diverse girls and their marvelously varied career dreams. Rhymes feature 26 girls acting out their aspirations—from Aliki the astronaut to Zoe the zookeeper. Suzanne Bloom’s cheerful, vibrant illustrations invite girls to “dream any dream you want to dream.”

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

From Amazon: “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” is a children’s book packed with 100 BEDTIME STORIES about the life of 100 EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 FEMALE ARTISTS from all over the world. Each woman’s story is written in the style of a fairy tale. Each story has a full page, full color portrait that captures the spirit of the portrayed hero.”

Little People, Big Dreams Series, by various authors and illustrators

From Amazon: “In the Little People, Big Dreams series, discover the lives of outstanding people from designers and artists to scientists. All of them went on to achieve incredible things, yet all of them began life as a little child with a dream.” Check out more than 10 incredible women, including books about Maya Angelou, Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks , and Amelia Earhart. They also come as board books!

Malala’s Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai (author) and Kerascoet (illustrator)

From Amazon: “As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.

This beautifully illustrated volume tells Malala’s story for a younger audience and shows them the worldview that allowed Malala to hold on to hope even in the most difficult of times.”

Ordinary People Change the World–Set of 4 Books, by Brad Meltzer

From Amazon: “What makes a hero? Brad Meltzer and illustrator Christopher Eliopoulos answer that question, one great role model at a time. And now you can buy the first four—Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, and Albert Einstein—together in a wonderfully designed slipcase that includes an exclusive, autographed print, suitable for framing.”

I Am Truly, by Kelly Greenawalt (author) and Amariah Rauscher (illustrator)

From Amazon: Princess Truly is strong and confident, beautiful and brave, bright and brilliant. She can do anything she sets her mind to…

I can fly to the moon
And dance on the stars.
I can tame wild lions…
And race fast cars.

Brimming with warmth and color, Princess Truly’s rhythmic rhyming adventures are a celebration of individuality, girl power, and diversity. Her heartfelt story is a reminder to young girls everywhere that they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it…and dream big!

Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwood (author) and Meg Hunt (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Once upon a planetoid,
amid her tools and sprockets,
a girl named Cinderella dreamed
of fixing fancy rockets.
With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ball. But when the prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue! Readers will thank their lucky stars for this irrepressible fairy tale retelling, its independent heroine, and its stellar happy ending.”

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

From Amazon: “A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER! Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash.

Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.”

Monster Trouble, by Lane Frederickson (author) and Michael Robertson (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Nothing frightens Winifred Schnitzel—but she DOES need her sleep, and the neighborhood monsters WON’T let her be! Every night they sneak in, growling and belching and making a ruckus. Winifred constructs clever traps, but nothing stops these crafty creatures. What’s a girl to do? (Hint: Monsters HATE kisses!) The delightfully sweet ending will have every kid—and little monster—begging for an encore.”

The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch (author) and Michael Martchenko (illustrator)

From Amazon: “This bestselling modern classic features a princess who rescues a very snooty—and ungrateful—prince.”

 

The Princess in Black (book 1 in a series), by Shannon and Dean Hale (authors) and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)

(For age 5-8.) From Amazon: “Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when . . . Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her! Can the princess sneak away, transform into her alter ego, and defeat the monster before the nosy duchess discovers her secret? From award-winning writing team of Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrator LeUyen Pham, here is the first in a humorous and action-packed chapter book series for young readers who like their princesses not only prim and perfect, but also dressed in black.”

Princesses Wear Pants, by Savannah Guthrie (author) and Eva Byrne (illustrator)

From Amazon: “In the tradition of Not All Princesses Dress in Pink and Princess in Black, Princesses Wear Pants follows the unflappable Princess Penelope Pineapple, who knows how to get the job done while staying true to herself. Princess Penelope lives in a beautiful palace with a closet full of beautiful dresses. But being a princess is much, much more than beauty. In fact, every morning Princess Penelope runs right past her frilly dresses to choose from her beloved collection of pants!

What she wears each day depends on which job she has to do. Will she command the royal air force sporting her sequined flight suit? Will she find her zen in her yoga pants and favorite tee? Or, will she work in the kingdom’s vegetable garden with pocketed overalls for all of her tools?”

Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty (author) and David Roberts (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal–to fly–Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fl y but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose inisists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.”

Violet the Pilot, by Steve Breen

From Amazon: “By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can engineer nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best-ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!”

Willow, by Denise Brennan-Nelson (author) and Cyd Moore (illustrator)

From Amazon: “Miss Hawthorn’s room is neat and tidy, not a pencil or paintbrush is out of place. And that’s how she likes it. And she likes trees that are colored green and apples that are painted red. Miss Hawthorn does not like things to be different or out of the ordinary. Into Miss Hawthorn’s classroom comes young Willow. She doesn’t color inside the lines, she breaks crayons, and she sees pink trees and blue apples. What will Miss Hawthorn think? Magical things can happen when your imagination is allowed to run wild, and for Miss Hawthorn the notion of what is art and what is possible is forever changed.”

Zog and the Flying Doctors, by Julia Donaldson (author) and Axel Scheffler (Illustrator)

From Amazon: “Zog the dragon, Princess Pearl, and Sir Gadabout have taken to the skies! No sniffly lion or sunburned mermaid will go without care while the flying doctors are on duty. But Princess Pearl’s unconventional career path doesn’t sit so well with her uncle, the king. He thinks princesses should stay in their towers and embroider cushions all day!

When the king’s mysterious illness befuddles all the royal doctors, however, it’s Princess Pearl to the rescue! She not only heals the king — she also changes his mind about what it means to be a princess.”

Coloring Book:

Her Highness Builds Robots (from Etsy)

From the site: “In this coloring book you will meet seven diverse Princesses – Priya, Rafa, Holly, Diamond, Taylor, Jae and Juanita. In addition to being princesses, they are each pursuing an exciting and empowering profession: robot designer, chemical engineer and sculptor to name a few. Kids will love just how much there is to color on every page, and adults will love the pithy and modern sayings that accompany each drawing. This is a great gift for any child in your life or any man or woman who wishes that princesses reflected the diversity, creativity, and intelligence of the 21st Century woman.”

Magazine:

Bravery Magazine

From their site: “Bravery Magazine is a quarterly print publication for girls and boys that features strong female role models. Each issue highlights a brave woman and teaches about her life and work in a fun, engaging way. Full of beautiful illustrations and playful, educational activities, Bravery Mag is the tool you can use to inspire your kids to dream, empower them to do, and help them discover how they can be their own kind of brave.”

Website:

A Mighty Girl

This is a fabulous site chock full of resources for raising strong girls including books, toys, movies/T.V., music, clothing, a character list, parenting articles, an online book club, and reading lists. Don’t visit it when you need to be productive, because you could easily spend an entire evening browsing through the content.

What would you add to this list? I’d love to know!

Don’t Forget the GIVEAWAY:

A Book Review of A VOICE BECOMING {plus, A GIVEAWAY!} If you share this post and tag me in it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, I’ll enter you to win either a copy of A Voice Becoming (see my review here) or the first edition of a fantastic new magazine for girls called Bravery. The giveaway will end on January 31, 2018. Sorry, I can only mail to U.S. residents!

Join me this month as we explore the theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic or another theme in the future (February’s theme is racism, privilege & bridge building–you know, the easy topics;-) ).

Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

***This post contains Amazon Affiliate links (no extra cost to you, pennies to me!)

Favorite Picture Books, Etc. for Raising Strong Girls

 

Response to “The Peril of Princesses” by the Mom of a Preteen {Guest Post}

By Lydia Rueger | Twitter: @larueger

I recently read Leslie Verner’s blog post, The Peril of Princesses & ‘Passion and Purity,’ and though I’ve never read Passion and Purity, as a mom of a 12-year-old girl, I have some thoughts on the princess part.

Verner writes, “I don’t want her (my daughter) to worship Falling in Love, but I don’t want her to fear it, either. Instead, I hope she will know she is special, adored and valuable because she is made in the image of God.”

Me, too, for my daughter.

She also writes, “I also want to avoid being duped by the media and marketers targeting my three year old girl.”

Me, too, when my girl was three, and also now.

