“If there was no such thing as language, would we all be saying the same thing?” — Kelly FitzPatrick Silva (Kitchen Philosopher)
After the controversy that emerged from the conversation on race between Lou Giglio, the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, and the rapper Lecrae where Giglio tried to rebrand the concept of “white privilege” as “white blessings”, I decided to share this message on language from my 2013 graduation speech.
What is the language of justice?
Our biggest challenge throughout history has been listening to and through difference. Wars have been fought over words. Perhaps all conflict is over words. As we start to engage in these conversations that are needed to heal this planet, we need to understand that we will mess up. We will sound stupid. We will offend. Even the most “woke” among us will put our foot in it. I’m probably doing it every day because I’m talking.
But with grace, we can fail and argue progressively. We can talk ourselves into a higher way of being and relating.
But in order to get there some of us will have to choose to face these conversations in wonder. Maybe not all of us. Because the fact is some of us are just too tired and not everyone listens to reason. But, for those of us who feel that we have the capacity to engage in these conversations that may very well get messy, here are some statements for your toolbox should someone say something that challenges you.
1. What did you mean when you said _______?
2. Because if I were to say what you said, I would mean ________.
3. If that is not what you meant, are you willing to help me understand how you use the word, _________?
I go deeper into this in this message I gave at my seminary graduation.
Of course, this is only meant to be used when you are in a conversation with someone with whom you can reasonably assume that they are trying to connect with you. If the person is just trying to cause you harm, leave if possible and connect with people who can help you return to enforce, mental, or spiritual health. I hope this serves you. Go out there and make some good mistakes.
If you’re ready to get started, visit https://www.livingroomconversations.org/race-and-ethnicity-conversation-series/