A Balanced Approach to Dismantling Racism

Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

Pastor calls people to follow Jesus’ example in anti-racism peacemaking

Osheta Moore is a writer, pastor, speaker, and podcaster in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She will be one of the keynote speakers at MEDA’s annual convention in Atlanta, Georgia in November. The following is an excerpt from her book: dear white peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace.

I’ve spent the last decade calling in the peacemakers to view their peacemaking in light of the Hebraic concept of shalom.

I define it as God’s dream for the world as it should be, nothing missing, nothing broken, everything made whole. Because shalom is God’s dream and God is love, our shalom practices must be rooted in love.

Therefore, I’ve invited peacemakers to resist peacekeeping that is rooted in anxiety and to choose peacemaking out of a posture of love. When love enters the equation, everything changes. We begin to ask ourselves what we’re for instead of what we’re against.

We stop seeing other people as enemies. We let empathy tenderize our hearts. Our skin gets clearer, our hair gets shinier, and the Nobel Peace Prize committee comes knocking at our door. Okay, well maybe not those last three — I’m still waiting on all that.

But from my experience, if I do not have love, if it’s not the foundation on which I build my peacemaking practice, then I’m in grave danger.

This book you’re holding in your hands is incredibly personal; I wrote it from my core conviction that peacemaking is partnering with God to create shalom and that the greatest calling for peacemakers in this moment is to practice anti-racism.

I am anti-racist because I want to actively dismantle ideas, thoughts, beliefs and actions that say White people are superior to people of color and our ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions. This belief is called white supremacy, and it’s dangerous not just to me, but to you as well, White Peacemaker.

I am a peacemaker because I want to embody these three paradigm-shifting teachings from Jesus:

  1. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Peacemaking requires me to be my full, whole self. Shalom
is God’s dream for me to be transformed by his love so that all aspects of myself, even myself in this Brown body, can flourish.

My thoughts, my heart, my experiences, my perspective as a Black woman can be used to proclaim the love of God, but first peace and the making of it begins within. It begins with me dismantling any internalized racism — the sense that I am not good enough because I am not White.

It begins with me looking at myself in the mirror as a Black woman and saying, “God did not make a mistake when he made you Black. Your Blackness is a gift from a God who loves you and desires to reveal more of himself to the world through you.”

2. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 39)

My core dignity as a human is restored first by fully loving myself because God loved us first, and then from that overflow being able to truly, wholeheartedly love you, my White neighbor. This is why I’ve decided to treat you, White Peacemaker, just as Beloved as I treat myself.

I want to create an environment where we can make peace together. This common bond of unity based on our love makes our peacemaking spectacular because we are becoming the Beloved Community in this world so influenced by white supremacy that our cross-cultural relationships are often expected to be dotted with vitriol and mistrust.

3. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28)

This third way of approaching an enemy, someone who is just beyond my empathy, is a way that rejects passivity and violence. It requires courage to maintain my dignity and call it out in someone whom I want to humiliate.

When White people do something that enacts harm on me and reveals how influenced by white supremacy they are, I will choose to love them. Love will look like addressing their actions, holding them accountable, and expecting change.

Love may also look like praying for them, encouraging them to do better, and setting healthy boundaries while they are still in-process around race and justice. Peace and the making of of the interpersonal and systemic effects of white supremacy through non- violence and empathy. It’s a way of doing this work that holds in tension systemic change and relational unity — grit and grace.

“As a person devoted to understanding why Jesus was so obsessed with the kingdom of God, it only makes sense that I would want to find some way to map kingdom ethics onto our current call to become anti-racists.”

I lean into Angela Duckworth’s work that describes grit as “passion and perseverance for very long- term goals.” Grace is both a posture and a promise to seek to understand and choose to love — even if it is costly.

We’ll talk more about how this third-way approach is necessary and how the current anti-racism frameworks don’t always make room for this tension.

This book is an invitation to approach your anti-racism work in a way that follows Jesus, Prince of Peace, man acquainted with sorrows, flipper of tables, and King of kings, who overcame sin and death on the cross not
by power-over dominion but by power-under love.

dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace by Osheta Moore.
dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace by Osheta Moore.

As a person devoted to understanding why Jesus was so obsessed with the kingdom of God, it only makes sense that I would want to find some way to map kingdom ethics onto our current call to become anti-racists.

Jesus lived, taught and modeled the way of his kingdom. He began his ministry proclaiming, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).

This was good news indeed — the peacemaking kingdom had come and Jesus was preparing to teach us how to live its countercultural ways.

Excerpted from dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace by Osheta Moore. ©2021 Herald Press. Used with permission. www.heraldpress.com.

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