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One book I read this past week + the show we’re watching again

Welcome to my weekly Book-ish post where I share what I’ve been reading and watching recently. If you missed it, you can see my Reading Goals for 2018 and 44 Books I Plan to Read This Year

(Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and we will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through our links. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Jesse and I picked The Crown back up again — we had kind of dropped it because life happened and the only time we’d had to watch shows we’ve been watching This is Us or shows with the kids.

We’re nearing the end of Season 1 and still enjoying it as much as we did when we were first watching it. Have you watched The Crown? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Note: We’ve heard that there’s an episode in Season 2 that is not family-friendly. We’re watching the show ahead of time to see if we feel like it’s something our girls can watch with us.

I listened to I’m Still Here on audiobook through Libby. I found that this book stirred up all sorts of things in me… and I don’t really have the right words to express so much of  — and I’m still doing a lot of processing.

Jesse and I had a lot of conversations on race and bias as a result of this book. It made me think and ponder and examine my heart and I so appreciated that.

However, to be really honest, I came away from the book feeling frustrated because I felt like she told story after story of racial injustice but then I felt like she didn’t give me — as a white woman who has very admittedly grown up with so much privilege — really any practical suggestions or ways that I can better bridge the divide or help to heal the deep wounds of racial injustice.

I want to do the best I can to raise my children with eyes and ears and a heart to see and love ALL people and I want that so much for myself, too. But she only gave example after example of what not to do — which I really appreciated. But I ended the book feeling like, “Well then what should I do?”

I’d love to hear if you have suggestions for books that might help answer that question for me. It’s something I’ve been pondering a lot — especially as my kids get older and have friends from many different races and cultures.

What have you been reading or watching recently? Leave a comment and let us know!

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69 Comments

  • Amy Fritz says:

    One thing that has helped me learn more about racial reconciliation is to join the Be the Bridge group on Facebook. I highly recommend it.

      • Crissy says:

        A wonderful black American writer and thinker is Thomas Sowell. He receives little recognition. The black American community does not much acknowledge him. They should be enormously proud of him. He is about 90 years old now. He of course has books, but you can sure find shorter pieces on the internet. You can see him on You Tube. He his highly educated, has had a life of experience, and is kind, funny and understanding.
        He is not famous but he really should be!

        On another subject, keep in mind one of our most successful immigrant groups here is Nigerians. They are of course truly black and they have earned a reputation for getting their advanced degrees. Smart, educated and hardworking.

    • April says:

      Yes to this! There is also a local Be the Bridge: Nashville group.

    • Bethany says:

      Yes, I third this recommendation!

  • pooja says:

    Crown is really really good. You should watch it.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am reading “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. The author writes about her mysterious illness that causes her to be bed-bound and the snail a friend brings her in a pot of violets. She begins studying the snail in a very meaningful way and forms a bond with it that helps her to deal with her illness. It is a quick, short read, but many of the things she talks about resonate with me particularly because I am dealing with my own health issues at this moment. It is also a great learning experience; I never knew snails were such interesting creatures!

  • Guest says:

    Love, love, love The Crown. Have never considered it a show I’d watch with our kids (9 & 11) so can’t really say I remember any episodes standing out since I wasn’t watching it through that lens. I don’t really watch TV shows until our kids go to bed. 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    We loved The Crown, but the episode in Season 2 that you’re referring to was unnecessary in my opinion. It’s definitely NOT kid friendly, and I was really uncomfortable watching it.

    • Brittany says:

      I totally agree. You’ll definitely want to not watch that episode in season 2 with your girls, and may want to fast-forward or skip it yourselves!

      • Lindsay says:

        Yep I’m with you…..It was way more graphic than it needed to be, I am annoyed that we got so far into watching that episode at all. It gives a glimpse into the presumed promiscuity of that particular relationship and the characters and that is really all you need to know. I would avoid if possible and definitely not anything I’d been keen on my young teens/tweens seeing. The rest of season 2 is interesting although I definitely feel it took a darker feel to season 1. I’m going to be interested in how season 3 goes.

