You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:06
[Intro] How you guys doing today? This is exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture, with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:17
[Intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end!
Tandria Potts 0:51
[Voiceover] Hello again, I am Tandria Potts, and I am back to guide you through part two of my conversation with the founder and leader of the Be the Bridge organization, Latasha Morrison. Rather than Latasha jumping back in the hosting chair, we thought you all should hear from her, as she shares her thoughts and ideas on pertinent topics based on where the church and culture collide. We left off last week on the topic of Kingdom versus Empire thinking. If you missed last week, you missed out, and you should go back and hear that whole podcast. With that said, let’s pick up the conversation here:
[In conversation] And in its most simplistic form, or how you could kind of give this as a nugget to someone—how would you explain the difference between Kingdom thinking and Empire thinking?
Latasha Morrison 1:41
Yeah. That’s a good question. I would say, Kingdom thinking aligns with Scripture. You know, I gave this example of Esther, but when you look through Scripture, Jesus always aligns with those that were considered “less than” in the society. So when you look at the woman at the well, like Jesus was doing something that was against the culture that he was brought up in—that was illegal, you know? But yet, and still, it was just. And I think those are the things, when we start talking about the upside-down Kingdom of God, empire is a system that oppresses, that puts, you know—it doesn’t put people first. It puts power first, you know, it puts money first, you know? And it’s not to say that nothing’s wrong…But I also look at, you know, the story of Ruth and Boaz. And how, you know, Boaz was wealthy, you know, you think about Ruth’s situation. And she was allowed to glean the fields, but gleaning the fields was a system that was a part of the kingdom, like the Jewish tradition that you can have—but you’re, you know, you’re required as an act of justice to leave some fruits and vegetables in your field so that others can come along. Now, some people said, “Well, that’s not fair. It was all his.”
Tandria Potts 3:37
Latasha Morrison 3:38
It’s all yours. And so maybe I can have a, collect it all and then I’ll put some in the storage house, so that you can get it. But no, you were, the rule was to leave it on the field. And I think that—so that, that is more Kingdom thinking, than empire thinking, you know. That’s an example where it, maybe it doesn’t make sense, you know. The Year of Jubilee, you know, just all these things that were a part of this Jewish tradition in the Jewish system. You know, I think about in our community, the African American tradition, where even in death we could not be buried in a cemetery where there were white bodies. And so there was this—it caused us to think Kingdom and to think family. And where, you know, a lot of our insurance companies were birthed out of the Black church tradition. You know, our burials. When you go to any historically Black church, there was land near the church where we had to bury each other in that. And so I think, you know, I think those things like that, when you’re thinking Kingdom, you’re thinking relationship, you know? You’re thinking about not what is legal, but what is justice and righteousness? Things that are leading us in this conversation, where, you know, this may be the legal thing to do but is it compassionate? Am I being led by compassion? And that’s the thing, where, you know, there’s some things that we may not agree with. But is that showing and displaying compassion? Would Jesus really do this? And if you look at how Jesus moved and operated and walked on this earth, you know, it doesn’t align. You know, it doesn’t align.
And when, you know, this is where we’re talking about the Old Testament where it has, it looks at, you know, the children of Israel. They’re looked at as a collective. But in this new covenant, in the New Testament, it’s like the church. We are the church, we’re the bride of Christ, we’re looked at as a collective. So we didn’t break it. It is not our fault. But it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution, you know? And so I think we have to see—we can’t be looking at each other as brothers and sisters, when we weren’t allowed to sit on the pew.
Tandria Potts 5:43
Latasha Morrison 5:43
You know, and so there’s something wrong. You know, the Western white Church has ingested something, you know…this superiority that really has to be rooted out. And we have to have these conversations, and there’s so many people that are beginning to have these conversations and really, really beginning to, you know, deconstruct some things, you know, and reconstruct some things. And really, really beginning to realign their faith so that it is Kingdom minded, you know, and about God’s kingdom agenda, you know, and not about that of the Empire. You know, we’re a part of this world, we are ambassadors of Christ, and we participate in this. But when the world is saying for us to dehumanize someone and to strip them of their dignity, you know, Scripture is telling us to do the opposite of that! Even our enemies, even our enemies.
Tandria Potts 7:31
I think a very simple example, and you would think that this is something that just would never happen now…but Jesus would pass out water to voters in line.
Latasha Morrison 7:42
Tandria Potts 7:42
He’d probably multiply the water bottles. Because that’s just, that’s just a basic human need, you know, if you’re thirsty, give them something to drink. And now you have a whole half of a country that believes that there’s an issue there. That there’s something about giving someone something to drink that now is not only politicized, but it’s just—it’s dehumanizing, it’s saying that you’re not worthy of water.
Latasha Morrison 8:09
And it would be funny if it wasn’t real.
Tandria Potts 8:11
Latasha Morrison 8:11
You know, it would be funny if it wasn’t real. And we’re realizing…something led you to think that this was okay. And then the fact that, okay, why are we even having to pass out water? And why is there a line?!
Tandria Potts 8:28
Why is there a line?! Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Latasha Morrison 8:28
Let’s go deeper, why is there a line?!
