A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast

The Road to Reparations w/ Robert Turner

November 02, 2023 Simon Doong and Lee Catoe Season 1 Episode 155
A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast
The Road to Reparations w/ Robert Turner
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we discuss the NYT Times article "Birds in the Americas Will No Longer Be Named After People"

Special Guest: (11:48)
Robert Turner, Author, Creating a Culture of Repair: Taking Action on the Road to Reparations

Guest Question:
What does it mean to create a “culture” of repair? We talk about needing to reform systems or institutions but how do we reform our culture? Also, when people talk or hear about reparations, they often are overwhelmed. How do we make reparations accessible?

Birds in the Americas Will No Longer Be Named After People

Creating a Culture of Repair: Taking Action on the Road to Reparations

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Speaker 1:

Well, hello everyone, and welcome again to a Matter of Faith, a Presby podcast, the podcast where we respond to your questions around faith, justice, and church life. Don't forget to write in and send us your question, because if

Speaker 2:

It matters to you, it matters to us, and it just might be a matter of fate , everyone. And it's the time of this recording. It's All Saints Day. So happy All Saints, and I hope everyone is remembering the saints in their own lives. It's one of my favorite church holidays, I would say. It's very special . Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Well, we hope that folks are doing that, but if you don't care about us introductory conversation or the Saints, you can just check the timestamp in the show notes below to skip to our guest segment. But we hope you'll wanna stick around for some introductory conversation. It is All Saints Day, and you know, it's a good time to remember things. And let's remember one thing that happened last week, which is very sad , uh, which was the, the shooting in Lewiston, Maine. Mm-Hmm . <affirmative> . Um , which is just extremely tragic. I believe I heard it was number 565 in terms of like gun violence shootings in the US this year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. It's wild. Absolutely. And it was , it's one of those events like going from location to location

Speaker 1:

Yeah .

Speaker 2:

With another like terrible ending of the guy being found dead somewhere. And like Yeah. It's, it's, and because of everything happening in the world, like the things happening in Israel Palestine, which of course everyone, we're always going to put that out there too, is that everyone needs to kind of get educated about that and do that work and, and get involved into the movement when it comes to everything happening in Gaza. So, wanted to mention that too. But I think because of all that, this particular event, it was pretty awful and also didn't get a lot of like, I mean, as much media attention as I think it probably could have. And so it just continues to have the conversation about gun violence and gun control in this country that we always talk about and bring up , uh, whenever something like this happens. So people just please continue to do that work too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It's

Speaker 2:

Just been a very hard season leading up to this holiday season. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So again, prayers for the community, the victims and families in Lewiston, Maine. Yeah, that's, it's a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. It's a , it was , it's been, yeah, it's tough. Sometimes you don't have words for it and Yeah. And yeah, I don't know. It's kind of hard to, to kind of process things these days. I think there's so much death too . Yeah . And I think that's hard, for one, it's hard for people to grasp and it's hard for people to talk about, and it's hard for people to grieve. I mean, there's so many things going on that grief is the center of and how that manifests, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> . It's just an interesting thing to think about in , in times like this, so,

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And, and because the US public is so desensitized to things like gun violence, it, it's almost like it happens. We're sad, and then we like harden our hearts and kind of keep moving.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's kind of our, just

Speaker 1:

Try to survive. It's, it's

Speaker 2:

Very the fall . Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's

Speaker 2:

A weird coping thing. And I think it ha that also plays into like Israel Palestine, like, you know, Gaza is getting bombarded and like just a refugee camp just got blown up and like full of kids. I think more children are being killed than in the last like few years of any kind of conflict . And it's one of those things that's like, especially here in the US with the school shootings and things like that, I do think we are very much numb to death. And if children doesn't change our mentality about it, I don't know what can. And so, you know, I think that that's very, very important for us to remember to humanize these things. Like we said last time when we were talking about , uh, Gaza and the last shootings that we've had, it's how do we humanize and

Speaker 1:

Right. Yeah .

