The world we live in right now is a result of what we believe and what we have inside of us. We each as human beings have a huge responsibility to bring change. But white people have a huge responsibility to end racism. And we need to get the heck up and take action.
And I get it. It’s hard to talk about race, racism and white privilege. It gets messy and awkward and there’s fear involved. But, white people, we have to do better. We have to be better. This needs to end now and it is our responsibility.
I’m so honored that I got to have a discussion with Latasha Morrison. Tasha is a bridge-builder, an author, a speaker, and a powerful voice in the fight for racial justice. She’s just an incredible woman. I was so nervous and so uncomfortable in the weeks leading up to this discussion but I pushed through. I had the conversation and it’s amazing. I’m so honored that this is a part of my show. I hope you’ll open up your eyes, hearts and ears to this woman and her work. Let’s dive in!
In This Episode Allie and Latasha Discuss:
The history of racism in the USA and around the world
Racial conditioning in America
The importance—and lack—of black history in American school systems
The importance of teaching yourself black history, the history of minority groups, and your own history
The cost of awakening to the truth of racial injustice
How to show up, learn and take action against racial injustice—how to be a better white person
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hey friends! I wanted to come on here and just talk with you for a couple minutes before we welcome today’s guest. I have a message that I want to give to you before you listen to this episode and it’s really important.
I believe that manifestation is real. Manifestation meaning that you have control over what comes into your life and what comes into our world.
I believe that we are made in the image of the ultimate and most powerful Creator: God. And He gave us some amount of His power because we are made in His image.
I don’t believe that human beings are helpless. I don’t believe that we have no power and that we are just slime on the ground. I believe that we are powerful beings and our thoughts are incredibly powerful. Our words can bring life or death.
I don’t believe that we don’t need a Savior, that we don’t need a Creator, that we don’t need God because that’s the other extreme of this belief system.
But I have seen too much in my own life, in every area of my life, to not believe that manifestation is real. I have seen in my own life with money that a lack mindset, that thoughts like:
“Money is hard to get.”
“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
“I’m not worthy of money.”
“I don’t know how to handle money.”
“I shouldn’t be wealthy.”
“It’s evil. It’s the root of all evil.”
These thoughts brought on more lack and sent my family careening into poverty.
I have seen the opposite happen with money when I stopped that and I started to speak life and create abundance and generosity in my mindset and myself. I got more of that in my life and that’s a manifestation.
I’ve seen this in my marriage. Negative thoughts about my husband led to more negativity in our relationship and me seeing proof that my negative thoughts about him were accurate. And that bred more negativity in our family, our home, our relationship, in my heart, around our kitchen table, just everywhere.
And when I stopped that and I chose to change those thoughts—to stop the negativity in its tracks, to stop letting it in the gate of my mind; To choose to think positively, to see the good, to see what Brian was doing was positive, helpful, good, and kind—I saw more of that. And so, that came into our home. Then there was love, positivity, kind words in our home and in our relationship. That’s manifestation.
This is biblical. It has also been proven scientifically. It is a fact. You get what you think, you get what you say. You get more in this world of what you have inside of you. We all do.
The world we live in right now is a result of what we believe, what we have inside of us.
So, we each as human beings have a huge responsibility for how we create our lives and how we create this world.
So, having said that, there are current things happening in the world—the way the world works and the events that are taking place—that are a result of many of us having an internal state of hate, bias, and racism. What is in each one of us is reflected out in the world. It is the hatred and evil in some people that has our world in such chaos.
I’ve seen it over and over again. When I change what is going on internally—inside of me—I receive more of that type of thing on the outside in my physical world.
If you understand that the world works this way, that it has been beautifully designed by God to function this way, where you get more of what you are, then you can see two things: (1) There is evil and sin in people because we are seeing it out in the world. We’re seeing it daily. (2) There is something that we can do to bring change. Yes, prayer. Yes, acts of kindness.
But something a lot of us don’t see, or forget, or don’t want to see, or don’t understand is doing internal work on yourself to manifest more good in this world.
I am always talking to people in my life about my problem with people just saying, “Oh, I’m going to pray about it. Oh, let’s just pray about it.”