Tandria Potts 8:30
But there’s some exposure happening here though. Because we’re taking it all the way to, if you need water, I’ll give you water. There’s something that’s being exposed about the beliefs, the real lack of connection to the kingdom of God. Because this is something that churches would do. I mean, and any given voting day, you would think a church would organize getting water to voters! You know, so we’re at this baseline now where everything’s exposed, where you can’t really, you can’t make it up. You can’t unsee it.
Latasha Morrison 9:03
You can’t unsee it. But the fact that we’re here, and it’s being justified, and excuses are made…that’s when it is not funny, you know, it becomes problematic.
[Audio clips of the news] “They call themselves the Patriots and come from all over the US…”
Unknown Speaker 9:24
[Audio clips of the news] “A crowd of people who refer to themselves as patriots armed with guns and American flags…”
Unknown Speaker 9:31
[Audio clips of the news] “It’s a group of men and women who say they’re here to protect the city and the police…”
Unknown Speaker 9:35
[Clip of crowd yelling] “Whose streets?” “Our streets!”
Unknown Speaker 9:47
[Clip of man speaking] “Americans, what they do is they scare you into thinking you’re a racist, for standing up for this right here…”
Tandria Potts 9:52
[Voiceover] Racism, nationalism, patriotism. Christianity? Kingdom? Hmmm. Patriotism: what does that mean now? And how does patriotism work with Christ as king? Check this out.
[In conversation] With that in mind, can one be balanced with their patriotism and a Kingdom focus and still have Kingdom focus? How do those two work together? And can they work together?
Latasha Morrison 10:18
I mean, I think we’re called to be loyal and faithful to the God we serve, not to the country that we live in. You know, I love this country. Because if I didn’t love this country, I wouldn’t be doing the things that I’m doing. I want America to be better, we can do better, we can be better. It doesn’t have to be this way. But also, on a deeper level—I love people. And I love God’s people. I love the people that God has created that inhabit this country. But I don’t love, I don’t want more for this country than I want for South Korea. Because, I mean, it’s not like the kingdom of heaven, you think it’s gonna be divided by countries and….? I don’t think so. You know, when we say we are the body of Christ, the body is beyond the USA.
Tandria Potts 11:14
Listen, if you have a problem with people of color, you’re gonna hate heaven.
Latasha Morrison 11:18
I mean, it’s gonna be hard! Yeah, well, maybe that’s the problem now! Maybe people realize it’s gonna be hard and don’t want to go! Whatever you think of as heaven, you know. But I think it’s just one of those things where we cannot think that we’re the apple of God’s eye. Because what does that say about China? What does that say about Korea? What does that say about Mexico? What does that say about Brazil? So are they not, you know, children of God? Are they not created in the image of God? It’s just that thought—where patriotism leads you—when it leads you to dehumanize and to defame and to marginalize and to think of yourself as better, you know, that drives that type of supremacy thinking. And you know, and I say this when I talk all the time, and, you know, there’s no supremacy outside of God being Supreme!
Tandria Potts 12:18
Latasha Morrison 12:18
Anything else is an idol. So I feel like patriotism leads you to think of your country and yourself as little gods. And that’s not true! To compare everything to America. I mean, and think about—we are unrepentant. I mean, there are countries that have repented over their history and what they’ve done to the Indigenous [peoples] and they don’t claim or say that they are a Christian nation. But we will say that. That you know, that America, like we have morals and values that are Christian based. We would not be having the type of conversations, or situations, or issues that we’re having now in our country, for centuries, if that was the case. So something is wrong if our faith is leading us here. And I think what’s happening—there’s a lot of Christians out there that are taking a pause and really thinking. There are a lot of pastors that are really looking at this through a theological lens and what has been ingested, you know? What we’ve ingested just throughout the decades, you know.
Tandria Potts 13:34
[Voiceover] Latasha and the Be the Bridge organization have made progress in bringing about healing and understanding. After hearing about the tensions, wouldn’t it be great to hear about the breakthroughs? Listen.
[In conversation] Okay, so as a consultant, you have been brought in to mediate the dissonance between opposing groups to bring about cultural awareness and sensitivity. So how often is it that political differences are the cause of the issues we’re seeing as opposed to cultural differences?
Latasha Morrison 14:06
I think, you know, I think it depends. I think they kind of go hand in hand, you know? And especially in America, because, you know, culturally people are raised to be partisan. You know, we live in a racialized society. So that’s a little different. And how we go about that in America, like, I feel like some partisanship is a religion here. Because I am not called to be Democrat or Republican. You know? And so when we just—if we, if we’re just looking at those two issues, there may be some things on the Republican side we may agree with, there may be things on the Democratic side that we agree with, but how does that align with Scripture? How does that align with our faith? I think culture plays a major role in that, and the lens that we look through. As an African American, I am more collective, you know, I’m a more collective thinker. So I’m thinking about the community, and not just myself, you know? And so it’s kind of like, this may be good for me…You know, my cousin said this (my cousin is a lawyer in DC) and she said, “These things right here may be good for me, but I also think about, is this good for my community? Is this good for everyone in my family?” And so you’re not led by this selfish—you think more collectively, where, you know, you see this, you hear this talked about a lot in villages, where if you’re able to help a woman become an entrepreneur and give her money, then it’s not that just her family is safe, but it’s the entire village. Because that woman is not just going to make sure that her kids are going to school, but she wants everyone’s kids to go to school. And there’s something in that. That’s a collective thinker.
