Have you considered making anti-racist disciples? This is something we don’t hear too much about.
When we hear the term ‘disciples’ we might think religious context and christianity in particular. The last recorded command we have from Jesus was: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’
But there is definitely something in there worth paying attention to, even if you are not a follower of Jesus. We might think of it more as a mentor/mentee relationship, but the idea is the same – be a part of cultivating in other people the work that has taken place [and is taking place] in yourself.
The Anti-Racism Mirror
For those of us who are on an anti-racism journey – which should be all white people – it is important that we always start in front of the mirror. The most important work is going to happen in ourselves and we need to continue to do that as we look outside of ourselves to our community and to the systems and structures around us.
This quote by Ijeoma Oluo is really helpful in that regard:
Desperately seeking Mentors
Have you ever been mentored by someone? Maybe you gave up when trying to find someone to mentor you…
One of the biggest problems with trying to find a mentor is often that the people you want to mentor you are too busy and the people who would be avilable are not those you want mentoring you. However, perhaps we have placed too high a bar on what our expectation of mentoring is. Just having someone who is available to sit with you on a regular basis and listen to you and occasionally suggest an article or book or thought to consider can be so super valuable.
What we do have a lot more control over though, is who we can mentor or disciple.
As i have been on this journey of anti-racism for a few years now, i have learned a lot which feels like it might be helpful to other people. One of the ways i have tried to share those lessons is through the series of ‘Fifty Ideas for white people who are asking: What can I do?’ videos i have been making. This is not me being any kind of expert, but simply trying to say: I learned this thing that may be of help to you.
So if you have started on your anti-racism journey, there is an opportunity – and i would suggest a responsibility – to invite others along on the journey with you.
Wield the Influence you have
You might be the best person to affect those in your circles. While that might seem daunting to some of you, you have the relationship capital with your family and friends and even work colleagues that i, and others doing work like me, might never have.
The work of anti-racism does not have to feel confrontational. When you are connected to people they might be more likely to watch a video with you, or read the same book as you, or take a look at something you recommend. This can feel a lot more invitational which is a much better way to get people to choose to commit to the work. And inviting people to join you at something you are already doing, gives it credibility and makes it seem a lot less daunting than someone saying: “You need to do that thing!”
The last point to make is around Urgency. It has been more than 25 years since 1994 when apartheid was officially lifted. For white people to have still not made any movement is ridiculously unjust. Those of us who finally catch the wake-up call have to get serious and committed to this work. And so taking/moving other people with us is vital. It is not an added bonus or a nice extra. We absolutely have to commit to getting more serious about this and by affecting people generally but also influencing a smaller group of people more specifically and more deliberately, we can hopefully up the pace of transformation.
The work has been done and is being done – you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. But commit to sharing articles and videos and blog posts when you see ones that are good. Use your social media spaces and use your live conversation spaces to challenge problematic thinking and behaviour. Commit yourself to a #NotOnOurWatch mentality that refuses to let racism pass by unchallenged.
Take people with you on your journey of anti-racism. Whether officially or unofficially, start investing in anti-racism disciples.
In fact, why not start with one of the articles or videos in this post right now. Take a read through it if you haven’t and think of two or three people you can send a link to and invite to read/watch and share their thoughts with you…
Brett Fish is a lover of God and people, and owns the world's most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob (who doesn't bob). He believes that we are all responsible for making the world a significantly better place for everyone.