Speaker 2:

All those things. So

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And it's also like when you start hide hardening sort of yourself and become desensitized, you don't exactly have any sort of memory of the previous incident because you can't process the current one. Right. And you're just sort of constantly bombarded and, and that's dangerous. And speaking of memory and in remembrance, there's some interesting changes happening in the American Ornithological society, which is, that's, that's birds people. If you don't know what ornithological means, I'm not to entirely sure that I did before today. Yeah . Um, but there's a really interesting article in the New York Times titled Birds in the Americas will No Longer Be Named After People. This is written by Katrina Miller, and the subtitle is The American Ornithological Society has committed to replacing all bird names derived from people so as not to honor figures with racist pasts. Hmm . And I think this is really interesting because we've talked about the taking down of monuments and statues associated with , uh, the Confederacy in the United States. Mm-Hmm . And I think that this is an another step , um, that people may not think about, but it's kind of important 'cause some birds are named after, or in memory of people who might have been slave owners and opposed abolition, or folks that oversaw relocation of indigenous peoples. There's a lot of history to it that we probably aren't even aware of. We just know it as, for example, in this article that they mentioned , uh, the Scott Scott's orle , which Yeah . Uh, refers to the US Civil War General Winfield Scott, who oversaw the relocation of indigenous peoples in 1838. That eventually became the Trail of Tears.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So

Speaker 1:

These things do matter, and I think it's a really important thing to hear about, because when these things are changed, the hope is not just about like severing ties with problematic figures, it's also about trying to open up ornithological studies to more people. Because imagine trying to work in study in the study of birds, but always have different things that remind you of, of historical past and traumas that maybe are relevant to yourself and to your, you know, your community, your family, and your ancestry. I can totally see that that would be problematic. So, yeah . Uh , glad to hear about this.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And it's one of those things that science is the, in , I mean, the intersection of racism and colonialism and all those things, they all inter intersect science so much. So, and I think the more we have these kinds of conversations, it is very important. I mean, there are o obvious kind of parallels to this in the medical field. I think any kind of like archeological thing, there's this intersection of racism in there. And it's really interesting when we're talking about wildlife, and this is where my biology world comes into play, it's just really interesting. Who, who was able to say that they discovered these things first. And it normally was a bunch of white scientists that are going out into these places when native people, when all other kinds of folk who have been there far longer than these scientists were , had names for these animals. And not only names, but a but a big respect. I'm not saying scientists don't have respect for it, because I think especially in conservation and stuff, but I do think there's a different respect in that there's a more, you know, intimate relationship with said wildlife. And so the naming is more than just, I'm claiming this thing as mine, if that makes sense. Naming and scientific names and all that is very colonial, because you are then saying, I discovered this. I have possession over this said discovery, this said species. It's very fascinating to think about, Hmm . Because all these scientists have had credit for discovering these things when native people have been in relationship and co-creators and co-relation with wildlife for centuries, and I think for millennia. And I think that that is important for us to realize too. And science and those types of things, like Darwin and all these people, they were not the first to discover these things. And I think that that is important too, for, for anybody in the church or anybody in kind of any faith justice realm to realize that, like the things that we classify, even the theological claims, even like, like the reformation, we just had reformation Sunday, the Reformation is plagued with racism, antisemitism, all these things that the reformation can be put in as like this, this great freedom of theological thinking. Not really <laugh> , I think it was, it was really based off of certain refer reformation theologians who had claim one of them being John Calvin, which P-C-U-S-A puts on a pedestal also problematic. Gonna say that. And I think that that those types of things, you know, are kind of parallels to this conversation too, that we have to always remind folk of birds.

Speaker 1:

Right? Yeah. Yeah. So really interesting conversation and developments. And if you are a person who is into birds, why don't you let us know what you think about , uh, these changes. And I'm , I'm very curious to see how they're going to rename or if they are renaming, or is it simply dropping the, like the, I guess the, the name, because it says they're gonna be replacing the bird names derived from people. Yeah . So what are they gonna go with instead? I'd be very curious. Yeah . Not because I think it will be worse, I just want to know what are they gonna change Scott's orle to?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I don't know. But that'll be really interesting to see. And this is a great conversation to lead into the time with our guest, who is Robert Turner, who we're gonna be talking with about re reparations and us and racism and things like that. So we really hope that you enjoy this conversation with Robert Turner, the author of Creating a Culture of Repair, taking Action on the Road to Reparations.

Speaker 2:

Well , joining us on the podcast today is a very special guest. We have Robert Turner, who is the author of Creating a Culture of Repair, taking Action on the Road to Reparations. Welcome to the podcast, Robert. We're glad you're here.

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much for having me. Glad to be here .

