Sankofa Reflection 2022: The Journey to Reconciliation
2018 was a deeply transformational year for me in my journey towards understanding race in our country. Just a few years earlier, Victor, a close friend who is Black, told me graciously, “Dan, I perceive you as someone that has a heart for racial reconciliation, that’s why you moved your family into Historic South Atlanta, share resources, talk about the New Humanity in Christ, but I don’t know if you understand the depth of the issue.” This bothered me when I first heard it because I had been passionate about the church being one for almost ten years. But I knew the Spirit had something deeper for me.
The Sankofa Journey to Harmony took my journey to a whole new understanding of the sin of white supremacy in our country and the complicity of the church…
This set me on a journey to understand the depth of the issue regarding the sin of racism in our country. This led to a group of men going through Be the Bridge in 2019 and it climaxed with a trip to Montgomery in the summer of 2019 soon after Bryan Stevenson with the Equal Justice Initiative opened up the Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice.
I cannot adequately express how deeply moving the National Memorial for Peace and Justice is. As we walked around the memorial, we read quotes on the walls. The quote that impacted me the most was, “With no protection from the constant threat of death, nearly six million Black Americans fled the South between 1910 and 1970. Many left behind homes, families, and employment to flee racial terror as traumatized refugees. Lynching profoundly reshaped the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans in ways still evident today.” Six million Black Americans fled to the North because of the fear of being lynched. This is our collective history and we have to sit with this.
Since then, I’ve helped co-lead the Southern Justice Experience with OneRace and just went on a Sankofa Trip with Transform Minnesota. The Sankofa Journey to Harmony took my journey to a whole new understanding of the sin of white supremacy in our country and the complicity of the church as we went to Selma; Jackson and Sumner, Mississippi; and Memphis, TN. In Jackson we had the honor to spend time learning from the forefather of the racial reconciliation movement in the church with Dr. John Perkins. In Sumner we sat at the courthouse where the murderers of Emmett Till were acquitted and we then visited the barn where Emmett Till was murdered by white supremacists. We then went to Memphis and visited the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.
This is what these trips and experiences do, particularly for white people, it helps us understand the depth of the issue, and so that the Holy Spirit lights a fire in our hearts to go back and change the structures that the sin of white supremacy has created with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our guide.
As Nina Barnes, who helped the lead the trip, led us in a time of debrief Friday afternoon at a church just outside of Memphis, I sat next to a new friend who’s a Black woman and I asked her how she was feeling about the week. She looked at me with exhaustion in her eyes and said, “I’m numb.” I told her I couldn’t agree with her more. This is what these trips and experiences do, particularly for white people, it helps us understand the depth of the issue, and so that the Holy Spirit lights a fire in our hearts to go back and change the structures that the sin of white supremacy has created with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our guide.
The five key ways that the trip helped me to have a different lens:
- Reconciliation is not something that you “do” to merely appease people, but it becomes something you are. You’re not looking to merely have diversity for diversity’s sake, but to really have true God-breathed and spirit led reconciliation.
- The motivation to pursue the New Humanity in Christ is done out of purity of your heart once you see the depth of the issue. Once you see the depth of the issue, you realize the depth of commitment that needs to happen to change the story.
- As an Anglo man from majority culture who’s been given all sorts of privilege by culture, it automatically makes me want to give up that privilege after seeing the evil of racism.
- I developed a sense of urgency for justice and reconciliation. My heart was set ablaze to go back and share everything that I had just experienced.
- It helped me to understand the importance of taking the “long arc of reconciliation.” The evil sin of racism has so ravaged this country and the church that it’s going to take years of concerted effort to see the justice of God come to fruition.
Dan Crain joined the OneRace Movement team in January of 2020 as the Director of Groups and Mobilization. He has a Master of Intercultural Ministries and currently living in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and kids.