Published by Herald Press on May 18, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Racial Reconciliation
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Dear White Peacemakers
is a breakup letter to division, a love letter to God’s beloved community, and an eviction notice to the violent powers that have sustained racism for centuries.
Race is one of the hardest topics to discuss in America. Many white Christians, fearing hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and anger, avoid talking about it altogether. But everything we know about overturning racism relies on white people becoming aware and engaging in change. Dear White Peacemakers is an encouraging and thoughtful guide for white Christian peacemakers on the journey to racial justice, gently pointing out blinds spots and reminding such readers that they have a vital part in this hard work and holy calling. Based in the Sermon on the Mount, this book offers everyday practices for transforming white shame, fragility, saviorism, and privilege and for building beloved community as an anti-racist peacemaker. Author Osheta Moore is a trusted leader for peacemakers and racial justice and also a Black pastor in an interracial marriage who has served predominantly white congregations for over ten years.
For the past few years, I’ve sought an answer to the question of how white peacemakers, zealous for justice but new to the pursuit, could join with minority brothers and sisters in a way that honors and respects their voice and their generational fight against racism. Since the murder of George Floyd, I’ve seen a number of white voices want to do well but act in a way that is performative, or in a way that calls attention to their own voice, or in ways that are ignorant, violent, and otherwise harm the goals of antiracism. “We’re white and we’re here to help” can be a terrifying sentence for minority communities.
Yet, here we are. We’re white and we’re here to help. So how can we help? I’ve asked this question from Brenda Salter McNeil, Michelle Ami Reyes, Drew G.I. Hart, A.D. Thomason, and others. And all of their answers have been great. But what Osheta Moore has done in Dear White Peacemakers is address that question directly and thoroughly with a grace and clarity and love that is unparalleled.
In the preface of the book, Moore tells the story of a middle school football coach who called her son a racial slur. I don’t have to say which. You can guess. I’m three pages into the book and I am livid on Moore’s behalf. I’m ready to be a white ally that stands behind my Black brothers and sisters. I’m feeling ready to fight someone and I’m a nonviolent pacifist. She shares how the school called it a misunderstanding. It isn’t clear what was said, if anything was said, but it is clear that they are upset about it. I’m ready for war. And Osheta has the audacity to make peace.
Dear White Peacemakers goes above and beyond in its ability to seek the perspective and understanding of white allies who are ready to engage in the work of antiracism and conciliation. Moore interweaves her own personal experiences with reflections and observations, with nuggets of history and contemporary social issues, with Scripture and an adept understanding of Jesus’s call to nonviolence. She is direct, yet conversational. Nuanced, yet clear. Engaging, yet educative. I don’t know Osheta, but after reading this book I feel like we’re good friends. She gently prods and pushes and challenges but never shames or condemns or attacks.
Her ability to give when so much has already been taken is a stunning picture of Christ. Where words of righteous condemnation would be justified, she offers conciliation and forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that peacemakers will be blessed at the same time he says that the persecuted will be blessed. He places the onus of peacemaking onto the persecuted and oppressed. Our reaction to evil must be love. Osheta Moore absolutely radiates that love. Dear White Peacemakers is exactly the book I’ve been looking for. This is our pathway forward.