Website mentioned: https://colorfulconnectionsbook.com
BONUS RESOURCES as free downloads: "Pre-Prayered" Journal and Questions Pack
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an award-winning author, speaker, wellbeing thought-leader and host of I Choose My Best Life podcast. She spent over 20 years in clinical practice as an internal medicine physician. Dr. Saundra speaks internationally to audiences on topics of faith, wellness, and healing. Learn more about Dr. Saundra at IChooseMyBestLife.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith and Lori Stanley Roeleveld enter a transparent and open dialogue about race, privilege, bias, and discrimination.
As you witness the real-time provess of meaningful discussion, you'll see how these women model healthy conersations--giving voice to pain without blame, expressing anger without ridicule, and asking questions without guilt.
These pages are filled with vulnerable personal stories, biblical teaching, conversation starters, and practical next steps. By the end, you too will be equipped to have your own colorful conversations, and find your place in healing the racial divide and bringing together the body of Christ.
Creators & Guests
What is The Connected Mom?
Form a deeper connection with God, more empathic connection with other Moms, and more intentional connection with your child.
Welcome to the Connected Mom podcast, where we have real conversations helping you to connect more deeply with God, more empathically with your fellow moms, and more intentionally with your child. I'm Becky Harling, and I'm your host. And I have with me today my amazing co host, Sarah Wildman. And, Sarah, the last few years there's been a lot of racial, uh, issues that have hit the forefront of the news, and so today we're going to be diving into that as moms. What do you think?
Absolutely. Well, I personally am excited to dive into this because I'm raising a seven and a nine year old, and these conversations come up a lot. And I think the more equipped we are as moms to talk about this, the better. So this is going to be a fantastic time to talk about it. So I hope moms can drop everything and listen in. But tell us more, Becky, about what we'll be talking about.
Yeah. So, Moms, out there, you might be folding laundry or be on the treadmill or walking a baby outside. I really want you to tune into this conversation because I believe that this is an urgent hour for the church and we've got to wake up and be able to talk about this race issue with our kids. And so I'm super excited about our guest today. Sarah and I were talking, uh, before our guests joined us that my kids joke about when somebody is really important, they're a double namer. Well, today's guest, I want you to know, is a quadruple namer. So we have Dr. Sandra Dalton Smith with us. And Sandra is my friend, so I'm thrilled about that. But in addition to that, she is an author, a bestselling author, a speaker, a board certified physician. I mean, girls, she's smart. She has an active medical practice in Alabama. She received her BS in biochemistry at the University of Georgia. She graduated with honors from Mahari Medical College in Nashville. Uh, she has been a guest on all kinds of media. She did a Ted Talks, which is amazing. She has been featured in Women's Day Red book first for women. I mean, there's so much that I could say about her, but I don't want to take up all our time just bragging on, uh, my dear friend here. But it will be in the show notes. So notice how great she is. And she's here today to talk with us about how to have colorful conversations with your kids. Now, the name of her book is Colorful Connections. And how do we bring up the topic of race with our kids? So sandra welcome. I'm so excited to have you here.
Thank you, Becky and Sarah, it is a pleasure to join you.
Yeah. Okay. Uh, talk to us first about you and your family and your kids. And so tell us about that first.
Yeah, so I'm a mom of two boys. We had our first one launch. So he's now a freshman, uh, in college. And so that's been interesting, having the first one out of the house. And then my other son is a junior in high school. And so we're in that journey of getting, uh, the kids out of the house. We'll be empty nesters in another year.
Wow. How do you feel about that being an empty nester?
I don't know how I feel about it quite yet, but having the first child gone that first month, it was so bizarre because we were so used to seeing him at the dinner table every evening and keeping up with where he's coming and going, and you lose all that control. It's been an interesting transition. Yeah.
You lose all control when they go to college. I remember that feeling, and it's very out of control. Well, today we're going to talk a little bit about racial issues, and I feel like this is such an important conversation, uh, for us. I know. Sarah, you have two little boys, so talk to us about that.
Oh, goodness. Well, I think there can be a fear, Dr. Sandra, of messing it up, so then we avoid it completely. So I love that your book is like, hey, here are some practical tools to talk about that. But I guess just to start the groundwork, why is it so important to have these conversations? Why should we step into that and let's start there.