Speaker 1:

Yeah. I'm really grateful to have you on the podcast, Robert. Um, we've, we've had conversations about reparations on our podcast before, but we like to say that we can never have too many conversations about such an important topic, and especially as it is the subject of your book, we're hoping that you can help us think through reparations , um, in a new way than we've talked about previously. And that leads to our question for today, which reads, what does it mean to create a culture of repair? We talk about needing to reform systems or institutions, but how do we reform our culture? Also, when people talk or hear about reparations, they often are overwhelmed. How do we make reparations accessible? What would you say to that, Robert?

Speaker 3:

Well, I, I think that we've seen , uh, in society policy changes. Uh, we, we, we , we've seen changes in theology and how people interpret various texts. We've seen changes in fashion. But one of the things that we , we need simultaneously in order to have true transformation is a cultural ch shift, a cultural change. Uh, for instance , um, when, when, when slavery was abolished, right? We, we had this emancipation in policy, but the thoughts, the minds and the culture, especially that of the South, had not been changed. Uh, you, you, you, you still had , uh, former Confederates, soldiers, you know, start organizations such as the Ku Klux client , right? Even after integration, we, we, we had , um, policy that stated, you know, that you could not segregate based on color. Uh, and then we had national, the National Guard called out to several schools to force integration and force busing, right? But the culture hadn't changed. In fact, none of those folk who, who upheld those racist policies, you know, lost their jobs, right? So if you, you , if you can imagine one day you are president of a segregated school, after integration, the next day you are the president of a integrated school. Like nobody changed pretty much their, their culture. It was just, the policies changed. And so, in order to have true transformational change, we definitely , uh, need to see it impacted not just in policy, but in policy , uh, but also additionally in our culture. And so this, this, this book speaks to all of those ways that it needs to be changed and how it can be long lasting as well.

Speaker 1:

When we think about culture, maybe we can define a bit more , uh, what you mean by culture. 'cause I think that some folks think it's a , it , it's relating to the way we talk. It's the values, it's the ways that we're in community with each other. Um, and that is different, as you said, from from policy. Uh, so what would you describe as the culture and the elements of it that, that need to be changed to take us on the path towards reparations,

Speaker 3:

Customs, art institutions , uh, of a people, basically. I mean, one of the , one of my , uh, memorable social studies, definitions of culture back in , in grade school , um, the, the, the culture , arts and lifestyles of, of people. And , and, and that also includes our institutions, both political and social. But all of those , uh, in order to have true, true transformation and not, and not something that's just only seen either in policy, are something that's only scene in fashion or in music. Uh, because we have a very wide variety of, of, of, of voices in music and in the arts. Um, but in, in corporate America, it kind of starts to narrow down to just a select few , uh, in political power. It starts to narrow down in just a select few. Um , and so we , we want to see a , a true cultural shift of repair, tort repair , uh, in this nation, so that it can be, and it will be long lasting. So in the book, we have that divided up into four ways , uh, of creating that culture of repair. We, we have individual reparations that individual citizens can, can do. And, and , and we give examples on what it can, what, what can be done. Um , we, we, we have societal reparations and , and what, what societies or what organizations can do , um, to make sure , uh, reparations or culture repair can be done. We even have institutional, right? The, the governmental, the policy , uh, and , and we go through pretty much every cabinet in the federal government , uh, and even state governments to talk about what methods of repair , uh, policy-wise, it can't be done. And we even go to spiritual , uh, our , our , I mean our religious repair. 'cause we understand that to, to, to uphold slavery, to uphold white supremacy, that it became an ideology, right? That, that, that that was taught and promulgated through the highest pulpits and , and , and seminaries across the land. And so those four forms of repair can create the , can help create the culture of repair that we are talking about, and that we desperately , um, need. And it is , uh, by far the longest list, the largest list of preparatory , uh, ideas in the world, right? We're over 100, and that's the largest list , uh, that has currently to date, been, been made available.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And I also wonder, we have a lot of these conversations specifically in our, you know, in our tradition, like what, what, how, how can we take something that is a large , like this idea of reparations that I think gets very misconstrued specifically because of the political commentary around it and, and all these things. And for us to not be able to, to take accountability and what that looks like, because that is a part of this , the process too. So I wonder what are some of those ways that, like, in , in the original question, like how, how can we create a movement or a culture of reparation? And at the same time, you know, how do we tangibly grasp onto that? Because a lot of people, it is hard to, to even know where to start, I would say.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And , and that is, that is very much so true. Um, it is such an awesome task, an ous task that it's easy, it's easy for, for, for actually, well-meaning individuals to just say, you know, I would just rather focus on something smaller, right? Uh, uh, but never , not knowing, not knowing that that smaller is also, it can also be seen as repaired. So for instance, we, we use this lofty idea of reparations, right? And we, and we speak about it in terms of typically always financial checks, right? And people say, well, that's just too much money. And Right , well, reparations does involve a check. It does it, it does involve a check. I don't want to be remiss in saying that, but it is so much more than just a check. A lot of the things, a lot of the current problems , uh, that we have in America , um, can be traced back to having its origin in racist white supremacist policies, right? Uh , for instance, how our schools are poorly funded student teacher ratio, right? Uh , that's based on how our schools are funded. Well , our schools are funded based off normally property tax. How do we get the value of our certain properties? Do , do we understand how redlining was an actual federal policy that was upheld by our banking system, a part of repair? A part of repair is addressing that, you know, and , and , and that now that may not directly send a check out tomorrow, but that can greatly increase funding to our inner city schools , uh, that have been still devastated , uh, by, by being poorly funded , uh, solely based on the low property value of the homes surrounding , uh, those schools to , I mean, that's just one example of how you can, you , you can kind of peel the, the peel the onion back on from this large issue reparations and, and how we think it's so vast and wide , and to pinpointing, you know, specific examples of po federal policy , uh, that address individually is a form of repair. And if you count, if you add that to the list of things that you see in my book , uh, is full total culture repair that this country needs,

