S5 E9 | Returning to Dear White Peacemakers with Osheta Moore

As we near the end of 2021, I’m returning to one of the most listened to (and possibly most appreciated) episodes from this past year—my conversation with Osheta Moore about her book Dear White Peacemakers.

Can peacemaking dismantle racism? Osheta Moore, author of Dear White Peacemakers, offers a warm and welcoming invitation to White people as she talks with Amy Julia about antiracism, the difference between peacekeeping and peacemaking, and the equalizing nature of our belovedness.

“Osheta Moore is a writer, pastor, speaker, and podcaster in Saint Paul, Minnesota, as well as a mother of three and economic justice advocate for women in developing countries.”

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Dear White Peackemakers episode quotes | Osheta Moore

“I define shalom as God’s dream for the world as it should be, not being broken…everything made whole.”

“If Jesus actually calls us to be peacemakers, what does that look like and how does that look in our everyday lives?”

“A huge part of shalom begins with seeking peace in myself and peace with God. I can’t be at peace with myself in my brown skin if I don’t have conversations about systems of the world that make it hard for me to thrive, and I can’t be at peace with God if I don’t believe that God didn’t make a mistake in giving me my brown skin.”

“The nature of this work is making peace, not being peacekeepers. We are actively binding up brokenness, resisting systems of oppression, and that’s doing peacemaking work together. And so I can’t do peacemaking work with you if I don’t choose to live at peace with you.”

“If I really care about your belovedness, I’m going to invite you into this work and listen to you and be patient with you and love you. But if you care about my belovedness, then you’re going to understand that there are systems that are continually oppressing me, like police brutality or school systems. You’re going to do what you can to change those systems so that I can move through this world as a beloved.”

“Part of my nonviolent peacemaking practices is to hold onto the humanity of people.”

“Do some intentional work of owning and acknowledging your belovedness…oftentimes we don’t see the humanity of others because we’ve neglected the humanity of ourselves.”

“Belovedness can be the great equalizer that we need in this world.”

Season 5 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my newest book, To Be Made Well, releasing Spring 2022…you can pre-order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.

Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Amy Julia (4s):
Hi friends. I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. If you’re listening to this episode, right, when it comes out, you will know that we are nearing the end of 2021. Maybe you’re thinking about new year’s resolutions, or maybe you’re thinking about how you refuse to make those types of resolutions. Maybe you’re enjoying lists of best books or albums or movies. It’s in that spirit that I want to offer you a rerun of one conversation from this past year. One of the conversations that was most listened to, and also I think most appreciated in the course of this past year.

Amy Julia (46s):
It’s my conversation with Oshida Moore author of dear white peacemakers. This book, dear white peacemakers came out at exactly the right time. It’s a book about compassionate anti-racism anti-racism that really looks at the way of love and peace and grace that looks at the way of Jesus as a guide through the social unrest and turmoil that we’ve been experiencing in our nation in these recent years. So she does book came out at exactly the right time and it’s still the right time for all of us to consider how to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers, not people who affirm the status quo, people who are peacemakers in a world of conflict and division.

Amy Julia (1m 34s):
So I’m grateful to get to listen to this conversation. And again, I hope you will also enjoy it again, or perhaps for the first time today, I have the honor of talking with Osheta Moore. She is the author of the, about to be released and truly phenomenal book. Dear white peacemakers Osheta. Welcome.

Osheta (1m 56s):
Hi Amy. Julia. Thanks for having

Amy Julia (1m 58s):
Me. I have been looking forward to this interview for longer than you even know, because I’ve been looking forward to it the whole time that I’ve been reading your book, but I was first introduced to you through your dear white peacemakers podcast series. And then I found you on Instagram. And so about a year ago or last summer, I really wanted to get you on the podcast, but then I found out you were writing this book and I said, oh, okay, I’ll wait. I’ll wait. So I really have been wanting to talk to you for a long time. Not only for my own sake, but also for our listeners sake. It’s really a gift to get familiar with your work. And I’m grateful for what you do. I want to start with asking you to introduce yourself and especially just talking about how you found yourself in the particularly pastoral role that you’re in.

Amy Julia (2m 46s):
So tell us about you and about your ministry. Really?

Osheta (2m 50s):
Yeah. So hi. Okay. So I live in St. Paul, Minnesota. I love it here. Never want to leave St. Paul. I’m originally from Texas though. So I’m Southern girl at heart, and I live here with my husband. Who’s a pastor, he pastors, a small congregation in St. Paul, and then I have three teenagers. So my oldest is 18. Then I have a 15 year old and then a 14 year old. So two boys and a girl. And yeah, I’ve been so, you know, a little bit about, I guess my ministry is I really started blogging back. You know, I think maybe like 12 years ago, 12, 15 years ago because my husband and I would have these like really intense conversations.

Osheta (3m 35s):
And I had all these emotions and all these opinions. And one day he was just like, you have a lot of words about a lot of things. I think you need to start a blog. And I was like, no, no, no, no, no. I think you start a blog because I was, so my husband is really active online and I was so scared of just the divisive. And like, if we think things are, I mean, things are terrible right now, but things were pretty bad online, you know, 10, 10, 15 years ago where it just, you know, I think people were really into call-out culture really, really into, so calling out somebody, taking them down, there was just a lot of conflict I’m on. I was like, I don’t want to be a part of that because the faith tradition I’m a part of is rooted in nonviolence and peacemaking.