Prayer is so powerful. It is our connection to God, the Creator of the universe. I believe prayer moves the needle forward. Prayer changes things. Absolutely. But prayer without action is not as powerful. It is just not. And we have to stop coating problems that are our own fault in statements like, “Oh, we just need to pray. It’s so sad. We just need to pray.”
We as white people are responsible to bring change, to end racism. And that is not something we just wrap the word “prayer” around. We need to get the heck up and take action.
If a lot of people are holding judgments, biases, and racism inside them—even without realizing it—that is going to be reflected into our outer world, in what we see happening.
There are things happening in the world right now that perpetuate white privilege. Whether you see it or not, whether you understand or not, whether you ignore it or not, it is there. It is there because it is inside some of us.
That’s a responsibility to do work inside ourselves and find where we have implicit bias, find where we have benefited from white privilege and to get upset about it. To mourn that. To have heavy realization.
When I realized these things that I have been learning that you’ll hear in this episode, I cried a lot for a lot of days. I was canceling things off my schedule. I was staying home. I was broken. And there is a period of mourning and sadness that I believe we need to go through in order to get to the place we need to be to make change happen.
It is hard to talk about race, racism, and white privilege. It gets messy and awkward and there’s fear involved. I’m always kind of terrified that I will say something wrong. And I have. And it’s okay because it is better to step out, spread love, and work for equality than to stay silent out of fear of how I might look to others.
Because you know what that is? That’s frigging selfish. And it’s more white privilege coming from me. More white privilege that we do not need in this world.
So, what I want you to know is that you and me—all of us—we have a responsibility to do the work inside ourselves. To name bias when we notice it. To stop pretending it away, shoving it down, or trying to back it up with evidence to make ourselves right. It’s ridiculous.
White people, we have to do better. We have to be better. We have to realize that people have died and are dying, are being persecuted. This needs to end now, and it is our responsibility.
Okay friends, it’s time to hear from today’s incredible guest, Tasha Morrison. I’m so honored that I got to speak with her. I’m going to tell you a little bit about her and we’re going to listen to our discussion.
Hello, beautiful friends. Oh my goodness! I am so relieved that this episode has been recorded, that the conversation has already taken place. I was so nervous and so uncomfortable in the weeks leading up to this discussion.
I have to just be honest and share that it would have been very easy to walk away. To back out. To go back into hiding and just decide that now that I know what I know and I’ve learned and been woke to all of this reality of racial injustice, I can just try to do better and make sure that my space is better and I’m not doing anything racist. And that’s it. Not lean into this uncomfortableness, pain, and this shock of what I now know.
I knew that I couldn’t do that. And doing so would be cowardly. It wouldn’t be what I was called to do. It wouldn’t be right. It would be only looking out for my own self and self-preservation. And I don’t want to live in that place anymore.
And so, I kept the interview. I pushed through. I had the conversation. I prayed so much before this and was just really open with my guest today that I just want to learn. And I told her, “I hardly want to talk. I want you to just take over and share. Please use my platform. I just want you to take over.” And it’s an amazing conversation. I’m so honored that this is a part of my work and this is on my show.
Our guest today is Tasha Morrison. Tasha is a bridge-builder, a reconciler. She is a powerful and compelling voice in the fight for racial justice.
In 2016 she founded Be The Bridge. Numerous organizations including Forbes and Christianity Today have recognized her and her work as leading in social justice. She is a leading social justice advocate. She’s also a very sought-after speaker. She’s an author. Her new book, Be The Bridge just released last month and it is so powerful. You’ll hear some thoughts that I have about the book, how it hit me, and when it hit me. It’s so hard you guys. So hard.
Tasha is incredible. She is such a trailblazer. She’s actually been selected for Ebony’s Power 100 as a Community Crusader. Also, she is one of five individuals, and the only one in North America, chosen for Facebook’s first Community Leader In Residence Program—which comes with a grant of up to $1 million to advance the work of her Be The Bridge project. You’re about to hear such an incredible woman.
She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s a native of North Carolina. She’s earned degrees in Human Development and Business Leadership. She’s just freaking incredible! And we are going to hear from her today!
Open up your hearts, your minds, and your ears to this incredible woman and her work! Thank you so much, Tasha, for being on the show! Enjoy the conversation guys.
ALLIE: Well, hi Tasha! Thank you so much for being here!
TASHA: Good. It’s great to be here with you!