Speaker 1:

I really like that example because it's very clear and it tells you, it gives you a sort of sub-issue underneath reparations to start thinking about how to address. We had a , another , um, author on the podcast, a number of months back , um, William Yu , who is a , uh, professor at, I think it's at Columbia Theological Seminary. Is that right, Lee ? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And he wrote a whole book about the peace USA's historic complicity in slavery, which is not something that people wanna talk about that often. But he also made the statement, he went like farther even and talked about, he went back through historical records to also determine the involvement of his own seminary, where he was teaching in slavery. And he said, if we do the hard work, this is to your comment about the check part of it, and also just being willing to do hard work. He went back and looked through the records and he said, we can find the people , the, the descendants of the people that helped build this seminary, and we could do something to help them. Now it won't undo the terrible things that were done, but it starts us down a path. And I think as of the time of we had recorded , uh, he was getting some pushback about doing that. Um, but he said, it also comes down to, for that particular institution, where is our money now in terms of providing a , you know, more affordable education to black and African American students who are interested in coming to our seminary? So it's, it's like there are things that are doable. We just have to be willing to sort of take an issue or maybe take a place, in this case it was an institution, and say, I wonder what could be done here. Um, so I really appreciate , appreciate you outlining that example with, with redlining and home values and schools, because those are all things that people can do something about now.

Speaker 3:

That's right. That's right. And , and to add on to that point about schools , uh, Georgetown has just recently announced how much they'll be giving to the descendants of slaves that help get them outta bankruptcy, help keep them solving and keep them alive. Uh , we have a, a private school here in the Baltimore area , uh, McDonald who, who just went through a huge , uh, research effort to identify the slaves that were owned by the namesake and the, and the financier of their school. And that was a hard task, right? Uh, and now they're in the efforts to reaching out to those descendants, right? And to making some accommodations. Uh, yes, it is hard, it's hard work, but it's, it's justice work, right? And, and , and , and it , and it is, and is an incumbent upon all of us. And guess what? The, the longer we delay it, the harder the work is . It would've been easier right after slavery to do this, because, you know, we actually had a lot more infor direct information. And in fact, the government tried to do it in Sherman Field, or number 15. But when Abraham Lincoln was shot, Andrew Johnson comes in, he says, no, we're not giving them anything. They were , we were getting 40 acres and a mule. Um , but when Andrew Johnson came, he revoked Sherman Field of number 15, and the slaves got nothing. Um , and we haven't been closed since. Um, but even after that, because I tell people, you know, if, if black suffering had stopped in 1865, we , we , we would not be having this conversation right now. So even after 1865, you know, 'cause a lot of folks like to say, well, we're complaining about something that nobody's still alive from. Well, after 1865 African Americans throughout this nation , uh, gathered together and created their own black enterprise zones called Black Wall Streets . I just left a city Tulsa Greenwood, right? And I , the church I pastored the basement is the last surviving edifice on Greenwood from the nine before the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. IWI went out every week to City Hall to protest for reparations for those survivors. I started the lawsuit for the church, our pastor, and now that the , now that the survivors are part of. And so , uh, we did this not just in Tulsa, we did this, we did this in Durham, we did this in East St. Louis. We did this pretty much Rosewood Florida, pretty much everywhere where black people were. We created our own black wall streets , um, in spite of Jim Crow. Right? Uh, and what happened, racial terror destroyed it, right? Um, then after that, we had redlining to , to , to depress our property value. Then after that, when we, when we rebuilt Black Wall Street in Tulsa, the building of the interstate highway bulldozed right? Directly through all these black enterprise zones. So as a result, today, when you go to dc , when you go to Atlanta, when you go to Birmingham, when you go to, to to Tulsa, when you go to most major black city , I mean major metropolitan areas, you can see a , a Chinatown, a little Mexico, a little Italy. Um , but you don't see a little Africa. You know why? Because the interstate highways bulldozed directly through those. Then on top of that, you know, we had the, the, so-called War on Drugs, which became a war on black people, right? And we, and then most recently, the crack cocaine distinction, which which is larger responsible for a large number of black men , uh, being incarcerated. So, I mean, I wish our , our issues stopped at 1865, but they still go on every day. Um, and we have yet to have a George Floyd bill passed , because right now we're still suffering from police brutality, and we still get high interest rates on our loans. Personally, I got a high interest rate on my loan buying a house, and I , I got a little settlement check and it said , solely based on the color of my skin, the bank gave me a high interest rate. And this happened, I bought this house in 2005, 2007. Right? And that , so racism still happens. Um, but repair has never , uh, been given. And so this, this issue is going to continue to plague us , uh, until we create that culture of repair that can truly save the soul America.