Yeah, I think that is the key, because, uh, for most of us, we do try to avoid uncomfortable things. And so having conversations that we don't necessarily feel like we are 100% equipped for, we tend to run from them. And I think it's that running and hiding from the conversation that has really left the church a little toxic in this area, where we are not having the freedom to actually be able to share when we are, um, insecure about something or share when we don't agree with someone about something. Um, because we fear that the race card, so to speak, is going to pop up. So I think for myself and my co author, Laurie Stanley Rolleveld, when we were looking at this, she approached me. We didn't know each other when this started. It wasn't like we were friends. We were barely acquaintances. If anything, we're both authors. Um, we have an agent, and we had sat one time, like, two years ago at an agent's meeting kind of thing. So we barely said two words to each other other than hello. But we were familiar with each other's work. And in 2020, when everything came out and all the racial tension kind of spiked and peaked, hillary wrote a blog post, and, uh, it gathered a lot of attention, and people started saying, you need to dive deeper in this. She wrote the book the Art of Heart Conversations. And so she's kind of known for going into heart conversations, but she'd never done any conversations on Race M. So she reached out to me with this email that said, hey, I have this book idea. And I pitched it to my publisher and they said, you know, it'd be really great if you did this with a person who doesn't look like you. And so she's like, well, this is going to sound horrible, but you're the only author I know of color, so would you want to do this book with me? You can imagine my thought when I got this email. I mean, honestly, I just kind of closed it up and walked away because I was like the, uh, very same thing you said, Sarah. It's like, I don't want to go down that rabbit hole with anybody. I don't want to bring all of that up. But no sooner had that thought left my mind, then I really started thinking, why am I running from this? Why don't I want to have this conversation? I think it was that mindset that actually led me to finally say yes to her. Because if I, as, uh, someone who is a communicator professionally, as an author and speaker, is running from communicating on the topic, what is the rest of the world doing?
I love that you are honest about that, Sandra, because I think a lot of times we look at the experts in communication and we think, oh, this was easy for her, but it doesn't sound like it was easy for you. And these conversations are challenging and we want to do it right. As parents, I feel such a strong sense that as parents, we need to be discipling our kids. And this is an issue of discipleship. And I think for a lot of years, as you said before, the church has run from it, unfortunately. So how do we open the conversation with our kids? Give us some examples because, um, a lot of times parents think, well, my child is maybe six or seven years old. They're too young for these conversations. They don't know what's happening. But they do know what's happening. And, you know, so how do we how do we get the conversation going?
I think it starts by asking and really observing how your kids function when they are not when they don't know you're looking. You know, one of the we had twelve other authors join us in the conversation. I think every single one of them were parents, and one of them, specifically Maria Gill, shared an experience she had with her son where he showed up she's Filipino, and he showed up in an area where, um, there were not very many people, uh, who were not white. And so he stood out because he was different than everybody else. And she said to us, she mentioned in the book, that initially she was like, I don't think I have to have this conversation with my son. He's a nice kid, everybody likes him. He gets along everywhere else we've ever been. So when they're in this new location, they had, like, some type of play date or something that was happening, and he wasn't invited, and everybody else was invited. And so then there's this conversation of, well, Mommy, why didn't they invite me? What's different about me? And so I think sometimes it's important to not ignore things, because the children are not ignoring them. When you observe children, you can actually see some just baseline racial psychology in place. Every one of us have our in groups and out groups that we feel comfortable with. And these things are not malicious, necessarily. They're just how our brain functions. So you walk into a room I'll give an easier example that I talk about in the book. Uh, I'm a football mama, so my oldest son, who's in college, plays football. So we're sitting down in black, white, Filipino, Asian. It didn't matter what anybody was. If we were on the same team, and we all had on our maroon jerseys, we were a tribe. You weren't messing with our kids. The other team was the enemy. So we were an in group, they were an outgroup. Well, we do the very same thing when we walk into a room and everybody in there might be of one race or one gender, even. And then we look around to see, where do I fit in? Who's my ingrew? Who do I naturally feel comfortable with? Because I feel like I have a way of relating to them. And so children do the same thing. They look and see, where does it look like I fit in? And so you have to be able to see, has my child developed to the point where they understand that even if someone is not automatically part of your in group, you can invite them in? And I think we don't teach children that.
Okay, let's say you have a really shy child. Um, and they're like, Well, I don't want to take initiative. What do you do with that?
You break it down so that it doesn't seem so threatening. It's one of those things where when you, um I see it often at the dentist office or the doctor's office, there's one little table with all the toys at the table, and all the kids have to come to one place. I think we have to teach the mentality of let's gather at the table together. And so when your child has those opportunities where they might not be the initiator, you include, like you said, their own personalities, whether they're introvert or an extrovert. But does your child at least approach the table where other people are there and they don't feel like, well, I can't touch it because you're on it and I don't, and you're not like me, so now I'm excluded from it.
