Today we have a very special edition of the AllMomDoes Podcast. We have compiled, from past episodes, some incredible wisdom from black women who have been on the show. Don’t miss this because they have such insight into the conversation of race, how it applies to our parenting, and how we can all do something.
Featuring Jamie Grace Kennesha Buycks, Dorena Williamson, Susan Seay
Jamie Grace – Love, Music & Motherhood
She’s become the voice of a generation. We can’t wait for you to meet Jamie Grace today. You’ll love hearing her love story, her journey into music and her incredible wisdom! Get ready to laugh, nod along and shout Amen sister!
Kennesha Buycks – Creating Spaces That Invite God to Restore Hearts
Kennesha Buycks is here and we just love her so much. From the foster journey to community to being in a military marriage, and learning to create spaces that invite God to restore hearts, we are so excited to cover so much depth with her.
Our guest today loves Chik-Fil-A, understands life with a preemie, loves God and watching his plans unfold, knows what it is like to watch life unravel, and was called into building multi-cultural community in the church.
Susan Seay – Lighting Up Your Life
Susan Seay is a mom of 7 and Julie is a mom of 8. They had a lot in common when they first met. They have been in a journey side by side as they looked at the world through the eyes of mothers knowing that they had a lot to give to the world.
I’m Julie Lyles Carr. This is the AllMomDoes Podcast. And today we have a special edition of the podcast because it’s something that needs to happen. Now I am so honored that we have had such a diversity of voices on the podcast over the last couple of years, and I wanted to bring back some of those voices today as well.
Looking at the current events happening as we look at the racial tension in this country, the protests that are going on, the necessity, the absolute critical necessity that we stop as a country and really assess where we’re at and how things are going and hear voices that have not been allowed to be broadcast the way they should.
People who have not felt listened to and the emotions and the feelings and the facts that come with all of that. And so today we’re going to take a pause. We’re going to take a moment and I really want you to lean in. We’re going to revisit some guests that I have had on the show who had some very profound things to say about their experiences living in this country as black women. And it was in the context of interviews that we’re talking about. Exciting. The things they had coming up in specific lanes of ministry they have going on and some really beautiful things. But I wanted these moments where they share their hearts about their experience as black Americans.
I wanted to make sure that we pulled those out and highlighted those because this is the moment. This is the time to get quiet, to listen, to lean in, to learn. And then to be activated, to go out and make real change. So I invite you today to just lay down the distractions, stop what you’re doing, and honor these four women who we’re going to be highlighting on today’s episode.
The first person I wanted to bring back is Jamie Grace. Jamie Grace is this incredible vocalist, I mean the most fantastic voice. And she’s a songwriter. She is so charming and I absolutely adore her. And she’s going to share her experiences about some of the performance experiences that she’s had being in, what’s called a sundown town, the places where racism has shown up, but here’s something I really want you to understand when you hear what Jamie has to say.
Jamie’s in her mid twenties. Now, just let that soak in a minute. You know, sometimes I think we fool ourselves that racism was something that happened a few decades ago, and we’ve really made all of these changes and, and blah, blah, blah. Please listen to this. Jamie is in her mid twenties, and I want you to hear about the experience of a young black American woman going into different parts of our country to perform.
And some of the things that she has experienced there. So please take a listen to Jamie Grace.
The days of the KKK, the stone mountain was often times where they would burn crosses. And so they started to have these Easter sunrise services on top of stone mountain, and, um, black people were not invited to them and eventually black people were invited, but they had to sit in the back and eventually they were allowed to sit wherever they want it, but they certainly weren’t going to preach. It was led by only white people. And so my father was the very first black man to ever preach on top of stone mountain. And then I was the very first black person to ever sing during that service. And I was only about seven years old.
So I definitely remember that cause it was just a huge, huge moment for our talent, a huge moment for Georgia. And my mom was the first black woman ever preached. So it’s crazy just how, what God did. So from an early age, I knew that music was more, more than just melodies and songs. I knew that it was about changing the world. And, um, so that was really cool. That’s amazing.
And I want to give a little bit of context here. That was just 20 years ago. Jamie Grace. I mean that, I mean, that’s just soak on that for a second. It was only 20 years ago that that historic moment happened. And I think at times we think we’ve progressed a lot in this country when it comes to diversity, when it comes to getting over some scars and wounds that this country has.