Speaker 2:

And it, it perpetuates the, the trauma, the , the , the, the birth of generational trauma coming from and how it's manifesting itself now. And I also, you know, because all of these systems, racism, white supremacy, impact all of us. And I always say like, it dems all of our souls, white people, black folk, other people of color. It is, it is one of those things that eats away at all of us. Yeah . And, and I wonder about that also, that conversation too, as it relates to reparations , uh, because I, like you were saying, it is something that is just eating away at everybody and that spiritual element of it all. I wonder if you can talk about that too. 'cause I know in your book you said you talked about spiritual reparations and what that looks like, because, because these sys , because these systems do dimm all of our souls in ways that, that just kind of keep going. So I wonder about what , when you say spiritual reparations, what, what also do you mean about, about what that means for us?

Speaker 3:

Yeah , because America has, has always prided herself. Um , she, she is a self-professed Christian nation. And I repeat self-professed , uh, Christian nation. We, we , we, we have placed God in , God we trust on our dollar bills. Um, we start off every session of our legislature in prayer. Uh, we have a , a , a chaplain for our United States Congress. So America's always, you know, prided herself in being a separate professed Christian nation. Um, so, but in order to do that and to maintain the institution of slavery, because slavery was not just a few white men gathering together to own slaves, no, slavery was government policy. It was institutionalized in our constitution. It was institutionalized in our state constitutions. It would , it became part and parcel of American life, both north and south. In order to do that and still maintain your piety, you had to bend your religious teachings to accommodate, and in some cases, in a lot of cases, support , uh, the institution of slavery and , uh, white supremacy. And so , uh, we have terrible scholarship , uh, in, in, in Christian theological circles that support slavery, that support segregation. Uh , we, we have had denominations break up and split apart solely based on the issue of race. Um , and so yes, the, the church, there is a great need for a spiritual repair. Um , we, we cannot talk about the role of the government. We cannot talk about the role of, of institutions and , and nonprofits and even individuals without speaking to the fact that America has always had o well over 75% church attendance. So these races went to church somewhere, right? I mean, and , and , and , and in the early days, it was almost 90% church attendance. So these slave masters went to church. They were pastors, they was deacons, they were trustees. Um, and , and a large part, a lot of these churches that were built before 1865 were built by, you guessed it, slave labor. Um, so there's a great need that you'll see talked about in the book concerning the role the church can play, the role the faith community , uh, needs to play and atoning , um, for their upholding of, of sin , uh, of, of white supremacy, of racism. Um, there are several examples. And , and , and what, and what unfortunately , uh, the church has done also , uh, is violate one of the 10 commandments, which is making a graven image and making an image of , um, that , that those things that are in heaven , um, that clearly has been spoken against in the Bible. Um, and we have made God into a white man, period point blank. And that, and that , and that . And you see those pictures everywhere, not just in America. You see it in the 16th chapel as well. But we've made God into a white man, and we have deified whiteness in this nation and in the western world that has caused debilitating effects on people's faith, walk with God. Um, and , and , and seeing and seeing whiteness as God or Godlike has, has greatly harmed , um, the e the evangelistic efforts of the church in communities of color , uh, not just here in the states. I've been a missionary, I've mentioned done mission work in Egypt and Kenya , uh, and some in the states. Um , and they may not say it to the white missionaries, but they definitely have shared it to me how appalling , um, the, the , the historically inaccuracy of those biblical porches are to them. And, and , and , and , and , and the church needs to repair , uh, that harm as well.