M yeah, I think my kids are at that level. I love how you said, just acknowledge where they are because I think sometimes, again, parents love to just try to skirt these issues if they're uncomfortable, but we can say, like, oh, my kid doesn't see color. They just don't see it. We're just so I don't know in the know that we just don't see that. But they do, right? They do see skin color. I guess this is a big question. That is a good thing, correct? Would you agree with that?
Absolutely. This is probably one of the confrontational, uh, conversations that we had in the book, because, um, laurie and I, we had a very open dialogue. We went back and forth. Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn't. We wanted people to see, what does it look like to not have to go back and forth with someone that you don't know, but you're trying to do so with grace and with patience and without getting offended, with being slow to anger, being willing to listen and not just ready to talk. And so one of the things was some people, and usually with the right spirit, say, I'm colorblind, mhm and they're saying it, and that I'm not judging you based on your color. But what happens with that is also saying you're discounting part of who I am. And it's almost as if excusing it as if you're going to just dismiss it as, I'm going to overlook that of you. Uh, so I think it's important to recognize when you say that a person of color sometimes can receive that as because I don't accept a part of you, I'm going to just ignore it and say that I'm colorblind. I don't see it. It's not a part of who you are. But it is. Being, uh, a black female is a huge part of who I am m when I walk into a room. There's no doubt of that. And so I think it's important to recognize we don't really need to be color blind. We need to be culturally aware. And there's a major difference there. When you're culturally aware, you recognize that it's OK to have different colors and skin textures and hair textures, and ethnicity and styles of dress and all of these things that make up our culture. And that is the kingdom of God. It is a diverse culture that's under one kingdom.
Yeah, I love that so much. In the aftermath of some of the race riots we had in 2020, I would hear people who are dedicated believers say, why are we having this conversation? We've already dealt with this issue. We've come so far. How would you answer that, Sandra?
I think we have come very far. I mean, uh, my children can go to school with children that don't look like them. We're not segregated anymore. So definitely there's been progress, but progress doesn't mean completion. It's not a finished work. And so I think because it's not a finished work, that means there's still work to do. And so that work can't be isolated just to politicians or just to, uh, congress or whatever else that we want to try to push it off to. It's a work that has to be done by people. And the people with the greatest amount of grace and love is supposed to be the church. And so if we're talking about healing, racial healing and reconciliation and that whole mindset of helping people who feel marginalized or disenfranchised, then shouldn't it be the people who are most like Jesus that are leading that initiative? Because they're the only ones that are going to be able to do so with the level of justice, grace and mercy? Because the world can't manufacture that. That's a gift of the Holy Spirit. The world can't manufacture it. And so if Christians aren't the ones who are stepping into their rightful place to help and lead those initiatives, it just never gets done. So we have improved without a desire for a finished work and to move forward.
I love that you said it like that, and I think you touched on something, um, about empathy, really, about when we have people who feel marginalized, even if you don't feel like they are marginalized, our responsibility is to offer empathy, right? Because that's what Jesus always did. He always had a heart for the marginalized people. And so talk to us a little bit about empathy and how important that is in this conversation.
I think that's huge, because sometimes you don't know exactly the right thing to say. Some situations can't be helped with words, necessarily, so you don't really know exactly what to say. But a big part of that are you willing to at least sit with someone in their pain and just listen? I think right after all the things happened at 2020, specifically with George Floyd, that was like a big explosion of a thing that happened and that hurt people from every race. I mean, just watching it was painful to witness. Um, and so I had so many people that reached out to me, and some people reached out and said, what are your thoughts on this as a black woman? And every time I got one of those, a little piece of my heart kind of like, oh, really? More in line. What are my thoughts on this? As a human being? As a human being?
As a human being watching something that's not a movie, that someone is literally dying in front of me.
Um, but that wasn't sometimes a question, and sometimes the questions were more in line to, um, I know this is hurting your heart, because I know your heart. How can I sit with you and help you process this? It was those friends that really showed me that they had gotten to a place where it just wasn't about a race thing. It was about, I know this hurts you because it's hurting me. It's hurting me, so I know it hurts you. How can I help you process? And I think it's that desire to sit in the pain with someone, not try to fix it, not judge them for being pained by it or try to rationalize it, but just being willing to listen to something that I talk about call emotional rest. Just having the ability to have somebody that you can speak truthfully with and share your emotions without fear or judgment, that leads to healing in itself.