ALLIE: I just want to dive right in and let you take this where you’re going to go. But, mostly for our listeners, I just wanted to say before we start that I am uncomfortable. I’m worried that I’ll say something wrong. Not to offend the white community—the women of privilege—but I’m afraid I’ll say something wrong for women of color and I don’t want to do that.
But, I am at a point where I have seen that my silence has been to protect how I look to others. it’s been out of self-preservation and it’s been prioritizing my comforts over the voice of equality for all people. I’m coming from a place of—I feel shame is the right word—of how long I’ve done that accidentally, and not realized that that’s what it was. I’m nervous, but I’m open and I’m ready to listen and learn from you. I appreciate that you are here to talk to us.
One perspective shift that has taken place in my life this last year is that the burden is on us. It’s on white people to learn and fix this. We cannot continue to run to women and men of color and ask them to, “Teach me, fix me, help me understand.” I feel like that’s putting the burden back where it doesn’t belong. To learn that and to understand that is something that has really, really woken me up. So, I’m super grateful to you for your generosity in the book you wrote and in what you do, and that you are helping people understand. I’m just so honored to talk to you.
TASHA: Thank you. I think one of the things you just said is this work starts with you internally first. I say this all the time: you can’t take people—other people—where you’re not willing to go yourself. And some people want the diversity, they want to have the optics of that, but [they’re] not really doing the hard, personal work. I can really tell when I’m having conversation with people, when I’m interacting with organizations and churches who really wants the optics and who really wants heart transformation. And so, I think that’s really important—that starting with yourself and really seeing, “I’ve chosen self-preservation.”
When we think about history—our history as a country, where the institution of slavery could exist for over 240-something years, and then another hundred years of Jim Crow. When we look at the injustices now as it relates to mass incarceration and all the things that we have with geographical injustices, the school-to-prison pipeline, the injustices that we have in our school system and health system—all these things. When we look at those things, those things stem from somewhere. But for many years, decades and centuries, these things have been ignored. And it’s because of fear.
Sometimes people recognize that these things are wrong and there’s two things: (1) I don’t know what to do about it, so I choose to do nothing. I’m paralyzed because I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to begin. It’s too complex, and what can I do to help? (2) I didn’t do it so, I’m just going to make sure that my life is okay and that I’m not perpetuating the problem. But if we’re not speaking out about the problem, we are also perpetuating the problem.
It’s not enough to just be non-racist; we have to be anti-racist in this work. Anti-racist means to use your voice, to educate yourself, to learn what is broken. I think one of the things that you said is, “I’m coming from a place of shame,” and throughout our culture we’re taught that shame is a bad thing. And shame is because there’s no condemnation. In our Scripture it says, “There’s no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.” But when we think about that alone, there’s this process of shame and guilt. What has happened in our country is that the shame and the guilt of our past has caused us to create lies. Lies that are very hurtful and harmful. And they continue to harm generations of people and to perpetuate and harm this next generation because they’re not told the truth.
And we know that everything—bridge-building and reconciliation—has to have a foundation of truth. We know how important truth is. Think about that as it relates to your relationships, your marriage, your family, your relationship with your best friend, your parents, your husband, your children. Imagine if truth wasn’t the foundation in those relationships. How chaotic that would be. And so, when we think about that as it relates to the history of our country. When we take people who have done atrocities, I mean horrible things, and we put them on pedestals and we create systems and bridges and all these things named after that person. Imagine what it does to the community that had received harm from that.
I think it’s just taking an honest look. It doesn’t mean that you erase any of that history, but you tell the truth about the whole history of a person, a group, a city, anything like that. I think that’s one of the things that this work has to start in: truth.
As we start in truth, I think there’s a freeing in the shame and the guilt. I think a lot of times why we feel the shame and the guilt is because we have embraced and we are a part of a conditioned set of lies that we’ve ingested. We’ve been conditioned into this racialized society and that’s the thing that gives us this burden of shame. What we talk about in Be The Bridge, and I kind of talk about this in the book, is for us to have this collective shame that leads us toward justice and restoration.
