I’ve seen lots of people posting books to read to help others gain more understanding of the history of racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Tonight, the news reported that sales on Amazon have increased for books about these issues.
I love to read. I love to learn about different cultures. I have so many books in my house I am out of room for them, again. I have a Master of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Multicultural and Transnational Literature and will pursue a PhD in English in the fall. Trust me, I know the importance and power of reading. I know that the written word can stir hearts and can invoke positive change by educating others. But, you know what I believe in even more than reading? Relationships.
Reading might provide stepping stones to combat racism, but nothing will complete the path other than relationships. It’s one thing to read about a person whose life is different from yours or hardships that a person has had to endure that you have not. It’s something more to build a relationship. Sitting beside them, sharing a meal with them, being in their home or inviting them into yours, worshipping God together, talking about the frustrations and joys of life, watching your children play, attending the funeral or taking something to the house when someone has passed – those are the things that begin to magnify your similarities instead of your differences. Those are the things that bring trust and not divide.
A book can be closed and put back on a shelf to be forgotten. You can read that book you ordered and no one even know or be able to tell. Or, it can give you knowledge without application or real understanding, and that might be worse than not reading at all. Relationships that are healthy will grow and change hearts. Relationships by themselves can help reduce racism, but reading by itself will not.