M with the empathy piece, I was thinking about how one of the conversations I've had with my nine year old was him reading History, right? And so he had this little book, and it was talking about Martin Luther King, Jr. So we were talking about who he was, and that naturally led into why he's a leader. Like, what was he talking about? And it was so interesting. Just it broke my heart. First of all, just to present facts, right? Like, this is our history. This is where we've been, and what do you think about that? And I thought it was interesting to kind of, like you said, see where he was at initially, and then, um, talk about that. So, I guess are there some tips for us, like me as a mom, when we have our kids recognize, right, that things are unfair in our world, or someone is being treated unfairly because of how they look, because of their culture? Um, what are some tips that you would give us to help our kids maybe engage in that or even speak up when it's appropriate?
Yeah, I think you mentioned Martin Luther King Jr. I think it's a great opportunity every single year because it's a holiday, right? Why are we literally off from school? They're literally off from school, but you'll find that most schools, it's a day off with no explanation. There's no explanation as to why you just got a day off. It's a fun day, and I get that. Have the fun day. But what, uh, does it hurt to take 15 minutes to educate on why this is even a day? We do it for Christmas. We'll spend months talking about Christmas. We'll even spend a week talking about Thanksgiving. There's certain holidays we'll spend, especially as Christians, easter, we'll spend an entire month breaking down the story of the gospel with our kids. So there are certain activities that we do associated to certain holidays because we view them as Christian holidays. Why not approach Martin Luther King Day in the same way? And for that right? Just to be honest with you, I think so should Labor Day and Memorial Day should be approached in the same way as well, to build respect for military within our kids. And so there's multiple opportunities as a parent when you don't have to make it like a home school session. You can make it fun. One of the things that I saw that was really interesting, one parent had mentioned, and I think she said she did it with Eminems or something like that. But huh, the eminem have all the different colors and she played it almost like a game, like Candy Land. It's like, well, what if the red Eminems never got a chance to go to the park? What if we just decided that red Eminems, we don't like them, they just never get a chance to go to the park? How do you think the red M and Ms would feel? Do m you think they'd be sad that they never get a chance to go? Or you could do, uh, uh, different types of animals or different types of pets or whatever it is. And what you're doing is you're helping your child start putting themselves in the position of the person that's disenfranchised so that they can start thinking about how would I feel if I didn't get to go to the park? Or how would I feel if I didn't get whatever the thing is that you're bringing up to them. But there's different ways of helping your children actually build empathy because now they can visualize it without having a person attached to it. And then once they get it, then you can share the story. Well, that's who Martin Luther King was. He saw that the people who were brown weren't getting the chance to go to do this, that, and the other. And so he stood up and said that they should be able to do that just like everybody else should be able to do it. And you just go from there.
I love that eminem illustration because I think that so practice.
Who doesn't like eminem? M. Right.
And whenever you bring candy into a conversation with kids, from my limited perspective, it's a win, right? Because they want to go there. So Sandra, you raised these two boys, okay? One's in college, one's a junior in high school. Um, are you okay sharing? What are some of the conversations you had with your sons around this issue?
I'm, um, very open to sharing them because my kids are interracial, so they have had to navigate. And we live in Alabama, but they go to a private school where they are like the 1%.
Literally, there's hardly anyone in the school who is not Caucasian. Um, there's a couple of people who are from other countries. Um, there's maybe out of a school of 400, there might be like five students that are, well, maybe ten now that are black or identify as black. So the way the school is put together, it's very limited in their exposure. And we've had to have these conversations. We had an episode where the school had to expel somebody because of writing a racial slur on someone's car. Um, it wasn't our kids car, but it was somebody's car who got a racial slur written on it. We've had situations where people got detention. Um, someone made a comment to my son on Black History Month. Something about i, um, guess this is your month and a person ah, ah heard it and put him on detention or he sent the kid home from school that day because of his attitude and talk with his parents and all of that. So my kids understand that race is an issue. They have lots of friends, they do their thing, they have their clicks, as most high schools are, but they'd still have to deal with people who aren't as nice. And so my children have learned that getting angry at that person was something my husband, who is Caucasian, has taught them, is that when you hear a child, a teenager, say that to you, it is not because of their own thoughts, it's probably because of what they're being taught at home. So it doesn't excuse them m because they're a teenager now, they can make up their own decision. What comes out of their mouth, they're accountable for. But there's a route to that that is causing them to even think that. And so a lot of time that has been from their home. So we've taught our children, you don't get mad at the person. You just understand that that person did not experience the same level of grace that, uh, you've had in your life. To recognize that we are all the same. Yeah. And so that person may have to go through college or go through life with these wrong mindsets till they eventually come to the point of recognition that there is no you and us and higher and lower and all of that. We're all the same.
And we always teach our kids, you're at an advantage because you recognize that. So now your responsibility is simply to not allow their hatred to become part of your identity.
