Preacher, teacher, mother, professor, writer, painter, drummer, clutter-spreader. I’m also a white woman who wants to help other white people talk about race.
As a scholar, I’ve been studying how to speak with white people about racism for the past twelve years, focusing on racial identity development and narrative as two ways of helping whites come to understand our continuing participation in the historic legacy of slavery and racism in the United States.
I teach preaching at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where I am associate professor of homiletics (the study of preaching). Some of the other courses I teach include: Difficult Conversations, Communication for Ministries of Social Justice, Preaching about Racism, Preaching and Storytelling, and Good News in Harry Potter.
Originally as a way of putting dense ideas from my PhD work into another format, this website is also a place where I post sermons from time to time and other reflections. Thanks for joining the conversation!
4 thoughts on “About”
You are an inspiration in so very many ways. Thank you for fully living this one life and sharing your many gifts to enrich others.
You are so kind! I’m grateful for your friendship—thank you for walking this journey with me! Sending you a big hug.
Hey there, Rev/Pastor/Professor/Dr/Lady Carolyn;
Last Sunday I was at a church I frequent whenever I’m in their town, and they annc’d “a bible study for white Christians”, which sounded ironic and even paradoxical. This church is multi-racial and multi-cultural, and maybe only 60% white.
When the annct was made, a young professional inter-racial couple looked at each other, their shoulders sagged as the breath went out of them. My take was that the formation of the group did not appear as Good News to them.
Like you, I have learned so much about racism from people of colour, from indigenous people, Hispanic, and black.
Why would they be excluded from the discussion about THEM?
An older black pastor from Americus GA once told me,
“Don’t have a discussion about helping coloured people without them participating.”
If the study group’s purpose is to make white people feel safe, why would they not feel safe? (I watched your video about anxiety & guilt). It get it in an all-white church, but..
I have encountered some folks of colour who are loud and strident and even angry (and helpful), but if what had happened to them had happened to me, I would take a figurative flamethrower to the institutions that tacitly approve of systemic injustice. I wonder if making an invite to the target audience, but without compromise, is the Christological response. A lot of people heard Christ call them, and call them out, and turned away. Yet I appreciate it is a balancing act between challenging and affirming the individuals in their discipling.
I also appreciate that I have heard a black Ivy League grad say, “I am tired the implied obligation to explain basic history and race sociology to white people as I if I have a responsibility to educate them, as if they can’t be bothered to learn it for themselves”. So here’s my question:
Q: Does “helping white people understand racism” exclude having people of colour in the group?
Thanks. Keep going, Rev. As the life and death of Christ demonstrates, we can’t go around the tangled mess, we have to go through it.
Great question! And no–helping white Christians does NOT mean excluding people of color from these conversations. My original intent was to “do my own work,” talking to other white people like myself, not expecting people of color to be the constant educators. But whenever I speak to groups, I have never spoke to an all-white audience, and the groups that study my book Anxious are typically interracial. I hope the impetus continues to be on white people learning about racism themselves, taking the risks and doing the hard work that such learning requires, while also opening themselves more fully to relationships with people of color. I hope whites can deepen their capacity to hear the difficult stories that come with this learning, and to continue this work over the long-haul. It’s not an easy fix. And we all need everyone working together to address this injustice.
Thanks for asking!
LikeLiked by 1 person