OSHETA MOORE. Dear White Peacemakers: Dismantling Racism with Grit and Grace. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press, 2021. Pp. 333. $18.15 (U.S.)
In Dear White Peacemakers, Osheta Moore lifts the head of White fellow image bearers and gives a more centered fueling for entering into and continuing on the journey towards racial justice. The general framework of the book is to welcome the reader to the table, to acknowledge their context, to teach of the many racial injustices and to invite the reader to step boldly into the mission of racial justice.
Moore does a masterful job of welcoming Whites into the work of anti-racism, regardless of their background and previous interactions with racial issues. She majestically invites readers to come as they are, as beloved ones of God, and urges them to be participating members of the care for God’s beloved ones of color. “We’re siblings, and siblings show up for one another” (20). She takes the heart space to empathize with her White readers and acknowledges the many things they carry to the table of racial reconciliation.
Moore takes an honest look at White supremacy and cuts any gumption of justification out from under it with the truths of scripture. She teaches of the rampancy of White supremacy and how it permeates so much of our culture and lives. The reader is prompted to intentionally dismantle White supremacy. She next follows this teaching with a call to our identities in Christ and emphasizes that we are not defined by the spaces where we’ve been a part of White supremacy. An important emphasis in one section of the book is on “shame resistance and resilience” (67), where the author describes her resistance to shame the reader as well as encourages the reader’s resilience in the face of the internal shame that will creep in.
Moore goes on to invite her readers to open a window into the lengthy process of grief, from grieving the history of people of color in America to the grief experienced each time an event of racial injustice hits the news or is experienced personally. From the stance of a caring sister in Christ, she offers a glimpse into the layers and layers of hurt within each singular incident. She is transparent and shares her initial responses of anger and hurt and desires for retaliation, going on to share how God guides her to the heart response our Lord leads her to. She shares her heart’s journey to see the humanity in the “aggressors” of the system of racial injustice. Although the author is empathetic toward her readers, she also disallows Whites to frame their trauma and experiences as equal to that of Blacks.
In the book, Moore then reveals spaces of history and present day that readers may not have known and uses this to beckon them to become more learned of historical and present-day racial injustices. Readers are encouraged to spend time learning of the disparities people of color experience, and to engage in conversations towards forgiveness, restoration, and restitution. She calls readers to action, to not sit idle, but to be intentionally a part of the process toward racial justice.
A huge difference between Moore’s book and many other books on racial justice issues is that the White reader isn’t laden with shame or a burden of guilt. Instead, Moore empowers readers with the truths of the gospel found through Jesus’s perspective of and teachings on the issues of race, differences, enemies, etc. She welcomes readers into a truly Christ-centered heart toward racial justice.
Dear White Peacemakers is an important book for those of us who are a part of the Brethren in Christ. The urgent call found in Moore’s book lines up completely with our Core Values. We see the relevance in our value of “Following Jesus” as Jesus loved all people and modeled justice for all people. Similarly in our value of “Witnessing to the World,” we know God’s message is for all people and we are all image bearers no matter our skin color or heritage. Another Core Value, “Pursuing Peace,” certainly includes racial reconciliation. There are many books out there on this topic. Moore’s stance and presentation is centered on Jesus and her call is eye-opening and compelling.
If you haven’t already stepped into the work of racial justice, I strongly recommend this book as a starting point. Reading it has been an empowering, enlisting breath of fresh air for me! As one who has taken part in several group studies as well as many conversations about race issues, Moore’s words have been a wonderful encouragement and perspective shift for continuing on the journey of racial justice. There is more hope and energy to commit to the long haul of racial justice when guilt isn’t the reason we’re showing up!
The chapter structure wasn’t so helpful towards following the movement of the emphasis of the book. Some of the chapters are smaller and give off a feeling of the message being disjointed. The sections of the book are based on themes drawn from old Negro Spirituals, and I didn’t feel the themes were emphasized enough to keep this tight connection of theme.
Also, the author’s introductory framework is to not cause harm and guilt, yet reading one of the sections made me feel a bit targeted for a moment. As that section went on, I did understand what she was trying to do. It was helpful that the author went on to be very transparent about her own racial and other biases. She wants readers to truly take time to notice spaces where racial biases are held.
Throughout Dear White Peacemakers, Moore calls her White readers: “to embrace downward mobility, to choose . . . humility, to give up all semblance of having it all figured out, and to follow gentle Jesus, meek and mild” (183). Her plea is to learn God’s heart in seeing the truth of the matter and to show up for truth and justice on the matter of racial issues. As her words uplift us for continuation of the road ahead, she says, “I will appeal to your Belovedness and trust the Spirit of Love to work in your heart” (96).