I’ll give an example. I’m German. When you talk about their history, when you think about the Holocaust. The Holocaust spanned for about a period of 10 years. You think about the institution of slavery over centuries. But Germany tells the truth about their history because they don’t want to repeat it. The Nazi flag is outlawed in Germany. You have monuments that were built to honor Jewish families that perished in the Holocaust. That ideology is looked down upon in Germany. There’s not a place that you can go in Germany where there’s not some type of remembrance and dedication. The concentration camps are there to say, “Never again. No more.”
We can look at the Genocide in Rwanda the same way. They don’t want to forget it because they don’t want to repeat it. They teach it to their kids in school so that they can teach against tribalism. They set up systems to teach against tribalism. So, they set up structures and all these things that sometimes, even in our cultural lens, we don’t understand because we’re coming from a different culture. And the same thing with Germany. There’s things that they outlaw and things that they do in how they set up their government to prevent these types of things from happening again.
You have to work towards it. Every country that has done harm to their indigenous community or that has an ugly past like Australia, South Africa, Canada.
There’s so many other countries that also have ugly history like ours, but they’ve all named it, owned it and have done some truth-telling around it. [They’ve] set up truth and reconciliation councils. Every last one of those countries I’ve just named has done that, but America. And we’re the ones that proclaim that we’re a Christian nation.
To say that we think of ourselves that way when we have the history that we have—that’s another lie that we’ve ingested. We have to say, “What kind of country that has our history—what kind of Christianity is that?” I’m just being honest. This is like truth-telling, and this is so uncomfortable.
In this work, Allie, you will be uncomfortable. It’s very complex. It’s layers. You don’t undo all of this in one year, one week, one day. But you know what? It only takes one day to start and you’ve done that. That’s the deep process: just starting. You know?
ALLIE: Yeah. Something that you said, too, just talking about other countries and what’s been done and you talk about this a lot in the Be The Bridge book, and I had feelings like you shared that you had feelings. I don’t think you were in college yet; I don’t remember. But you went to a class about history and you were like, “I didn’t know anything about my people.”
And what’s led me to this process—to learning, opening up, and figuring this all out—is I had a very embarrassing realization in homeschooling my children. I realized I was never taught about black history before slavery. And that’s awful.
I went to a private Christian school and there’s a lot there that led me to see why I don’t know what I don’t know. But I was having a conversation with my mom and she was saying, “I’m so offended, upset, embarrassed, and shamed that we really thought we were doing the best for you kids by putting everything that we had in sending you to that school.” Basically, she was like, “They didn’t teach you anything.” To this day, we celebrate Christopher Columbus and I didn’t know until homeschooling my kid—and I’m 32—that he was kind of the worst.
TASHA: His country doesn’t even celebrate him. And we have squares, bridges and schools, colleges, cities, and all this stuff. It shows you how a lie can take hold. If we look at that over any history, we can see how that can perpetuate such a major institution of oppression when you start from this foundation of lies.
Most of my friends grew up in private school, but also in public schools it depends on where you went to school in the country—who your teacher was. You can go to school without even having a person of color as a teacher.
Doing a lot of history research before desegregation in the South, there were over 80,000 teachers in the South. After desegregation, half of those teachers were fired or humiliated. All the black teachers were. Because that was really the only profession that you could go into, especially as a female, because schools were segregated. So, you had to have people to teach black kids like my grandparents, my father, and all of that. I’m only one generation removed from segregation. My father went to a segregated high school.
And so, this is like not history that’s so far away. You know what I’m saying? This is history. This is recent history. Ruby Bridges is only in her sixties. She’s younger than most of the people that’s running for President. You know what I’m saying? She’s younger than our President. We have to realize that this is not something that happened centuries ago. It’s just been a few decades.
I think that’s the thing. You own it. What kind of history did I learn? We have to supplement. We have to buy books. You have to buy books that are written by people of color. I always give people a challenge: if you buy 10 books a year—a lot of people know I buy 10 books a year, if not more sometimes just because of what I do—let six of those be from people of color. If you only buy five books a year, let three of those be from authors of color. Really begin to diversify what you’re ingesting and who you’re learning from and you will see that it will broaden your perspective and your experiences because we had different life experiences.
Me growing up in North Carolina is different from my best friend who grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. Some of the things she had to deal with wasn’t my story, but I don’t deny her story because it wasn’t my experience. I understand that we have different lived experiences. So, that’s important.