And by design, you know, there’s good and bad things when you start talking about collective culture. There are some weaknesses of that. You know, shame culture comes out of that. You know, there’s a lot of things, “I can’t make a move unless you know, this happens.” So there’s these things that you have to chew in that type of culture and some things that you have to spit out in that type of culture too. But the same applies when you start talking about a more individualistic culture, which is more Western culture. So you’re talking about Europe, US, Australia, where it’s more, it’s like your individual rights take center stage. And we see that playing out, you know. I mean, when we go back to the pandemic, and the “open up [protests]” like, you weren’t thinking about nobody else but yourself. And your haircut. And your restaurant. And your movies. But not the impact that it was having on certain communities that, you know, have to live together because of financial reasons. And so I think, you know, when you think about that whole “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” that comes from that. So I think we have, I think they go hand in hand, I think we have to look at and understand how culturally we’re all looking at certain issues, and have a deeper understanding of that. And as we have a deeper understanding of how we operate, and how we integrate culturally, we can have an understanding of what this looks like in the kingdom of God. Because the Kingdom of God, when you think about Scripture, it is very collective.
Tandria Potts 18:00
Yes, it is.
Latasha Morrison 18:01
You know, what impacted one impacted the other because the Bible was written, what? Not in Western culture! It was written in Eastern culture. And so there’s a lot of things even as it relates to numbers, and all these things that we don’t get, and we don’t understand, because we’re looking at it from a Western cultural mindset. Even when it comes down to just the simple thing as the story of Mary and Joseph, and, you know, Jesus being born in a manger, and we put that on display every Christmas. And we have the manger sitting out because we’re thinking about a barn. You know? And that’s not true, the manger was a part of the house! But we can’t have the concept of animals being kept in the house. I mean, just that little—but just think about other things that were distorting because of the lens that we read Scripture through.
And so I think that’s important as a part of the conversation, we have to try to understand the deeper layers of that, and how that helps us to understand each other in a deeper way. And understanding how the Asian community responded to, you know, the shooting that just happened here in Atlanta. You know, and how a lot of the families didn’t speak out, you know, and how shame is a part of the culture. You know, we can interpret that in a lot of different ways, because that’s very different from the African American family. Because an Auntie is going to speak up, you know, the neighbor is gonna speak up. It’s different, it’s more private, it’s just different. And, and so but having a deeper understanding, because we have friends that are a part of that community, and we’re allowing them to lead and to interpret what is happening and believe them as they’re interpreting what is happening and why things are the way they are, and how we need to respond and what we need to do. And I think that’s why you have to elevate—when things are happening in different communities, in different marginalized communities—you have to elevate the voices in those communities, because they can show you the way. They understand their culture, you know? And not just listening to 5% that are saying one thing that would agree with you. But the majority are saying one thing, and so I think there’s a lot to learn from from that.
But if we look at Scripture, you know, when I used to, you know, especially when you reading the Old Testament, you’re like, “Everybody died?! They ain’t even do nothing!”
Tandria Potts 20:32
Latasha Morrison 20:33
They being held responsible, you know, for the sins of Achan [from Joshua 7], you know, Achan took the whole clan out, you know?! But there’s something to that. And so we are connected to one another. You know, we are not an island, we are not disconnected. Our faith connects us. And we need to start thinking more like brothers and sisters, regardless of what ethnicity you are. And you see that in the early church. And you see that displayed as we look at Acts 6, you know, as we see the story of the Samaritan, how that comes up again, and again, and again, to show us a different way. To show us how to be Kingdom minded. To give us an example. But many of us can look at those Scriptures and don’t see justice at all!
Tandria Potts 21:22
[Voiceover] This is so good. Aren’t you loving this conversation? We’re gonna take a quick break, stay with us. We’ll be right back.
[Ad for BTB] If you are listening to today’s podcast and would like to become a bridge builder in your community, guess what? Be the Bridge programs are available for youth, college students, adults, BIPOC, and transracial adoptees and adoptive parents. Our desire is for people to have healthy conversations about race, so we’ve provided guides to lead people through these discussions. Visit our shop at BeTheBridge.com to grab a guide and start conversations in your community!
Tandria Potts 22:00
[Voiceover] Thanks for staying with us. Let’s get back to our conversation!
[In conversation] The training that Be the Bridge has successfully done over the years, what are some of the “aha” moments that create understanding on both sides?
Latasha Morrison 22:13
Yeah. One of the things is when we explain history! When we explain history, and even sometimes when we, you know, explain culture and we look at the cultural iceberg [diagram] that many people have seen. When we explain that “these are the things underneath, but these are the things that we see as it relates to culture.” And because in our society, when you are the majority in a society, everything is normalized. And so it’s like, you’re not able to see things beyond your lived experience and you think everything is universal. When you take a pause from that, and you give people a deeper view of history, so that we have some type of common memory, common history—when you explain terms, you know, because most people don’t even understand the difference between racism and racist, they don’t understand the term white supremacy and how it connects to systems. They think, you know, KKK, you know, Neo-Nazi, you know, that’s the only thing they think of. When you even explain terms to people, you know, you kind of see light bulbs go off. And, you know, especially when we talk about redlining and get the history of that, and not just talking about what was done to African Americans, but we have to also talk about what was done for white Americans.