Osheta (4m 16s):
And I was like, I just, I, I don’t even see how I can show up in that online space. And so what I, what I decided was that if I was going to start doing any kind of online work writing online, that I was going to have a distinctly peacemaking voice rooted around the Hebraic concept of Shalom. And I define Shalom as God’s dream for the world, as it should be nothing broken, nothing missing, everything made whole, which means that God desires us to live in harmony with each other. And so I’ll do my best to seek peace and be at peace with others, especially in my writing. And at that point, my husband and I are planting a church in Boston long story, and it was a peace church. And so there’s just a lot of like, things like it right online about peacemaking and actually like asking myself the question, what did Jesus actually meant it, like if Jesus actually calls us to be peacemakers, what does that look like?

Osheta (5m 3s):
And how does that look in our everyday life? So I started that writing and then I ended up writing my first book Shalom sisters, which is really just an exploration of everyday peacemaking for women. And, and in that book, I noticed that I wrote a lot about the intersection of my identity as a black woman and the current racial climate in our country and my call to be a peacemaker. There are a couple chapters in Shalom sisters where I touched on how peacemaking a non-violence comes up as I do that work. And I just realized that a huge part of Shalom begins with seeking peace in myself and peace with God. And so I can’t be at peace with myself and my brown skin.

Osheta (5m 45s):
If I don’t have conversations about systems of the world that make it hard for me to thrive. And I can’t be at peace with God, if I don’t believe like God didn’t make a mistake in giving me my brown skin. And so just coming that place and doing that work at being really comfortable as a black woman, I’m having these conversations. I really went back to that place that I began writing a line saying, if I’m going to do this work, I’m going to do this work from a peacemaking nonviolent perspective, especially when I’m talking about these kinds of hard topics with white people. And I just kind of found myself in a bunch of conversations where I would talk about my journey with race and race conciliation as a black woman and white people would be interested in those conversations with me.

Osheta (6m 28s):
And I just found myself kind of in this pastoral space where I’m talking about things that they have maybe heard or learned from other people, but helping them break it down and ultimately like reminding them of their belovedness and their importance in this work to where I found myself, like just really having a deep heart for making sure that white people recognize in the same way that I need to be at peace with myself. And I needed to be at peace with my God, the white people doing this work need to be at peace with themselves and their belovedness knowing the guy didn’t make a mistake and giving them their European features. Right. And so that’s really where that kind of aspect of my ministry kind of came up.

Osheta (7m 8s):
Then I started doing this thing online, where I would write to dear white peacemakers, which was my intentional way of calling in white people saying, you matter to me. So dear white, dear, and then why it’s important for you to be able to be a peace with yourself and say like God, to make a mistake and the way he made me. And also because I’m white in this country, that’s in the middle of this racial reckoning. I have a unique role and have a unique calling to engage with it because of, because of my ethnic identity. And so in my book, I try really hard to neutralize the idea why did also say like, there’s nothing wrong with being white, but I think in other places there that’s been pejorative or an attack.

Osheta (7m 52s):
And then peacemaker is really like, goes back to the calling that I feel, but I want to invite them in to understand the nature of this work is making peace, not, not being peacekeepers. So we are actively binding up brokenness and feeling in systems that are resisting systems of oppression and that’s doing peacemaking work together. And so I can’t do peacemaking work with you if I don’t choose to live at peace with you. So that’s kind of like how all of that came together. And so my husband’s a pastor of a small church. I’m actually, I passed her alongside with him, but then I passed her to a larger church as outreach and teaching pastor here in the twin cities too. So I teach. And then I also lead classes on these concepts of anti-racism and beloved community and peacemaking.

Osheta (8m 36s):
I’m leaving tomorrow to take a group down south to do a civil rights pilgrimage. So that’s just kind of where my ministry kind of like glowed. And I’m really grateful to be in this space to have these conversations.

Amy Julia (8m 49s):
Well, I’m really grateful to have you here because I think that your book has touched so many. I mean, you’ve already intimated at some of them. I think there are a lot of white people who in whether it’s the past year or the past 10 years have just started saying, okay, I really need to pay more attention to the racial injustices, to my role in it, to what it means to be white. And I’m confused and I’m hurt and I’m defensive. And I’m just asking a lots of questions and I want to, and on some level have the capacity to withdraw because it’s really uncomfortable and scary.

Amy Julia (9m 29s):
And so having some spaces where it’s still gonna be uncomfortable and scary, but you’re not going to be condemned seams and where there’s a promise of, you know, what, if we do this together, guess what we get to do. We get to make peace. I mean, that’s a really, that’s a really awesome, that’s a really awesome promise. So I want to talk about anti-racism for a minute. It’s a word and an idea that at least for me is relatively new. I think that’s true again for a lot of white people, but it has come into more of the mainstream of American life. In the past few years. It sparks a lot of controversy. There are, you know, books like how to be an anti-racist or white fragility that you mentioned in your book.

