Reflections on “Waking Up White”: Chapters Two and Three


Chapter 2: “Childhood In White”

In this chapter, Irving shares how her family valued the importance of being accomplished, staying busy, having a good attitude, being complaint free and restraining emotions (displays of anger, pride, sadness, anger, jealousy and fear) which conditioned her to become “deeply uncomfortable around people who exhibited any of the disapproved emotions, especially anger.” The emotional numbness, she writes, had “huge implications for racism” which she learned much later in life and will explore in an upcoming chapter.  She closes Chapter 2 with the question:

What values and admonitions did you learn in your family? Think about education, work, lifestyle, money, expression of emotions, and so forth. Try making a list of ten principles, values and unspoken beliefs. … Now consider what conclusions you drew about people who did not appear to follow your family’s belief system

  1. God is love and God wants us to love one another and be helpful, courteous, kind and merciful.
  2. Lying, cheating and stealing is wrong
  3. Save your money, don’t waste it like other people do
  4. It’s not like the good ole days where you can walk on downtown streets safely without getting robbed or shot
  5. Get a good education and job, follow the rules/behave and work hard to avoid laziness, poverty, digging ditches, drugs, crime, jail, being sent off to war
  6. Guns keep us safe and it’s our right to shoot someone in self defense if they break into our home or threatens us with violence
  7. The homeless aren’t interested in jobs because they refuse to do menial tasks like sweeping streets
  8. Democratic party and leaders on local, state and national level are crooked and not to be trusted
  9. There’s a difference between black people and the “n-word” (i.e. blacks who were poor and lazy, criminals, crooked politicians, political activists like the Black Panthers and foul-mouthed trouble makers like rappers and some comedians.)
  10. Gay is not normal and goes against God’s teachings in scripture

I didn’t draw any conclusions about people who didn’t appear to follow my family’s belief system because everyone around us held the same beliefs and values–relatives, neighbors, church members, and school teachers (all of whom were white). Spoken and unspoken.  I did, however, become quite paranoid and suspicious of anyone who was “other” unless they met the approval of the authority figures in my life. I also believed for a long while that certain places were more dangerous and violent because of the poor and people of color.

I never felt comfortable despising and hating people who were different than me and I always questioned the validity of several of the values and admonitions that were spoken, although I never dared to express them out loud.

Mostly, I was just scared and doubtful about the world and other people and surroundings that were foreign to me, and I sort of resigned to the notion that if I simply behaved and did what I was told, I would live a good and successful life and not have to experience any of the scary stuff of the world.

Chapter 3: “Race Versus Class”

Irving posits that both race and class are real issues that matter,and shouldn’t be pitted against another:

Trying to determine which one is the ‘real’ issue does a disservice to both. Concluding class is the real issue would give me permission to avoid thinking about race. Similarly, assuming race is the most significant issue overlooks the complications faced by white people caught in a vicious cycle of poverty. Both can trap people in a kind of second-class citizenship. If you can’t get the education you need to get a job to pay for healthy food, medical care, transportation, and a home in a neighborhood with good schools, then you can’t educate your children in a school that will prepare them for a job that will…and so on. Any cycle that traps someone in a state of perpetual disadvantage is the real issue for the people experiencing it. And yet race and class are inextricably linked….

Until I understood the impact skin color can have on one’s life, I wasn’t able to consider racism in combination with other factors that influence one’s culture. The culture that shapes people are breathtakingly complex when you consider all that goes into them. Era, geographical location, language, level of education, ethnic heritage, race, gender, sexual orientation, income, wealth, religion, health, family personalities and professions, birth order, hobbies and sports provide multiple variables that mix and match to create a unique culture in each and every family and each and every person. ..When it comes to culture, the only thing we all have in common is that we have one, and it shapes us….

Yet race stands apart from the variables listed above. Not only is race visible and permanent; it’s come to act as a social proxy for one’s value in American’ society. White has long stood for normal and better, while black and brown have been considered different and inferior. Social value isn’t just a matter of feeling as if one belongs or doesn’t; it affects one’s access to housing, education, and jobs, the building blocks necessary to access the great American promise–class mobility.

At the end of the chapter, Irving asks:

Class is determined by income, wealth (assets), education, and profession. Betsy Leondar-Wright, program director at Class Action, suggest these categories as a way of thinking about class: Poverty, Working Class, Lower-Middle Class, Professional Middle Class, Upper-Middle Class, Owning Class. How would you characterize your parents’ class? Your grandparents’ class? Your class as a child? Your class now? What messages did you get about race in each?

I would characterize my family as being Professional Middle Class–Like my parents, I grew up with a roof over my head in a suburban neighborhood (that was completely white), nice clothes, plenty of food, summer vacations to the beach, presents for birthdays, Christmas, Easter and even Valentine’s Day in addition to the occasional purchase of a toy or book during the year. We had access to public schools and could afford luxuries like dinner at a restaurant, a TV and cable (as well as the latest tech gadget), more than two cars, a swing set in our backyard, a yard and trees to play in, etc.

My paternal/maternal grandparents and maternal great-grandparents, having grown up during the Depression as Working Class, felt the desire to be more generous to their offspring as they moved into the Professional to Upper-Middle Class as adults. Both sets of grandparents regularly took us to the movies. Both grandfathers took us to UAB basketball games. My maternal grandparents took us to Atlanta Braves games and Six Flags less than a handful of times. They also owned a modest vacation house at The Still Waters Resort in Dadeville, Alabama where we would go for the weekend, usually for an Auburn Tigers football game 20 minutes away in Auburn. My paternal grandparents were in the Upper-Middle Class due to their business success in waste management services (and later other ventures) and thus were able to afford a condominium in Florida along with two charter fishing boats. We spent many summers on the beach and going deep sea fishing.

Granted, my younger brother and I never got everything we asked from our parents and grandparents. If we got a hole in our jeans, they got patched up. My brother got a lot of my clothes that I outgrew instead of new ones. We had to do chores and earn an allowance and save our money. Their was a strong belief in making purchases last until they went kaput, i.e. cars, appliances, furniture and so on.

Often we had to share our toys. Restaurant outings were special occasions, not a weekly or monthly splurge. (Although, we did have steak and potatoes almost every Saturday night growing up.) The only place we traveled to outside of Alabama was Florida with the exception of two trips my maternal grandparents planned:  A visit to Alberta, Canada for the Calgary Stampede and Wyoming for Yellowstone National Park when I was 11 and the California coast when I was 15 or 16.

We never lacked anything and we were taught to be appreciative of what we had and to not be greedy for more stuff. And yet, the message that members of my family relayed, directly and indirectly, was that people of color often couldn’t succeed because they weren’t willing to work hard, didn’t follow the rules, were greedy and unappreciative.  That notion always bugged me, even though I admit to believing it at times when I was a teen and young adult. I realized in college and beyond that this was a giant misconception.

Today, our family of me, my wife and our two children, 8-year-old daughter and nearly 3-year-old son, is Professional Middle Class. We have everything we need. We don’t have a second vacation home but we can afford to take trips every summer to the beach, go to the movies on occasion, have iPhones, iPads, laptop computers and maintain three cars. We’re privileged to have my mother-in-law live with us to help take care of our children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum and one who has some development delays. She helps cover costs for special needs therapy and provides for the family in other ways through retirement savings. Education and basic necessities are met every day and then some. We have a nice home in a suburban neighborhood that is tad more diverse than mine growing up.

I’ve realized from all of this that while a lot of hard work is responsible for our status and comfortable living, we have been privileged as whites to have the access to be in the Professional Middle Class. My family now and then has opportunities many people of color don’t have. I’m much more aware of that reality and that one’s lack of status or designation in a respectable class doesn’t mean people aren’t working hard or being good citizens or living good values.  And I don’t feel more deserving of what I have earned and been given than someone else who struggles to gain opportunities and needs they deserve and should be given.  

