In the wake of so many race-related tragedies in America, many of us are suddenly aware that there’s so much we don’t know. Race educator and returning Grit ‘n’ Grace guest, Dr. Lucretia Berry, explains the importance of knowing the history of race so that we can face today’s problems and build a better future. Listen in today to hear how to talk to your family and community in ways that create solutions.
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- Dr. Berry’s book — What Lies Between Us Journal & Guide: Fostering First Steps Toward Racial Healing
- Dr. Berry’s first Grit ‘n’ Grace Interview — “Bringing Grace Solutions to the Problem of Race” Part 1 & Part 2
- Brownicity membership site — https://brownicity.com
- Dr. Berry’s TED Talk — “Children will light up the world if we don’t keep them in the dark”
- Episode #201 Transcript — coming soon!
- How did you feel after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, and George Floyd?
- What have you learned since then about race in America that you didn’t know before?
- How has that new knowledge helped you to have better conversations about race with your family and community?
Featured Author — Dr. Lucretia Berry
Dr. Lucretia Berry is the author of What LIES Between Us: Fostering First Steps Towards Racial Healing, the creator of Brownicity.com, a contributor for (In)courage.me, and a TED and Q Ideas speaker (Charlotte).
Transcript — scroll to read here (or download above)
Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules
Episode #201: What You Learn About Race Today Can Help Tomorrow
Note: This is a machine-generated transcript that is only about 60-70% accurate.
Okay, so, Lucretia, I cannot believe it. But it has been two years since we had you on the show. Last. Thank you for coming back.
Well, first of all, well, you’re welcome. Thank you for having me back. And yeah, I would not have if you didn’t say it was two years ago, I would have thought Oh, that was just maybe last year. I know already been.
Well, it’s been a crazy two years. So uh, tell us, fill us in, catch us up what has happened with you and brown city in the last two years?
Well, I don’t think I can remember two years back, but I will say
in the fall, we actually launched our membership site, and I wanted to create Create, like, a space, like my classroom, right? So I am a part time teacher. And I have a classroom and I wanted to create a space like that for people who want to come learn. So I call it a psychologically safe space, to bravely learn, right to bravely learn. And because I am an educator, I think by design and profession, it matters, how the Learning Environment Matters. And so I wanted to create something that is curated as if you know you’re sitting maybe at my table and having a conversation because so much of my work has come from that, like people were motivated by kind of one on one conversations they were having with me and they said, okay, you should do something with this more publicly, like please create something and teach us and so as you know, yeah, I’ve been teaching I have already been teaching, you know, face to face, like in a classroom in a school but also in churches. And then last year just felt the need to be accessible to people beyond me geographically, and so created this membership site. So that also is attracting people who really want to learn not just like the social media, looky loos are getting checked out or let me troll you because I don’t have enough education to understand what you’re actually talking about. And actually after having, you know, kind of getting beat up by a few trolls Yeah, I’m like, Yeah, I because the trolls don’t just affect me. Like, I know why they are misunderstanding and bullying. Like, I know what that’s about. But for people who are watching, you know, publicly watching me or watching brown city be trolled. They it may it creates fear and those people so then they don’t want to maybe fully step into a learning journey. So I created the membership site. And I’m so glad I did. We kind of had initially a slow trickle, but then with COVID Mm hmm. And you can’t meet in person publicly, then we were that we already had this in place. And then with the emphasis on racial justice that has occurred, unfortunately, due to the death of George Floyd, then we get we already had this cultivated space that people came running to. So now we have a large membership and a lot of people taking courses and we offer foundational courses. And then we continue to, like if I can come up for air, like I have a whole list of courses to record and get and get in there to help continue to build people’s capacity to be a part of the transformation that they know is possible.
Well, it’s just been such a pleasure for me to watch the growth of brand se to Z, God’s hands And how he prepared you for this digital time. And then to watch it explode because I know I’ve benefited so much from your ministry and I’m just so excited to see others. And I totally agree with you that it was such a great move to, you know, have people make an investment in it because we, we really, when we have to make a little bit of a financial investment. That’s right. And we’re really personally and psychologically invested to so well done so excited to see all of that.
And what’s the name of your of your membership site?