Tandria Potts 23:44
That’s so true.
Latasha Morrison 23:45
You know, we don’t—exactly! Giving the value, like understanding, you know, why the GI Bill was created. Or, you know, even why welfare was created. Land grants, and where did the land come from? Who was it taken from? You know, even when we talk about Native American boarding schools and the history of that, and, you know, going up into the early 80s. People don’t even know that history! We, I mean, we leave those things out, we leave out a lot of context for where we are today, and why we have the communities that we have. And why they look the way they look, and why they’re marginalized. And why we had the wealth gap that we have, and why there’s, you know, issues in the reservation, and why there’s trauma, you know. We don’t have those conversations, so people think they’re connected to behavior, where you’re like that because you don’t have discipline. Or you don’t wanna work, or you’re lazy.
Tandria Potts 24:47
Whatever they were told about Black people.
Latasha Morrison 24:49
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Or, “you’re a drunk” and not understanding how things were done systemically to those communities, that equates to what we have now. But when we do that, and we pull back those layers, you see light bulbs go off. And I know that looking in the audience that there are going to be some people that are going to make better decisions—they’re going to hear this, and they’re going to change. And I’m telling you, as much as we see on TV, and we hear about the church, there are some churches that are even white-led, that are making some changes. That are having these conversations. We stay busy.
Tandria Potts 25:32
That’s great to hear.
Latasha Morrison 25:33
And I think some people need to hear that!
Tandria Potts 25:37
That it’s making a difference.
Latasha Morrison 25:37
It’s making a difference, you know? It’s not everyone, because we know everyone’s not going to get it. You know, Jesus, did everyone believe Jesus? The very people that should have did not, and denied. And so I think I had to come to a term of understanding that there’s some people that’s going to hear us and respond. And then there’s some people that’s going to hear and resist and push back and create another narrative and call you Marxist and call you, you know, a critical race theorist, all these things. But it’s nothing that hasn’t happened to, you know, activists and educators before. It’s nothing that didn’t happen to Jesus, they completely denied that Jesus was the Son of God, you know? And I’m not comparing ourselves to any of that. But I’m saying that it comes with the territory. So, you know, I just tell my team: we go onward. We go with those who want to go. And hopefully, you know, some of the people that are in the room, you know, it will help them to make a life change. Everyone that’s working at Be the Bridge now has come through having some kind of connection—being in a Be the Bridge group, being a part of our online community. In some way, they started out kind of blind, and now they see. And that could be a person of color, who, you know, we are part of the same system. We drink the same water, we breathe the same air. And so even we need our eyes opened.
Tandria Potts 26:04
In a lot of cases, we’ve had the same lack of education.
Latasha Morrison 27:12
Tandria Potts 27:18
It sounds like what you’re saying is these “aha” moments are brought about because of education.
Latasha Morrison 27:29
Tandria Potts 27:29
You know, and history and context. And then it sounds like the “aha” moments are also realizing that you’ve either been lied to, or the truth has been withheld. You know, so when people are having these moments, realizing that the work that I can do is, is really start to understand what has actually happened. You know, there’s a reason for the situation being the way it is.
Latasha Morrison 27:51
Yeah. Or as Gen X was saying, we’ve been hoodwinked! Bamboozled!
Tandria Potts 27:55
That’s absolutely right.
Latasha Morrison 27:59
(Laughs) Or as my dad would say, “that dog won’t hunt!” But, you know, that’s, you know, I think we realize that we’ve been sold a lie. And I think it’s about unveiling truth. And we know in Scripture, that it’s the truth that makes us free, that sets us free. There’s something freeing about truth. And I think, I’ve seen people when they hear the truth that they cry. Or you know, I remember being in a training, and this 80 year old woman who was very savvy, tech savvy. I kept looking at her because I was like, this lady—when I found that she was 82, and she had an iPhone and she was just operating on this iPhone. She was doing stuff…
Tandria Potts 28:44
That had to stand out to you, right?
Latasha Morrison 28:47
It just really stood out to me. And she was just really sharp, you know? And I remember at the end, she came up to me, and, you know, as she grabbed my hand and I didn’t know what this lady was gonna do…Like, you know, I was like, oh Lord did I make granny mad?! And she came up to me, she grabbed my hand, and she said, “I feel so stupid for not knowing.” Like, it was like this bubble that she lived in. And she had no context for some of these things. And, you know, some people know, and they just choose to ignore and choose not to acknowledge. And then there’s some people who have been ignorant to what’s going on beyond their lived experience, you know? And I think that was a moment for her. And, you know, a lot of times those people, they continue with their education process, they continue reading books of, you know, there’s so many great books out there. I mean, we’re living in a time where there’s so many justice books, faith-based, non-faith-based, like, there are so many books. And this is—if we have eyes to see, you know, just last June 2020, the books that were on the top list of The New York Times, all had to do with antiracism.