Amy Julia (10m 10s):
That again, have been sparking a lot of white people to quote unquote, do the work, to understand racism and whiteness and all of these things. And yet I think it has also sparked controversy in terms of people feeling ashamed and guilty and like, what am I supposed to do? Apologize for who I am, you know, those types of questions. So I think you do a wonderful job throughout your book of saying you are fully on board with anti-racism like, you’re about that, but that all of the tactics that some anti-racist systems programs, books, seminars, et cetera, have employed are not peacemaking tactics. And so I’d love for you to talk about what are some of the more like critical anti-racism policies and practices.

Amy Julia (10m 53s):
How are those harmful? And then what does it mean to be an anti-racism peacemaker? There is a distinction between the type of anti-racism that you are advancing, and I’d love to talk a little bit about those two ways of, of moving in the world.

Osheta (11m 8s):
Yeah. So the way I describe it in the book and the very first caveat that I make whenever I do this description is that I want to be really clear that every black leader or black educator or BiPAP educator on anti-racism bring their whole selves to this work. And so they do this work with their, their core convictions, with their theological frameworks, even with their north star in mind. And so, and so while, while my way is different, in my way, it’s been helpful for some I know that they have their way is, has been helpful for others.

Osheta (11m 48s):
And so I want to be really clear to say that while I don’t always employ those same tactics, I honor the work and the diligence of those BiPAP leaders and recognize that I’ve learned from them in some ways. And I’ve had a lot of clarity on how I want to do this work, but for me, the way I describe how I came to this third way, if you will, of doing anti-racism that I call anti-racism peacemaking is that I’ve found that in churches, that I have been a part of, mostly in the, in the nineties and an early arts.

Osheta (12m 31s):
Whenever we talk about this stuff, whenever we talk about race and division, and it’s usually under this umbrella of racial reconciliation, which often emphasizes scriptures like there’s new June or greeting or male or female, or that Jesus came to and Matea and hostility and make unity. And there’s a huge emphasis on the, the unity aspect of race, a racial reconciliation of like, Hey, we’re called to live in unity with each other. We’re called to love each other. You’re my brother in Christ. You’re my sister in Christ. This is often where we sometimes get the unhelpful idea of like colorblind or that there’s like one race.

Osheta (13m 16s):
And so what I have found when I was being a black person in predominantly white spaces that would teach racial reconciliation, is that there’s a lot of interpersonal healing and peace between each other. Like I knew that the white people in my church loved me really well. Here’s what I didn’t know. I didn’t know. The white people in my church understood the systems that I deal with when I’m not in church with them and understand the reality of my life and, and had any interest in dismantling those systems and building something new. So as I started doing the work of, of coming into my own as a black woman and, and wanting to build a world that was safe and thriving for people who look like me, who look like my children, I kind of swung to the other side, which is primarily what, like I call it anti-racism.

Osheta (14m 8s):
So like, once you recall what you would see in books, like how to be an anti-racist or white fragility, like you mentioned, this hyper-awareness of the systems. So like the, the north star. So if you say the north star of racial, racial reconciliation is that, you know, hug a black friend, we’re all in this together. Like, you know, unity in Christ. I would say anti-racism, their north star is burning it down. Like new systems help holding, right. People accountable, repairing the harm to, to, to BiPAP people. And so there’s a lot of like really good systemic work on this end.

Osheta (14m 50s):
But optimally I’ve is that I was encouraged to not really care about my people or their feelings, or that if a white person was legitimately having was experiencing emotional trauma and doing this work well, it’s fine. It’s good that that’s part of this work. And that just didn’t sit well with me either, because I have such a framework that we are all made an image of God, we’re all beloved. And I know that, I know that for some of my white brothers and sisters, they have worked really, really hard to get to the place of being beloved and knowing that they’re loved by God and knowing that they’re made in the image of God. And then when they start doing this work, there’s, there’s this expectation that they have to take on this shame or self hatred in order to fully enter this work.

Osheta (15m 33s):
And if they don’t, then they’re being sent their centering or they’re being selfish or whatever. And that just didn’t sit right with me either. So I had to go through this journey of kind of figuring out what works for me and what has worked for me is doing what I call anti-racism peacemaking, which is an active and an active commitment to dismantling the systems of this world that continually oppress people of color that reinforce white supremacy culture, which is this idea that white people are better and that their ways are better. And that they’re, they should thrive. And at the expense of people of color. So I’m actively anti-racist, but I’m, I’m a peacemaker too.

Osheta (16m 14s):
So anti-racism peacemaking chooses to use tech, tech, tech techniques, tactics, and techniques that are explicitly nonviolent that are rooted in empathy. And that move us towards the realization of becoming the beloved community. And I described the beloved community as a community of people who own their belovedness for claiming each other who other belovedness and proclaim each other’s belovedness. And if we can get to that place, I feel like if I really care about your belovedness, I’m going to invite you into this work and listen to you and be patient with you and love you. But if you care about my belovedness, then you’re going to understand that there are systems that are continually oppressing me like police brutality, or like school systems.