I think it’s really good that you’re digging in. And as we talk about the book, when I went to college and started learning about history, I remember being embarrassed when they would talk about it because the only way they referred to African Americans or black people was slavery. But not really understanding how it happened, what was happening in Africa before that, all of these different things. And so, there’s this shame as an African American that you carry, not understanding why your people have endured.
But when you start thinking about it you’re like, “Man, I’m a survivor. I am here because someone survived the slave trade. Someone survived going across the Atlantic. Someone survived slavery for generations, for 240 years. One of my ancestors survived that. They survived reconstruction and the racial terror in the South. They survived civil rights, all these different things.” So, I now am looking at myself different, like, “Oh my God, I come from brilliance. I come from courage. I come from strength. I’ve come from the lies and narratives that have been told. There was a reason why Africans were chosen: because they were brilliant.” And so, just understanding that.
And then, also for me, understanding the history of other minority groups, and our country is important, too. Understanding what Natives, the indigenous community, here has gone through. Understanding the Asian American story. All those things are things that were not taught to me in school. That is important that I learned. I had this skewed view of Native Americans and I had to learn that. You learn about the Trail Of Tears, but you don’t realize the person that initiated that is on our money and we celebrate that person. I can’t imagine what that does to Native Americans who have lost whole tribes and languages due to genocide, you know?
And so, it’s important for us to know. I hope you now are making that right by making sure that you teach your children the right history, the right way. There are so many books out there. I know so many people that are writing stuff and doing movies that really tell the truth. And it’s freeing. That’s the thing that unites us. That’s the thing that makes us one. That’s where we have solidarity. We want racial harmony without racial justice. And in order to have racial harmony, you’ve got to do justice. And justice begins with truth.
ALLIE: I was sharing with my husband this morning preparing for this interview and talking about this with him that it’s no disrespect. I am so grateful for the men and women that have died for our freedom. But you understand what I’m saying? It’s like a realization of, “Oh my God, what has been done here? Who’s on our money. Who is on the mountain? Who is this street named after? What is happening?” It’s just a sadness. It’s a deep sorrow. And like you talk about in the book with the awareness, I’m just noticing it everywhere.
TASHA: And you can’t close your eyes to it. You’re seeing everything and it’s overwhelming because you cannot unsee. Once you know, you cannot unsee. So, now it’s like, “How do I function in this new reality without becoming bitter, cynical, resentful, and wanting to be critical of everything?” You know what I’m saying? And I think we have to practice truth-telling. We have to practice what love looks like in action.
And so, using your platform to speak truth and to lead your community in a new way because there are some people—and this is the thing you have to realize—there are some people that I’m going to have conversations with that are going to hear this and are going to be awakened to a truth. And they’re going to make better decisions because they’re going to say, “You know what? I want to learn more. I want to really listen more. I want to engage in this.” And there are some people that it’s going to go in one ear and out the other because how their ideology is instructing them is not going to allow them to accept this as true.
My thing is, I can’t worry about those people. I can not worry about people who are not willing to engage. I am not trying to convince someone that racism exists. That’s not what Be The Bridge is about. Be The Bridge is for people who see that there is brokenness, that see that there’s racial disunity, that see that there’s racial injustice, and they want to be a part of the solution. They want to know, “What’s next? What do I do? How do I sign up?” Those are the people. That’s what Be The Bridge is about. It’s not about convincing.
That’s what I would say for you, too. You can’t transform someone’s heart, but you can be a catalyst for people who want to hear truth, embrace truth, and know the truth. That’s what you can do.
You’ll lose people. This work costs you. I know people who have lost missionary funding because they said, “Black lives matter.” Simple as that. I know people whose church has asked them to leave because they wanted to have this conversation. I know people who are going through in their places of work because they are challenging some of the policies and stuff that are there. This work really costs people.
When you think about it historically, it cost a lot of civil rights leaders their lives. I remember having this conversation with my grandmother in 2015 and 2016 when I really started having these conversations on more of a public stage. I remember my grandmother saying, “Oh, I don’t want you talking about that. I don’t want you to talk about that.” It’s a lot of stuff that our parents—because of racial trauma and PTSD—that they had not talked about the trauma that they experienced as children. But she didn’t want me to because everyone she knew that were instrumental and a part of the work for the freedoms for people of color in this country, she knew that they died. Or because of trauma that they’ve experienced maybe their life took the chaotic turn. I remember that. I remember she didn’t want Obama to get elected because she was afraid someone would assassinate him.
