First, a warning. This introduction and future blog posts may use language and vocabulary that is offensive to readers who are Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color. My words are directed at and intended for a white reader who is beginning to venture into conversations about racial issues, and I am blunt in communicating because of the stigma surrounding “politically correct” speech for readers at this stage of their journey. Please understand I would use more sensitive vocabulary if I didn’t think I would be sacrificing getting the point across to my intended audience to do so.
My name is Autumn Duran and I’m a twenty-something white girl. I live in a 93.8% white community at the very top of the lower peninsula of Michigan. My ancestors are of Polish, Swedish, and English descent, and I was raised with a strong Dutch influence – good for giving me excellent house cleaning skills, not so good for encouraging healthy dietary choices. I went to the local community college for my Associate’s degree and hold a Michigan Real Estate Broker’s license after three years in the housing industry. I now am a full-time creative, which in real talk means a worker of three part-time jobs.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I do not subscribe to a specific denomination but hold the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and my community of fellow disciples in the highest priority in my life. As such, I believe that every person, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, or any other identifier in our culture is made in God’s image and is deserving of the highest dignity and respect. I believe every person is made unique, with dreams and abilities specific to them, and that through connection to the God that made them are able to live into their fullest identity.
This belief is what motivated me to reach beyond the ethnically-monolithic community immediately surrounding me and learn about the people on all sides of the historical events in our country. I was a high school senior when I began to wonder – as a Christian, Evangelical, conservative Libertarian/Republican, how far could I go down the rabbit hole of the world of information and ideology without risking “becoming a liberal”? I was concerned about it at the time because I feared simply trading one ideology for another, with no really courageous or faith-based thought to any of it. I never thought of “liberals” as an enemy, only that they believed the opposite of almost everything my community valued. Would I become a tree-hugging socialist, regulating others’ vocabularies and insisting on radical political policies? I wasn’t sure. Eight years of actively challenging both my ideology and theology and the result is I love Jesus more than ever, hold some beliefs more loosely, and many tighter than ever. I’m excited for you to experience the same thing as we pursue this topic together.
Over time, I began connecting the dots between religion, theology, history, art, and politics. I noticed that at every turning point in history, people of the Church – not a specific denomination, social class, or ethnic identity of Christians, but the global Church, made up of disciples of Jesus – had an opportunity to either transform culture, or be transformed by it. Individual disciples were given the choice to be proactive or reactive, to spur change or simply respond to it. I noticed that the bravest individuals often had the most to lose. (It deserves clarification that there are courageous heroes throughout history, outside of the Church, who were effective in their efforts to fight for justice and should be applauded.) I speak specifically of and to the Church because, as the united body of disciples of Jesus, carrying His Spirit within them, I believe She holds the greatest capacity for the transformation of our culture. Unfortunately, there is much yet to overcome on an individual level for that vision to become a reality.
My goal with this blog is to encourage you, fellow Evangelical conservatives, to examine yourselves and the racial issues facing our country through the spiritual lens you employ for other social issues. I do not ask you to shut off your Christian faith to do this: rather, to embrace it on a deeper level than you ever have before. Hold tightly to your faith, and invite the Word and Spirit into everything you read. I am in this with and alongside you for each step you take. Having a humble heart, acknowledging your own necessity to learn more, and being willing to listen are the hardest and most vital initial steps on this journey. But God promises to reward those who seek wisdom and seek His face in every area of their influence, and I promise He is present on this path to clarity.