Speaker 1:

So where would you advise the church and faith communities start in that repair work? And I'll, and I'll just remind folks, we are a podcast at the Presbyterian Church, USA, which is a majority white church <laugh>. Uh, and , and so that also recognizing that the roles that each congregation, each faith community plays might be a little bit different depending on the demographic and the historical context , um, for each faith community. But what guidance would you give for churches in trying to start doing that repair work?

Speaker 3:

Thank you for that question. And I, and I must also commend the Presbyterian church for their, doing the hard work in a lot of cases, doing work against some of the wishes of its own parishioners. But that, so it takes leadership. What I would advise all churches to do, both black and white, is to research your history, to research your founding. Um , no, you did not. Do, you were not there. You were not alive. Probably weren't even a member. Your family probably was not even, were not even members of the church that did those things. And maybe they were, but you were not alive. But you are a part of that church today. So it falls upon you, just like you have inherited this beautiful historic building, the beautiful stained glass windows, the beautiful pews , the beautiful heritage and placed that your church is located in probably some downtown community, which, which has a very much high value today. And right now , uh, research when your church was built and research who built it, right? Um , research. And , and just because somebody paid for it didn't mean folks who work got paid for it . I just said something. Just because somebody paid for it doesn't mean the folks who built it got paid for it, right? So your records may say , uh, Robert Turner paid for it, but it doesn't mean the folks who actually did the work were paid for the work they did. Um, so do the hard work and recognizing, you know, who Robert , who, who that person was that paid for it. And , and finding those families also, you know, looking critically, looking critically at the theology and polity , uh, of your church to see how it has condoned , uh, supported our quieted voices who from marginalized communities, black communities who may have in previous , uh, conferences spoken up , um, but were silenced or even kicked out of the church. We saw that a lot during the civil rights movement. On, on, on pastors in , in predominantly white churches who spoke up for, for, for what was right. Uh, were kicked out. Um, you know, having some post-human service, even if , if, if , if they're dead, if they're alive, obviously honor them while they're alive. But to have some type of service, recognizing them , um, and , and the hard work that they did. And to really critically , uh, try to reach out, reach out to those descendants of, of the individuals who built your parish. Um, and , um, invite, invite speakers to come in , uh, to, to possibly share the hard truth about where we need to go. Um, I've, I've done several engagements helping people in court communities. There , there is a model, there is a model, and I'm, I'm definitely not the only one who does it, but to have someone work with your congregation for, for true racial healing, right? But that, that only comes after you can admit that you are sick and have been sick, or have people that have been sick , um, in your midst. And, and , and then we can really do, I mean, we can really do the hard work HARD, hard work of hard work , H-E-A-R-T, the hard work of hard work that can really bring about that, that true culture of repair. 'cause it's not, it's not about, you know, really changing, part of it's changing political policy, but the end goal is changing the hearts and minds, right? We, we have seen policy change with no heart change all the time, right? But in order for it to be sustainable and really most worthwhile, we need that heart change , uh, as well.

Speaker 2:

And it's not like an easy thing. I think people want to take the easy route out and, and throw a check at something or, and they could be as progressive as the day, like the sky is blue. But at the end of the day, it is thinking deeper and thinking how our actions do kind of spur out. And the PCSA, well, not then, but it was the Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. One of the most big , the biggest speaker pro-slavery was a Presbyterian minister. Wow . And that Presbyterian minister gave a Thanksgiving Day sermon that impacted a lot of people in the South and how they viewed slavery. So the Presbyterian church has a, a not so great history about this, and we don't often talk about it enough. And I think that's also something I wonder about, like that accountability piece because of how people take things personally, or how they, this white supremacy culture of reacting and being defensive and all these things. And I think how , how do we prime people? I don't even know if we can even answer that. How do you prime people to even be held accountable? Because people just don't, white folk specifically don't like to be held accountable for actions. And how that disconnect of like, you know, legacy . Like, I wasn't there. I didn't do this. Why do I , is it my responsibility? And there is no , and there is like that ability to disconnect in a way that's so like the empathy behind it. And I think that's the work that, you know, a lot of the times our specific church is trying to do. And, and I think we're, we're getting there, but it is just a hard long process because as we were saying, this is centuries in the making really.