      • Carol White says:

        I’m finally remembering the episode! It’s been a bit since we binge-watched Season 2. That episode made me terribly uncomfortable. I agree, it was not necessary to show in such graphic detail. One of my few disappointments in the show.

    • Lisa says:

      I agree that Season 2 (I believe episode 7) was needlessly graphic and I wouldn’t watch it with my teens. I was disappointed and feared that the series was taking a turn for the worse. I ended up turning it off and went online to read what happens in that particular episode and resumed watching at episode 8, ready to stop watching if the series continued in that vein. I’m glad to say that the rest of the episodes were fine.

  • Lana says:

    I grew up with a family legacy of prejudice and it is so hard to overcome. We go to a multiracial church with people of every color. It has been healing to be a part of a congregation that does not see color. Our church is in the process of moving to the inner city so the diversity will increase with the move. The best way to break down the barriers is to invite other races into your home. Our son in law was an outreach pastor to the inner city and so many people from every walk of life spent time in their home that our grandchildren truly have broken out of the family prejudice cycle. They are now missionaries in Germany where the kids go to school with an even wider segment of the world’s population but they have not even been phased by it since it has been their lifestyle. If you really want to be part of the diverse population in your city I would say that the church you attend would be huge. Our church is heavily involved in the inner city, ESL classes, prison release ministry, homeless ministry, etc. Our youth spends a lot of time with kids in the inner city so they are growing up knowing that the world does not revolve around them and that life is hard for so many. We have worked in the homeless ministry for a decade and I had the opportunity to mentor a woman my age after her release from prison. The key is not in donating money but in going out there to places where you will not feel comfortable and doing what needs to be done. Kids in the inner city are desperate to know that someone cares. Just sitting with them and giving hugs means so much. Just my thoughts from what we have seen but I hope they help.

  • Becky Roberts says:

    This is coming from a long journey as an adoptive mom of a child of color as well as a career working inner city. I read your blog almost every day. I have not read I’m Still Here, but I think the fact that you are expecting the author to tell you what to do is a sign of white privilege because you are not doing the complex work as mentioned in Amos, of “sitting where, they sit, among them, completely overwhelmed.” You have to be intentional about putting your children in diverse settings in your community, not only over seas. You can speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves by advocating for more people of color at places like your suburban christian school and church. There are movements such as the Christian Community Development Association. White privilege is very real to those, such as my son, who don’t get to participate in it, even when his family does.

    • Thank you so much for saying this. I think she just said don’t do this, don’t say this… this hurts, that hurts… that it left me saying “Well, what can I say?? How do I show love? What does that look like in tangible ways? What’s the next step for someone who truly doesn’t know?”

      Because it feels like whatever I say or do could be so offensive and I wouldn’t even know! So it honestly it makes me scared to even try — because I feel like I’m just going to hurt and offend people completely unknowingly. I’m not sure if that makes sense?

      Also, I’m so grateful that my kids are being raised in a very diverse culture with so many different ethnicities in their everyday life. (I don’t share pictures of most of their local friends because many of their parents are not comfortable with it… but it just makes my heart so happy because that has been our desire… and I don’t even know how to say that in a way that shares my heart and doesn’t come across as offensive… I’m sorry if that does, it’s not my intent at all.)

      • Becky Roberts says:

        I would also recommend seeking out and attending a racial reconciliation service for yourself with other adults. I went to one about twenty years ago and it was very eye opening to me the deep wounds people carried that were inflicted upon them as children making racial slurs and slights when they were in early elementary school, being pulled over for driving while black, etc. It seemed to be healing to them that we as caucasians that couldn’t match that trauma, were just listening and acknowledging their pain, not trying to fix. At the time, we also had a black pastor from Nigeria, and he had not grown up as a minority, and I remember he accused the manager of King Soopers of following him around the store because of his skin color. I also had refugee minor foster kids from Rwanda, and because they came from a majority culture, they had a very different experience in high school, because they had not experienced being the “different” one in the room all of the time before, they were sort of oblivious and had other things like language and a very strange broad culture to consume them. It is hard to articulate these thoughts, but sometimes being uncomfortable shows why people have such different views of the same situation and what could be at the heart of social justice instead of just rhetoric. We may not have been the cause, but we can be the agent of acknowledgment and love.