But I think she’s giving too much long-term credit to movie makers, marketers, and media, and not enough credit to the growing minds of little girls themselves, their hard-working moms, and other strong female influences in their lives.

As my daughter has grown up a bit, the things she likes and watches have become both more complicated and interesting than the love stories surrounding Disney princesses. Post-princess-era, my daughter met Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, who, in both book and movie form, is a girl who is best friends with two boys, and known for her intelligence and love of study.

And Ginny Weasley, thought to be “too popular for her own good,” by Ron and Harry in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is a quick-witted Quidditch player with mad wand skills.

And most recently, my daughter discovered the female characters Eleven and Max from the Stranger Things series—brave girls who overcome difficult circumstances and who were friends with the boys first. These four girl characters all grow to like certain boys in their worlds over time, but  their feelings for these boys are secondary to their strength, and to other things they have going on.

Another thing I’ve realized is that what I focus on in a certain movie is often not what my daughter will remember or even care about. I was a bit of a boy-crazy kid, so I understand what Verner means when she says she doesn’t want falling in love to be her daughter’s sole focus. But who’s to say that it will be, because it was for our generation?

I asked my own daughter recently who her favorite Disney princess was. I predicted she’d say Ariel. “No, she’s dumb,” she said. “Why?” I asked. “Because she just signs a contract without reading it first.” My daughter chose Belle, but not for the love story or her smarts: “I don’t know,” she shrugged. “I just like her songs better.”

Often, for my girl, it’s the characters themselves and things they do that she likes most. Will this change? Most likely. But perhaps the good thing about today’s culture in which our daughters are bombarded with media messages is that they will need to be discerning enough to reject the messages that are not true, whether from Disney or elsewhere.

My prayer is that, with the help of God, me, her dad, and the other role models in her life, the positive messages will scream louder than the false ones, and she will choose honorably. And if she doesn’t, I pray she knows she is loved much more by God and by her family than messages from the world would have her believe.

***

About Lydia:

Lydia Rueger is a mom of two, writer and editor for Colorado Parent (www.coloradoparent.com) magazine, and picture book writer pursuing publication. She’s other things, too. Learn more at www.lydiarueger.com

**This post includes Amazon Affiliate links.

***

Thank you, Lydia, for sharing on Scraping Raisins today! Head over to her site to check out her writing!

Join me this month as we explore the theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic.

As it’s sex trafficking awareness month, I’ll also be sharing some resources on that topic. Sign up for my mid-month digest and end-of-month secret newsletter to stay updated on all the posts as well as to get links to interesting books, podcasts, recipes and articles I’ve come across this month.

Sign up for my Mid-month Digest and Secret Newsletter Here:

 

The Peril of Princesses & ‘Passion and Purity’

Disney’s 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast seduced me as an eighth grade girl. I yearned for adventure, and was desperate to fall in love (or at least have a boyfriend who wanted to hold my hand). As a nerd myself, it’s no wonder I picked the bookish princess as my favorite.

I grew up on a steady diet of princesses: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Snow White, Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, and Jasmine. Each film references their beauty, and every single girl falls in love. We didn’t just read or watch the sanitized Disney versions of these tales, either, but the Hans Christian Anderson versions like the one where the little mermaid hurls herself into the sea when she is rejected, choosing to become sea foam instead of living a meaningless life without her prince.

From an early age, I absorbed this message: for your life to have value or any degree of happiness, you must fall in love.

I can tell you the name of every boy I had a crush on beginning from the age of four. Age four. Apart from the one time I was a cat and the other time I was a clown, every other Halloween I was either a princess or a bride. My brother and I got married more times than I can count.

Falling in love became an obsession. I watched movies, studying how the girls attracted men. Thank God Google and Facebook didn’t exist at the time because I’m sure I would have spent hours googling how to talk to guys or stalking the boys I had crushes on.

For whatever reason, whether because I scared boys away by pretending I didn’t like them or because I came on too strong, the boys I liked never seemed to like me back. My journals from those years are full of me scribbling about my crushes—“I sat next to so-and-so in science lab today,” “So-and-so looked at me in the hallway on the way to algebra,” “I think so-and-so might ask me to the ninth grade dance.”

