Telling a New Story {Book Club}

Telling a New Story {Book Club}

I’m so grateful to Lauren for laying the foundation for our discussion last week!

Thank you for showing up to Book Club as we start Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming Our Ethnic Journey by Sarah Shin. I’m equal parts excited and nervous as we start reading. Why? I think these will be important conversations, import topics that relate to our lives as cross-cultural workers, citizens of our passport countries, and followers of Jesus.

But, I also have a few thoughts on what this book and our conversations are not.

  • This is not a place for political debate. Right now in the US, racism unfortunately has become politically charged. If you are not originally from the US, this might look different in the country you come from or the country you are serving in. I hope that we can put any insults or bashing aside (not that we are the kind of group to do that), and honestly look at our ethnic stories with respect and care for each other.
  • This is not just for those in or from America. While the author starts with her Asian American identity and shares from that perspective, my hope is that we all can bring our unique backgrounds and stories to the table. I think we all have something to learn and share no matter what your passport country.
  • This is also not an opportunity to bash your passport country or the country where you are serving. I get it, I do! It can be easy to focus on the things these places have gotten wrong. And there’s a place for accountability and calling for change. But just as we respect each other, let’s also share in ways that respect these countries.

I loved this quote from the author in Chapter 1: “We are trapped behind the futility of colorblindness or the helpless impotence of our good intentions unless we choose to recognize that our ethnicities are the sacred vessels in which God wants to bring healing and redemption. We cannot be sent out with the gospel of grace unless we experience that for ourselves.”

Each of us comes with our ethnic story. I trace my roots to northcentral Germany, the descendent of immigrants who came to the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like many people in what is often called the “melting pot” of the US, I can add a few other ethnic roots as well including Czech and a little Swedish. My ancestors settled in a place where there were people like them, others who spoke their language, worshipped in the same way they did.

Do you know your ethnic background? Has that impacted your identity or thoughts on ethnicity?

As cross-cultural workers, we get that we need to understand the ethnic story of the people we are serving among. We might learn or be aware of the ethnic scars in those places or the ways that redemption is needed. I appreciated the author’s points in this chapter about the awareness and healing that needs to happen in our own hearts as well as the importance of understanding others.

I love the image she used of kintsukuroi, the Japanese practice of mending broken vessels with golden or silver lacquer. There’s beauty in the brokenness and God can use our own mending to be a vessel of his gospel in the world. This gives me hope.

At the end of the chapter, the author shared a link to this short video that is a great overview of the premises of this book. You can watch that HERE.  

What are some of the questions, fears or reasons for excitement you bring to the conversation of colorblindness and ethnicity? Any thoughts on how the layer of being a community of cross-cultural workers impacts the conversation? I’d love to hear your insights.

Here’s our schedule for the book:

October- Part 1

October 13th: Chapter 2

October 20th: Chapter 3

October 27th: Chapters 4 and 5

November- Part 2

November 3: Chapter 6

November 10: Chapters 7 & 8

November 17: Chapter 9

November 24: Chapter 10

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash


  1. Rachel Kahindi October 11, 2020

    I think this group will probably have a different perspective than the primary audience of this book. We spend time with people who are different from us, we embrace cultural differences, and we are a little more aware of our own cultures – things that can be taken for granted when you never leave your own culture.

    But this book is about ethnicity, which I think of as a step beyond or above culture. Culture is part of ethnicity, but it can change, and it does change from one generation to the next. Ethnicity can’t change. The idea of ethnicity being good – even my ethnicity – is new for me.

    I’m from very mixed up heritage, and most of my many ethnic roots mixed so many generations ago that it’s hard to see how they affect me, besides giving me my physical features. I am mostly English, Irish, German, and Czech (our most recent immigrants to the US 5 generations ago). Maybe also Scottish? There could be a few more European nationalities in my family tree, too. I know that I also have Native American heritage from both of parents, Cherokee and maybe Chickasaw (not sure).

    1. Amanda Hutton October 12, 2020

      Rachel, I agree that it culture is different than ethnicity, but this group will bring a unique perspective for discussion. What an exciting topic! I look forward to learning alongside all of you!

    2. Sarah Hilkemann October 14, 2020

      I think we are all used to talking about culture- we cross cultures, are cultural learners, and think through the differences between our passport and host culture. I thought the way you described culture and ethnicity is so helpful, Rachel! I don’t necessarily think about ethnicity, at least not my own, so this book is stretching me. 🙂

  2. Phyllis October 12, 2020

    I should have commented right after I read the chapter, when my impressions were fresh. I am excited to be reading this, and it seems good. I just feel like I’m in over my head and reading about life on a different planet.

    My experiences and thoughts, like Rachel said above, are all about cultural differences, not so much skin color. I have seen and experienced discrimation along the lines of country borders, but not ethnicity much at all. The kids around me get very confused about civil, national, religious distinctions here. (A little one visiting the family we live with asked me why I “speak Muslim.”) None of us can answer simply to the question, “Where are you from?” But skin colors around us are pretty much all the same.

    Now I’m thinking about the broad ranges of ethnicity that this book gives. I know that I come from a lot of Scottish. Other than that, it’s all European mix. I’m going to watch the video and maybe retread the chapter. I’m also going to get White Awake from the recommended resources as soon as my Hoopla limit resets.

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 14, 2020

      Phyllis, thanks for sharing that perspective! That’s so interesting that in parts of the world the dividing factors might not be ethnicity, but like you said, borders or other distinctions. It will be interesting to hear your thoughts as we week moving through the book!

  3. Amanda Hutton October 12, 2020

    As a mom of young kids, I am looking forward to reading this book. Recently the concept of colorblindness has been brought to my attention, and the culture I live and work in is anything BUT colorblind! I am hoping that this book will give me confidence in how to minister in the midst of ethnic diversity!

    1. Sarah Hilkemann October 14, 2020

      That’s a great perspective, Amanda! I look forward to your insights. 🙂

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