Osheta (17m 1s):
And you’re going to do what you can to, to, to change those systems so that I can move through this world as a beloved. So that’s my north star instead of a love of community. And it’s really rooted in this idea that I am a peacemaker and I am anti-racist and I can be both.

Amy Julia (17m 17s):
Thank you so much for that. I have a couple of quotations from your book that I noted that just are going to underline what you just said, but I want to read them here. This is a really short one. I’ve seen so many white people reject their belovedness thinking they’re rejecting white supremacy, which I think just speaks to what you were just saying. And then this is a longer one where you, right. You white paint, peacemaker are not just white. You are not the stories of oppressors in the master’s whip. You are not the greed that ended reconstruction after the civil war, you are not Jim Crow, terrorism or prejudice neighbors. You are not the school to prison pipeline. You are not police brutality. And you go on giving all sorts of examples here, you white person, our beloved, a fellow peacemaker who is caught up in a system of white supremacy come, let’s have a meal together.

Amy Julia (18m 3s):
So again, I think those words just echo what you just described. And you also give a number of examples in the book of stories of your own encounters, where you’ve had to put peacemaking into action in terms of not only your own belovedness. So like retaining your own sense of self-worth and care, but also the belovedness of someone who might be even actively opposing you. And I wondered if you have any of those stories from the book that you’d be willing to share here either. I mean, I remember one from a civil rights journey that you took with some white people with one with your son’s coach, one in thinking about the death of a mod Arbery those are the ones that came to mind for me, but really anything you’d like to share.

Amy Julia (18m 49s):
I’d just love to give an example for people.

Osheta (18m 52s):
Yeah. So I have a chapter in the book called you, your name is not racist, it’s beloved. And that chapter for me, I wrote that chapter as I was reflecting on the day that I saw the Mont Arbery video, his murder, the video of his murder. And as we know, it happened in January. It happened earlier in the year, but it wasn’t released until later, I believe it was released in may early may because at the end of the may, George Lloyd was murdered. And so I, I had posted something about how, how I, how disgusted I was and how disturbed I was and how I couldn’t get past the idea that this was somebody who was just out on a Sunday run and he was hunted down and he was shot by father and son one who was a former police officer.

Osheta (19m 54s):
And I, I just posted that. And in that post, I really wrestled with how I was going to share this on Instagram. Instagram is so tricky because I never know, like, what is the right image to fully convey these ideas? But I posted three different things. I posted a conversation between Tony Morrison and an interview of Toni Morrison, where she just talks about how the, how racism is as, as, as detrimental. She used the word deleterious, but like she, how it’s not only detrimental to people of color, to black people who suffer because of racism.

Osheta (20m 36s):
It is detrimental to the people who would act racist ideas and policies who are caught up in the system of, of hatred or even ambivalence about the violence towards black and brown people. And then the next thing I posted was some kind of calls to action that I found. And then the last thing I posted was a picture of the MC Michael’s father and son after, after a hunting trip. So they’re all in their cammo. They had their guns. I think I can’t, I can’t remember exactly, but it was a picture of them. And that was really important for me because part of my nonviolent peacemaking practices is to hold onto the humanity of people to recognize it.

Osheta (21m 20s):
Jesus died for every human being and if he died for them and they matter, they should matter to me too. And so sometimes when I am struggling with loving my enemy, which is what Jesus calls to do in the sermon on the Mount, I will go and look at pictures of them and I will spend time creating a backstory about them. So I, I looked at this picture of this father and on and thought about like, they maybe had a really wonderful day together, you know, and they maybe share some interesting stories and they laughed together. Like these are two people who did a really horrible thing. So I shared all those. And I really struggled with those three pictures, pet, what I noticed, and this typically happens sometimes is sometimes I, I will see white people who were doing anti-racism work will signal that they care about this work so much, that they will say hurtful or angry things about the white people in those pictures.

Osheta (22m 16s):
And I understand where that anger comes from. And I know I understand where that impulse comes from, but that’s just that just, wasn’t the kind of space I wanted to host online. And so what I ended up doing on Facebook, cause you know how Instagram, sometimes she was over the face, but this didn’t happen in Instagram. It happened on Facebook where I just basically there is, and I listened to a book, some of the things that people were saying about the mic Michaels, but then I just competent and said that we’re not going to do that here. That these are people who Jesus loves and I’m not going to undermine my peacemaking by attacking them. And I do want them to be held accountable for their, for their crime. And I do want them to have a reckoning with their own bias and their own hatred.

Osheta (22m 58s):
And I do want their, their hearts to be changed. I deeply believe it. Nobody is too far gone, but I’m not going to use violent tactics or violent words to get to a place of peace. I don’t believe that I only believe, I believe violence only begets violence. It doesn’t beget peace. And so that was one of those spaces where I kind of had to do that work of here’s my standards. This is how I can, how I can proclaim their belovedness, but also how I can maintain my standard of loving out of that deep place of 11 it’s because I know that God loves me and I know that God, God was grieving alongside with me. And I don’t, I don’t need to say hurtful things about white people to have that validated.

Osheta (23m 43s):
And I actually feel like for me, it’s a really dangerous place to get into, to, to attack white people who are, who are blind to this or who are willfully ignorant to it. And so that was, that was one of those spaces where I had to choose anti-racism peacemaking over retributive anger, violence.