  • Lana says:

    I posted a comment in reply to your question but it dissappeared.

    One sad thing that a little girl said at one of our inner city clubs was that she always thought Jesus was only for white people. This just tore my heart out.

  • Kelly says:

    Not only is the episode in season 2 not kid-friendly, but I wished my husband and I would have stopped it sooner than we did because of the level of “humanity” shown and the manner in which it’s shown (in hindsight I would have previewed without him watching). We ended up skipping the rest of the episode and didn’t feel we missed any of the plot, especially once reading a paragraph synopsis online.

  • Sandy B says:

    Perhaps you could reach out to the author of the book, especially since it had an impact on you. Share the way it made you examine yourself and that you want to love others as Christ did, then ask for ideas on what that could look like. Just a thought.

  • Steger says:

    I would suggest “With Justice for All: A Strategy for Community Development.” This book was used as a framework when my daughter went on The Urban Project in LA with Athletes in Action. You can read about this trip online. I read the book and found it very interesting. It really made me think, and I wrote questions and notes in the margins.

  • Suzanne says:

    The Crown is an excellent show. But I agree 100% with the comment above that the part of episode you’re talking about was unnecessary. It bordered on pornographic and I skipped past that part.

  • Lcg says:

    Read “so you want to talk about race.” Very practical.

    • Janice says:

      I am in the midst of reading “So You Want To Talk About Race” (by Ijeoma Oluo) right now also. I like her style in the way she lays out information topic by topic, so you can pause and consider before moving on. I also initially wanted solutions handed to me, but I think it needs to be an evolution in our thought process about our privilege and upbringing – a complete paradigm shift for some. I have been seeking out other books and experiences from outside my usual comfort zone to stretch my mind even more.

      • Janice says:

        I should have also mentioned that “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving was a good read – a white woman very honestly admitting all her missteps and awkward encounters while trying to educate herself in the ways of better race relations.

  • Marianne says:

    Re: I’m Still Here, maybe the point is that you don’t need to be the solution person here. A lot of what I’m hearing since I’ve started really trying to listen to POC is that they don’t want a white savior trying to fix their problems for them, but more to be heard and believed.

    • Yes! Just some of the examples she gave where I felt like the person was seeking to understand she said were so offensive and hurtful. (And my own personal experience with seeking to ask questions and listen and learn has been that I’ve also offended people by seeking to have a conversation.) So I guess I’d love for people to give me real, tangible suggestions on what it looks like to have a conversation where someone truly feels seen and heard… or how to love well, what that truly looks like. I’m not sure if that makes sense?

  • April says:

    Hi Crystal! Sometimes I feel like we are living semi-parallel lives.

    I am a mid-thirties white girl who grew up in Wichita, Kansas with a decent amount of privilege, but also in a neighborhood surrounded by diversity of many kinds (as we were just a couple of blocks from the University). One thing that was important to me then, and has become even more important to me now in my adulthood, was simply building relationships with people who were not like me. When I moved to Nashville several years ago, I began to look around at my life and realized that there was not one significant person in my life who wasn’t a white, middle-class person. This grieved my heart on several levels, as I missed the “fullness” that came with living in the midst of many cultures. I began to feel lead to seek out opportunities for building relationships with people from other cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. It became a prayer of my heart… and God eventually lead me to a local church congregation that is intentionally multi-dimensional in many of these ways.