Tandria Potts 30:08
Wow. Including your book!
Latasha Morrison 30:09
Including “Be the Bridge.” So there’s a hunger! And so, people are still writing books and telling stories. And we understand that, that’s where you find that truth—is reading the stories of people who have been marginalized in the context. And I think, I think Jemar [Tisby], I don’t know if it was Jemar. But someone said, you know, “What if we were reading Exodus and it had been written by Pharaoh?” You know, but it wasn’t. You know, the Bible was written by those that had been marginalized and persecuted.
Tandria Potts 30:23
Yes, we’d have a totally different perspective.
Latasha Morrison 30:53
Totally different! And there’s a whole faith built around that, and the stories that were told, and the books that were chosen, chosen to be put in that book. So it tells you who we should be listening to, you know. And it’s not that the other things are not chronicled throughout history, and throughout Egyptian history, but there’s truth in the marginalized. In the fringes, you know? And so I think that just gives us a way forward in what we should be doing differently, you know? If you’re coming through seminary, and you’re not reading, you know, any books by people of color, when Christianity started in Eastern cultures, something’s wrong. And you might want to question that.
Tandria Potts 31:42
[Voiceover] When it comes to the Be the Bridge podcast, we know our audience. In other words, we have a keen sense of who’s honoring us with their time, week after week. Some of you are liberals, some are conservatives, and most of you are somewhere in the middle, both politically or ideologically. Most of you have a heart for God and want to see the best for humanity. At the same time, you want to understand and want to be understood. So how are bridges built in such a polarized political climate, especially in the church? If that is your question, I suggest you turn up the volume and quiet down the room. And listen.
[In conversation] Okay, so can a Christian with conservative leanings, or liberal leanings, build bridges in this tense political climate?
Latasha Morrison 32:29
Yes! Yes, it can be done. I think, as long as you haven’t created an idol out of being liberal or being conservative. You know, I think when we create those idols, and we put our flag poles in the ground, if we’re not—you know, there’s areas I could be wrong in just like there’s areas that somebody else can be wrong in. If we remain teachable and we’re being led with humility, I think, you know, there is a way. You know, because, I mean, Jesus wasn’t liberal or conservative, like, what is that? What is that?! If we break those words down, what is that? You know? Are you the oppressed or the oppressor? Are you oppressing? Are you bringing harm? Are you leading with compassion? Is this you know, is this bill or policy, is it promoting dignity or is it dehumanizing? Like, let’s, let’s just get—it has to be a totally different filter. Because some of that—sometimes it may lean on one side, and then at other times, it should lean on the other side! You know, and so, there is this middle road, but we’ve been given these two different platforms. And it’s like, “you all have to fit into here, everybody.” I mean, that’s really baffling. But it’s the system that we have, and how do we work that system within this space? It depends, like, I want to see justice for all, you know? I want to see all men created not just equally but equitably, you know. And that’s a big—when I use the word—and I have to use that word equity when I look at the history. So if we’re applying equality and not equity, that’s an injustice there. You know, and so, and why do we have to lead with equity? Because of our history.
You know, and if it was…Listen, let me tell you. If the shoe was on the other foot, and this had been, you know, the story of white people that have been enslaved in this country, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, you know what I’m saying? To make it—right or wrong, you know, like what that would look like, you know? I mean, even after the Civil War, you know, there was compensation in this country given to plantation owners because they had to leave their plantations unless they chose to give land to those that were enslaved (and some of them, which were their family members.) They were not made to give anything, and the government didn’t give anything. And so, but yet, and still, most of them received anywhere from (in today’s dollars) $200 to $300. And so that’s history that a lot of people don’t know about that we have to talk about that.
Tandria Potts 35:36
That’s right. That’s really good. That’s really, really good. Can a Christian support, or a white Christian support, the statement “Black Lives Matter?” And actually, let me put it another way. Why is it so hard?
Latasha Morrison 35:51
Hmm. Yeah. Well, I think because anti-Blackness is a real thing. And we’ve, you know, the statement “Black Lives Matter,” you may not agree with the organization, but the statement—I am a Black life. Does my life matter? And if you can’t support that, or say that, something’s wrong. Then that means you can’t even support “all lives matter,” because a Black life is a life. And the fact that—let’s look at the fact that we even have to say that. That should grieve us more than the statement itself, the fact that a group of people have to constantly remind us that their life matters. And then when we look at statistics, we have facts to back up that our lives haven’t mattered. Not just historically, but even now. Because even as we talk about Daunte Wright, you know, you know, what 20 year old do we know—white 20 year old—that has been killed by law enforcement like that? On a consistent basis. You know, what white George Floyd do we have? Where someone, you know, sat on your neck while you were handcuffed during a pandemic, you know, for nine minutes and 26 seconds?
Tandria Potts 37:31
And like you said, if it were flipped, if these were Black officers doing this to white citizens…we would have a resolution.
Latasha Morrison 37:37
Just think of the optics of that. Just think of the optics if George Floyd was a white man that had done exactly what George Floyd did. And probably like the kid said, unknowingly, if it was counterfeit, whether, you know, that wasn’t a death sentence, you know. And there were Black officers, and he was handcuffed. I mean, let’s—and the fact that we know that that’s not, we can’t even imagine it!
