Meet Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life. She has a huge heart for others, a refreshing honesty, and the wisdom to grapple with the challenging.
How did you get involved in this particular issue?
While the short answer is that the power of love helped me see color, the long answer is that this is something I started to fight for long before I ever knew I was actually in the ring. Before I began writing and speaking professionally, I was a high school English and leadership teacher, and then a non-profit director for an international outreach ministry. In both of those arenas, I worked primarily with kids of color and was also under the supervision and leadership of several advisors (and bosses) of color. Although I was rather green – and always will be, to an extent, for mine is a learned, not a lived, experience – issues of justice, race and privilege lived at the heart of conversations, for creating a seat for everyone at the table was kind of the entire point of it all.
What are the best ways you can help the cause of racial reconciliation?
Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, says it best: we have to get proximate to the pain. No matter who you are or where you live, you can get proximate to those who’ve been personally affected by systems that benefit some but not all… because when we get proximate, we begin to not only listen to but also be changed by the stories of real people. If you’re a person of faith, you can start by looking at how you’ve personally contributed to and benefitted from systems in place around you – including in the Church. Whether in churches, in schools or in places of work, you can look around and see who does – and doesn’t – hold the power …and then you can begin to rally for ultimate reconciliation, both in your own heart and in the hearts of those around you.
What is the most important thing adults could share with young people about racial reconciliation?
Honestly, I’d encourage grownups to listen to what the children around them are already saying and to what they already know. As I write about in my book, studies show that children as young as six months old are able to see “color” and therefore make racial preferences, but I think adults sometimes forget the truth of this reality. A lot of white parents then don’t know how to talk about issues of justice, race, and privilege, so they don’t talk about it at all – but if children are already seeing and talking about it (at least at school, for instance), then shouldn’t we also start talking about it too? Perhaps it’s then a matter of talking about the obvious: even though we don’t all look the same on the outside, each one of us matters deeply, simply because we’re human. I’d probably add something like, “In this crazy, upside down world, even though each one of us matters to God, not every life matters in the eyes of society. So, what do you think we can do to take away this hate?” Just start talking and listening is the bottom line!
Do you have a story of hope you could share?
On the way home from picking up my older son at school today, he began to sing the lyrics to the song, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars:
If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea,
I’ll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see,
I’ll be the light to guide you
And he was so off-key, in the most perfect six-year-old sort of way. But as he sang, I also couldn’t help but think about the greater message streaming at me from the backseat. We’re in this together, you and me. You can count on me, even if we’re just starting on a journey of learning to lay down our power and lift up those whom we’ve marginalized. So, no matter where you are in and on the journey, I’m in this with you – because I’m on this journey, fighting for justice and wholeness and peace for every single human on God’s green earth, with you. And I don’t know about you, but that’s something I cling to when hope feels more far away than it does close at hand.
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker, and sought-after conversationalist. A former high school English teacher and non-profit outreach director, her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications. The Color of Life, a spiritual memoir about her journey as a white woman into issues of justice, race, and privilege, released in February. She holds a Masters of Theology from Fuller Seminary and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. You can connect with her on her website, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram