Facing Conversations + Pumpkin Maple Pecan Granola

To be honest, I was struggling with the theme for this week. I didn’t know what I was going to write about. What am I “facing?” Everything was pretty dandy.

Until last weekend.

The racial and political storm in the States hit home hard for our little family. We had weathered the waves of all the other racial tensions with a decent amount of grace. But this time, it cut deeper.

I’m not here to create a debate. I’m simply here to share my heart, from a perspective of a mixed family, from the perspective of a husband who has dark skin and is treated differently for that simple reason.

Growing up as part of the majority, in a small, non-diverse town in Missouri, I wasn’t even aware of race issues until I went to college in a bigger city. Shucks, my biggest worries growing up were more about just how pale I was. I was called names like Casper and Powder, asked if I was wearing white tights when I wasn’t, and on and on. It wasn’t fun to deal with, and I tried to take matters into my own hands as a teenager, attempting to get a tan from tanning booths (behind my parents’ back), to only get a little red and turn pale again. I’ve since fully accepted my paleness and easily shrug off the occasional teasing comment.

We all experience some sort of bullying or teasing growing up. Kids can be cruel. But in the much of the world, people with dark skin have to deal with it their entire lives. It’s not fair, and it’s time for things to change before we find ourselves slipping back into how things were in the 60’s. I know that seems far-fetched right now, but when the enemy works his way into the Church and has success dividing the Body, distracting us from the two greatest commandments, well, then it’s not so far-fetched.

So what can we do? Most of you reading aren’t even in your home country right now, so how does this even involve you? Oh, but it does. Racism, stereotypes, and judgements are not exclusive to the States, as we know. I’m fairly sure it exists on some level in every country and culture, whether it’s about skin, social status, hometown, etc.

Just the other day I brought up this topic with some Chinese colleagues (none of which had heard about the recent happenings in the States). I asked what types of stereotypes they had about their own countrymen. “None,” they replied. Umm hmm. Not five minutes later, one of them was complaining about a male student from Beijing that was disrespectful and arrogant in her class. Another nodded in agreement, “Yep, all people from Beijing are like that. They think because they are from a big city, they are better than everyone else.”

I stopped them right there. They just classified 21 million people into one little box.

When I gently pointed that out (careful to not make them lose face, yet not mask the truth at hand), they were shocked. One responded, “Wow, we really do have prejudices against other people. I’m going to be more careful about this.”

Conversations. Listening. Asking questions. These are all things you can do, wherever you are, to help break down these walls. If we keep letting the enemy encourage us to build our walls higher, it’s just going to get worse.

As I have scrolled through my Facebook feed the past few days, I’ve been broken-hearted over how many evangelical Christians whom I call close friends have completely missed the bigger picture. Upon reflection, I realized many of them probably don’t have many friends who look, act, think, or live life differently than them. If we surround ourselves with people just like us, there’s no way we can understand the other side. I know I don’t have to say that to many who read this because if you live overseas, you’re constantly surrounded by those not like you! But I share it so that if you’re struggling to comprehend what has been happening this week, perhaps it sheds some light on how people in the States may be handling it. Because I’ll be the first to tell you, this isn’t easy to deal with while thousands of miles away!

Just last month I wrote a post about loving the people who judge us here. If you are part of the people group being discriminated against in one form or another, I encourage you to give loads and loads of grace to those who persecute you. Draw from His unlimited flow of grace.

For the rest of us, let’s reach out to our brothers and sisters who are belittled and start a conversation to learn more about their struggles. It will speak volumes to them and I guarantee you’ll come away with something, too.

If you’d like to hear from a Christian African American perspective, check out or cousins who made this raw, eye-opening video. See it here.

What struggles of discrimination do you face where you live? If you don’t face any, what do others around you face? How can you start conversations to bridge those divides?

*****

I don’t know about where you live, but here in northern China, the temps are falling, the leaves are turning crunchy, and we are happily putting on our long sleeves. It’s Fall! This granola recipe screams fall. When I baked it today, half my teammates walked by my door asking what the delicious aroma was. It’s super easy to put together and can be eaten with milk, yogurt, on pancakes, or straight outta the bowl. Enjoy!

The dry ingredients. The add-ins are endless, but I pretty much stick to the recipe since my other granola recipes have lots of add-ins.

