I’ve written a book! And I’m scared to death to reveal this to you because I’m incredibly vulnerable in it. I share my journey of learning about race and some of the struggles I endured along the way. I began working on this over two years ago, with no particular end-date in mind.
In January we found out we were moving and I decided I needed to finish it before our move and I pushed hard on that goal. Then Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. Then Breonna Taylor, then George Floyd, and I had to do something immediately. I wrote the “Once You See Racism” series here on my blog, spending hours compiling resources for people like me (who once thought colorblind was the way to approach race).
I felt confident new learners could read through the short posts and launch from them into the deeper work of the authorities on the subject: Black writers, speakers, educators, and leaders.
I am not an authority on the subject of race or racism.
I am, however, an authority on my own journey of learning about race and racism, and that journey was incredibly challenging. I was forced to recognize attitudes I’ve held that needed changing.
I’ve lost long-time friends as a result of my journey and gained many others. I ache at the loss and honestly feel that if I could sit with each individual person with whom I’ve had conflict, I could explain my heart. I could share with them why every American should take this journey. This face-to-face, heart-to-heart interaction would help them to see that while America is a fantastic nation, we do need to address some major issues. This book is as close to that face-to-face meeting as I can get.
In the book I titled the same as the series, Once You See Racism, I share how adopting Anna forced me to see America through the lens of a parent raising a Child of Color: things are not always as rosy when viewed from that lens. I share some common slang, sayings, and even songs that have racist roots, of which many we are completely unaware.
When we know better, we should do better.
(adapted quote from Maya Angelou)
I wrote this book from the perspective of a learner. I’m new to the conversation; joined it once Anna was born. I genuinely wish I had taken the initiative to join it much sooner, before I had a personal reason to. I wish I had had an innate desire to better my country by changing my own attitudes and biases but I didn’t. I needed to be forced into the journey and my book is my invitation to you to join me on the journey. Once You See Racism is an entry-level, “just get your toes wet” kind of book. Many of you reading this blog are much farther down the road and to you I am grateful that you have begun! Others are interested in learning about why race and racism is still impacting our daily lives in such poignant ways in 2020, when we should be much farther along.
My book tells a little about that and gives you recommendations and resources that I have found invaluable. I will find others along the way, as my journey is not over, so please know that my list of resources is incomplete. My book is incomplete, as well. There are so very many chapters I didn’t include because I simply couldn’t cover everything and have it be a resource that is consumable in a timely manner. Matt encouraged me back in March when I was pretty-much finished: “You’ll never feel that it’s finished because your journey isn’t finished. You have to stop somewhere… the goal is to encourage people to start their own journeys, not to guide them all the way to the finish line.”
I quit writing that day. I quit worrying about all the topics I couldn’t cover. My next job was to edit, have friends who know my heart proof-read for content, and to hire an editor to spruce it up and make it the best version it could be.
I have done those tasks and now I sit here with butterflies in my stomach because I’m about to reveal parts of myself that I usually only share in person, with people with whom I feel safe. I usually only reveal the most vulnerable parts of me to people who I know love me already and will forgive my mistakes and see the best in me because they already know me. This book is out there and ready for public consumption and the readers may or may not know who I am. (Most will not have read this blog post sharing my insecurities, but you, my blog-world-friends, have. You know that I know that I’m not the authority on the topic, but they may not and that makes me nervous!!)
Who is the book for? I wrote to “me before Anna” – the person who does not have “a racist bone in my body” and thinks all people should be treated fairly by government, police, and policy. To the person who genuinely thinks colorblind is a good idea because we all bleed the same. I know what it’s like to have those ideas and wonder why People of Color are so angry about race when “we’ve come so far” as a nation. The people I had in mind as I wrote are some of the most kind, loving people you’d ever want to meet. Exorbitantly generous, incredibly hospitable, and yet, unaware of so many experiences that our Friends of Color have had. I wrote to people whose hearts will break when they start digging into this journey, the way my heart broke when I learned the details of our nation’s history. (I won’t go into details here, but there was a period of time that my heart was so sick I felt physically ill… how in the world had my country not taught me the things that really happened in our nation… No wonder my Black friends are still angry: many do not feel heard.)
My journey began with Anna and continued as I consumed everything I could get my hands on from all sorts of authors, podcasters, and adoption educators. From 2016 to the end of 2019 I did my best to figure things out on my own. Latasha Morrison’s Be the Bridge released in October of 2019 and she details the stages one goes through when taking this journey. I had walked through those emotional stages but had done so alone, for the most part. I had only a few in-real-life friends to ask questions of, and even then, quite sheepishly. I am so thankful for Latasha’s book and for her influence, as well as the friends who were a part of my journey even before Be the Bridge was published.
I share my journey to let each person new to this journey know that you are not alone, that there are steps that one goes through as they process this stuff (similar to the journey of grief, in some ways), and to point you to the authorities on the subject: Black voices already speaking on this topic..
I have zero desire to profit off of this book. For the first year I will donate 100% of the proceeds to the Be the Bridge Organization. I do not want anyone to think I’m trying to capitalize on the trauma Black people are experiencing.
The book is on Amazon and can be found by searching my name. When you type in the title a huge variety of books come up, and I actually encourage you to consider reading them. I pray you have the courage to take this journey and to share it with those in your circle of influence. One family at a time we can make positive steps in our nation.
The paperback price is set already, but the Kindle price is currently at a very low “friends and family” rate, which YOU get because you’re reading this now. (October of 2020.) That price will increase incrementally so if you want to get it at the lowest price, now’s the time!
I can hardly wait to buy a copy, Jennifer!
Way to be brave and bold in the Lord! To stand for your convictions and listen to God’s Spirit-promptings!!
You may not know this, but your promptings and encouraging words along the journey have been key to letting me know I’m on-course. Your relationship with Christ has helped me in mine…
I just started reading I am so proud of you and will keep you and your family in my prayers because I know the backlash you will face for being so brave Thank you for writing this book I have been trying to say this to people I am sure will read this I hope minds and hearts will be changed.
Thank you so very much! I dread the backlash but it means I’ve reached people who don’t already think like me. If only people who agree with me reads the book, I won’t have accomplished much, I suppose. Thank you for taking the time to encourage me!
So proud of you! And so excited to read this! Can’t wait to get my copy, I ordered right away! You are brave and inspiring, thank you for your example! ♥️
Thank you, dear friend! I thought of you and your sweet little one often as I wrote, knowing I was not even going get to touch the things I learned about Native Americans and their experiences. But much translates…
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