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In a previous post, I wrote about white Christians, and in particular white Christian leaders.

I’ve gotten some private messages from friends of color in solidarity but also letting me know of their inability to speak out because there’s fear. There’s fear because so many PoC organizations are funded through prominent white churches and donors. And white fragility is a real thing and there’s a legitimate fear of the repercussion of what might happen. This reality is too true and too painful. The previous post about risk WASN’T to people of color – it was to white people. And the reality of position, privilege, and most importantly power, is why I felt the challenge was so needed white leaders.

People of color are done with performative displays of allyship that cost nothing to white people and in actuality elevates them to hero.

As we move forward, as these protests begin to die down, as we ask ourselves what’s next, I really hope white leaders seriously think about and plan to take the risks they’re claiming to take with their next steps. It’s easy to post something generic online to make yourselves look good. But what actions will you actually take? Who will you be listening to and learning from? What are you willing to risk and sacrifice? And most importantly, how willing are you to relinquish your power and control to leaders of color?

Some questions to ask yourselves as we move forward:
–Who are you learning from? Who are you reading? Who is holding you accountable and challenging you without catering to your fragility, ego, and discomfort?
–Who will you add to your board? Who will you have to chair and head up your board?
–What staff will you hire, and not as interns that you can pay the lowest amount of dollars for, but as leaders and executives? Who will you hire into positions that have authority and power to challenge, veto, and even possibly fire you?
–Where you be allocating funds? How will you pay your hires, especially since we KNOW how some of you have shifted ENTIRE budgets around to pay for a good number of mediocre white men who’ve sold themselves as experts.
–How will you compensate people of color in the same way because of all the value, worth, and wisdom they bring to your team? Or will you again, try to build your empire off the backs of people of color for the lowest wages possible?
–How will you show your repentance and commitment to be different in the future? Don’t just tell us you’re sad and heartbroken. Lay out actual plans for what you’ll be doing to put your repentance and sadness into action and change.
–How will you be making amends to the people you’ve hurt and pained in the past? How will you fund and bring healing to those you’ve violated with your ignorance, racism, micro-aggressive actions? How will you begin to listen to those who have left your churches and organizations because you were unwilling to listen and believe what was told to you about your racism and the racism of your other leaders and congregants?

What are you prepared to do?

One of my favorite all-time movies is The Untouchables. Kevin Costner’s character, Elliot Ness, is mentored by a Jimmy Malone, a beat cop played by Sean Connery. Throughout the film, Jimmy repeatedly asks what Elliot is prepared to do to catch Al Capone – what is he prepared to risk and how far is he willing to go in order for justice to be served. People of color are asking the same question. We are all asking this question of leaders.

The world is watching. People of color are watching. Things are shifting. Are you TRULY wanting to be on the right side of history or will you continue to give us receipts for your passivity, complicity, silence, and empty words as we move forward? You can join the movement and change or you can be left behind and die out as you currently are already doing. The choice is yours.

Irene Cho

Irene is a national speaker, writer, consultant, and advisor, having worked with nonprofit organizations for over 27 years, focusing predominantly on youth identity and faith development, race and diversity, and organizational leadership, and women in leadership. Her passion is for the misfits of the world and to bring the gospel message of joy and hope to the least, the lost, and the last. She holds a Master of Divinity from Talbot Theological Seminary and a BA in Christian Education from Biola University. After serving as the Program Manager of Urban Leadership Training for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) at Fuller Theological Seminary for the last 11 years, Irene is embarking on a new venture of resourcing applicable to those on the margins. Be sure to sign up for the latest updates to find out more. In her minimal spare time, Irene enjoys a great book, movie, or television show, hanging out with friends and former students, and her husband, and of course getting some sleep.

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