Once, when I was speaking at a church, I was introduced as an “expert on privilege.” The person introducing me didn’t mean that I’ve done anthropological or sociological studies about elites or racial groupings or anything like that. What she meant is that when it comes to privilege—which I define as a set of unearned social advantages—I’ve got so much lived experience, it counts as expertise.
It was out of that lived experience that I wrote, reluctantly, White Picket Fences: Turning towards Love in a World Divided by Privilege, a book that turned five years old this week.
In a world that only seems more polarized as the years go by, I hope and pray these words will live on for the people who need it, people like me. I grew up within a network of unearned and unacknowledged advantages, and I believe that people like me can respond to the divisions with hope rather than despair. We can be a part of a movement toward healing.
And my prayer that these words might live on might very well have been answered in the most unlikely of ways.
I learned in August that my publisher, NavPress, was no longer planning to keep extra copies of White Picket Fences in their warehouse. They gave me two options: I could have all remaining books shipped to my house, or I could let them be thrown away. Instead, I reached out–to pastors, people running non-profits, and friends. I had 19 boxes of books available at closeout sale prices, and I wondered if anyone out there might want them.
Two months ago, it looked like White Picket Fences would disappear. Instead, here’s what happened. Within 5 days, all 19 boxes were claimed. Not one box remained, and no one who wanted a box was turned away. Those boxes were shipped out to places across the nation: Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, Georgia, Connecticut, Michigan, even to Canada.
I believe there are still a lot of people who could use a gentle invitation into a conversation about race, class, ability, and social division that leads us all—together—towards hope and healing. If you are one of those people, or if you know someone in that position, White Picket Fences might just be the place to start.
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