Keith – Pam – Elaina – Micah
Woori – Andrew – Adora
Catherine – Rebecca – Rachael – Ellice
Each of the persons pictured above, were hand-picked by myself/Ellice, Counselor Park. It was so natural and easy to choose them. At the same time, it was difficult to choose which friends I would reach out to, because I have so many wonderful, wonderful, and wise friends. I created criteria to help me decide which friends to reach out to at this time. A couple of the friends I reached out to for this project discovered that the culmination of the current cultural situation in the U.S., combined with triggered memories of their unresolved and unaddressed previous race-based traumas–made a couple of my friends feel too overwhelmed to be involved in this project at this time, despite their excitement to participate. If this project shows growth, perhaps there can be this project series version 2.0.
The qualifications to be a panelist in this project included the following:
(1) a foundation of thick personal friendship with myself as the moderator of the discussions and project organization,
(2) emotional intelligence,
(3) being a person rooted in Catholic, Christian or Orthodox faith,
(4) having done most of their own personal work in personal racial identity — in other words, where participation in this project would not open up raw wounds which need to be privately and confidentially worked through for self-care,
(5) having a heart of friendship and goodwill towards others, in giving generous benefit of the doubt,
and last but not least,
(6) willing and open to freely model for others-amongst-the-public, a relational manner of discussing racial experiences for the purpose of building up friendships, personal relationships, and community.
I’ve known each of these friends for years, and several of them are amongst my closest and best friends in life.
Catherine and Adora are among my best friends; we have grown in sisterhood as we walk out our lives with Catholic expression. Andrew is a newer friend, but also in my closest circle of friends, as we live and express our faiths. Elaina and I have been friends for a few years, and share missional hearts of good will for all. Mary, Pam, Rachael, and I have known each other for seven years. I have also known Keith and Micah for seven years. In each of those seven years-plus, friendships, we have come to know each other’s ways very well, and have walked through thick and thin. Woori and I have known each other over ten years, and have become best friends by growing with one another like sisters.
It is on the foundation of these thick friendships — and also the foundation of a belief that God made us and all humankind in Godself’s image — upon which we share a series of conversations, publicly, on a sensitive–and for some, frightening–“talking point” of racial experience. We approach these conversations with good faith in one another, that we look upon each other assuming good intentions for good will, the way that friends do. And we do so boldly: all of the panelists/friends have shared with me, a curiosity and a desire, to meet a new friend through me, during this project. The panel talks are deliberately designed to help form new friendships, and deepen existing ones, while discussing some of the most difficult topics. We pray our efforts may be beneficial to at least one person.
One inspired person can help change the world.