Yeah, it’s just brown this city so if you go to Brown, this city calm, there’s a link that says sign in or you can go to learn and it’s, you know, you can, that’s one of the ways to access the membership site. So just go to brown city Comm.
Great, we’ll be sure to put the link in the show notes for all of our listeners, and I’ll just throw in my agreement. There is there is nothing like a a membership site to make sure that I mean that whole idea of having a safe psychologically safe space. And then those who are in together have a common growth goal, they tend to get a lot of people that are growth have a growth mindset. And that’s really important to be and feel like you’re with peers who are at least somewhat like minded
So, like you, I can’t remember what two years ago was like, but I do know that for me. You know, you, you were the first person to introduce me to so many concepts that I’m now embarrassed. I’m like, how did I How did I make it to just over 50 not knowing so many of these things. And you so generously said that some of us are, you know, kind of like in kindergarten, and some are more like an elementary in high school, and some are more in college when it comes to this conversation. What I realized was like, I was barely born. Like I was so in diapers when we first talked, and I’m not sure I’ve made a whole lot of progress, but I’m just I’m so grateful that you gave me the introduction you did. And I feel like I have a working vocabulary that I didn’t have before and I feel like I do less harm. There’s like, that’s, that’s a big place like I can, I can think to myself, Oh, I want to put this on Facebook. No, that would be performative. And I understand what that means and why I need to pray it through and check something through Amy, for examples. So that’s been I feel like I’ve made progress. And I am, I am increasingly aware of how much more progress I have to make. So how would you describe what’s the same from I won’t say two years ago, I’ll just say what you feel is the same as far as the last time we talked, and then what would you say has changed?
Well, I would say that this the type of kind of basic understanding foundational understanding and an educational approach is still needed. I had a person say to me well, because of course this person would be in graduate school, you know it on the spectrum, who said, I don’t think we were at that point where we need that anymore and I know That we still that’s not the case like we still do. And you know, what is evident in that is, you know, when we offered our first virtual, what lies between us, I mean, we had over 2300 households enroll, like within two weeks and that and a household was just, you know, multiple people watching at the same time. So that you know, spoke to like people still, you know, need the, we still have a large population that needs the you know, the kindergarten class or the introductory class and are happy to be serving there, although I am not in kindergarten, I do have a heart for for the beginner. And so I see that is still the same, I looked through the study guide and to see Okay, is there are other ideas, approaches, concepts, language that I need to update, and, nope. Sadly, you know, I wrote the original version in 2016. And still the same Same, those stickers still needed. But what is maybe change is, of course, the amount of people who now are needing in who actually are open to inquiry, you know, asking a question or looking at things through a different lens now that that for me, in my lifetime, that’s unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like this, where, you know, even around the world because see through this membership site, we have students in other countries and on other continent, which is, you know, I’m like in all Wow. But I’ve just never seen a response that way or so many people moving forward or attempting to move forward all at once.
Well, that really brings us well to the next question, because definitely there feels like a shift and I’ve been asking some of my friends scarin might marry our mutual friend, you know, that are in this with me that have been helping me. Like do you think this is different? And do you think this is different? I mean, some people are talking about the events kind of post a mod arbory Brianna Taylor, George Floyd as a tipping point. Do you see it that way? How would you describe it?
I think what it feels like to me is the it’s a it’s definitely a movement like it’s forward taking a forward step like we definitely are moving forward in you know, in this love and justice, but it’s the beginning. So I don’t want people to think like, okay, we did this thing, Okay, I’m done, or, or we did this thing, okay, we completed a step. Like No, it’s, yes, we have this momentum, but it is just that it’s the beginning. And so even the work before this Was primer, you know, that was the primer. And now we’re just at the beginning of like the next. Like, if you if you have to use a gardening analogy, so we have the seed, and there’s all this work that the, that the soil does to the seed while the seed is still underground, you know, so then the seed is in prepared to kind of pick up, you know, above the, the soil level or the ground. And, and as it you know, so that it can get ready to expand into a full whatever plant tree or whatever, but we’re just I feel like at the beginning of picking up the soil. So that’s
a great picture.
Yeah, so how have the events following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, and George Floyd and others, how have they impacted how you are communicating with your family, with your friends and with the people that you lead?