Tandria Potts 38:12
That would never be tolerated.
Latasha Morrison 38:12
It shows us the difference. It shows us the difference if we look at January 6th and the insurrection! And you know, we’re looking at this, I’m looking at this, I’m like—we would not have made it to the steps. No, we wouldn’t have made it to DC because if there was that much chatter within social media, I mean…you think about what happened to Black organizations, how they were…
Tandria Potts 38:38
And they were helping the community!
Latasha Morrison 38:39
Exactly! …that were, that were [wire]tapped, and that were even pitted against each other. And just the things that the FBI did, you know, through [?]. I mean, just all those things. I think we know…so we’re watching this [insurrection] almost in disgust and just amazement….
Tandria Potts 38:39
Because it’s so blatant, it’s so obvious.
Latasha Morrison 38:39
Yes, and it’s so scary. And then to see, you know, you’re like, “Oh, this is gonna wake people up, people are gonna see!” And then it’s like people trying to tell you what you saw. That you didn’t see what you saw! You know.
Tandria Potts 39:14
It was a parade! You know what I wanted to know? How did they get the gallows so close? They rolled a huge gallow through the city of DC and no one stopped them?!
Latasha Morrison 39:23
And no one stopped them. So when you think about that, and you think about, you know, Eric Garner not being able to sell cigarettes. Breonna Taylor, not even given the opportunity to say that person doesn’t live there. Or you know, Trayvon Martin not being able to say that, you know, he belongs there. And we just saw another case even yesterday of another kid walking in the neighborhood. Walking while Black. Ahmaud Arbery. There’s a house being built across from me, you know, and I want to go peek in so bad—but I would not. I went to see the HGTV homes that they just did with Rock the Block, and I wouldn’t get out the car. I wanted to get close and take a picture, and, you know, and say, “I’m here!” I didn’t dare to get out that car, you know, in the county that I was in, because something that I was doing very innocently could be criminalized. Something that everybody…
Tandria Potts 40:32
You literally don’t have that same freedom.
Latasha Morrison 40:31
I don’t have the same freedom. I see people walking up to that house every day, looking or peeking or, you know, walking around and seeing. I would not do that, you know? Because I am living in a world and I’m very aware. But there’s people that look like me, there’s kids, 20-year-old kids, 25-year-old kids that are unaware that their presence is criminalized. Their very existence is criminalized. One of my friend’s sons said, you know, “What does it mean to be white?” And as a 10-year-old, he said, “it means to be free.” And as a 10 year old Black boy to know the difference that to be white in America means to be free. And I’m not saying—free in the sense where you’re given the benefit of the doubt. And it’s not to say that that freedom is wrong, it’s just that when it’s not applied to everyone, it becomes wrong, you know? And so I think that’s something that we have to think about that even that 10 year old understands—that he doesn’t walk through this earth, walk through this country, walk through this world the same way with the same amount of privileges, just to exist, and to do and to be. And that’s why I think, you know, police officers have to understand that. That you know, our community? We’re afraid. And so when you approach you got to, you got to be compassionate enough to take those things into consideration. Now, yes, your life is in danger. You know, you put your life on the line, we understand that. But that’s…you’re choosing to be in this profession also.
Tandria Potts 42:27
Latasha Morrison 42:28
And so when you’re approaching someone that is not armed, you know, over something that’s minor? You know, I think you have to use some wisdom married with some empathy and compassion that our community has been terrorized for centuries as it relates to policing in America. And you should want to see changes in that, not just for our safety, but for your own personal safety. You know.
Tandria Potts 43:03
Unless you’ve gotten into policing for that reason. Because there have been many reports from the FBI about, you know, the police precincts being infiltrated by white supremacists, and all of that. So that should be vetted. All of those things need to be very important, it would be important if it were flipped!
Latasha Morrison 43:23
Some of them, you see it on their social media. You see signs and tattoos that have ties to white supremacy. And so some of them are very blatant with it. And so I think those are the things that have to be taken into consideration. And I hope that there’s more investigations into law enforcement, you know, to weed out those that have ill intent. But I think it’s one of those things, when we look at all that Minnesota is doing, and it’s still not getting to the core of the problems! It is like we’re trying to apply these bandaids to this gaping hole that is full of pus and infected. And that takes a different treatment. And we have to be brave enough to apply whatever that treatment is. I don’t have all the answers, you know? But I think we need to sit down and have a conversation about the solution.
Tandria Potts 43:39
Be the Bridge [aims to] bring about racial healing and equity throughout the nation through truth telling conversations. If someone wanted to have these conversations in a healthy way, how do they do that with Be the Bridge as an organization?