And then I hear a timeline like that and I think. Wow. I mean, that was not long ago. That was,
Jamie Grace: [00:04:21] Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s crazy. You know, I, I mean, I, gosh, I, what, five, six years ago, I played a show in a certain town that was a sundown town, which, you know, sun downtown means that once the sun is down, people of color are not allowed to be out.
Um, and I played a show in a, in a sundown town and my, my picture of. Uh, a colleague who’s also black was in the magazine or the newspaper, excuse me, with all of our names listed, essentially letting everyone know that we were allowed to be out after sundown. Uh, cause we were performing and that, that hit in a way that was like, yeah, come on.
Guys it’s 2015. Like, but you know, There’s there’s a lot of beauty in the world, but there’s a lot of brokenness too. And, and that’s one of the main reasons why I do create this because I’m like, if I can reach the people that are broken, if I can, I don’t know if I can, if I can be, I mean, I’m broken too, obviously, but we’re all broken.
It’s just a part of about, all about doing what God has called us to do to reach the broken people. And hopefully other people are doing their part.
Julie Lyles Carr: [00:05:23] Kennnesha Buycks has the most incredible design creative eye I know of. She is something else. And I love seeing the things that she does on her Instagram and her beautiful book.
I mean, she just knows how to take a space and make it a place where people want to gather and have community. That’s part of what I love in what she does is of course she loves the pretty things and the cool things, but it’s for this purpose of creating home of creating a place where you want to come and gather with your fellow human beings.
You know, in my conversation with Kennesha, it was great to hear the different experiences and have a way that she approaches design and all of those things. But there was this powerful, poignant moment in our conversation where she with great vulnerability talked about what it’s like to be one of the few black women who has been sort of invited into the design space, how those voices are not heard.
And she gave me such a phenomenal history lesson on why that sometimes seems to be the case. So I want you to really listen in and hear this amazing woman’s heart about how things exist in terms of the influence of who has voice into what we call home and to the way we design home and how we really need to expand the voices that we’re listening to.
I feel like there is an underrepresentation of women of color who are designers. I just feel like, okay. I just feel like. So, what do you think that is about and, and how do we, how do we make that? Right. Because there’s so much creativity and so many beautiful things that can play in. Yeah. I don’t want to see, I don’t want to miss any of that in terms of different communities.
Kennesha Buycks: [00:07:12] I think that, um, and in terms of, um, why I think it is, and then again, there’s no, like I don’t have statistics or solid evidence, but this is from life experience and personal opinion, or actually this is actually somewhat factual. Just the fact that if you think about specifically in the U S you think about the history of women of color in this country and the positions that they have held.
We, people like me, have held in this country and even more so specific inside homes, we were nannies. We were housekeepers, you know, and when I say that, I want to clarify that it wasn’t a choice. Obviously it wasn’t like, you know, cause I think the narrative has been for a long time through media, you know, movies, all these messages we receive, right.
That there’s just jolly joyful, you know, happy attitude attached to those positions. And there’s not, so let’s go ahead and squelch that people did that because they didn’t have the means to make a living for themselves. And sure they took care of other families, children, but it was never something that they would have chosen to do had they other choices.
Right. So I think that the reason we today in 2019 are seeing still less women of color who are kind of saturating this area is because of that. I think that, you know, if you told a long for a certain amount of time that you’re not able to, or not allowed, or that this isn’t your space, what’s going to happen, you’re going to believe it.
So I think that it’s up to me. It’s up to you. It’s up to people like us to number one, have the conversations and recognize there is an issue. It’s not bad. You know, I think a lot of times too, there’s so much trepidation and even broaching the subject because it’s race. Oh my gosh, no one else. Um, but it’s a fact that happened, but we can do something about it.
So I think that me writing this book was bigger than I thought it would be in relation to that I’ve had so many women of color. I mean, I’ve sobbed in response to them saying. I now know that I can delve into this area that I love because I see someone like me doing it. Right. That’s a big deal. Yeah. So I think that it’s, it’s recognizing it again and giving people opportunity to just shine and show their gifts.
