This winter, I’ve had the privilege of being on the launch team of Cara Meredith’s debut memoir, The Color of Life. Cara and I belong to the same literary agency, and I’ve followed and admired her work since first hearing her as a guest on one of Barb Neal Roose’s podcasts (which are wonderful—check them out here!). So when I saw that Cara was looking for “influencers” for her first book, published earlier this month by Zondervan, I was eager to jump on board.
Cara is passionate about causes of racial justice and reconciliation, as am I—though she’s farther along the path than I am. For her, the journey out of “colorblindness” and into “seeing color” began when, as a young white woman raised in a sheltered world that largely didn’t see racism, she met, fell in love with, and married a man who is not only black but the son of a Civil Rights icon: James Howard Meredith, the first African-American student to integrate the University of Mississippi in the 1960s.
I found this memoir a wonderful one to read during February, since it not only relates closely to Black History Month but is also a love story. But here are five reasons I’d recommend this book to read any time of year:
- It’s a story
Perhaps what I like best about this book is that it IS a story—not a lecture or an expose, but one woman’s story of her journey, which is still continuing. It’s a romantic love story, as we see her meet and fall head-over-heels for her James in their after-E-harmony dinner dates and chats, witness their engagement and wedding, and watch them parent their two little boys near San Francisco. But it’s also a wider love story, as Cara learns to see and love people, especially those who have come from a very different place than she has, in a new way—discerning the image of God in every face, the narrowness of her own perspective, and the value of seeing color and listening to every story. It’s a story beautifully and engagingly written that drew me in from the first page and kept me attention till the end.
- It’s honest
I appreciated Cara’s honesty in this book—not just about her ignorance of racial realities growing up, to which I could strongly relate, but her recent mistakes also as she continues on this journey of learning and loving. She shares vulnerably about the seemingly harmless online nicknames she gave her brown-skinned husband and sons, only to later realize they could be damaging, and her struggle to connect with her Civil Rights icon father-in-law.
- It’s relatable
For me, this book was intensely relatable to my own journey of learning to see color and racial injustice in a land I used to think had dealt with racism long ago with Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. The shock of realization after naivete, the wrestling with guilt from the past, the wondering what to do now and what is enough…it’s not often I read someone’s story that I can relate to in so many ways.
- It’s challenging
Cara’s story also challenged me to continue on this journey of facing the racial injustice and inequity in our society, which can sometimes be easy to set aside when life is busy or the task feels overwhelming. Especially since, as a white woman, I have that privilege—unlike my brothers and sisters of color.
She also challenged me in another way—not to see myself so much as a “white ally” to those oppressed but to realize that in fighting for justice, we are fighting for all of us, myself included—a realization both freeing and humbling. Here is one of my favorite bits from the book, expressing it better than I can:
“…as long as I remain immune to fighting for justice within myself, I only perpetuate the problem. I buy into the lie of ‘us and them.’ I believe that it’s not about me…but it’s about them: all those black and brown people whose lives do not hold equal value. When that happens, I miss the point—even when my intentions are good, even when I’m standing up for equality in the lives of others.
“Maybe that’s when it hit me, maybe for the first time in my life: if redemption is for everyone, then redemption is for me too. I knew this—redemption is at the heart of the gospel….But when it came to racial justice, I hadn’t thought redemption belonged to me. When Mama Ruby told me that justice was for me too, I was reminded that I could be brand new. I am not held hostage by the color of my skin…even if a litany of apologies and reparations and change, on behalf of both my country and me, still needs to happen.”
~Cara Meredith, The Color of Life, p. 185
- It’s a beginning
This book is not very long, and far from being a comprehensive manual to racial understanding and activism for justice—nor is it intended to be. It is, again, one woman’s story, but one that can encourage and inspire us along the journey that I think God calls all His people to, in one way or another—to see through His eyes the diverse beauty and color of His creation, particularly in those made in His image, and to learn to better listen to, honor, and love each other, as He has loved us. And how that may be much harder and more humbling than we would like, and yet so deeply enriching, as we discover the “Color of Life.”
So, what books have you read lately that stretched or challenged you—or that you simply enjoyed? Please comment and share!