Tell me a bit about yourself and your life journey.
Sure, Christine – and thanks for having me on your blog. I’m a writer and speaker from the greater San Francisco Bay Area, although I recently spent a good twenty months in the Pacific Northwest, where I was so grateful to have crossed paths with you, Christine. As per the intersection of my professional journey and life story, I was a high school English and leadership teacher for four years out of college before spending another eight years in the non-profit ministry sector. To be totally honest, I thought I’d spend the rest of my life in that arena, but when the perfect storm of finishing seminary and becoming a parent seemingly happened in the same breath, I knew it was time for me to leave. So, I left to follow a long-held dream of pursuing writing and speaking professionally, as well as being the primary caregiver for our infant son. Six and a half years later, my first book, The Color of Life, made its way onto bookshelves across the country and I couldn’t be more delighted or surprised, for that matter.
Tell me a bit about your book – In a nutshell what is the main theme?
The book is a spiritual memoir about my journey as a white woman into issues of justice, race and privilege. In a sense it’s also about what not to do when it comes to engaging in and with the greater conversation, and hopefully serves as an invitation for all of us to enter into dialogue and start talking about the things we need to be talking about that we’re not always talking about. In a nutshell, though, it’s a love story about how the power of love helped me see color – a love of interracial marriage, raising mixed-race sons, identifying my own privilege, and marrying into the son of civil rights activist, James Meredith.
What inspired you to write the book?
I’ve oftentimes said that this is the book I never thought I’d write …but the book God intended for me to write. Case in point, a couple of years after I left ministry, I’d finished writing a (different) spiritual memoir all about being a woman in ministry, leaving ministry, becoming a mother, going through a crisis of faith – the list goes on. I’d just queried my 35th agent, trying to find someone who might want to pick up my Very Great Idea up so I could become a famous (cough, cough) author. Just as I received my 35th rejection, a longform essay about my journey as a white woman into issues of justice, race and privilege ran and went viral. Within 24 hours, the first agent I’d ever queried – the one I’d wanted to represent me all along – sent me an email, effectively saying, “Cara, put that book you’ve been trying to sell on the back burner. This is the book you’re supposed to write.” A year or so later, we secured a book contract; and nearly two years after said book contract, the book went to print.
What is the main “take away” that readers will gain from your book? How do you hope they will be changed?
Like I’ve said, more than anything, I hope it serves as an invitation to enter into conversations of justice, race and privilege. I hope they wrestle with their own racial identities, no matter the other of their skin; I hope white readers especially heed the exhortation to listen, learn and listen some more to our brothers and sisters of color. And I hope every reader will be changed when he or she realizes that justice and wholeness and peace is for every single one of us – for this realization alone changes the way we interact with the world around us.
Writing a book often changes our own perspectives. How have you been changed by writing this book and what do you continue to learn about the topic?
I’ll be the first to say that mine is a lived and not a learned experience; I may experience first hand the effects of racism on my husband, my sons and my dear friends of color, but I will never fully experience that for myself because of the color of my skin. In that way, I’ve been changed by realizing that there’s a whole lot more to the story than I ever realized; like I said in my previous answer, the greatest thing I can do is continue to listen, learn and listen some more. I hope and trust I’ll always take the stance of learner when it comes to issues of justice, race and privilege. As such, right now I’m digging into listening to the stories and wisdom of the past, particularly from leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston – we’re all just reliving many of their insights sixty, seventy, eighty years later.
Where can readers connect to you on the internet and what is the best way for them to purchase your book?
You can connect with on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as on my website and my Patheos blog. The Color of Life is available everywhere books are sold, so pick it up at your local bookseller or head to your favorite online purchasing spot!
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and sought-after conversationalist. A former high school English teacher and non-profit outreach director, her writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications. The Color of Life, a spiritual memoir about her journey as a white woman into issues of justice, race, and privilege, released in February. She holds a Masters of Theology from Fuller Seminary and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. You can connect with her on her website, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.