And also, I mean, I mean, I can be really candid here, right? Like, um, yeah. I think that a lot of black women specifically feel like this is an area that’s not, there is again, because we’ve been fed the narrative that it’s not. And I’ve had also women tell me that it’s for white women. So I just think that I only say that because I think it’s necessary to understand that there’s a lot of deep seated misunderstanding and a lot of deep seated, um, untruths that I think on a very practical level we can untangle, but we can also trust God to partner with him to do those things too. Right? There’s so many opportunities. And so many, I have so many friends who are you call me a designer. I mean, these women are designers. I mean, they have client after success, successful designers who are amazingly talented and do such a great job with what they do, who don’t get the notoriety that a lot of other women do.
And I do think it’s time to kind of put the kibosh on that. Right? Right.
Julie Lyles Carr: [00:10:36] And let those voices be heard. Let’s let the beauty of what’s being created, be seen. I think it’s so powerful.
From the moment this interview started with my next guest, I just, Oh, I fell madly in love. She’s so wonderful.
Dorena Williamson. She is, uh, she’s got all this gorgeous wisdom and she just has this elegance about her. And she’s had so much life experience. I absolutely adored my conversation with her and part of what we got to talk about that. I thought would be of great hope in this time when we do see all the things that are wrong and all the challenges that are happening.
And yet Dorena had this beautiful way about talking about the hope that exists when we really are intentional with the inclusion of others when we are so purposeful in bringing people alongside who haven’t had a voice, she and her husband knew that they were called to minister. Now they didn’t think that’s what they’re going to do originally.
And then God got to turn the tables on him. They went into ministry. But she never thought that they would end up ministering some kind of multicultural church. And so she and I got to talk about what that experience was like when they got that call. And when that became their experience, when they were able to go into places where they hadn’t necessarily felt like they would be able to minister before and what came of all of that. And then Dorena unpacks for us, these phenomenal precepts on how we can lay the groundwork for talking to our kids about racism, about differences, because we have so much to learn when it comes to really modeling well for our kids, how we need to make things different in generations, moving forward.
So up next Dorena Williamson.
The stats tell us that. Unfortunately, the church remains very polarized, many times along racial lines. So how did God make that clear that that was what you were supposed to be doing? How did you know that this was something you were going to step into? Because this was previous to a lot of the conversations that we’re having now today.
So how did that, how did that happen?
Dorena Williamson: [00:12:49] I love telling the story because it’s a reminder that this really was God’s work. It was absolutely not our great idea. Um, we. We’re able to connect in 1993 with a church here in Franklin called Christ Community Church. And, um, it is a PCA Presbyterian church in America.
And, um, Chris and I both were raised Baptist and we. Found this church through a mutual connection, they had begun, um, feeling really convicted by God, uh, largely through the ministry of John Perkins. One of the fathers I say, of, of racial justice, uh, modern racial justice, uh, John Perkins ministry out of, out of Mendenhall, Mississippi.
Um, He had really impacted this largely white church and very wealthy church. And they had begun to minister and their local Jerusalem, um, to, um, the people that, that were close to their church. And that happened to be mostly African American and mostly low income. And they faithfully did that for a year going into the neighborhoods. And, and later on, they will come to realize that they were also doing what sometimes white churches have done. And that has sort of being like a white savior. You know, we’ll come in, we have resources, we can fix up homes and we can take kids to camp and do all of these enrichment things out of a really good heart, but at the end of the day, we’re not living in the community with the people and we’re not incarnating. Um, we’re just sort of taking them out, bringing them, assimilating them at our world and then letting them go back. And after a year of doing really good work. Um, but also coming to realize some of those things, they began to pray that God would join, um, uh, specifically a black man to their work because they were not getting to really touch the young black boys.
And, and that year, that, that church was praying. That’s when Chris and I got married, moved to Nashville, lost a record contract, scratching our heads, saying, God what are you doing? What is going on? And just like, we walked with our daughter, you know, 30 minutes ago as she is having her own journey of faith.
God is working when we don’t see it. And as we walk with him, as we say, God, I’m going to trust that you’re doing something. I don’t know what it is, but I’m going to trust you that you’re leading. And we connected with them and began to have a heart for the ministry that they were doing. And as a young married couple, we didn’t even realize that we were also being a role model to a lot of the kids, um, in, in the neighborhoods who shared many years later with us, that they had only seen black, married couple on TV, on with the Huxtables.
They had not interacted with a young married black couple and representation is so important in all our ethnic communities. And, and for a lot of these kids, we didn’t know as a young couple, just trying to walk with God that we were also modeling what it meant to for husband to love his wife and for, you know, when we grew our family, you know, I, it was, it was amazing. The things that God revealed to us. And, and so in a, in a two year period of walking with kids and, and discipling kids and that grew to discipling parents, and then, you know, we’re a part of this largely white church and Chris’s preaching and, and his gifts are making room for him. And I’m on the worship team and, and getting to sing with um, not only the kids when they would come to this church, but also a lot of, you know, Christian musicians in that church. And, and so God was just very organically connecting these worlds that would not have, have interacted before without the spirit led very step-by-step living life together, sort of interaction.
And out of doing that ministry in that combination for a two year period, we just began to see what a representation of the kingdom of God. It would be for a church to minister, to people that was multiracial that had people of different races, a part of it, people of different economic background, people who voted differently, who come from different denominational expressions and this was just all things that I could see how God led my journey as a pastor’s kid, growing up in a family that certainly experienced people of different races and missionaries and ministering around the world. I could see how God put into practice literally in the steps that he was guiding for Chris and I.
And so we said yes to something that we couldn’t have imagined in September of 1995. And this church started out. And by the grace of God, it is continuing to display and experience God’s diverse kingdom here in our local Nashville, Tennessee area, and also around the world. Just, just beautiful.
Now I, I know we have a lot of listeners entering into they’re so well, intention.
They want to make sure they’re having conversations with their children about race in ways that are, are empowering and important. And I think sometimes those conversations almost tend to going colorblind, right? Like not really trying to be as, as open about it because nobody wants to say anything wrong.
Nobody wants to be offensive. And so sometimes I find that with myself, with my friends, with whoever, you know, we’re, we’re almost, Oh, I’m afraid to say anything at all. Now, you’ve written a beautiful children’s book called Colorfull and talk to us about how parents can talk to their kids and using tools like Colorfull to really.
Honor, all of diversity without feeling so nervous or worried or feeling like you can’t recognize any kind of differences between people. How do we do that as parents and be very honorable to everyone? How do we do that?
I encourage parents first of all, to go back to our Gospel foundation and realize that we are God’s workmanship. You know when God created the heavens and the earth, and we read the Genesis story and most of us who love and treasure, the word of God are faithfully teaching that to our children, starting when they’re very, very young. And so we ourselves need to go back to our roots, look at those early chapters of Genesis, that how God created the earth and how intentional he was in creating a world of color and that didn’t stop when he created Adam and Eve. And then we look at Noah and his three sons and we go to Abraham and how God said, every family on the earth is going to be blessed through you. You know, that’s all nations, you know, and, and we go literally through the biblical story.
And of course the redemption that Jesus provided at the cross that, that whoever believes. You know that he loved all the world. I mean, the great commission to the disciples to go into all nations, all ethnos and preach the gospel. And so, first of all, realizing that this was God’s heart, this was always his heart.
You know, we have butchered God’s intent. We have missed it. We have closed our eyes and our hearts. And our ears, but we need to open them. And so it starts with us as adults, really going back to our foundation, understanding that this was God’s intent all along. This is what Jesus prayed for before he went to the cross in John 17, that we will be brought to complete unity, and this was God’s heart.
And so we need to have this passion because this was his passion. This is his passion, and he wants this to be fleshed out through us. And then apply yourselves to be students of what you do not know. That’s humbling for parents. And I think this is a real hurdle sometimes because we feel like not just being parents, but being Sunday school teachers, being adults that teach and interact with children, aunts, and uncles.
Um, we feel like we are supposed to know it all and have all the answers. And I think it’s a beautiful posture and example to our children when they see us saying, you know, mom and dad, you know, auntie grandmama, we’re reading some books, I’m realizing so many things. I don’t know. There’s a great big world full of information that is literally at our fingertips at our, at our Kindle opportunities and our libraries and our Christian bookstores and so apply ourselves. There are so many amazing, um, works that we can read blogs, that we can read wonderful organizations online, that we can join through social media as well and avail ourselves of knowledge to reinform to deconstruct what we learned incorrectly to fill in those places that we realized I was never taught that. Um, or I never knew that it’s humbling. I think that’s why many of us don’t do it, but we need to lean in to that intentionality because with that, it will help us know how to move beyond the discomfort, which often comes from what we don’t know or what we’re unaccustomed to.