Well, I will say, with my, with our family with our children, specifically. I mean, it’s just a part of the normal dialogue that we are already that we’ve already been having in our home. Now, of course with you know, these incidents being highlighted, all together kind of more intensely. Yeah, we are together as a family. We talk that through we talk about the time we’re in, in history, like we try to contextualize ourselves. Where are we? And, and what does this mean? And we have those conversations. I know that as a mom, I’m it right now in this time. And you know, we’ve always been intentional, my husband and I within with these conversations, but we’ve even level data, you know, taken to the next level, you know, helping the the, the our girls connect up a bit certain political act know what, like see the pattern of how fear is often used to keep people nice IO or in status quo or from moving forward. Fears used to steal. So, again, just very intentional and explicit, and how we talk about, like using the lives so that they, I mean, of course, they aren’t in vain and I, you know, sometimes you know, on days that I’m I’m tired, but I’m like, but I’m alive and their depths, you know, will not be in vain. So continuing to add on build on what has been laid before us because of these deaths that keep happening?
One of the things that’s become, that I became aware of is that, you know, at 50 I’m becoming aware of things that I should have been aware of at a very, very young age. And so unless people like me start having these conversations with their kids at a much younger age, it seems to me that persons of color are constantly having to re educate a whole new crop of white people.
Or people in general.
how do you do that without feeling completely discouraged? Like, you know, you’re you’re talking about having these conversations with your children from a very young The age, my kids are the ones who are educating me. They’re 27 and 29. And so I just feel like, you know, so you have all of these people who are getting their PhD to the PhD level. And you have all of these new crops of kindergarteners over and over and over again. I mean, how do you keep coming back into this conversation? Feeling like you have to start over from scratch with so many of us?
Oh, wow, that is a great question. But I think is because, like, okay, I am a teacher, so it’d be different if, you know, like, if I were, I don’t know, a tech engineer, and predominantly working in a predominantly white space, and then my colleagues kept asking me questions and expecting me to, you know, be the be their muscle be their teacher, or be their, you know, shield. That would be traumatizing. And exhausting. So but for me specifically I think because Okay, I am a teacher who happens to be educating on this topic. I, I sincerely truly looked at it as like okay, this this is what I’m doing so even if I weren’t black, like I’d be doing I’d probably be doing this thing. Um
Yeah, that’s how I could and because I am
I am like educating like that’s the lane I stay in
that lane. I do get to see students or learners grow and blossom and bloom. So you know, look at you Sherry, look at you and I get to see that I get to see high school student like I you know, my high school students ninth through 12th grade and I will say, you know, when they start to learn history, and They get a framework and they have some context, they expect the same thing. Like, which is kind of funny to me because they say, I’m in the ninth grade, how come? I don’t know all of this stuff? Right? I feel betrayed. Why did they teach us this in elementary school? But yes, and so, you know, let’s work so that I curriculum is a reflection of the truth and not, you know, necessarily kind of, you know, quote, unquote, you know, government government informed stories or, you know, propaganda. I hate to use that word, but because anybody can call anything propaganda, but you know what I mean? Like, just kind of this one sided, or the story with a purpose that then leaves us feeling betrayed and deprived, right, so let’s move on to, of course, you know, it changed our curriculum, transform our curriculum. And so you know, that that’s what I am committed to. So, you know, because I love helping people connect the dots and I love Creating, like, learning spaces and curriculum where you where I watch people grow, you know the Latin word for educate means to draw out. Right? So you already have it in you learners already have it in them. And so it’s up to the educate or to help draw it out that right there gives me life. And so again, currently, I had planned to work with some students over the summer to keep working on some things. Well, because around the city exploded, so to speak, I really haven’t been able to do that, but they haven’t been doing it on their own. I read the emails, and I’m watching these. And I said, because I can’t participate, but they have been holding, I want to say either weekly or bi weekly zoom groups where they’re educating their peers, and they I had one student, right, you know, like, students writing letters to the administrators, asking for more, you know, and so Again, that is life giving. And so that’s how I can’t see. Amy’s waving.
Well, right. Yeah, she, Sherry and I are both teachers too. So we totally get it that is making me cry because that is the desire of every teacher’s heart. So right, that’s awesome.
