Under Our Skin. getting real about race.

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benjamin-watsons-book-under-our-skinIn a book of just 204 short pages, Benjamin Watson expresses his thoughts and feelings and ideas in such an honest and thought provoking manner. Eloquent yet very forward, he takes us inside himself as a man, as a Black (African American) man and as a man of God. This book is not preachy but an honest dialogue of a man’s heart. Whether or not your beliefs are the same as his, you will come away on page 204 different than you were on page 1.

He examines racism and himself from the following -anger, introspectiveness, embarrassment, frustration, fearfulness and confusion, sadness and sympathy, offense, hopelessness, encouragement and empowerment. He draws us in to help us examine ourselves and to be brutally honest and open. I actually love the way he thinks about his own feelings, thoughts and actions and then frames them in a biblical perspective before communicating outwardly. As you progress through the book, you can feel the raw honesty of acknowledging where he fits in the situation instead of flinging blames and accusations. He presents the root -the heart of mankind that only God can change.

Watson does not allow us to sit back and point a presumptive finger at racism. He makes us take that hard look of examining ourselves against the issue of racism and admit that it is inside each of us.  If racism was just ‘a’ person or even ‘a group’ of people we could contain it. But it is much larger than that. This is a human kind issue.

Besides recognizing racism as evil, he expresses the need the conversation -dialogue. Too often we presume things to be one way when they were actually meant or viewed another way. We should seek the common good instead of the small things that are so divisive and hurtful. If we stay closed-minded and never dialogue among each other we allow those differences to stagnate our worldview. Those experiences we have never get shared until something on the racial spectrum happens and then we simply blow in an unhealthy way. It is gravely important that whites and blacks try to dialogue and understand the other side. But, Watson, candidly recognized that racism will not go away completely but we can make it better.

From each book I read, I take away something or garner a favorite quote. I have expressed my views and concerns with many and they mostly parallel Watson’s. But here is where he goes a step further than I …

“And you and I are both guilty,

We all have malice deep down.

We all harbor wrong attitudes towards others.

At its core, the issue is not about race. It’s about the human heart.

… Nothing will change … unless …

Unless God changes our hearts and minds.

God, hear our prayer … (p. 17).

Watson makes it personal for me. He uses the pronouns you and I, whereas I always used ‘they’. Sad but true. It took longer to read this book than I expected because it caused me to be reflective throughout the chapters. And that is just the thing that makes for a good non-fiction book.

Thank you Mr. Watson

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