Engage - Claremont Lincoln University

“Can We Just Stop Talking About Race?”

In Dr. Darrell Ezell’s Fair Observer article, he discusses civil rights, intractable public discussions—and violence—regarding race, and the fear and structural ills that plague our civic space.

Written in 2013, after the murder of Trayvon Martin and near the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Ezell’s piece remains—unfortunately—timely and compelling.

In this painful election cycle, when so many of us examine up close the fears, paralysis, and anger of our family members, colleagues, and members of our religious and ethical communities, many of those in power (including white communities) ask, frustrated: “Can we just stop talking about race?”

And yet, for our brothers and sisters of color who are being disenfranchised, excluded, brutalized, and murdered, “not talking” about race is a luxury.

Digital and grassroots conversations from #BlackLivesMatter to #Repealthe19th daily illuminate the fact that issues of power and privilege are realities that must be examined.

As Brother Richard Rohr reminds us: “That which is not transformed, is transmitted.”

We have the opportunity in this season of unrest and painful self-examination to transform ourselves, our families, our communities, and our great nation. But transformation must be preceded by an honest accounting.

As Ezell puts it in his original article:

“The reality is clear: Deep-seated fear and structural problems are present at both the national and individual levels, thus driving racial bias in public policymaking. In dealing with these structural problems, some choose to retreat to homogenous safe-ground, while others move beyond reservation to embrace cross-cultural engagement for the good of the society.”

For the good of society.

Who among us is not willing to do difficult work, if it benefits all of us, and our future descendants?

If we discover dry rot in our beloved family home, will we not roll up our sleeves, take a deep breath, and work to scrub and renew?

Ezell offers three prescriptions for embracing the cross-cultural engagement these times necessitate.

First, conversation begins with the individual; in “people to people dialogue,” we leverage our relationships to co-reflect, co-learn, and collaborate in renewal and justice.

Next, this work requires national conversation at home and abroad. We are not the only nation grappling with the ill effects of genocide, colonizing, and systematic disenfranchisement. We must be frank about our challenges, and learn from others.

Finally, we must continue to engage in this ongoing national conversation regarding the cultural frustration that drives racially-biased policymaking.

Many of us are immersed in parts of this conversation: in our work, at school, in religious and ethical communities, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We must continue to shine a light on failures of policy that truncate the lives of some of us, and commit to candor and restoration—for the flourishing of all, for all.

Read Dr. Ezell’s original article here.

Photo credit: © Malecula | Dreamstime.com

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of the Claremont Core at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader. She is the host of the religion & culture podcast In Times Like These and author of Interfaith Grit: How Uncertainty Will Save Us. Varnon-Hughes was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.

Claremont Core

Claremont Lincoln University

Add comment

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes

Stephanie Varnon-Hughes, Ph.D., is the Director of the Claremont Core at Claremont Lincoln University, and an award winning teacher and interfaith leader. She is the host of the religion & culture podcast In Times Like These and author of Interfaith Grit: How Uncertainty Will Save Us. Varnon-Hughes was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Inter-Religious Studies, a peer reviewed journal, and its sister publication, State of Formation, an online forum for emerging religious and ethical leaders. She holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Lincoln University, an M.A. and S.T.M. from Union Theological Seminary and her undergraduate degrees are in English and Education, from Webster University.

Get Our Latest Blogs in Your Inbox

Subscribe to our blog newsletter to receive all the latest updates from Engage.

Dedicated.