So that’s how that’s how I’m fueled, is I see people and I’ve seen all ages. I, one of my favorite students was an 80 year old 80 something year old, who said, like, she said to me, she knew she needed healing when one of her white granddaughters told her, she was dating, maybe potentially marrying an African American man. And she said, Lucretia in my heart, I felt, you know, a stab, and she said, Oh, I have some stuff, some issues in there. And so she came to class and grew significantly. And then you know, she’s like, can you come to my office? assisted living, development, you know, come here. So just the fact that yes, people of all ages have this capacity to get this and they want to I mean, I know not everybody does. But for those who do,
that’s nice, right. I love that. Thank you. Thank you. I mean, I hope our listeners all feel I have this, like huge sense of hope.
Yes, yes. Well, let’s get really practical here. So many people feel helpless but want to do something. So what is your best advice for persons of color and for white people?
Okay, so, my advice I mean, I’m always going to lead with education. So If you can get educated currently, it’s I feel like it’s a lot easier. Every time I look up, there’s a new, like a 21 day antiracism this or a four course or a series? And so at this point, you know, unfortunately, yes, our institutions of education have, they have kind of left us in a deficit. without, you know, we haven’t been given these tools and framework However, now, you know, there’s all kinds, there’s access to lots of things because I feel like, well, I understand that when you have when you have this kind of fundamental understanding of how things work, then you can ask the right questions that then lead to what you can do specifically. So for example, I’m going to do my to do or my next steps and my to do is going to look different because I’m a teacher. I’m a mom, you know, I’m an African American woman, you know, My husband, his wife, we’re in a multi ethnic family. So mine may look different. But what everyone needs to be doing is being intentional because we have been given this myth that you know, what is it race and racism has been de facto like, oh, it just happened. The one that I, oh, I push back against the most is like people think like, well, it was even in the Bible. Okay, so yes, ethnic, tribal, you know, preference and discrimination. It’s a little bit different, a lot different than people writing policies in place, you know, based on and putting policies in place and practices in place and just creating a whole nother narrative, like, we’re just gonna move away from, you know, a whole way of thinking about people that existed. We’re just going to create a whole other story about humans is exactly what has happened. And so I mean, so when When we have that understanding, then we can then open it. What I was trying to say is sorry, let me let me pause there, we can edit it. We have to be intentional about learning, and then moving to deconstruct the beliefs and the practices and policies that have been put put in place. So my husband who works at a corporation, he is, you know, I think they have recently created a whole team to focus on their metrics to examine how they have existed in a system, and then how they are, you know, not intentionally, but how they are perpetuating the racist status quo. So when you understand how it has worked, and then you ask the right questions, then you get to the right answers about what you can do specifically in your sphere of influence. And so currently, right now my children’s school, you They are all like they’re doing an all out remapping of the curriculum. And so that’s necessary, we have to intentionally begin to decolonize and and rearrange how we have kind of how we have sustained this, this hierarchy that is harmful to all of us wherever you are on the hierarchy.
That’s so good because it is work and it does. It does require intention, it is not just going to happen. So that’s great advice. So Lucretia, this has all been so amazing, but what closing words do you have to motivate our listeners who want to be part of the solution in the problems of race in our country?
Well, I would like for your listeners to understand the power that we have, yeah, as individuals but also as a collective Society in a collective world i think that you know kind of one of the what what may be a problematic about kind of our notion of American individualism is that we think that well I am only you know, in charge of myself for I can only do something that affects me but no as we are a society and a community and a family of people and we need to give ourselves like don’t wait on whatever leader like whatever your pastor or your teacher or your parent or your president you know, don’t wait on this permission to fully be active you know, to fully activate our potential to create the world that we know is possible. I think when you have this lens of all on just to individually you feel too small, right? I know I did. I felt too small when, you know, spirit was like, Okay, I need to do Do this out loud and I’m like, no way. But this, you know, spirit showed me a vision of a ripple effect. So if I just do my one thing and do it well, you know, do it with intention, then yes, there will be, you know, a ripple effect and so let’s be this stream. You know, let’s be this, this ocean that overtakes and overwhelms and we can do it you have to be hope-filled you have to be inspired by love