I hope I’m teaching my own children how to be aware of their privilege and also not judge others who are denied opportunities because of their race and class. And as they grow older, I also hope that I’m able to show them how to knock down racial and class barriers and work toward equity for the poor, the oppressed and cultures that have been denied many benefits from a majority white system.



Sabbatical Reading Reflections: March, Book 2 by John Lewis

President Barak Obama, Congressman John Lewis and former President George W. Bush hold hands during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Selma Marches in March, 1965. Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
President Barak Obama, Congressman John Lewis and former President George W. Bush hold hands during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Selma Marches in March, 1965. Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press

During a speech this weekend commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the historic Selma marches to secure voting rights for blacks, Congressman John Lewis said:

“We come to Selma to be renewed. We come to be inspired. We come to be reminded that we must do the work that justice and equality calls us to do…Don’t give up on things of great meaning to you. Don’t get lost in a sea of despair. Stand up for what you believe.”

This wasn’t the typical political rhetoric but great wisdom from a man who at the age of 24 was beaten and bloodied nearly to the point of death on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, a day that became known as Bloody Sunday and signified a turning point in the Civil Rights movement.

Bloody Sunday was also a seminal moment in Lewis’ life and for many people across generations, it’s the event they immediately connect to the Civil Rights icon. But that experience on the Bridge, in which he suffered a skull fracture, wasn’t the first time Lewis had been attacked by racists (regular citizens and police) or faced death.  It was an all-too common experience for Lewis who, as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the youngest of the Big Six Civil Rights Leaders. During his time in college, Lewis was an active member of the Freedom Riders who rode segregated buses throughout the South to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court Decision which ruled that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

march_book_two_72dpi_lgThose brutal, harrowing and fearful days of the Freedom Rides are chronicled in the marvelous graphic novel, March, Book 2 by John Lewis and Andrew Adyin with extraordinary illustrations by  artist Nate Powell.

Over the last 20 years, comics have become more than just funny pages for kids to read. And graphic novels have gone beyond the exploits of super heroes to portray–with breathtaking words and art–the real life figures who have shaped our country and world for the better.

And March, Book 2 (as well as March, Book 1 whose opening scene depicts the first attempted march on the Bridge) are as fine as pieces of literature as any history book or biography. The level of detail that is captured from Lewis memories is such an incredible gift to readers.

march-book-2-clothes-e1422956768462While I have considered myself to have better-than-average knowledge bout the Civil Rights movement as a preacher, admirer of Dr. King and former Birmingham newspaper reporter, I was still astounded by the particular hardships that Lewis and other activists faced during the Freedom Rides and on a daily basis. And I also was profoundly amazed by the activists’ sense of humor that served as the kindling to keep the spark of hope alive. And I continue to be moved by Lewis’ (among others) valiant commitment to non-violent protests for equality and non-violent responses to the horrendous violence they endured for simply wanting to vote, use a bathroom or eat at a lunch counter.

John Lewis gives a beautiful interview on “The Art and Discipline of Nonviolence” for Krista Tippet’s On Being, which still be heard and downloaded here. However, to see the stories come alive on the pages of March is mesmerizing. It is impossible not to be drawn into the story and witness the strength and courage that Lewis, Nash, Shuttlesworth, Williams, King, etc., exhibited during a tumultuous time in this nation’s history.  And it is also difficult to not be reminded of how some of the same scenes in the story are being re-enacted today, whether in Ferguson or Ohio, New York or Oklahoma.

Come to think of it, probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for some University of Oklahoma frat boys to get their hands on some copies of March and immerse themselves in the stories of brave black men and women, children, teens and adults who non-violently crusaded for freedom.

Actually, it would do good for all of us to read (and re-read) the stories of the Civil Rights movement so we can continually learn how to practice the ways of non-violence to combat the racism and hatred that is occurring in black communities today.

Congressman John Lewis holding a copy of March, Book 2. Photo Credit: Yahoo News

As Lewis eloquently tweeted: “Our march continues. There is great work still to be done. Dedicate yourself to nonviolent social change, and we shall overcome.”

