Racial awakening: your stories wanted

By Jessica Brodie

I’m deeply excited to share with you a bold new effort the Advocate is unfurling thanks to the vision of an anonymous donor and the passion this newspaper has for racial awareness and reconciliation.

Calling it the South Carolina Stories of Racial Awakening Project, the Advocate is inviting anyone in the conference—any race, any ethnic group, lay or clergy, man or woman, adult or youth—to submit their personal racial “awakening” narrative about how they went from one worldview about race and ethnicity to a broader, more inclusive one.

This month we begin an open submission invitation for these narratives. We will select up to 10 narratives from these submissions to be published in the Advocate, one a month for 10 months. Those selected for publication will receive $50 each. (See guidelines below.)

The inspiration for our donor’s vision comes from the steps our conference and society are taking toward racial reconciliation, along with the 1999 book by Fred Hobson, “But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative.” The Advocate’s effort will focus on racial awakening along any line—Latino toward African American, African American toward Caucasian, Caucasian toward Latino, Native American toward Asian, etc.

Last year, in my column “Once (Color) Blind, Now I See the Light” (May Advocate), I talked about my own childhood growing up “color-nonchalant” in the international, multicultural metropolis of Miami, and how that changed after I traveled to other locales, particularly after my last six years in South Carolina. As a lead-in to the conference’s Racial Reconciliation Pilgrimage later that month, I wrote that I’d realized living in such a vastly blended community as Miami was an anomaly, and that while I considered myself to be color blind, for many, race “is not just a big deal but a huge stumbling block, one rife with historical hurts and anguish that won’t just ‘go away with the passage of time,’ as many have suggested.”

Now it’s your turn. Sharing our stories leads to greater healing and awareness. It leads to connection and friendship and, most importantly, understanding. It leads to true agape love of our neighbor even in the face of difficult political, legal, cultural and other realities.

Let’s walk together and share our stories so we can help others. I welcome your questions at [email protected].

Guidelines: South Carolina Stories of Racial Awakening Project

Submissions are being accepted now for the Advocate’s South Carolina Stories of Racial Awakening Project. The invitation is open to any clergy or layperson who is part of a South Carolina United Methodist church. Submissions are open to people of all races and ethnic groups. Writers must provide their age, race/ethnicity and church they attend (with city). One submission per person will be accepted. Submissions can be between 500-1,000 words. The narrative should honestly and vividly describe the writer's previous attitudes and behaviors (and reasons for them) toward people of a different race/ethnicity, why and how that changed and how the change is manifest in the author's current behaviors. Selected submissions (up to 10 in all) will receive $50 each. Submissions will be accepted until the up to 10 publishable pieces have been selected. Submissions should be sent to [email protected].

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