PISAB workshops are probably in the running for many of us to be the most awkward experiences we could imagine. In one weekend, the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond puts on what they call “Undoing Racism”, which is – as you can probably guess – a seminar all about the state of race relations in America.
But unlike a lot of seminars, PISAB’s ‘Undoing Racism’ isn’t a lecture. Attendees walk into a room that is a giant circle of chairs – a clear signal from the first moment that you’re going to have to talk about race and racism.
They begin by asking you to introduce yourself, and as people take turns around the circle, common themes emerge:
“It’s a little touchy.”
“It’s weird to deal with.”
“I feel tongue-tied or frozen.”
“I feel so anxious… It makes me want to avoid talking about it.”
As much as half the room admits, from the outset, that talking about race makes them feel awkward or uncomfortable. But they showed up anyway.
PISAB coined a term for that discomfort – when well-meaning people struggle to talk about racism.
They call it “your growing edge”.
Which is really good news. Think about all that phrase implies. You’re growing. This is a good thing. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not the kind of pain that comes from a wound. It’s a growing pain. You’re getting better.
And it’s the edge. You’ve found your limits, the extent of your abilities (right now). You’re uncomfortable precisely because you’re beyond your comfort zone.
Let’s talk about how God invites us into these awkward spaces. Because God wants us to grow. God wants to show us our unseen biases and unchallenged perspectives. God wants us to be a people of justice. But we can’t do that until we learn to see the invisible structures of oppression and injustice around us.