Amy Julia (24m 4s):
Right, right. Absolutely. I want to get back to the idea of belovedness, but before I do that, I feel like it might be a good time to ask about your, just living in St. Paul, which is to say essentially Minneapolis right now, because you have lived there for a couple of years now, which is to say through the murder of George Floyd through the protests last summer through the events of these past few weeks, both with Derek Chavez conviction, as well as Dante writes death. And I would love to just ask you, what has it been like to practice peacemaking in your city and in your context right now?

Osheta (24m 41s):
Yeah. And you know, it’s, so what’s funny is when you were in LA Philando, Castille was shot in Falcon Heights, which is like a small little suburb, not really a separate, like a small little area, literally like seven or eight minutes from my home. So very close. And that was a real, that was a real important moment for me in understanding the importance of doing anti-racism work and it being a part of my spiritual formation, but I just couldn’t ignore it. Or, or I couldn’t, I just couldn’t ignore talking about this.

Osheta (25m 23s):
There was something, I think it’s just a cumulative effect of so many brown, black and brown lives lost and then kind of just scrolling on and seeing Philando murdered just really, really shook me. And so I always had in the back of my mind that that we would end up in the Midwest and possibly end up in the twin cities for our whole bunch of reasons. But then when that happened, I thought we, we would probably end up there because there was a part of me that really wanted to be a part of what the church was doing in this city.

Osheta (26m 4s):
So within things kind of happen. This was back when we were in LA, like I said, so things kind of happened. My husband ended up leaving his associate role and then accepting a call here. And, and when we moved here, one of our close friends was like, yeah, this city needs more peacemakers because we’re in the middle we’re. She said something like, where, like it’s a powder keg of racial tension here, like it, and, and my husband’s white. So, you know, we talk about race and anti-racism quite a lot just to figure out how we can, you know, be a healthy interracial couple. So when George Floyd happened, I was, I had written like two thirds of dear white peacemakers.

Osheta (26m 50s):
And it was truly like a, how to book. It was, you know, it was more here, here are some definitions, here are some key moments. And it was like, it was a very one of those kind of books. Then George would happen. And my husband and I went to several protests and one of the things that I just, the Lord just kept having me pay attention to was all the new, all the white people for whom this is very, very new. And yet their hearts are incredibly broken and how they were in such a tender place because they’re experiencing this trauma in a new and deep way that they have maybe not been equipped to deal with it. And I also have this strong sense of there is going to be a need to call in and create space to have these conversations.

Osheta (27m 40s):
That’s not predicated on tragedy and death. I even say, I even said to my husband on the, on a drive home from one of these protests, like, do you think that they’ll still be up? They’ll still be interested in this when there’s not like another death, another shooting, will they still be interested in? My husband was like some bones, some more. And for me, I was like, I, we’ve got to find a way that’s rooted. That’s something that’s a way to do this. Work is rooted in something life-giving and hopeful and not relying on more black tragedy. And so the book then completely changed. And I know I freaked my editor out, like, cause my deadline was like, it was may when George would happened, my deadline was eight was August.

Osheta (28m 27s):
Oh wow. And I was like, it’s a new book. Start over, start over. And really what came from me paying attention to the white people in my life who were responding to George Floyd’s murder, who were having new conversations, who were having maybe the same conversations over and over again. But their family members who were feeling overwhelmed, I sat with one friend and she was like, I’m just so exhausted. And this was a friend who like went to all the rallies who was posting all the time. And I was like, it is okay to rest. Like you are human being. And like, if you’re going to do this work for the long haul, but you’ve got to have a long haul view of this work, you’ve got to take care of yourself.

Osheta (29m 10s):
And I just don’t and she broke down crying because I just don’t think that that’s something a lot of white anti-racists are hearing is that you have got to take care of yourself. You’re not, de-centering, you’re not, de-centering the work. If you take care of yourself. And if you’re afraid that you won’t be able to stay into this work, unless you continue working yourself hustling for it, then we haven’t had, we have to have another conversation about why you’re doing this work and what’s your north star. And how can that be life-giving and hopeful for you,

Amy Julia (29m 39s):
Which does actually bring us back this concept of belovedness because I really resonated, resonated deeply with you have an insistence that the only way the work of peacemaking can happen, especially over the longterm is through an understanding of ourselves as God’s beloved ones and really crucial to that is this sense of self care. And I’m wondering what that looks like for you and what you, what it means to stay rooted in belovedness for you, but also for white peacemakers.

Osheta (30m 11s):
Yeah. That’s a good question. You know, I used to submit two on the Enneagram. I don’t know how familiar

Amy Julia (30m 20s):
You are.

Osheta (30m 24s):
So I used to really take a lot of pride in how present I can be for others. You know, you’ve heard that adage, like you should talk to yourself, like you talk to your best friend. I had to start being like, you should take care of yourself. Like you would take care of other people because I am so good because I’ve just cultivated that in me for so many years, I’m so good at anticipating with somebody could need, like, I can meet somebody. And like, within like within a short amount of time, I could anticipate, well, they’re ready to have their class refilled or, you know, whatever. I mean, have you read the book? It’s like, it’s, I feel like it’s just like a, to like, like all of my Tunis, because I’m like, I have to create that like space of comfort and come sit down, like be okay, just, you know, being Ashita that’s a part of the lovingness for me is doing really practical things.

