In 2020, Be the Bridge released a long-awaited new resource specifically for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). This guide, We Need to Talk: A BIPOC Guide to Healing Ourselves, was created exclusively for BIPOC to center BIPOC voices in the conversation around dismantling white supremacy and the work of collective healing. The guide offers BIPOC the chance to have essential conversations around issues of race and the impact it has on ourselves, our communities and our faith.
This is the third blog post in our series highlighting the guide and BTB’s online space to process the information contained in it (you can read our last post here). Meet Renae Johnson, a bridge-builder who participated in the six-week discussion group led by Patricia Taylor, our BIPOC Educator.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a black single woman and have been here in Augusta, Georgia since my family arrived from our last military post in Germany. My mom later retired from the Army and now lives in Missouri. Especially because my family isn’t close by, my spiritual family and church help me feel connected. I grew up in a traditional Black Baptist church which I loved and grew under. I later joined a contemporary white majority and white-led church that spoke about diversity. After a wonderful then difficult season there, I was introduced to Be the Bridge.
What led you to buy the guide and join the discussion group?
When I was leading a BTB group, I was able to learn so much from the BTB 101 course, which I thought would be helpful to understand so I could help explain or encourage white bridge-builders to participate. BTB has been consistent in producing biblically sound, life changing, stronghold breaking material, so when I saw that there was a BIPOC guide coming out, I purchased it right away. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I trusted the ministry of BTB enough to find out.
What did you find the most helpful?
It was an awesome opportunity to share a brave space with POC from various backgrounds, races and cultures. In a previous BTB group I participated in, I noticed that for some POC, we hadn’t had the opportunity to discuss issues affecting us specifically like internalized racism and colorism. These are heavy and sensitive topics that need discussion and time to work through. The BIPOC group supplies that opportunity. I believe working through this guide for BIPOC and the BTB 101 guide for white bridge-builders helps all of us to begin to wade out in the water of racial reconciliation discourse and learning that is new for some. We then arrive more equipped and ready for the main BTB group.
What was most challenging?
Colorism was a tough session for me. I have seen so much negative impact on lives because of this. People’s spirits have been crushed. Families are fractured because of this. People are split, divided, jealous and suspicious because of this. Someone very close to me lost their life and I truly believe, had colorism – which is just another form of white supremacy – not been an issue, this beautiful young lady would still be here today. It’s a subject that is often swept under the rug and not discussed. So at first, it was challenging for me to even acknowledge it or the ways that it has impacted my life. But by talking about it in a space with others who can understand, it frees so many! It definitely brought me healing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am truly grateful for the ministry of Be the Bridge! I love how the people of God can come together, you don’t have to have a title or have gone to seminary, it’s bigger than denominational differences, and each person adds to the overall learning and growth. Just like anything that is Truth, God’s truth, it changes lives and has grown my Christian walk as a whole, leading me even closer to God and growing my love for others. I had an awesome group and Patricia was an awesome facilitator! She had an ever positive and encouraging spirit that set a wonderful tone.
I enjoyed the article! Great questions and responses. I am proud of Renae and the work she has done on this platform. This work is challenging but she has handled each step with dedication, courage, integrity, and grace.