Have you ever wanted to attend a workshop or conference, but you had no wing man to help you walk through the door into a room of strangers?
It’s an introvert thing –
I experienced this recently when I registered for a writing workshop in Oakland, California. The workshop leader was a wonderful speaker and gifted author. A Baptist church would host the event. May I add, without offending anyone, that the leader is African American? I had a feeling the rest of the attendees would also be Black.
I was terrified. Not only would I know NO ONE, I would probably be the only White person there. Would they shun me? Judge me? Would they silently wonder why I had dared to intrude in their space?
The room was almost full when I arrived. My assumption was correct – aside from one Asian woman, every other woman was Black.
The leader took us through the process of story-boarding our work in progress. We used stickie notes to create a theme, major characters, and plot points. After the morning break, we each took a turn to stand and explain our outline and ask for suggestions from the group.
When my turn came, my heart pounded and my hands were sweaty. I stood before this group of ladies and asked if it was presumptuous of me to have one of my main characters African American. “I mean, obviously I’m the only White girl here.”
Before anyone could respond, the leader spoke. “Let’s stop there.” She moved to stand beside me and asked, “How did you feel, coming into the room?”
“Terrified,” I admitted.
I expected some pushback. Some comments like, “We feel that way all the time.” Or “Welcome to my world.”
Instead, these women embraced me, loved on me, and made me feel welcomed and affirmed. Walls came down as we talked about race and Christianity. Paul said it best in his letter to the Galatians:
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)
What he might have said today is, “People! There is no White, Black, Asian, Mixed, etc. We are all the same.” I added the exclamation point because our fear and division keeps us from seeing past the skin color and into the heart.
Thank you, ladies of the Shiloh Baptist Church, for reminding me.