    While I grew up with a decent amount of exposure to diversity, I have found that being a part of this congregation has really helped me to dive deeper into understanding racism (as well as other social justice issues — which often go hand in hand) and looking for personal ways that I can use my privilege to impact others. Not as a white person coming in to “save the day,” but as a person who can come alongside as an ally. The biggest blessing has been the opportunity to ask tough — and sometimes awkward — questions and hear tough answers in the midst of safe spaces because I have (and they have) taken the time to be intentional in building relationships. When something hits the news (such as a couple of summers ago when there were back to back to back shootings of black men by white police officers) I was able to LISTEN to the voices and hearts of my African American friends and it gave me a better understanding for what was happening, how people were feeling and internalizing these events, and why people were reacting in the ways that they were. It is true… when an issue affects us directly, or someone we love directly, it is much harder to turn away from it or pretend it does not exist. And as I’ve become more familiar with my friends and their daily struggles, it has opened my eyes to see things around me that I would have previously completely missed and wisdom to speak up when I see/hear something that’s misunderstood or frankly just plain wrong. (You mentioned watching ‘This Is Us’ — what I’m speaking of reminds me of exactly what was happening in last week’s episode as Kevin’s girlfriend had to clarify things that were specific to her race and also ways she was treated right in front of him that he was completely oblivious to. This is a great example of learning by proximity in relationship.) To be completely honest, building relationships like this can often be hard for all involved (there is a reason we gravitate to the familiar)… but I will say that it has been totally worth it!

    All of that to say, I definitely don’t have all of the answers for what we can do… but I think the first step is simply to build a relationship with someone who looks different or experiences life differently than you. And the best way I have found to do this is in homes, over meals, living life alongside one another. You mentioned in your post that your children have friends from many different cultures. Perhaps you could invite one of these families into your home. And not necessarily to “ask all the questions” but simply to build friendships. Once trust is built, you will find that you are each growing so much from what you will organically learn from one another. And someone in your circle who may be experiencing oppression can generally give you a much better answer to the “what can I do?” question that applies to right where you’re living than a book could provide in generalities. (Though, I fully agree with you at feeling frustrated when I get to the end of a book that has presented all of the terrible things that are happening, purposefully stirring me to action, and then providing no obvious means of action.)

    Anyway, that was a super long answer and I’m not sure that I was even particularly clear. But if you’re interested in diving into this more, I’d love to chat.

    And if you (or anyone in the Nashville area who’s reading this) happen to be free and interested in something local that’s coming up, I’m planning to go to the following documentary viewing with Q&A session on Thursday night at Belmont…
    http://www.belmont.edu/university-ministries/Cultivating%20Diversity%20in%20Worship%20Grant.html

    • THANK YOU! This was incredibly helpful!

      And it gave me so much encouragement in the journey I’ve been on in the past two years of intentionally seeking out people who are in very different life circumstances and seeking to truly know them and walk with them and be in close relationship with them. Someday, I hope to get to share some of the stories here (or somewhere) of how these relationships are changing my life… for now, I’m just called to quietly learn from these individuals, grow in relationships, and have God use it to change me and my thinking powerfully. And it’s spurred in me a hunger to want to step much further outside the safe and comfortable zone in relationships!

      So thank you so much for more tangible steps to take to continue on in this — and I love the journey that you are on!

    • Quentin says:

      April, if you’d like to connect more intentionally (rather than hoping we run across each other Thursday), you can visit my website (a work in progress) at http://www.qwcox.com and send me a message from the contact page.

      Blessings!

  • Ella says:

    “Under Our Skin” by Benjamin Watson is a must read for understanding where our racial problems begin, how to open the dialogue, and how to look at issues from various perspectives. I would recommend listening to the audio version, as the reader was very good. Spoiler alert- there will be NO outward change without the inward change only Jesus can provide.

  • Sara says:

    I think the more you read and learn about race and privilege the more you’ll understand what to do and not do. I recommend So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. She explains things so well and I think that lends to and understanding of things we can do.

  • Miranda West says:

    Our church is working through some of the Be the Bridge curriculum, it’s been very thought provoking. I’d second the other recommendations to check out the information there it was founded by a Christian woman.

  • Barb says:

    I do understand that this is not your faith tradition but this is a long list of resources for individual groups when it comes to racial justice and tech civilization in general.

    https://www.episcopalchurch.org/resources-racial-reconciliation-and-justice

  • Barb says:

    Reconciliation. Darned autocorrect

  • Bethany says:

    I’ve been reading White Awake and have found it really helpful. Not as a step-by-step tutorial, but as another white person processing how to face racial issues. (The author is white and had to dig through the same things you and I do in regard to racism, privilege, etc.)