Called Out, Part Two: Confronting Evil

 A Sermon for January 29, 2012, Mark 1:21-28

Note: In between the scripture reading and the sermon, the following movie clip from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema, 2001) was shown:


Thomas Blanton Jr., 2000, Google Images

When I was 24-years-old, I saw the face of a man once so consumed by evil that he bombed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four little girls.

A short, stocky, soft-spoken 62-year-old man—sporting thinning hair and wrinkles around tired eyes—Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr. had trouble opening up a wrapped piece of peppermint candy when I interviewed him in his lawyer’s office on a hot afternoon in August of 2000.  For nearly 37 years, Blanton had dodged formal charges but remained a primes suspect in the bombing that caused the deaths of Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, Carol Robertson, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11 on September 15, 1963. The girls were in the bathroom of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, putting on their robes, when their lives were abruptly ended by a horrendous act of hate and violence on that Sunday morning before the worship service began.

 With newly discovered evidence and testimony from key witnesses, the case was re-opened for the second time in the spring of 2000 and Blanton, along with another suspect, were indicted on first-degree murder charges in the bombing. Less than a year later, Blanton was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, where he remains today.

Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair and Carol Robertson

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing was a watershed moment in the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, which sought racial equality through the passing of laws that granted voting rights and abolished discrimination. Much of the nation turned a blind-eye toward the struggle that inflamed racial tensions and prompted numerous bombings of black homes and businesses across the South. But when news agencies reported that church-attending children had become the first victims of a bombing, the nation immediately focused its entire attention on stopping the evil of prejudice and bigotry.

Sitting in a chair a few inches from one of the men responsible for such a senseless tragedy, months before his trial began, was daunting as a young newspaper reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald. I had been given the unique chance to interview a man who had never spoken to the press since the bombing, and per the instruction of Blanton’s lawyer, the ex-Klansman was not allowed to answer questions about his association with the Klan or aspects of the case. Nor was I permitted to ask such questions, otherwise the interview was done. [1]

I didn’t have a clue as to how to focus the interview so I’d have a story to take back to my editors. And I was both anxious and excited by the possibility that Blanton might slip up and reveal something incriminating about his involvement in the bombing.  But mostly, I felt weak and helpless.

I managed to conduct a decent interview and churn out a front-page piece that focused on how Blanton denied his guilt, helped his lawyer prepare his defense and lamented the negative attention he received. However, there was a part of me that wanted to say something to Blanton, even if it meant losing the interview.  Deep inside my heart, I wanted to rebuke him. I wanted to demand that he let loose the tormenting demon inside by confessing that he helped kill four little girls and devastated their loved ones! I wanted to confront evil with a great command of authority! But I couldn’t.

And yet this desire within me—to speak out against evil ( “world with devils filled” as the hymn A Mighty Fortress says) and to love the broken-hearted—grew every time I covered a story about a person taking the life of another:

 work place shooting rampages

drug-deals gone badly

gang activity

armed robberies

family members murdering one another

spousal suicide murders, sometimes in front of their toddlers

drive-by shootings where innocents were killed by stray bullets

Eventually, I realized my purpose in life was not to report on tragic news stories on a weekly basis, but answer a call to be a pastor who lives out and helps others embody the biblical story, which reminds us that the power of God’s unconditional and non-violent love in Christ overcomes all evil.  So I left the newspaper and entered Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur. But even now, seven years after I became an ordained minister, I still struggle mightily with confronting evil.

I truly wish that I could be like Gandalf from the 2001 movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien, particularly the scene where the wizard makes a defiant stand against the demonically monstrous Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, fiercely shouting “Go back to the shadow…YOU SHALL NOT… PASS!” It’s exhilarating to witness magical and heroic figures from film and literature challenge evil in such a glorious way.  I revel in the possibility that I could be just as daring as Gandalf if evil loomed before me like Balrog.

When I snap out of that daydream, I remember that there have actually been many ordinary folks throughout history, especially in recent decades, who have stood without any special powers against oppressive and unjust systems that are just as scary if not more so than a fictional monster. 