Latasha Morrison 44:40
Yeah. I think um, we have this thing if you’ve heard…we have this part of Be the Bridge, we have like “the crowd, the community, the core.” Some of you guys probably remember this, I’m dating myself. But that analogy kind of works out where you have these on-ramping, we have these on-ramping areas and one of those on-ramping areas is our Facebook group. And in that process, if people are willing to begin to start that journey, that’s a good starting point. But then we offer classes, you know, BTB 101, you know, where people can get introduced to a deeper dive into what does racial healing look like and you know, through an education lens. And then, you know, for our BIPOC community—because we’re a part of this conversation but it’s different, because this conversation is exhausting, but we have to have bridge builders of color in this in order to have the conversations. Because if people, if brown and Black people are not part of the conversation, then it’s not happening. You know, and we are traumatized right now. We are tired, we’re exhausted. And so it takes a unique type of person that wants to engage in these types of conversations. And so we have a private group, you know, for BIPOC and we just created some material. Because we, you know, I don’t understand the Asian community. I don’t understand everything about Asian community, because that’s not my story, and their lived experiences are not mine. But as I connect with and communicate and talk to people from that community, I can learn and grow the same way, you know, dealing with, you know, anti-Asian sentiments. And the same thing, dealing with anti-Blackness sentiments that are a part of other groups, because we are all a product of a bigger system at play, and how the gospel should lead us towards each other.
So we’re creating material for that, and then also addressing trauma. These are resources that we’re creating, and people that we hired to help with, to facilitate these things. And then on the other side of that, you know, we offer stuff for youth, because, you know, it’s one thing to have these conversations with adults, but how do you have this with youth? This “now” generation, and it’s almost not the next generation, because they’re the generation of “now.” And they are not having it! They think differently, they move differently. And, um, there’s something to learn from that. And there’s something for them to learn even from us, you know, that we as you know, Generation X learned from the generation before us. So, I think, you know, those are the ways that people enter into our conversation. That’s kind of like, you know, we create this crowd. And we want to pull people into the community, and we pull people into the community through this process of education. And I think that is the thing that’s unique. And then making sure that we are having the right conversations around the different topics, because this is such a—when you start talking about the work of bridge building, we’re not talking to the choir. So this is deep hard work, you know, because you’re not going to please anyone 100% of the time. It’s kind of like one of those things where you go into a multicultural environment, they’re like, okay, expect to be happy and have your needs met maybe 70% of the time.
And so, I think that’s the, you know, situation. But I remember you told me this, you said, “Tasha, I understand the work that Be the Bridge does. And it’s not that you’re elevating, you know, a white person over people of color. It’s that you’re making it so that I can get home and that my children could get home safely.”
Tandria Potts 49:02
Latasha Morrison 49:03
And I remember because it’s like this tug, where we have to take care of our community. But there’s this, you know, the process of education. We’re educating so that, you know, it brings about change and transformation that can lead us toward this pathway of what healing and restoration and reconciliation could look like. You know? And that’s costly. And it’s costly, I think it’s more costly for people of color. Because we have to be, you know…
Tandria Potts 49:39
It’s like you’re the injured and the paramedic at the same. Exactly, exactly.
Latasha Morrison 49:41
Exactly, exactly. It’s like we have to be the guides on this, you know. We don’t have to be—I don’t think this work is for every person of color. And I don’t look at it like that. You know, I think there are going to be people who are going to be equipped, especially people with a more shepherding heart. You know, and then there’s some that are designed to do other things in this space. This space of racial justice, racial healing, racial equity is so vast and, you know, it takes a community to come together to deal with this issue. And we’re all going to have a different role, you know, in it. We all want to make it up to the mountain, but there’s going to be different methods that we all use to make it up to the mountain. And I think Be the Bridge is just one of those methods, just one method of many.
Tandria Potts 50:33
[Voiceover] Often companies will bring in financial consultants to sort through spending habits and capital allocation, and to ascertain monetary efficiency. Motivational speakers and marketing experts are brought in to share new approaches and ways of thinking. But now, as the divide widens as it relates to ideological and spiritual points of view, who do organizations, businesses and corporations call? Yep, you guessed it! Listen.
[In conversation] And what’s so great is outside of the individuals coming to Be the Bridge and getting that education, and really almost starting from scratch, companies have the same opportunity. Other organizations have the same opportunity. How do they reach out to you? What do you provide on a larger scale for other companies and organizations who want to do this work?
Latasha Morrison 51:19
Yeah, we provide a lot of antiracism training. We have a really thorough training, like a one-day training, and then also like, up to a three-day training, where we go into organizations, to churches, to nonprofits, and walk them through this unlearning. We do audits, you know, on organizational structures, you know, looking through the lens of antiracism work. So there’s a lot of, there’s a deeper dive that organizations and churches can take with us. And so we’ve done that, you know, with a lot of organizations. So we do consultant work, you know, and then, you know, some people do the training without the consultant, you know. But it’s an investment, you know, it’s an investment. We’re putting our bodies on the line, you know, and so it’s a deep investment. But when I feel that people are convicted around this, you’re willing to pay the price, you’re willing to pay the cost. I know people that would pay speakers more to come in and teach, but will not pay for, you know, this type of training. Because it just shows us what we value, they’re not there yet, they’re not ready. And so it’s one of those things when people are ready, they will make the investment in this. If they really want to be a part of the change and transformation, I think people will make the investment. So we formed the whole training team, you know, around this. And that’s not, this is separate from the Be the Bridge groups where we create, you know, curriculum and guides that help people personally in communities, one on one. This can be done within the church, but a lot of times this is done with community groups because sometimes the church won’t allow it to happen. And so people form, you know, neighborhood groups or groups in their PTAs and stuff like that. So, you know, so there’s just a lot that God has allowed us to create, to help people on this journey.
