Hi, guys. I’m Kim Bandy, a director at Spero, and I’m facilitating a personal blog series. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying the national events of the past week and a half has been overwhelming. There are many steps that need to be taken personally, organizationally, and collectively. But one step that seems like the hardest and perhaps least exercised is the step of listening well. In particular, I know those of us who represent my personal demographic—a white, evangelical who grew up in the United States—must begin listening to those who are telling us that what happened in Charlottesville was painful.
So, I asked a few friends if they’d be willing to share with us and they graciously accepted. I have learned a tremendous amount from them about life, discipleship, leadership, integrity and compassion. And they have been instrumental in helping me understand their call for reconciliation in the church and in America.
I am hopeful about myself and about others in our community. I’m hopeful that we can listen well—just as we would to someone who is sitting across a table from us expressing this pain in the way they would any other pain in their life. I hope to listen without trying to determine if they are “right” or if I agree with every perspective. I hope to listen without asking them to hurry past the pain. And I hope to listen in a way that doesn’t filter their pain through the lens of how it makes me feel. I am hopeful to listen well to my brothers and sisters in the Kingdom. And I’m hopeful to follow their lead. Because, while they are brave enough to share this pain with us, they are most certainly not defined by this pain. They are defined by the strength and vision they possess as followers of Jesus who have much to teach me.
Let's talk with our friend, Lee.
'I'm a white, evangelical Christian. What do you want me to know about Charlottesville?'
As a middle-aged, African American male who loves this country and grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, singing America the Beautiful every morning in school, rooting for ANY American in the Olympic games, etc., I am very much saddened by what I’ve witnessed in Charlottesville. However, I am not disappointed by the people in the streets nearly as much as the people in places of influence and power whose silence and or complicity has by all appearances fertilized the soil of bigotry and hate that pervades this country.
In the end, as I have shared with many, I am not sure which to fear most, North Korea or the country that I call home and its leadership.
‘Does this feel out of the blue to you like it does to many white Christians/Americans? Why or why not?'
What has and is occurring in our country today does not ‘feel out of the blue’ to me. I, and many like me have seen this coming. It has existed as long as I can remember, but gained great momentum with the election of President Barack Obama. It has been brewing for some time, similar to a volcano. However, a volcano does not get attention until it erupts, especially if the safety of the innocent, especially if ALL is threatened.
'How does it make you feel to see the lack of policing toward these hate groups?'
I am disappointed to see the lack of policing of hate groups in our country. However, at this point, I do not think America has even the most remote capability of effectively addressing this matter via the police, short of inciting a civil war, devoid of the historic boundary lines of North versus South. Today, the war would be in every state. Moreover, the casualties would be unimaginable as the firepower of these groups is substantial.
‘What can we do in our city right now to address white supremacy in structures around us?’
The only way to effectively confront white supremacy in our city and nation is the unified prayers and fight of God’s body (the church), men and women of every color, faith and denomination. However, this too is an ambitious undertaking and very unlikely, unless we have enough “volcanic eruptions” that endangers the safety of ALL.
Meet our friend, Lee.
Lee Roland has been an educator and administrator for almost 30 years. He currently serves on staff at The Parish in Oklahoma City, as well as working as a Motivational Speaker and Education Consultant. Lee is formerly the proud principal of 12 years of Tulakes Elementary in the Putnam City School District. Mr. Roland has always labored exhaustively yet ardently in the field to both serve and meet the needs of students, parents, teachers. His dedication and determination is clearly evident as he unceasingly endeavors to inspire and propel others who serve, to touch lives and make a difference, particularly for children.
In addition to enjoying great success in his roles as a special education teacher, principal, and superintendent liaison, Lee has spoken and presented at numerous conferences, venues, and workshops across Oklahoma and the United States, particularly on subjects of character education, working with children of poverty, and teacher efficacy. Mr. Roland has and continues to serve on numerous city, civic, and community boards, mostly involving the welfare of children. In short, he believes that it is the responsibility of all citizens, and especially educators to improve our society via the public school, which he passionately strives to do each and every single day - yes, "leave no child behind!"
A note from Spero: We encourage and invite you to learn more about Lee and book him for your next speaking engagement! www.leeroland.education