This fall marks the third year of our book study for Men’s Community at Blackhawk Fitchburg. We have read books about how to be a better man, how to grow in our faith, and how to navigate the faith-work relationship. This summer I was talking with a couple of the guys and we were kicking around the idea of reading a book on race. From the beginning we knew it would be a very different approach but with the race relation issues in our country I knew that it was an issue where we needed more discussion.
We decided on Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. One of the first ground rules was that we would offer each other grace each morning. We are a group of 12–15 white guys in Madison, Wisconsin talking about race relations. Additionally we are meeting at Barriques in Fitchburg, so it’s a public venue and when the room goes quite right as someone is saying something sensitive, it’s very possible to misinterpret what is being overheard or at the least it can get awkward.
It’s important to note that not only is this topic sensitive, but the book itself is very academic, certainly the most challenging we’ve ever read. But I could not be more encouraged by the first two weeks of our book study. Conversation has been authentic. Comments and questions are thought-provoking for the group and reflective for the individual. It has filled my soul in ways I was not prepared as I read each week and discuss with these men.