I remember these conversations with her, the fear that she lived in—that if her granddaughter talks about this people are not going to like her, and this could bring harm to her. That’s the fear that a lot of people live in. But you look at intention and impact. If everybody had that fear and did nothing, we will be looking at a different world.
ALLIE: One of the people that you wrote about in the Be The Bridge book is Becca. She’s a friend of yours now, but she initially came to a Be The Bridge group. I identified with her because her story is the same as mine: private school, very white area. One time there was a black student that was added to our high school and he was the only one, and so, it was like that. And I live in California, which is a pretty diverse state and I love it here, but it was like that when I was growing up. Then I went on to go to my first year at Cal Baptist University which was, like Becca’s college, also mostly white.
I thought I was doing pretty good ‘cause my dad was a Cuban immigrant and I was told all these stories about freedom and “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” and fighting. And you’ve mentioned this, too, on other podcasts episodes that I’ve listened to. You talk about how some people think, “I didn’t do anything. I was poor. I’ve struggled too. I’m not privileged.” But they’re misunderstanding that they are because they have a leg up because of the way they look and because of the way society works.
And so, because most of the listeners I know from the community are white I really wanted to shine a light on Becca and her story. And my background being the same, I want to hear from you. Can you talk about what someone like me, someone like Becca, needs to realize or go through first to get into a place of awareness and of being more in a state of mind like God intended for us all to be in. Because racism is not us. It shouldn’t be assumed or natural. It’s not automatic. It shouldn’t be like, “This is just the way it is and we have to work against it.” It shouldn’t be like this.
TASHA: Right. It doesn’t have to be like this. We can do better and we can be better. And that’s the thing that we have to realize is that there were choices in all of our history. There were people who were against slavery. There were always outliers. It’s not millions of people that changed the world. It’s always a committed few that change the world, and we have to realize that.
When I think about Becca and her awareness—her awareness came by at least beginning to engage the conversation. Being willing to sit in discomfort in a room with people of color and being able to listen and garner a different perspective. And I think when I talk to your listeners, I think that’s the same thing. You have to put yourself in a place where there are difficult conversations going on, not people who agree with you.
People of color are not monolithic. We are all different. Just because you have a conversation with one person of color does not mean you are having a conversation with all people of color.
Then you have to realize it depends on how a person of color looks and how society has socialized them, or how they’ve been socialized. How they have grown up culturally, how society views them. If you’re lighter in this country and you can pass. We had so many people who immigrated here and all they had to do was just change their last name. All they had to do was just change their accent, lose their accent, make sure that their children didn’t learn their language, their customs, or their culture to fit into what they call the American Melting Pot. That took away God given culture and difference to become a part of a society; to be accepted so that they were not the target of racial terror.
There were so many people that did that. When you look at what we have now, we have generations of people who have descendants that are from various cultures, but they don’t know any of that culture that’s a part of their DNA.
I think it’s important for people like yourself and Becca—what was instrumental was her hearing the stories of various people of color and our life experiences. Her doing life. Becca leaned into the conversation. She was one of those people who started inviting me over to lunch and not just coming over for me to go over there, but she came over to my house. We watched movies. I ended up keeping Becca’s kids. She was in an emergency situation one time and I ended up staying with her children and helping out. She organized my Going Away Party from Austin. There was this lived experience. We went to the mall together. We went out to eat together. We did a lot. She became my friend.
And it wasn’t something that was superficial. It’s a real thing. I learned about her. We talked about life and various things. It wasn’t always about race. But you get to know the person. And so, putting yourselves in places like that. But also being mindful that right now a lot of people of color are self-segregating because we have been harmed in a lot of white spaces, so we’re choosing not to go into white spaces.
If we’re going to build bridges now, we have to build bridges in a sense where you’re building bridges into spaces of color. Like taking yourself out of your comfort zone and going into [theirs]. Instead of inviting someone else to your home and getting to know someone, maybe visiting their home. Going to a different event. Going to maybe a Latino church service. Going to visit some of the reservations.
