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From one white male to another

Help for your questioning

By Caleb Grubb | Contributor

From one white male to another, I understand the confusion surrounding the conversation on race. I have a background of growing up in rural Indiana, with the 2010 census reporting my county being 98.3% white. There was one black kid at my school; all the other people I remember being white. Then I came to Taylor.

Although Taylor isn’t diverse compared to other schools, I remember being amazed, but admittedly a little uncomfortable, with all the diversity. I didn’t know how to interact with or think about people that looked like me, or even begin to understand what a relationship with people different from me looked like. Although floored by this confusion, I was prompted by the Spirit to start searching for God’s truth in race. I’ve been through many different seasons in this journey. Some angry. Some confused. Some mourning. I don’t think my experience is unique for those who search through this topic.

Rather than giving you the “right” answers, I hope to give you a few tips to help you search. I’ve learned these the hard way, and I hope you take them with you on your journey.

Know the difference between conviction and condemnation

Learn this early, because I didn’t. Know that it’s okay to be hurt and broken over the conversation on race, but do not feel condemned for it. Learning about white privilege, the history of racism or other topics can feel heavy. It can be easy to say, “Because I am white, I am evil because of my skin — the evidence of the sins of my ancestors.” Fight this condemnation, but allow pain and discomfort prompted by the Spirit’s conviction in your life. Feel broken over what has happened in history. Allow yourself to mourn those past sins. Allow yourself to feel the weight of the things you may learn. Just don’t condemn yourself to hell for it.

It’s okay to lean into the unknown and uncomfortable

When I open a book on race, I don’t know what I’m going to feel reading it. When I sit across a table from a friend who starts to talk about race, I don’t know what can of worms I may have just cracked open. Don’t disengage. Keep reading. Keep asking questions. Keep listening to the chapel speaker. Keep asking more people about their experiences. Keep going to the next event that talks about diversity. Don’t disengage.

Learn about people, not political statements

This is a conversation that is politicized, and because of that, sometimes people answer questions with their party lines, not by thinking critically through the issue. Cast aside party lines for this conversation and seek the experiences of different people. Let your ideas be formed out of love for a brother or sister, not from politics.

Conversations on race can be tiresome and uncomfortable; don’t pressure yourself to know all the answers.

Take time to listen before you feel like you have to speak

Some things are clear-cut in this conversation. If someone said, “I think black people are the worst,” I think we can easily discern that opinion as one worth speaking out against. The problem is that this conversation is nuanced, complex and definitely not clear-cut in some places. Don’t feel the pressure to have all the answers. Listen to others first. Give yourself space and time before you decide to speak into that complexity. I was in this stage for almost two years at Taylor. I would speak out against what I knew was wrong, and go to people I trusted with questions about the other things.

Find people to go on this journey with you

I know this one may seem hard at first, but my guess is you can find someone on your wing, a class or somewhere at Taylor who is in a similar place as you. The most understanding I have gained has been processing with someone who was just as confused as I was. Also seek out people that have formed opinions but are willing to show you grace and love in your confusion and seeking.

I hope the things I’ve shared can help. I pray for your journey and discernment and that you do this prompted by the Love of Christ.

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