So the intentionality of taking those steps ourselves, I would love for Colorfull to be an intentional step for parents, because it’s an easy, very comfortable tool that also has the parent connection with questions that guide you. And even beyond that sort of give you a launching pad to have great conversations about celebrating our skin color, celebrating that God has made people with different abilities and even helping our children know not to feel awkward, to know what to say for some of our precocious children, what not to say.
But having those conversations is the first step not staying in the land of, I don’t know what I’m uncomfortable. You know, we could stay there with lots of things in life and they will never move forward. We never get better and do better. So start taking those first steps. Yes. They’re a little awkward and maybe uncomfortable, but lean in to it.
Nothing of worth or value is going to happen without putting forth effort.
Julie Lyles Carr: [00:22:29] This next voice that I wanted to highlight is someone who’s so important to me. She is a dear friend. She and I have walked through some life together in the last few years. And one thing that’s so interesting for Susan Seay and I is that there are many places in our lives that things really, really overlapped.
She’s got seven kids, I’ve got eight, we’ve both driven, 15 passenger vans for years and years. Our kids are the same ages. We have our kids at a, at the same one day academy experience for homeschoolers one day a week. And, and so they’re just so many places in ministry and life and family and marriage and heart and in message that, that we so connect.
And I would tell you all the places that our experiences are so similar. And yet Susan is a black woman living in America, and I’m a white woman living in America. And in my friendship with her, it’s been so important to acknowledge that yes, even in the places where Susan and I have very common experience we have those common experiences from very different perspectives in a sense. And so I loved that I got to introduce you to Susan a few months ago in a previous episode. And I want you to really hear her today on the places where her life is different than mine and how I can be so much better t making sure there is room at the table, how I can listen better and how I want to challenge all of us to be so much more intentional in what we’re doing moving forward when it comes to including everyone and making room at the table for everyone.
So please listen to my much adored friend, Susan Seay. Now you and I both are in Austin, Texas, I’m raising eight, you’re raising seven. So much of our world overlaps. We are like a Venn diagram and yet it is still so hard for us to get together, have lunch or get a podcast episode recorded. But I don’t want to miss this moment.
And this is part of what I love in our relationship. I’m a Caucasian woman raising eight kids in Austin, Texas. You’re a woman of color raising seven kids in Austin, Texas. They’re the places I, there are places I can tell you that our lives overlap. There are places that I’m sure we have a different experience.
So tell me what you see from your perspective here. We are living in the same community, lot of the same faith, friends and experiences. What do you, think’s different in our worlds?
Susan Seay: [00:24:52] Oh, so much. Let’s just talk about our beginnings. Okay. I remember when you and I both met at a coffee shop and we talked about how we were going to get started and we felt like there was this more that we were supposed to go for. And I was telling you, I don’t know what that is. And then we both looked each other in the eye and we said, well, we’re clear about one thing. It’s got nothing to do with being a mom. It’s got nothing to do with homeschooling. We were like, no, we’re not doing that high five each other.
That’s my girl. That’s going to see what it is. And then we met up a year later and we were like, what is your thing? You’re like, I’m writing a book. I was like, and I was like, my book is called The Intentional Parent. And you just laugh. You’re like, I’m talking about Raising an Original, it’s a parenting book.
And I thought what happened to us? I know. I know. Yeah. I love that. Tell people all the time, you want to tell God what you’re not going to do. And then it’s like, God’s like, perfect. Here we go. Sure. Got it here. How about that? Yeah, you’re going to go do that thing. So, um, in that beginning, one of my biggest fears was, or concerns/ thoughts was, I don’t see any moms that look like me. Anytime. I see parenting conferences, workshops, people who bring in special speakers to speak in their churches about motherhood or family. I never see women of color. I didn’t especially didn’t see any black women. And I ,thought there’s something to that.