  • May says:

    I really appreciate this post and your heart, Crystal. So many of these comments/ suggestions are super helpful! While I have not read this book, one of your follow up comments really resonated with me…. where you said (I’m paraphrasing here) something about being scared to try because you may say something wrong and offend someone unknowingly. I 100% understand where you are coming from. I’m sure you’ve seen the “lists” floating around facebook or the internet…. “25 things you should never say to a handicapped child” or “the 10 worst things to say to someone who has just lost their spouse,” etc etc. As an introvert who has a hard time making conversation with others, when I meet someone new I am frequently nervous about saying something “wrong” or “offensive.” These “lists” are running through my mind and I’m asking myself “Is it ok to say this, or will I hurt this individual?” I get so anxious that I usually end up saying nothing or something stupid! I lost a parent to suicide and I could come up with my own list of “Things you should never say to someone who lost a loved one to suicide!” because believe me, I’ve been shocked at some of the things people have said to me. I guess what I’m trying to say in this long, rambling comment is unless you have lived through a certain situation it is really, really hard to know exactly how to reach out and respond.

    • Yes. THIS. “Unless you have lived through a certain situation it is really, really hard to know exactly how to reach out and respond.” Thank you for sharing — I resonate with your comment so much!

    • Julie says:

      I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve experienced in your life, May. That must have been so hard to lose your parent.

      Regarding knowing what to say, maybe you could literally say “I’m not sure what’s best to say, but I wanted to let you know that I’m here for you.”

      If you are willing to share, I would love to read your list “what not to say to someone who has lost a parent to suicide,” and /or what TO say. If you don’t want to/don’t have time, I totally understand! Wishing you all the best.

  • E L says:

    See if this is being done anywhere in your community. A local school in our neighborhood is doing a whole Color Brave series.

    http://diversity.lbl.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/18/2017/03/Color-Brave-Discussion-Guide_INTERNAL_FINAL_OCT_2015-1.pdf

  • Lisa Reid says:

    I love you for asking this question. (And thanks to all who have put up resources.) I think there are a lot of white people who are sincere in wanting to end racism. It’s hard, when you think of yourself as a loving person, to be the target of anger for things you did unconsciously or that your ancestors did. It feels unfair. But I do think it’s our responsibility to become conscious and make it important to ourselves and our families to be aware of racism and not contribute to it. For me, it’s easier to understand how it feels to be a victim of racism when I think about how it feels to be a victim of sexism. While it’s not the same thing, I had a moment recently when I was just put out with all men. I was angry about the ways that women get abused and no one seems to care. That wasn’t really fair to all the good men out there, but I was angry and fed up and I pretty much felt that way about all men (for awhile). Anger feels better than victimhood. It’s powerful. Thanks for making a place to talk about it. You’re a shining star, Crystal.

  • Maria says:

    Hi all,

    Another reading consideration for thought.

    Vice: Don’t Waste Your Privilege. Share it.
    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vbkxga/dont-waste-your-privilege-share-it-v25n3

    Maria

  • Laraine Chavez says:

    I love The Crown. Yes, in Season 2, there is a nude scene, bare breasts I think, which was quite shocking. I am so glad my kids were in bed that evening. It does have a MA rating.

  • Elizabeth says:

    We have watched The Crown…but it is good to view ahead of your kids and decide what is appropriate for them at their ages. I do think they tried to be factual but as we all know, that is not 100%…I have read that the queen has watched it too and does like most of it. It does make one oh so glad to NOT be in her spot in life.
    They say a good proportion of people whose families have been here for generations, do have some American Indian in their veins, especially Cherokee. When my aunt told me we also do….we were living in NC then and went for a couple days to the reservation in Cherokee, NC. We went to the village with a guide who explains everything, to the museum, etc. We came home feeling so very proud to be Cherokee…even though the percentage is perhaps small. So it turns out that my one brother who LOOKED Cherokee was really (as well as the rest of us)…In high school no one believed we were really brother and sister, though we had the same nose, cheekbones, etc. He was so dark and I was so pale. When you delve into genealogy, often you are going to find things you had no idea about…such as that. We also found we had many of the known names in both sides of our clans to be Jewish, even learned on internet that my maiden name was always known to be (a total shock to my dad). Though having been here so many generations, there is no family lore of that…though a few customs of the family do tend to make us think at some point prior to coming to USA, that was the case. Again…in studying and learning, we came away feeling so very glad to claim that too. That is one small way one might be able to help the children feel more open to the different races.