I made pumpkin butter the other day, so I just used that. I also happened to have real maple syrup on hand. Double yummy!

Mix and done!

Toasted and crunchy. Yesss.

Full of protein and flavor!

Pupmkin Maple Pecan Granola (Can be vegan and gluten free)

Serves: 10-15, depending on portions

Ready in: 30 minutes

Slightly adapted from: Minimalist Baker

3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free for GF eaters)

1  cup pecans

3 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp of sea salt

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup maple syrup (or sub agave or honey if not vegan)

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 325*F (~165C).

Mix the oats, nuts, spices, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the coconut oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree and whisk. Pour over the dry ingredients and quickly mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly onto two baking sheets and bake for 23-33 minutes, stirring a bit near the halfway point. If you prefer chunkier granola, don’t stir as it breaks up the clusters. Instead, just rotate the pan at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.

Once the granola is golden brown (usually about 25 minutes), remove from oven and let cool completely. It will crisp up as it cools.

Store in airtight container.

*Homemade pumpkin pie spice:  3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves. Once combined, use the amount the recipe calls for and save the rest for the next batch!

 

Photo by Brittney Burnett on Unsplash

 

9 Comments

  1. Ruth Felt October 1, 2017

    I love this! I also really appreciated your cousins’ video. It struck me what they said about never being able to forget about their race. What I have realized in this past year or so is how ignorant I have been as to how much racism is still all around – how blind I have been even to my own racism. Of course I don’t think I’m racist, and I certainly don’t want to be, but I realize I still have ideas that I heard or picked up at some point that I haven’t really thought through. Because I have the privilege of not having to think about my race all the time. Juliana watched part of the video with me (oops…including the part quoting THE PRESIDENT calling players Sons of B*. Anger, anger, anger.) and we talked about it some. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to not accidentally raise my kids to be racist – and to not assume I can just ignore the issue because It’s not something they have to deal with every day.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and that granola recipe looks so good. I’m just cooking my first pumpkin and I really want to try this. I also really like your bowl. 🙂

    1. Ashley Felder October 3, 2017

      I truly believe most of us who are part of the majority are in the same boat as you–“accidental racists”–we don’t mean to say things that, in the end can be deemed as racist, but it’s because, as you said, we grew up not having to think about such things. I’m thankful these conversations are starting so we can begin to break down some of these walls!

  2. karen October 2, 2017

    This post is so brave and I can tell it comes from such a tender place. Thank you for gently guiding us towards a better conversation and a higher calling. xo

  3. Amy Young October 2, 2017

    Okay, I am now a big fan of your cousin. Watched most of their videos :). Thanks for sharing Ashley!!

    1. Ashley Felder October 3, 2017

      Haha..they are pretty stinkin’ cute!

  4. Ashley Felder October 3, 2017

    Thank you for your encouraging words! Hoping the Father can use these conversations to open doors and hearts!

    1. Ashley Felder October 3, 2017

      Oops, Karen, this was supposed to be for you! Not sure how to undo.

  5. sarah October 4, 2017

    One year when I was teaching American culture in China and we were talking about rights, we talked a bit about race issues in class. So, as part of their homework, I asked them to write a bit about what racism looks like in China. Several people in different classes responded that there was no racism in China because there were no black people. Hard to even know what to do with a response like that. Especially since our city had a bunch of Africans from various countries, and one of the other teachers at our training center was African American…
    And, yeah, it’s easy to laugh/be horrified at their ignorance(?), but yeah, even more upsetting when it shows its ugly face in me. Moving from white-people-adoring China to still-having-major-baggage-with-the-Bristish India was pretty shocking on a racial level for me. It was the first time that I had experienced living in a place in which the majority didn’t treat whites as something special. I specifically remember a day in which someone said something incredibly rude to me and in mind I thought, “You can’t say that to me! I’m white!” Yep. And then total horror at my sinful self after that thought.
    And, I grew up in a mixed race family, so I can’t plead ignorance. Just sinfulness.

    1. Ashley Felder October 4, 2017

      I think it’s post-fall human nature (sinfulness, like you said!) to have such thoughts. My hope and prayer is that we (starting with believers, since we have the HS to help us do so!) begin to dig out those stereotypes and unknown prejudices and fight against them. But it’s a battle for sure!

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