I’m learning a lot. Next summer I’m taking a Be The Bridge group to visit reservations to do a learning exchange to really learn from our indigenous community. So much has been lost because of how we have ridiculed and wiped out a lot of their culture. And I think it’s important that we do that making sure that when you show up in these spaces that you show up with humility, that you show up to listen, to learn, and not to change, to criticize, ridicule and say, “Why do you do it this way?”
Because what happens is when you start understanding how supremacy works—especially how white supremacy works—you start understanding how the system [works]. When you show up, you take your cultural norm. Just like we can have American exceptionalism. And so, I can go over to Africa or to a Latin country or just a different country—Japan—and look down on the way they do things because of how I have been conditioned as an American. But realizing that their culture is their culture. All of us have good and bad things in our culture, but it’s not my responsibility to say because someone eats with chopsticks or someone sits on the floor when they’re eating, “This is weird.’ It’s just different.
People can come to here and look at the crime that we have, the gun violence that we have, and say, “That’s a crazy culture that y’all embrace and you won’t do anything about it.” I mean, that looks crazy to people in other countries. We have just as much cray-cray as anyone. I think that’s important: how you show up. You show up with a posture of humility.
I was talking to a pastor friend and he told me, he said, “I have these different people coming to my church.” He’s an African American pastor. He said that one of his white members said, “Why do y’all have to celebrate Black History?” First of all, we kind of “other people” with our prefixes: “why do y’all.” You are separating yourself when you do that.
“Why do y’all celebrate black history?” Um, you go to a black church for one thing. The audacity to come into a space that was only built because we were not allowed to worship in white churches, we were not allowed to go to white schools, not even to be buried in a white cemetery. You know what I’m saying? Not shop in the same stores. Go to the same movie theaters. All these things. We lived in a segregated society, so we had to create our own. And so, to come into that historical space that has been one of joy, justice, lament, and hope, and to say, “Why do you celebrate black history month? The audacity…think about that.
And so, it’s very important as we integrate and as we want diversity and inclusion in our lives that we’re showing up with humility and to listen and to learn. And that’s an opportunity to learn for that person. It’s great that they’re going to that church, but sometimes people want a church that assimilates to their cultural norms, you know? And they don’t want to be uncomfortable. So, something about black history month makes them uncomfortable. But just think about the spaces that we’re in every day that make me uncomfortable, but I do it.
I was just at an event where it was probably a handful of people of color there. It was in this very white bar at what you call Texas Hoe Downs, going to country music concerts. If I can do that, you’re going to tell me you can’t enjoy black history month?
Also, realizing that we shouldn’t even have to have a black history month. I’m glad that we have it because without it there would be no awareness. But black history is a part of American history. It should be integrated, but it’s not. And so, that’s why we have it.
ALLIE: It’s been excluded from history, so we have to have a special, “Oh this month we talk about it…”
TASHA: On purpose. On purpose it’s been excluded.
Think of the movies that we’re making now that people had no idea about the history behind it. The movie, Hidden Figures, how it was intentionally left out that a black woman helped us go to space. You know what I’m saying? Think about the medical breakthroughs where people of color were left out. Inventions were left out. All kinds of things.
I would say to anyone that’s listening, you show up like Becca with humility, and be willing to listen. Becca is where she is now because her willingness to listen, to bring love and action, and to teach her kids a different life.
ALLIE: Yeah, that’s great. Okay, so having said that, what are the action steps for someone listening that’s getting to that place? My son plays baseball and before the game they always warm up and I am always reading during that time. I opened your book and there were stories that I had never heard. I had to put my big sunglasses on because I had tears coming out. I was like, “Oh my God.” It was just this realization.
Then the moms behind me are talking about their self-tanning regimen and I’m just sitting there like, “Everything is pointless. Why am I here?” Just that “boom.” So, when you realize and you have that feeling, it’s overwhelming and it was very tempting and easy for me to almost be like you said in the beginning, “I’ll just make sure that I’m better and that’s it.” But I knew God was pushing me, “No. Go further. Go deeper. Keep going. Get more uncomfortable.” It’s like poking at a cavity, go deeper. Get into that pain and find out why and what we can keep doing.
So, for the listeners, you mentioned being intentional about creating a more diverse world that you’re already living—like with reading books and things like that. Any other action steps that come to mind for them?