And the only thing I can make up in my mind is the invitation is not there. It’s not wanted, I’m not wanted women who look like me aren’t wanted, we’re not celebrated. We’re not encouraged and no one is seeking us out. So I’m not gonna go that direction. I’m not sure that I’m for the church. I don’t think I’m for the Christian community.
It’s because I don’t see me represented there. And the very thing that was in me to give back to the church overall, the overarching church. I was pulling that back cause I didn’t see that I was welcome or, and I felt like you were, cause I see women that look like you all the time, so I could easily tell you, Oh, this church right over here, down the street, they’re going to want you, they’re going to want to hear your story.
They’re going to want to have your book. They’re going to invite you in. They’re going to want you to do workshops, but for me, I need to go find somewhere else because they don’t have anybody that looks like me coming in. And I had to have encouragement upon encouragement upon prayer circles, like interventions to get me to completely say yes to the call of God on my life, because I was very afraid that something about who I am, just because of the way God made me in this skin was not going to be embraced.
And I think that the church should take that in that there are gifts that people have in their hearts, but simply because they don’t see representation of themselves and they don’t hear people asking for their gifts to be shared with the church and valuing what they’re offering in a way that you’re willing to pay them what you paeveryone else, invite them in the rooms, help them to be a part of the decision making processes. We’ve got some real opportunities that we’re missing and we’ve got some real gifts that the church is paying a price because we don’t get to experience them.
Julie Lyles Carr: [00:28:25] Absolutely. And, you know, throughout our friendship, it’s something that I’d like to think I was always noticing, but I’ve become even way more attuned to, and you’re right.
I would challenge somebody to go take a look at, okay. Who are the last five women’s speakers you had in and what kind of diversity do you see represented there? And. Take a look at your curriculum. How often have you seen someone who might be of a different melanin level than you? How often have you had that person and how often are you having other voices. It was interesting. This last semester, I had a gallon who spoke to my women on a particular imprint that we have. And there’s, it’s not that this group has tried to be homogenous, just sort of, in some ways, happens from time to time and had a gal in to speak who’s had a very different lifestyle, very different trajectory.
And as I told these women at the end, I said, I want to be very clear. You may not agree with everything this person had to say. You may not really resonate completely with where their walk has taken them, but I think we are, it’s such an important crossroads for us to be very intentional, to invite different voices and different stories.
That that’s really what helps us grow. That’s really what helps challenge us there. Those people we like to listen to because I feel like I could be like her eventually or where she, someone I would aspire or whatever the thing is, but that can’t be our only motivation for inviting voices into our space.
And so I love, I’ve just watched with all kinds of joy, getting to see you go and do and explore and be all kinds of places. And, and to my purview at this point, I would say you’ve gotten to go and do some super cool stuff I haven’t gotten to do. So I I’m really thrilled with that, but I don’t at all want to diminish and say that I still think we have a long way to go.
I still think there are those places that listen, if you are on your ministry planning board or you’re in a book club or you are looking for resources for parenting. I want to encourage you to make sure you’re not only staying within the lane you’re most familiar with. And I would say this goes all the way around for everybody.
I mean, this is not, this is for everybody to be welcoming and
to consider the voices of others. Even if you think that. Maybe their lifestyle or where they live, or, you know, their, their racial experience is different than yours to really take that moment and, and to be intentional, to be very, very inclusive.
Susan Seay: [00:30:59] So it matters. It matters a lot.
Julie Lyles Carr: [00:31:02] I want to encourage you to go check out the show notes. That Rebecca puts together for the Amon does podcast each and every week. And Hey, also big, big, thanks to Donna she’s our producer. And she had just worked so diligently on helping pull this compilation episode together.
And I’m so thankful for Rebecca and Donna for all that they do for the AllMomDoes community. I want to encourage you to go to all mom does.com. You’re going to find a wealth of resources there, including this topic perspectives on how we can talk to our kids about racism and things that we can be doing to be supportive and elevating the voices of those who have not been heard. So be sure and check out allmomdoes.com and AllMomDoes on the socials. I would love to connect with you two I’m Julie Lyles Carr on Instagram. That’s where I hang out the most. And I would love to hear from you and hear what you learned, what you gleaned from this episode today.