We drew self-portraits with skin-tone colored crayons and gave our skin tones wonderful names like all-spice, peanut butter cookie, peach, moca, snicker-doodle and ‘sugar cookie. Sitting at round tables, looking into each other’s faces, we told our stories of what brought us there. We agreed to SAFE SPACE Guidelines to keep the atmosphere healthy for learning and healing. We learned twenty terms, yes 20, that are essential to our participation. We were made aware of some significant information that our standard history lessons excluded. And then we signed on to do a significant amount of homework before next month’s meeting.
This was the launch of Intro to Brownicity: The Art & Beauty of Living & Loving Beyond Race. “Brownicity” is the combination of the words brownand ethnicity. The word/color brown represents melanin, the pigment that we all have—those with darker skin tones have more and those with lighter skin tones have less.
Racism has a lot of people talking right now. This is good because when we don’t talk about racism, it flourishes. However, many people find themselves tossed to and fro by the race-winds of the media, politics, social and economic perspectives, emotions and/or religious convictions. Almost daily, regarding race issues, they find themselves confused about where to stand, who to support, and what to believe, fight, vote, pray and hope for.
Even with the best hearts and well-meaning intentions, confusion gets us nowhere! That’s why Brownicity is dedicated to building the capacity of everyone to engage in courageous thinking, conversations and living that counter the lie, ideology and legacy of race. Through our ‘Brown’-tables, we offer a family-friendly, safe space for equipping and empowering participants to engage in meaningful conversations that bring about healing, change and HOPE. When race/ism is addressed in the context of love, it loses its power.
We will meet the first Tuesday of the month for six months to engage and participate in dialogue, sharing, and activities that support healing, understanding, creativity, and community building. Between meetings, we do assigned ‘homework’ (yes, homework) to foster our growth—like watching films or documentaries, doing reflective and creative writing, reading complementary material, and participating in online discussions. The sessions are sequential. So to have the best experience, participants will attend each session and do all the homework. It’s like a dynamic, experiential course in ‘race’ literacy!
Around 80 people—adults and children—attended the first session with eager hearts and open minds! Their participation is a major contribution to national healing and change. If you are local (Charlotte) and missed our first Brown-table session, but would like to join us for the remaining five sessions, please complete the homework and mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 4, 7pm at The Hope Center (Mosaic Church Charlotte).
For those who attended, we’d love to hear from you. Please respond below with feedback and questions. Did you learn anything new? What was something you experienced during this session that impacted you?