TASHA: Yes. Social media. Start following people that are not like you, that don’t think like you, that are not in your circle. I do that all the time. I was really trying to learn more about our indigenous community and I want to hear it from them. I don’t want people telling me what they think. I want to hear it from the leaders in that community. The same thing with the Asian community. There’s so much that I’m learning from my friends and from people I’m following on social media and books that I’m reading. The same thing with the Latin community. Just engaging with leaders and just following people on social media. That’s one way.
The other way is to start with your groups. Sometimes we can become real cynical and we can start looking down on our friends, “Look at them celebrating the 4th of July, they don’t even know the truth.” We could start doing that, but really realizing that you were once there and you didn’t know, you were ignorant, and maybe starting some conversations. When a movie comes out that you know has a historical context, like “Harriet” is coming out. Have a discussion about it. Go see it with your friends. Encourage your friends to go. Take the book—my book specifically—and do a book club around it. And really talk about that. Look for other books. There are so many great books that have taught me. Do book clubs with those books.
For Thanksgiving, if you’re having people over, mix it up. Do some culturally different dishes. And find out about the history and the story behind the food.
Take your kids to some different restaurants. I went to an Ethiopian restaurant to try some different food. As you do that, learn about the culture of Ethiopia. It’s not always this standpoint where it’s like we’ve learned about certain countries because it’s our way of helping them in this power dynamic.
Shift the power dynamic. Some of the oldest Christians, some of the oldest churches are from Ethiopia. Talking about that history, I think, is really important.
You said your father is Cuban. Find out more about Cuba. Find out more about Cuban cuisine, dance, culture, the narrative, the history, and all these different things. Cuba has, like Brazil and so many other countries, this divided history as it relates to slavery, Afro Cubans, Afro Brazilians, Afro Mexicans, and all these different things.
Find out about that history and the divide as it relates to your own history—whether it be Irish or Croatian. A friend of mine just found out that her grandfather is Croatian, but she doesn’t know anything about that history. Really start reclaiming some of your own history and identity because these social constructs of race that we’ve been racialized into, they are real. They have real impact and effect with them. But there are political constraints that are not real. You know what I’m saying?
It’s like there’s only black because whiteness was created. And whiteness was created as a hierarchy in order to rule and to have control. And so, there’s different groups that come to our country if they are able to pass. If they’re able—at a certain point—to add to the numbers. Like Irish people, they weren’t white at first. Italians were not white at first. They weren’t a part of the European elite at that time. But over the years when you start looking at the census, they became white. You have to look at that history—how certain groups have become white—and start reclaiming your own personal history. I think that’s freeing.
I think those are some things to do. Know your history. Teach your history to your kids. Follow people who are not like you, who don’t think like you. Start conversations. Start book clubs. See movies. Educate yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen. And this is the thing that gives me hope.
People say, “Well, all this stuff happening, how do you have hope?” I feel like I’ve inherited it. You can have lament in hope. You can have joy in hope. You can have joy in justice. You can seek justice and still have joy, you know? And I think that’s something from the African American community that people can learn. We had to survive. And even surviving, we survive with a faith. We survive with joy. We also survive with trauma and the impact from stuff—the first people that set foot on the soils of this country as slaves, the endurance and all of that. And when you look at African American culture now, how we’ve attributed to the world as it relates to music, blues, gospel. We were stripped of culture and language and we built new culture and language. That’s something to be celebrated.
I would also say look at things in your history that can be celebrated and to own that. Learn from other white people who are doing the work of deconstructing—what it means to be white in America, and how do you use that for good.
ALLIE: That’s amazing. Thank you so much. Thank you for talking to me.
TASHA: I know, it’s so much to cover in just an hour.
ALLIE: It is. It is so good.
Thank you for spurring us on in this conversation and for your graciousness.
TASHA: Yes, yes. It was good. I love talking about this. I’m really passionate about it. This is the hope that I have, is in people who become aware and they want to move toward the work of reconciliation. To do the work of justice. To make things right. That all are flourishing; not just a few, but everyone flourishes. And that takes a different ideology for everyone to flourish.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely.
Friend, I need you to stop. You’re about to push pause on this episode because it’s over. I want you to do your part. I am calling you into this action. Take a screenshot now of your phone of however you’re listening. Share it on social media. Tag me. Tag Be The Bridge. Spread this awareness. Do your part. Do not let this minute go by without you taking one small step forward.
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