Tandria Potts 53:38
[Voiceover] If you’ve been to a church steeped in Black tradition, then you’ve heard sermons that seem to always end with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The reason for this is because in the Black tradition, sermons must end with hope. So being born and raised in that same tradition, I could not end without asking this question.
[In conversation] So I mean, it’s always a heavy conversation, you know, no matter what. Because it seems to be you know, as of late, that there’s just no rest, you know, for the weary when it comes to this whole fight. But within all of that, you know, you lead with a disposition that gives people hope. What gives you hope?
Latasha Morrison 54:25
That’s a great question. Because without hope, I couldn’t do this work. And I think what gives me hope is, and I don’t want to sound like a cliche, but Jesus gives me hope, you know? I can’t do this because of people, because that is temporary and people will let you down and disappoint you. I do this because I know that it’s the right thing to do and that I feel like Jesus is leading me in doing this work. And so I think that is the thing that guides me and sustains me in this. Because when darts come or when difficult seasons come, you know, and when you do become hopeless, what is your anchor? Who is your anchor? And so I think even with this season that, you know, I’m in now—it’s darts, it’s disappointments, it’s surprises, it’s sadness, it’s sorrow, it’s grief. But looking to the author and finisher of our faith, you know, like, that’s the thing that keeps me and that holds me and that comforts me ultimately. You know, and so that’s when I know, this is not my work! Because Tasha would be like, “It’s a wrap!”
Tandria Potts 55:55
Latasha Morrison 55:55
I’d go get me another job, and do my thing, and I’d be all right. You know what I’m saying?! But I don’t even think about that! Because, and that’s when I know—okay, God, this is you, you have me here because there’s not, even as hard as it is, and as tiresome it as it is, as baffled and disappointed as we can be in the church—it’s like, I still have hope for the church and for the body of Christ, the people of God. Even the one that I see this the furthest from Christ, you know, to look at someone with hope and not hate. That’s, you know, that’s when I know that’s not me. And it’s not to say that, you know, it takes a lot! I’m like “Lord, help me love, help me love.” So I have to apply these same teachings, you know, I have to apply these same teachings to my personal life. And I mean, there’s some things even personally that, you know, I’ve gone through where it’s like, to extend grace when I don’t want to give grace. Or to extend love when, you know, I want to sit, because I’ve been wounded.
Or you know, I don’t want to give out—my dad just died, and you talking this crazy talk? And you talking about the virus not real? And, you know, you don’t want to wear a mask and all this stuff? It’s insulting, but it can enrage you. And be able to still function, you know, and not that you close your eyes to it, it’s just to see it and say “they are completely lost.” You know, they have no idea what compassion is.
Tandria Potts 57:58
It’s like what Jesus said, “Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Latasha Morrison 58:00
Exactly, they do not know. And he displayed compassion, you know, in that moment, on those that were persecuting and killing him, you know? And so I, you know, and I am not—Oh, Lord, I’m not Jesus. But it is hard when darts are being thrown, to not like, want to catch one of them and throw it right back at you. And it’s not to say that, you know, at times I may do that! You know, I may say some things that, you know, that are not right, or that are harsh, or, you know. But also give me the same grace and compassion that you want from me and you want to see from me. And that’s one reason why I took a break and I went offline, because I know my response would not have been to build the bridge, not in the emotional state that I’ve been in.
Tandria Potts 59:02
Latasha Morrison 59:03
Yeah, know thyself. Yeah. And racism didn’t stop just because my dad died, or because of the pandemic, you know. Racism didn’t stop. You know, all these things that we’re talking about, just the last year—George Floyd and Daunte and Breonna, and so many others, that is sad when you can’t even remember all the names because there’s been so many hashtags. All those marches across not just our country, but the world. This is global. And that lets you know that something is wrong! When this is a global issue, you know, and so, that’s why, you know, I took the break. And I, you know, and I’m gonna see how I feel. But the thing is, you know, I told the team it don’t look like it’s going nowhere. It’s gonna be here. So take the time. And I’m grateful that—and that’s when you see this whole marrying of gratefulness in the midst of grief and sorrow, because I’m grateful that I’m in a position where I could take a timeout. Everybody doesn’t, can’t do it. And so I realized that that’s a privilege to be able to do that. And so I’m grateful that, you know, I’ve had that opportunity to kind of take a deep breath.
Tandria Potts 1:00:34
[Voiceover] I think we all need to take a deeeeep breath. I absolutely loved sitting down with Latasha to unpack ideas, frame new approaches, and seek fresh ways to digest and navigate our ever changing world. With that said, we are curious about what you thought about today’s discussion. We’re going to “Take It to the Bridge” periodically throughout the year, and you will definitely be hearing more from Latasha Morrison. How often do we mean when we say periodically? Well, that’s up to you! So let us know some topics and concerns you’d like to hear about the next time we take it to the bridge. That’s all for now. But till next time, let’s remember to build bridges and not walls. Go to the Donors’ Table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast! To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization, and/or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, GA. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the senior producer. Brittany Prescott was our transcriber. Please join us next time! This has been a Be the Bridge production.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai