Book Review: Be the Bridge
I have been on a journey over the past year or so. I have been listening and learning from voices both similar and different from my own. One area that I have become increasingly aware of is the experiences of people of color and the many ways that injustice continues to hurt people in these communities. My eyes have been opened to the racism, oppression, and violence that are often their lived and very real experience of this world.
I have the privilege of being part of the launch team for Latasha Morrison’s new book, Be the Bridge which releases on October 15th, 2019. Latasha Morrison is an active Christian voice in the work of racial equality and justice. I consider it an honor to learn from her and be able to support her in this endeavor. She is committed to building bridges where many have built walls and developing communities with racial understanding and unity. I had a feeling that this book would be a perspective-shifting resource, and within the first few pages I knew my assumption was correct.
Be the Bridge: an overview
The book is divided into three sections. The first invites the reader to consider the place of lament in the Christian experience, specifically for ways that constructs of race have separated and destroyed us. Pointing to the psalms, Morrison discusses how sorrow is an opportunity to mindfully seek God and express our innermost turmoil. In the second section, Morrison speaks about the practices of confession and forgiveness. It is evident in her words that she has walked this road herself so her insight in these areas is meaningful, honest, and hard won. The topic of the third and final section is reconciliation. Reconciliation is possible according to Morrison, but it will take more than a simple acknowledging of wrongs committed. There must be repentance and restoration if true reconciliation is ever to occur.
Scattered throughout the book, Latasha masterfully weaves stories of people of color and the history of this country—without censoring painful truths. She keeps the book personal by relating her own experiences as a black woman. Questions for reflection and group discussion are found at the end of each chapter. It is evident that the heart of the book is bent towards facilitating conversations and community–making this book the perfect read for your book club or maybe a group of friends wanting to learn more about this subject. Each chapter closes with a prayer or a liturgy—these may honestly be my favorite parts of the whole book. They are written by various contributors and their words are deep, powerful, and convicting. There is a lament liturgy written by Latasha Morrison which basically undid me. I have returned to its words time and time again since I first read them. I read, I felt, and I wept. Lament is a good and holy thing. This book holds space for and encourages this practice–an essential if healing and reconciliation are to come from the ruins of racism.
What I learned
There are a few things that stood out to me as I was reading this book:
~Listening to others is vital, particularly those who have different experiences and perspectives including the voices of people of color and the marginalized
~Racism permeates throughout the landscape of our everyday existence in both overt and subtle ways, and we must settle for no less than its total eradication.
~ Christians ought to be setting the example in our communities around a better way of being in the world, but sadly this is rarely the case
As I continue to reflect on the things I read in this book, I keep coming back to this question: in what ways can I listen better to the experiences of others, how can I stand in solidarity with those who are suffering on the margins, and what would it look like to work towards a society that is anti-racist? I don’t have easy answers to these questions, but I am committed to exploring these questions even if they are personally uncomfortable. The way I respond to racism is a reflection of how much my life has been transformed by divine love and how seriously I take Jesus’ teachings about a way of living that brings heaven to earth.
This will not be the easiest book you’ve ever read, but I think it may be one of the most transformative. Latasha Morrison’s refusal to back away from truth telling, combined with her love for Jesus and the church, presents a compelling vision for how we can move towards healing the racial divide. In her own words, “If this book serves to highlight just one truth, I hope it’s that real beauty can come from the ashes of our country’s history with racism.” I heartily recommend Be the Bridge to you, and hope that you will consider purchasing it through your local bookstore or online. If you pre-order, there is some exclusive bonus content too!
May we all know that in this moment we are fully immersed in the loving presence of God and may this love drive us forward into this world with instruments of peace and overflowing grace working towards justice for all.