Wang Wei Lin, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, June 5, 1989

The first image that comes to mind is the famous photo of a man, shopping bags in each hand, standing in front of a column of 18 enormously dangerous tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors of the Communist regime from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989.

To this day, no one knows the real name of the man, dubbed by a UK newspaper as Wang Wei Lin and referred to by many as the Tank Man.  Nor does anyone know what happened to him after he made his stand. But what Wang Wei Lin did for 5 minutes on that morning would be remembered forever.

As the tanks came through Tiananmen Square, the man walked into the middle of the otherwise empty street (without any warning) and stopped directly in the path of the armored vehicles. When the tanks came to a stop, the man gestured towards the machines with his bags. In response, the lead tank attempted to drive around the man, but the man repeatedly stepped into the path of the tank in a show of nonviolent action. After repeatedly attempting to go around rather than crush the man, the lead tank stopped its engines, and the other armored vehicles followed in suit.

Having successfully brought the column to a halt, the man climbed atop the turret and seemed to briefly speak with a crew member at the gunner’s hatch, where he reportedly said “Why are you here? My country is in chaos because of you.” Then the man descended from the tank, and a few seconds later, the vehicles restarted their engines, ready to proceed. At that point, the man, who was still standing within a meter or two from the side of the lead tank, leapt in front of the vehicle once again and quickly reestablished the man–tank standoff. Then two figures in blue attire pulled the man away and disappeared with him into a nearby crowd; the tanks continued on their way.[2]

Although the Tank Man didn’t permanently halt the terror of the Chinese government in its tracks, his stand is a reminder of how the common man or woman can confront evil, non-violently and without special powers, not even a gun.

Like Wang Wei Lin, other Chinese citizens also confront evil on their nation’s streets today, often walking into the brothels of mafia-run red light districts to tell girls as young as 13 that they can leave prostitution. In brave, rebellious acts of non-violent resistance, members of Mercy Outreach rescue women and children from the menace of sex trafficking and slavery.[3]

In countries like Columbia where citizens are caught in the crossfire of army, guerilla and paramilitary forces, groups of women, farmers and Indigenous leaders gather to non-violently protest the destruction of their country. They stand up to death squads without ever firing a bullet from or swinging a machete to harm their oppressors. [4]

Muslims and Christians unite during the Egyptian Revolution, January 2011, Google Images

And of course, we’re all familiar with the ongoing Egyptian Revolution that began a year ago this month. We watched this remarkable campaign of non-violent resistance unfold on our Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, smart-phones and TVs. Millions of protestors from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his ruthless regime. Some of the most striking pictures and stories of the Revolution have been of Christians and Muslims making a passionate non-violent stand against the evil of oppression together!

  That might sound idealistic and naïve to some of you: the idea of confronting evil with non-violent action, of responding to evil with defiant acts of mercy, reconciliation, peace and love. It’s not the type of thing that many Christians want to do. And it’s certainly not a practice that a lot of churches and pastors recommend for its congregants.

But standing in love against the evils that pervade the world is exactly what it means to be a disciple, to be a follower of Christ, to be a fisher for people.  If we are to cast our nets wide to lovingly invite others to be a part of God’s good work, then we must be prepared to encounter opposition—hostility and violent resistance from people and systems so fueled by evil, they will do everything within their power to make us crumble.

In a volume of sermons entitled Strength To Love, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who spent a lifetime confronting the evils of racism, wisely said:

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others[5]

During times of challenge and controversy, we are called out by God to stand with Christ and confront evil with the bold and unwavering truth of love.  We are called to risk everything to care for our neighbor…without resorting to violent and deadly means.

After calling the disciples to become fishers of people, Jesus, according to Mark’s gospel, went to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath, he entered the synagogue to teach.  The crowds are amazed by his teachings for Jesus, the step-son of a carpenter and a un-ordained rabbi, teaches as “one having authority.” And it’s the authority of God-with-us that responds to the man possessed by an unclean spirit instead of the appointed religious leaders who arrogantly and selfishly ignore the poor and suffering.

