PUBLISHED: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 by Brad Lyons

The cover of "Healing Racial Divides"When you meet Terrell Carter, it’s easy to visualize him as a pastor. He’s soft-spoken, funny, kind, and humble. In my catalog of personalities, he’s very different from my stereotype of a police officer as a brash, swaggering, forceful character. But Terrell was also a police officer in the City of St. Louis before his calling to ministry. Terrell himself is breaking my stereotype, and I’m grateful for that.

Terrell CarterUnderstanding stereotypes, then dismantling them, is part of what Terrell Carter works to achieve in his most recent book, Healing Racial Divides: Finding Strength in Our Diversity, available now from Chalice Press. We’ve all learned about the roots of racism in the English colonies, the pre-Civil War United States, and the Jim Crow Era, but Carter shows us how those roots produced stereotypes that continue to play out to this day in American society. He also shows how those roots continue to oppress people of color – in poverty, in violence, and in our congregations. Putting contemporary examples alongside scriptural antecedents, Carter helps us understand racism’s twisted roots run deeper than we care to imagine, then shows us a way to rip out those roots and start over.

“We must try to understand why we live in divided communities, cities, states, and nations,” he writes in the Foreword. “We must try to understand why police shootings of black men, whether armed or unarmed, continue to represent what black people believe is most wrong with the United States. We must try to understand why images of black people in criminal activity continue to be the ones primarily highlighted and pushed through various media platforms.”

There are lots of excellent books out right now about American racism, each worth reading. As a police officer-turned-pastor, Carter brings a unique perspective to the congregation. Why do we need another book on racism? He names seven reasons:

  • Our churches are still divided. Odds are you’ve heard the statement that the Sunday hour of worship is the most segregated hour in American culture. At the book’s conclusion, Carter offers advice on creating a multicultural church, the embodiment of the integrated America we crave.
  • We all need to learn about people different from us. In all the ways we are different – race, creed, profession, political views – we may find better ways to live our lives, but we won’t be exposed to those diverse possibilities if we cocoon ourselves with those who resemble us.
  • Our struggles are spiritual and racial. Try as we might, we still need divine inspiration to truly conquer racism.
  • We must name our own sin(s) before we can point a finger at others. Understanding our own shortcomings, then addressing them, will strengthen us for the work of dismantling racism in our culture.
  • Our personal monuments are sometimes more important to us than God’s. Where we see values that support our own moral codes may be outdated or even hurtful to others.
  • Heaven will be more diverse than we can imagine. No matter how creative you may be, we are all in for a surprise when we see heaven with our own eyes.
  • Unity in how we live with each other is a sign of spiritual maturity. Strength in diversity will make us better Christians and better people.

We want every Chalice Press book to be useful in the real world, and in the final chapter Carter teaches us how to begin the work of creating a multicultural church and preaching about race.

We are releasing Healing Racial Divides in January for a reason. This month's Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday brings racial issues and reconciliation to the foreground each year. Our hope is that this book arrives at a time when readers are seeking new resources to continue working toward Dr. King's Beloved Community. (As an aside, check out our free ebook, "The Beloved Community Today," featuring excerpts by William Barber II, Melvin Bray, Leah Gunning Francis, Carolyn Helsel, Sandhya Rani Jha, Nicole Massie Martin, and Michael Waters. You'll be glad you did.)

When you finish Healing Racial Divides, you will have a better understanding of American racism, of your congregation’s unconscious biases, and why you have your particular perceptions and misperceptions about race. You’ll be able to make better decisions about how you can bring about a world that sees beyond race – the world God calls us to create.

Gratefully,
Brad