  • Elizabeth says:

    In reading some comments here, I think something that often people of color are not aware too is that those of us who are considered white can face abuse based on how we look. Growing up in the dark ages, long ago, where I lived in California, it was not cool to have red hair (ah, did I ASK TO HAVE THAT???) freckles, etc etc. I was tormented so much for how I looked for a lot of elementary school…so while it was not my whole life, it was awful enough. My mom later told me I cried every single day when I got home from school in the 4th grade. Once somehow you are a focus of bullies, it can be awfully hard to get away from that, if at all, in school. Today a lot of what I endured would have consequences. (Is it a wonder I homeschooled a lot of years for my kids??) Prejudice comes in many forms (and colors I might add). It is not easy however, for anyone to understand how it is to be someone else…no matter what the difference. (I was made fun of for other body parts too…not just skin and hair). It needs to be noted that ugly duckings can turn into a swan of sorts too…my husband always LOVED my hair, long before we became more than friends…and it was a sorrow to him when the red left…age catches up with everyone. That always has been a wonder to me…after all I endured in elementary and junior high school. Though I was not everyone’s “cup of tea”, thankfully I have been his!

  • Elizabeth says:

    PS…my youngest grandchildren are Spanish (South American) on their dad’s side so they do not look like me at all…one of them does look a great deal like my brother who looked so Cherokee, however. And their last name is Spanish too. We love them so. I do encourage them to learn Spanish because the other grandpa is…though he speaks English just fine too. Have gotten them books with Spanish in it, etc. I think whatever we can do to be inclusive helps. Also, one of our kids has adopted a black child and one from China (both have cerebral palsy, though via surgery the Chinese girl will be normal, thankfully for her)…so again…we think of them as who they are inside…color really does not matter. They are loved, of course. I look for ways especially with the one from China as she was 6 when adopted…to make her feel she and I share some things alike…even if we look different we can have some things like each other (her hair is black but it is so thick and coarse as was my red hair when I had it, etc…so I point out that her hair FEELS just like mine did!!) Don’t feel you need to include this Crystal… just to “fill in the blanks” a bit…about our very multi-racial family.

  • Jennifer says:

    My husband and I watched the first season of The Crown and enjoyed it for the most part. I feel like I actually learned quite a bit about history from watching it. I’m not sure where I was during British history class in school but I certainly wasn’t awake if I was there.

    We haven’t started watching the second season yet. I think we maybe unofficially waiting until the weather turns colder here and we want to be inside watching shows.

  • nwmom says:

    You might like the book “Assimilate or Go Home- Notes from a Failed Missionary” by D.L. Mayfield. It is a memoir by a woman who tried, and perhaps failed and perhaps succeeded, to work with Somali refugees in
    Portland over many years. It is largely about her faith journey, but it is also describes some of the experiences of the people she befriended. She started with a bit of a white savior complex and eventually felt that prevented her from forming real relationships. I found it a little frustrating in perhaps the same way as “I’m Still Here.” Lots of what she did wrong, harder to tell what she thinks would be right. But on a second and third reading (it’s that good!) I think her message is similar to what some of the commentators here have said– focus less on fixing and saving, and more on meeting people where they are and being a real friend.

  • Merideth says:

    Oh gracious, rarely do I comment, but I HAD to when you mentioned The Crown. Because I wish someone had warned me first, too! I was insanely disappointed with ALL of Season 2, to be honest. It felt very dark to me in a way that I couldn’t shake. I would wholeheartedly agree that there are specific episodes that are absolutely inappropriate for kiddos, but I also felt the whole season was such a drastic change from the first (and I absolutely ADORED the first!) that I would encourage caution with all of it. It’s disturbingly dark with mature themes throughout.

  • Tiffany says:

    Maybe try listening to the “smartest person in the room” podcast. She did a series on Race and touched on many issues relating to this topic and gave some helpful insight in connecting and bridging the divide.

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