Jesus and The Unclean Spirit by Cerezo Baraedo, 1999

Jesus, without raising a hand in violence, stands his ground and says to the demon: “Be silent, and come out of him!”  And the unclean spirit, after convulsing within the man and then crying with a loud voice, comes out and then presumably disappears! The crowd is astounded again, saying to one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

A preaching professor of mine in seminary once wrote that Jesus’ exorcisms and healings…

were not simply actions on behalf of individuals but at a deeper level presented a challenge to the powers of death at work in the world. Through his healings Jesus not only restored people to physical health but restored outsiders, and unclean persons to community and social standing.[6]

This incident where Jesus confronts the unclean spirit in the synagogue reveals that God in Christ has authority over all things, even evil and death. The episode is a foreshadowing of the evens that occur at the end of the gospel story…

when Jesus’s crucifixion—an act of nonviolent resistance—“exposes the lies and pretensions of the powers” and

when the resurrection of Jesus—a demonstration of the power of new life—“sets the church free from the fear of death that so often prevents us from…following Jesus.”

And following this all-loving, mercy-filled pacifist Jesus that we study in scripture is, of course,  never easy…especially when we know that evil still lurks in the dark and broken places of the world.  As my professor suggests:

Although ultimately overcome in the cross and resurrection, the powers continue to go about their deadly work in the world, often with the intensity and violence of an injured beast.

This, of course, doesn’t make me feel any more confident about confronting evil, although I know it’s what God calls us to do as followers.  But maybe this non-violent act of “staring the beast in the eye”[7] with love doesn’t always have to be as intense as blocking 17 tanks with your body or risking your life to go into the slums to save teenage prostitutes.

Maybe it’s the other types of ministry that we do with and for others in Jesus’ name that are just as bold and defiant in the face of the evil-powered systems of the world.  Maybe it’s the daily, selfish acts of service that also loudly rebuke the demons that try to prevent us from caring for another human being. Consider for a moment that in every instance where you have…

served food to the hungry in Atlanta, Charlotte or Haiti

helped build homes in New Orleans, Tuscaloosa or Honduras

volunteered time and resources to Rainbow VillageFamily PromiseDuluth Co-Op

invited the men from Clifton Sanctuary Ministries to worship

taught children about caring for God’s creation

participated in a Bible study

helped young people grow in their faith

cared for a refugee family

given blood to the Red Cross

walked for a cure for Cancer or AIDS

visited a prisoner in jail

treated the mentally ill with dignity

comforted the sick and dying

chosen to walk away from a physical fight

denounced words and actions that are demeaning toward a person’s

race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and physical-mental development

accepted gays and lesbians as called by God to serve as ordained church leaders

advocated for peace and reconciliation instead of violent retribution

loved those whom you disagree with and call “enemy”

… you have made a stand with Christ by confronting evil and its oppressive, unjust systems of hate, greed, disease, destruction, poverty, addiction, slavery war, and violence. In every instance, you have rebuked those malevolent powers that seek to undermine God’s power. In every instance you have said with your entire being…

Be silent! Be gone! Go back to the shadow…YOU SHALL… NOT PASS!

God’s love endures forever! AND EVER! AMEN!


[1] “Blanton: Need files, Bombing suspect talks about his case”, by Andy Acton, The Birmingham Post-Herald, Friday, August 25, 2000.


[3] “Works of Mercy: Chinese churches face off against human trafficking—and start to see social justice as part of their mission” by Sylvia Yu, Sojourners Magazine, February 2012

[4] “Standing Up To Death Squads: Caught in the crossfire of army, guerilla, and paramilitary forces, women, farmers, and Indigenous leaders in Columbia fight bravely for the right to live” by Elizabeth Palmberg, Sojourners Magazine, February 2012

[5] Strength To Love by Martin Luther King Jr., Harper and Row Publishers, 1963

[6] The Word Before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching by Charles L. Campbell, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.

[7]  A phrase coined by retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu while speaking on “The Spirituality of Reconciliation at the National Cathedral on Nov. 13, 2007.