One Christian boy finally showed interest in me my sophomore year of high school, but then broke it off a few months in, saying his parents wouldn’t let him date. Devastated (I was so sure he was “the one”), I vowed never to let that happen again. Soon after, I read Passion and Purity.

Though I admire Elisabeth Elliot for her devotion to God, her courage in moving to South America to learn a new culture and share Christ with those who didn’t know Him, and her strength in spite of losing not one, but two husbands, that book really messed me up. I once heard her say on the radio that it is not necessary to be attracted to your husband. Love, romance and desire were the enemy of love for God. Men were to be “held at arm’s length.”

Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, wrote the forward to the 2002 edition of Passion and Purity, mentioning how P and P had inspired him to write his book. At the end of the forward, he (mis)quotes C.S. Lewis: “The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”

The message was clear: falling in love could put your soul in peril. Falling in love was dangerous.

From then on, I took Elisabeth Elliot’s words to heart. I kept men at arms-length, always suspicious they would derail my love for God and His grand plans for my life. Men were the enemy of loving God whole-heartedly.

Didn’t Paul say much the same in 1 Corinthians 7? “It is good for a man not to marry…but if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (v. 1, 9)

“An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.” (v. 34)

Given the choice, I picked undivided devotion to Jesus over pathetically falling for a man. The Hollywood version of “Happily Ever After” was a myth and a mirage. My true prince was Jesus. And He was enough.

Until I met Adam. You can read our love story here, but when I fell in love, I finally understood the metaphor of “falling.”

I stopped avoiding the dangerous plunge into love and decided to experience the thrill of the free fall. I discovered that just because love is not safe doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to jump in and enjoy it.

In fact, when exactly does the Bible advise us to avoid danger, to stay safe or to be comfortable?

Instead of completing me or stealing my adoration for Jesus, my husband strides beside me, urging me on the way. Rather than detract from my love for God, he enhances it. Instead of filling a void in my soul, our lights burn brighter when held together in the dark.

Even so, my experience worshipping Falling in Love makes me wary of princesses as I think about raising my daughter.

Do I want her to feel beautiful, special, and feminine? Yes. Do I want her to equate beauty with self-worth? No.

Do I want her to be adored, admired, cherished, and wanted? Of course. Do I want her to derive her self-worth and life purpose from a man, searching for a man, like in the movie Jerry Maguire, to “complete her”? No way.

In spite of my hesitation to allow my daughter to play with princesses, I’m learning they, like all things in life, should be approached thoughtfully, and with moderation. Princesses are not banned from my home, but they are not encouraged, either. I censor movies where the princess falls in love, instead choosing movies like Moana, where the girl has a male friendship without having to fall in love with him.

I also want to avoid being duped by the media and marketers targeting my 3 year old girl. The term “Disney Princess” didn’t even exist until the year 2000. According to Cinderella Ate My Daughter author Peggy Orenstein, executive Andy Mooney stumbled on the princess idea when he checked out a “Disney on Ice” show and noticed all the girls were wearing homemade princess costumes. He wondered “how such a massive branding opportunity had been overlooked” (p. 13). Within a year of releasing the first Princess items, sales soared to $300 million.

Shows/dolls/movies-turned-books have crept quietly into our home, like commercials in book form. So we read them, then they disappear, to be replaced with stories that won’t cause my child to want more toys or encourage her to watch certain movies and shows.

I don’t hate princesses, I just don’t want Disney to brainwash my daughter into thinking she must be slim, beautiful or fall in love to have a meaningful life. I don’t want her to worship Falling in Love, but I don’t want her to fear it, either. Instead, I hope she will know she is special, adored and valuable because she is made in the image of God. And if she does fall in love one day, I pray Jesus will still be the protagonist in her happily-ever-after, just as He was when she was a little girl, a teen and a single woman.

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Join me this month as we explore the theme of raising strong girls. I have way too many ideas and not enough time, but my goal is to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays this month. Shoot me an email at scrapingraisins (dot) gmail (dot) com if you’d like to guest post on this topic.

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The Peril of Princesses & ‘Passion and Purity’--Should we encourage our girls to play princesses?