Osheta (31m 24s):
Like getting my hair done, you know, or getting a pedicure. Like I feel really special when I can have somebody take care of me and I don’t have to take care of myself. And, you know, I have some, this might sound a little controversial, but there are some black friends that I, that I turned to to be able to just kind of have like black only spaces or a black only conversations where I can just be like, there’s something really beautiful and good about our culture and about our community and not to not, you know, not to say like, I don’t love my white friends, but like when I’m constantly in these spaces, I can forget that like be at peace with myself as a black woman.

Osheta (32m 9s):
And so I do have these, you know, these check-in moments where I’m just like, let’s just talk about the culture girl or like, like tell me how, how parenting is working for you or how are you doing your hair? Or, you know, did you read this thing online? And I have black friends that are processing and that feels like a special gift of belovedness because she’s beloved as a black woman and I’m beloved as a black woman and we get to reaffirm that to each other. And I think a huge part of belovedness for me is honesty. And so if you follow me online, I don’t have a problem with telling people like I’m exhausted and I’m not posting today.

Osheta (32m 49s):
Or like, Hey, like I do these breath prayers in the morning, I’m on my social. And it’s like sometimes two, three times a week, depending on what my schedule can allow. And sometimes if I, if I just don’t feel well or awake, or I like, you know, we’ve had a new diagnosis in my family and my, one of my kids was diagnosed with type one diabetic. And so I was like not getting enough sleep because I was paying attention to his blood sugar all night. Like I, I’m honest with people that I I’m human and I need rest. And, and I know that for leaders to say that, that that’s, I think it’s kind of profound for some people to hear a leader just in general say that, but I think it’s really, really important for my predominantly white audience to hear me as a black woman say, oh no, I value myself enough that I have to rest.

Osheta (33m 39s):
And I’m not always going to keep pushing myself harder because I’m beloved and I don’t have to earn my worth. And I don’t have to prove anything to God. And I’m not going to do that for you because I feel like that would undermine your capacity for owning your belovedness. So

Amy Julia (33m 55s):
For me, one of the, I’m certainly still on a journey to understand my own belovedness as well, but one of the most profound ways for me to understand it has been through our daughter, penny, who has down syndrome because when she was first born, I really needed to understand what does it mean for her to be beloved? And what does it mean? And how can I understand that myself as well? And I found that one of the ways for me to understand that was actually in thinking about limitations or needs and not just saying, oh, she’s limited and needy, but oh, so am I. And I think again, as like a white able-bodied educated person, I had been so conditioned to pretend like I don’t have needs.

Amy Julia (34m 37s):
It’s not true, but to recognize that actually, when I admit my needs to God and to other people, that is what allows people to demonstrate love for me also, for me to demonstrate love for myself and not having to strive and earn and prove. And so I just think it’s so interesting the way in which being able to rest, being able to be needy and limited and honest, all those things you just said, actually almost reinforces or can reinforce that sense of belovedness within all of that. So, one thing I was thinking about when I was reading your book and just some of the other books I’ve been reading, and I’ve been again, just thinking about this from the perspective of a white educated, you know, stable, all these things, privileged person.

Amy Julia (35m 23s):
So I’ve been thinking about the difference between if there is a difference between comfort and care. So I’m going to try to explain what I’m thinking about. So I have a lot of comfort in my life just by I can buy more or less, you know, not a yacht, but I can buy what I need in order to make myself comfortable. And I’ve been conditioned, I think, in life to not be uncomfortable. And when I do feel discomfort, I think I move really quickly, almost instinctively towards what will make me comfortable or towards what will numb that discomfort. So I do that through overworking because I can just plow through and like, not notice the feelings or I can do that through alcohol, through food, through Netflix, through social media, right?

Amy Julia (36m 5s):
Like all of those things can either numb or just kind of ignore discomfort. But I also, what I was thinking about is like, okay, so in order to ignore discomfort, I’m not caring for myself with any of those things, right? Like drinking another glass of wine, staying up late, scrolling through Instagram or working too hard. None of those things are actually caring for myself. They’re all avoiding discomfort, but they’re not care. And I think sometimes, well, I guess what sometimes when I’m avoiding discomfort, it is to get out of engaging with the pain, grief, anger, hurt injustice in the world. And specifically that many of my black and brown brothers and sisters have no choice, but to experience every day.

Amy Julia (36m 50s):
And so I’ve been trying to think about how I can care for myself, but not avoid discomfort. Right? Like entering into those painful spaces in love and self care, but not with this like avoiding discomfort. Does that make sense?

Osheta (37m 10s):
It’s total sense. It makes total sense. So, you know, I used to, I taught a class called reconciling love on, you know, anti-racism peacemaker peacemaking. And I had a conversation with somebody who was sort of just saying to me, like she has, like, she wants to have all these hard conversations with her, her family who don’t believe that raises an issue. They’re very much under the race, racial reconciliation umbrella. Like we’re all one human race and even saying white, or even saying black, like saying no racial identity that’s causing division. And so she was having these, she was explaining to me that she’s having these conversations and that she would just get so upset.

