Rooted in Love – by Jeanelle Wheeler

I believe white people need to learn to talk about race.  White people need to own our whiteness and examine what whiteness means.  This examination is a huge part of fighting for racial justice because, as Lala Saad writes in her book, Me and White Supremacy, “You cannot dismantle what you cannot see.  You cannot challenge what you do not understand.”  As a white woman, I still have a whole lot I am figuring out.  This work is lifelong.  Much of it is uncomfortable, but rooted in love, we need this dialogue.

Jeanelle Wheeler, educator, and recent master’s degree recipient at Brown University, is contemplating membership in Agape’s Mission Council.

In her reflections offered at our 31st annual (and first ever virtual) St. Francis Day event, Jeanelle Wheeler, who has been present at Agape since she was in utero, highlighted an insight from Layla Saad’s Me and White Supremacy. Saad writes, “you cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand.”

We hope that these selections from some of the reflections delivered during St. Francis Day will provide you with a sense of our collective efforts to see, understand, challenge, and dismantle white supremacy together. Included here are excerpts from Jeanelle’s questioning of her own white privilege; Edgar Hayes’s grappling with systemic racism as a “soulless system of oppression”; Nancy and Steve James’s reflections on their experiences in Haiti as a Baptist missionary family; Rev. J.B. Fields’s closing reflections on Francis Day and his follow up visit to Agape; a comment by Micah Rader-Hayes, age 14, on living in COVID times.

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