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and we , and , and it will really take to fully get us out, and you will see it in the book. It will , it will , it will take more than just a few years to, to turn this ship around . This is not a robo . This is a, a , a jetliner, I mean a jetliner. This is this , this is a, a Titanic , uh, of a ship that we, we have to turn in order to turn. You have to be willing to put in that extra work, but it, it can be done. I'm, I'm very optimistic. I've seen much more , uh, change in my life than my, than both my parents, my mom and my dad , uh, have ever seen in theirs. And , and , and , and if, and if we, if we can't do it, then we , we , we , where we are really setting the standard high for the following generation, because we have done a lot of amazing things. And America as a whole, and her history has been arguably , uh, one of the most benevolent nations in the world. I mean, we're the first to respond to natural disasters. We, we, we, we held Russia accountable. We, we, we , we, we , we right now are holding Putin accountable. We, we have held , uh, Nazi Germany accountable. We've held , uh, Stalin's Russia and Fidel Castro accountable. Um, but we can't hold white supremacists accountable. I mean, like, I mean , we can do justice. We can do good work on every front, it seems, except when it comes to doing good work explicitly and exclusively , uh, for black people. And that's been a problem America has had to deal with. Like, we would much rather help , uh, blacks in Africa. And we don't do a good job of that than blacks right here in America, you know? And that's a problem. I mean, we have churches that do mission trips, right? To help people all across the country. I mean, they raise money, they raise , they raise money, right? But kids across the street from the church, at the school, at the church have 30 kids to a classroom. We , I mean, we can't sponsor a , an extra teacher for this classroom, for our , for , for , for the kids, for the school right across the street. We can build a school in some other part of the world. We can straight up build a school from nothing across the world. But we have schools across the street from the church that don't even need to be built. They just need to be better staffed, you know? And we can't do that because those schools are attended by black kids. And so I , um, I I I , I , I love America. I love America. I love America. She, she, she has the heart of gold , um, for everything but black folks. And that's been, that's been, that's been her. And that's really been the , the , the , the biggest, one of the biggest issues with the church as well. I mean, you read some of the old , uh, annual conference reports , uh, from these , uh, churches and the work that they did , um, is , is remarkable. But when you look at what they've done as far as their track record on race, it's, it's deplorable. It is deplorable. And so we can get this right. We have gotten several other things right, you know, for others. Um, but we need to try to make sure we, we don't limit our benevolence to, to everybody, but black folks.

Speaker 1:

And I think that part of white supremacy culture is that it, it, it pits uh , marginalized groups against each other.

Speaker 3:

They do.

Speaker 1:

It does. And we , we've , and we've talked about this on , on previous podcast episodes, but I think like just a , like a, you know, a clear sort of example would be, oh, if, well, if we're doing work on this, then we have to do work on this for that group and that group and that group. It's like, if we're gonna dig into the history

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

To look at who built our building, well then we also need to do a land acknowledgement and see who's, which native, you know, which , uh, native nation we stole this land from to be able to build this church. And now suddenly it's just a whole thing. And no one wants to do any work on any of it because it's too much. We

Speaker 3:

Make it complex,

Speaker 1:

Right?

Speaker 3:

Do it

Speaker 1:

Right. But in actuality, if we're people of faith, we're doing both and we're not doing either or. Um, but I wanna just get a little bit more on, on your perspective on that, because I think that is a trap that people fall into. It's like, oh, we have to do everything now the moment we start doing something for anyone, if that makes sense, which is a very problematic view, <laugh> ,

Speaker 3:

It , it , it is very problematic. And it's typically only stated things that folks don't want to do, period. Point blank. You know, I for instance, had my son just celebrated his birthday on Friday. Um, I took him shopping to the mall and because it's his birthday, I got him something. But guess what, I had my other son with me. And because he was with me, guess what I did for my other son? I bought him something too, right? Then I got my, I got my, my birthday son the most, 'cause it's his birthday, but I got my other son something too. So there's, it is no either or if it's somebody that you love, if it's somebody, if it's somebody that you love, you know what Jesus said , who is your neighbor? If, if , if we consider everybody our neighbor, and if we are our brother's keeper, then there's no picks and chooses. It's , it's the work that we've been called to do, but even more so for those folks who we have forgotten about and have gotten to nothing, right? I mean, literally nothing. And black people have gotten nothing. There's not been one policy, there's not been one policy that was, that was specifically allocated to just black people. You can't say affirmative action, because that benefit is really, if you look at the numbers, the largest beneficiary of affirmative action and welfare snap programs is white women. That's just the numbers, right? If you , and , and , and , and , and even, and even amendments that benefited black folks don't even say the word black. They just say, and all people born shall be free, right? And, and , and , and , and the , and the government shall not have respect the person, stuff like that. But it's not specifically stated. And so as a result of that, other groups have been able to use to their own benefit, right? And I'm not mad at that, but they've been able to use the 14 amendment, 15th amendment, the 16th amendment to their benefit, right? So nothing that his country's ever done has just benefited black folks. We, people have used, you know, the model of the civil rights movement to benefit their movements. And I ain't mad at that, right? I ain't mad at that at all. Um, but this country has been very nice to other , to other folks and to other groups. I'm great . I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy for that. But you still have yet to do anything just for black people. And so to your point, anytime there's a discussion about reparations, other folks are mentioned, right? But when, but , but when other folks are mentioned for their own blessing, guess who's not mentioned, black people <laugh>. So we can bless others exclusively, but, but , but, but we have to be inclusive with other folks when we bless black people that, that, that , that shows you America still has a problem with race.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. And, and I wonder, before, before we we bid you farewell, I , we would love to give you time to talk explicitly about your book and like how to get it, all those things, what we can expect of it. Uh, so tell us a little bit about , uh, creating a culture of repair.

Speaker 3:

Creating a culture of repair against the launch largest list of preparatory ideas in the world, over 100 ways of giving repair. Uh , it can be purchased, right? It can be pre-ordered , uh, right now on through Amazon, through Barnes and Nobles , uh, through christianity, books.com , through John Knox Westminster. Um, it , it , it , it , it is readily available. It should be . It, it is , it is done. I finished my writing , thank God. Um, and so it , it will be, it'll be shipped to you April in 24. Um, very affordable. Can be a birthday gift for a Christmas gift. Uh, it's like $20 , uh, if you get it right now. Um, and then it is very well researched. It took me over three years to write. And I'm thank thankful that I'm finished. But you , what , what , but what you will find in there are digestible blueprints for creating a culture of repair. If you don't wanna wait on the government, there's, there are ways you can do in individual forms of repair. If you want to team and partner with some friends, there are ways you can do societal forms of repair, or if you wanted to help lobby government. There are ways for institutional forms of repair, or if you are a part of a faith community, there are ways you can do and fight for and advocate for religious or spiritual repair. Whatever walk of life you're in, if you solo dolo, if you, if you alone by yourself, you wanna do individual, there's a path for you. If you are involved in community with people, there's a path for you. If you are a policymaker or want to share ideas to a policymaker, there are things for you . If you are a faith leader , uh, there are ideas for you. No one, no one , uh, is, is, is left out at all. And if you would like me to come and schedule , uh, a, a book signing or a speaking engagement to talk more about the book , uh, to your various group or whatnot, your network, feel free , uh, to reach out to me. Um , pastorTurner@empowermenttemple.net, r uh , Robert Turner, 15 at Hotmail. Yes . I still have hotmail account hotmail.com, <laugh> , uh, I'd be happy to hear from you. If for some reason it goes to spam , uh, I'm not a , you can feel free to, to continue to reach out. I'm on Instagram , uh, at Rev, Dr . R-E-V-D-R Robert Turner. That's my Instagram. I'm also on Twitter under the same name as well. And shoot me a message and I'll be happy to respond.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Robert, for being with us today and for this really insightful conversation. We'll be sure to have a link to your book in the show notes so that people can check it out. And once again, thank you for being with us.

Speaker 3:

Thank You'all so much for having y'all doing some great work.

Speaker 2:

Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of a matter of eight . We want you to subscribe wherever you get your podcast and lead the podcast a review and give us five stars. We love that. If you have any questions for us, send them to Faith podcast@pcusa.org and check out our website, a matter of faith podcast.com, and we will talk to you again next week.