Osheta (37m 56s):
And like, she just wouldn’t know what to say. And so she just kept pushing and kept pushing. And so I said this to her, I said, okay, well, how about the next time you have those conversations with your, because what I, what I sense for her was that she was trying to push past the discomfort, but she was actually like putting herself in a place of like emotional and emotional and physical exhaustion. Like she just, and she, then she wasn’t thinking straight. And then she would get really mad and say something. She didn’t mean her. And then the conversation would spin out and then she would walk away and she’d be like, why did I do that? And then she just felt like she was like, not so not paving a good way for like the next conversation and all that.

Osheta (38m 37s):
And so I was like, well, why did you stop this? Like, what have you said in a conversation with your family members? Like they say something that’s really like, that feels really unhelpful. Or they say something that’s racist. I want to stop here real quick, Amy, Julia, because I wanna, I wanna make this distinctive before I finish this. I don’t call my people racist because I don’t like attaching that word to somebody who’s beloved. But I will say that ideas and words and systems are influenced by racist racism or white supremacy. So when I say that her family said something racist, I’m not calling her family racist, but I’m saying the thing that they said was, was influenced by racist ideas.

Osheta (39m 17s):
Okay. So if I say, so I say to her going back to the store, but then say they say something that’s racist. You can say to them, like, what you just said really makes me sad, because I think that you don’t realize how hurtful that thing that you just said is, and I’m really grieving because I know so many brown and black people who, if they heard you say that, like I like they would, they would be weeping. Like they would be so offended. And I don’t think that you want to offend somebody. So I think maybe I need to take a break and kind of think about what you just said and maybe kind of get my brain, get my thoughts together. And then I’ll come back and maybe share with you a little bit about why, what you just said was really hurtful if you still want to hear.

Osheta (40m 1s):
But I just don’t know that I can continue having this conversation with you unless we have a conversation about what you just said, instead of just telling them, like, what you said is wrong and dah, dah, dah, and then they keep pushing back and saying, no, it’s not. I was like, what if you just called him the moment that like, this is what I’m feeling. And I think I need a break, but I don’t have to keep pushing this conversation. And that was so for her, she just did it because I think in her mind, it was, I’ve got to keep at it. I’ve got to get them to understand. And here I was a black person saying like, if you keep pushing that way, you’re exhausting yourself. You’re exhausting them. You’re not moving forward in this session. So maybe you have to have a little bit more patience and you have to show your humanity a little bit and saying like, God, that just really hurts.

Osheta (40m 47s):
Like when you say all lives matter, like that really hurts because I’m seeing all these black people for their lives don’t matter. And I really got to think about that a little bit. And so maybe we just table this conversation and, you know, I gave out to her and I have, honestly, I haven’t heard back from her. So I can’t say like I have had like a woo-hoo moment, but I could tell and watching her process, what I was saying, she was like, oh, that’s a way for, I could tell she was taking it as, oh, that’s a way for me to care for myself as I’m doing this work of like, I don’t have to keep pushing in these conversations where somebody is resistant and I don’t have to front like a habit.

Osheta (41m 27s):
I’ll figure it out. I can just be honest with my humanity. So that’s one suggestion that, that are offered. But I think that there is something about that comfort versus care piece that I want to kind of touch on is that I talk a lot about the idea of white supremacy culture. And it’s the culture that we, that we are that I guess a lot of us would recognize as American culture, really, because it’s really rooted in like data and status and strength and comfort. And so their assistance of when, what I’ve noticed is that when a white person does this work and they want to push past like there’s sense of discomfort, oftentimes it’s because they have like some sort of goal or some sort of like standard that they’re trying to meet to prove themselves worthy.

Osheta (42m 22s):
And that’s what I was noticing with this person for that she had, she was, she was trying to tell me the story that she was like, you CCC look like, see I’m doing the work. And I was like, actually like that’s hustle culture, that’s white supremacy culture making you feel like you have to meet some sort of standard. What I really want you to do is to be beloved and human in these conversations, because the only way we’re going to, we’re going to create a world where black and brown people are treated as human is if we all bring our full humanness to this world, to this work. And so

Amy Julia (42m 53s):
I love that. And I think that is a really insightful, you know, I it’s, it’s striking to me just how much that sense of what’s the goal. How am I going to get there? And then even, I mean, I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who was like, oh, well doing this, doesn’t check the box of anti-racism. And my friend was like, you know, if you’re trying to check the box, then you’re not doing anti-racism work. Like that was her response was like, there’s something wrong with even just the idea of checking the box, as opposed to I’m going to get it wrong. I am not doing it all at once, but I am endeavoring day by day to engage in a loving work in the world that does dismantle to the degree that I can, white supremacy, racism, injustice in our, in our land.

Amy Julia (43m 45s):
Well, we’re coming to the end of our time, but I do wonder if you have any, you know, for the people who you were seeing last June, kind of in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the people who wrote the book for, do you have any sense of first steps or, you know, here’s, here’s a way to start entering in to your belovedness into peacemaking, into this work without getting yeah. Completely overwhelmed or swallowed by it in a way that allows for a really lifelong commitment to the way of, of Shalom of peace as you were describing before.

Osheta (44m 29s):
Yeah. So I think the first thing, so there are, well, let me, let me give you like maybe three small things. Okay. So I think the very first thing is I, I deeply believe that stories change the world. And so, you know, when, and I’m just going to assume that this, if you were into this work or you’re just not thinking about it, it’s probably because it was tied to some recent tragedy like Dante, right. Or the, or George Floyd, Briana Taylor, or something like that, or it might be tied to maybe a black, like you’re like a black friend in your life is deeply grieving.

Osheta (45m 11s):
And it’s now more vocal about this. And you’re like, wait, what? So I think that the first thing is make space to learn the stories of BiPAP people, whether that is the black friend in your life, who, who will, is willing to sit with you and share how she processed the verdict. I have a whole part of my book where I talk about how to invite some of my, a black friend out to have these conversations. And they’re in your body, in your life like that, which I know that that’s a reality for some, you know, began listening to podcasts, begin finding YouTube videos, like learning about the stories of black people and not just our story, their tragedy, which there are, but also our stories of some jewelry.

Osheta (46m 3s):
And, and so just to kind of get out of your white centered worldview to understand kind of how we move through the world. And also, I think that’s, that’d be super helpful and going back to anything I said at the beginning of our conversation, that there’s such a diversity among black people, you’ll start to hear and learn different things from them. And I say, start with stories. And then I was like, you find a black leader or a personal call or BiPAP leader who is talking about Intel racism that you can learn from. And that’s why I say like, there’s so many of us out there, maybe I’m somebody that you will listen to and learn from great.

Osheta (46m 47s):
Like, but there are so many there’s Austin, Channing brown. There’s my hat hill. Like there are so many of us Rachel cargo, like there’s so many of us out here. And so Latasha Morrison, so go and find and then learn, follow them and learn from them. And then I think the other thing that you, the last thing that you need to do is ROI, I would encourage you to do is to really do some intentional work of owning and acknowledging your belovedness. And I know that sounds so, really weird, but I think that oftentimes we don’t see the humanity of others because we’ve neglected the humanity in ourselves.

Osheta (47m 29s):
And so if we, if you can start cultivating spaces where you can say, what does it mean to be beloved? What does it mean to be like, what is the weight of Jesus dying on the cross for me? What does that mean? And, and how can I, how can I accept that gift? And then how can out of the abundance of gratitude and acknowledgement from that gift love others. I think doing some work around 11, this is really important. And I always suggest doing that work with a trusted pastor or a spiritual director or friend reading life of the beloved together, exploring these concepts of being like I’m beloved.

Osheta (48m 11s):
I think it’s so I cannot emphasize this enough. I think it’s so important for white people to not feel less than, or feel like they have to beat themselves up in doing this work. I said this to my friend the other day, like, I don’t want you to set yourself on fire to keep me warm. Cause that’s not, that’s not the world I want to live in. And so I would say those three things, learn stories, find, find a leader and practice your belovedness. Okay.

Amy Julia (48m 45s):
I think even about, I was struck by this sometime recently that before Jesus begins his public ministry before he’s tempted in the desert and proves himself in any way, the first moment we have in his adult life is before anything has happened. God saying, this is my beloved son. And I just thought, oh, that’s such a good reminder to me that the belovedness comes first and everything else comes from there. And if I do not return to that, I mean all the time, then I will either burn out or hurt people or manipulate or try to control or just, you know, all of, I can just name more and more things that will go wrong if I don’t continue to try to return to that place for myself.

Amy Julia (49m 34s):
But also, as you said, that is what gives me the eyes to see who my beloved fellow human beings are as I go through the world as well.

Osheta (49m 45s):
I will just say this cause I, I, for some, you know, but live it is feels scary because there might be a fear of like, well, like, am I, am I just contributing or practicing more white supremacy because I’m white and I’m running around here saying I’m beloved. But what I have found, I’m not afraid of that because what I have found is that when we understand our belovedness apart from anything that we did like that God looks at us and says a beloved and you didn’t have to do a single thing. Then I feel like that that really does level the playing field and this really beautiful way where I don’t have a desire to Lord over you, anything because you’re in beloved as much as I’m a beloved and my hope and desires.

Osheta (50m 31s):
And as a white person, when you own your belovedness, then you start to see, like I said earlier, the ways of this world is set up that prevent me from fully living into my belovedness. And so you want to make that you want, you want to make that happen. You want to, you want to participate in that. And, and so I, I, for me, I just really feel like the lovingness can be the great equalizer that we need and this word,

Amy Julia (50m 53s):
I think that’s the right place to end this conversation. Thank you so much. And again, I will, we will make sure in the show notes to direct people, not only to your book, but also to your social media, because you do a beautiful job there and, you know, we will be really grateful for whatever else you put out into the world in the future. So thank you for being here.

Osheta (51m 19s):
Thanks for having me.

Amy Julia (51m 24s):
Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear and happy new year friends. I do hope and pray that this upcoming year, maybe one filled with the peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.


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