I love that. I love how you have taught your kids, like, you're at an advantage. Um, because I think that is so wise, because it ups their responsibility to help make our world a better place. And I think as Christian parents, we teach our kids about the gospel and we want them to go share Jesus. But talk to us a little bit about as Christian parents, we really have a responsibility to help our kids be change agents in a world that is very colorful and beautiful.
Absolutely. And I think that's why we taught our kids like that, that they're at an advantage. Because the reaction most of us would have if someone does anything like that is we would lash back. I mean, that's just your natural, especially.
As boys for your kids. Yeah.
And I have boys, uh, and they're both very athletic. They do a lot of sports. One's football, the other one's soccer and basketball. They're really athletic. They have the kind of mentality of win win, go get our kind of personalities. And so the very first response is to lash back. And I think what we have to really help our children understand is that sometimes, especially when we are thinking about the life of Jesus, it's a softer response that actually has the biggest effect the ability to have self control in hard situations and not just respond in your flesh just because. That's the quick and easy way of relieving yourself of the pain and of the discomfort. And so what we didn't recommend with people, especially like, um, the administration sometimes will come and say, hey, we know this is something you talk about. Is it something that you'd come to the school and share about? Kind of thing. And out of respect to my sons, because they're still at the school, I always say, not until they graduated.
Because I'm their mom. Nobody wants their mom showing up at school. But I've told them as soon as they're gone, I'm more than happy to come and do that because I think we have to start opening up conversations to help parents just be able to give grace for kids to get it wrong. I think simulating conversations helpful. One of the things we did with the book for Colorful Connections is we had these conversation starters because Laurie and I really felt like parents have the ability to leave a legacy of love, uh, upon the earth. And that legacy of love includes the ability to be able to converse with anybody from a place of love, respect and grace. And so that has to be not only modeled, but practiced.
And sometimes we don't have a lot of opportunities to practice it. And so just being able to practice around your own dinner table with your kids, where when something hard happens on the news and it's all the time, there's always something, uh, on the news. When something hard happens, just say, what are your thoughts on this? How do you think XYZ Group feels about that? Um, during Kovage, there was this thing where for a while, people were calling it the Asian Flu.
And one of the contributors to the book commented on that because some of us heard that and we didn't really think too much about it. It was like, uh, whatever. It goes in one ear, one out the other. But to hear her pain, and she actually did a video of it, to hear her pain in processing that, and then the effect it had on her parents who had a Korean store, it completely changes how you look at that term.
Because now it's not just this term, it's a slanderous term that you actually feel the pain of the person who the slander landed on. Yeah.
That is such a good illustration because I think so often comments are made flippantly on the news or whatever. Um, and we don't always take the time to really process how painful that could be for somebody. And the ripple effect of that, I love that. You brought in her parents who have a store and how that impacts them. Man, there are so many more questions. That would be awesome. We can have you on for several hours, Sandra, because I just feel like, um, this is such an important conversation for our mamas to begin to have with their kids. I think we've ignored it for maybe way too long. And now we're at a point where and it's not just here in America, too. I mean, racial prejudice is worldwide. And it might not be just white against Asian or Caucasian against black. It could be tribal, it could be Arabic against Jewish. But each of us are created in the image of God and in heaven. I think a lot of people forget this in heaven. It's going to be so colorful. It's going to be fantastic, right? Because we're going to be worshiping with people from every tribe, nation, and tongue, and we're all going to be standing around the throne. And so I think part of our responsibility as parents is to prepare our kids for that moment where they come face to face with Jesus. So I want to thank you for being our guest. And I want to ask you, would you just pray over our mamas, uh, and just ask the Lord to bless them as they learn to navigate these conversations with their kids?
Yes. Lord, I just thank you for this opportunity and this time with these ladies. And I pray, God, that you will open up each and every one of our hearts to be able to see the beauty in all of the variations of people that You've placed upon the Earth. Just as Becky had been speaking about what heaven would look like. I can even hear the African drums and the harps from different countries and the flutes and the cellos and guitars and pianos and all the different sounds of the world. God, as we enjoy those so much, God, help us to be able to join the melody of colors that You've placed before us and the people that You've given us to have relationship with. And God, I just pray for each mama as she navigates those different levels of childhood, uh, into adulthood. God, that you will give them insight and wisdom on ways to help them, help their children to be better stewards of their relationships, better stewards of their time and energy when working with their friends and their classmates and their teachers and be able to invite people to the table. God, invite people into a level of intimacy and relationship where diversity and inclusion is just a normal way of life. And we just thank You, Jesus, that you were the great example of this, and You've already given us some steps that we can begin with. In your name we pray. Amen.
Amen. Hey, friends, thanks for joining us today on the Connected Mom podcast. I do want to really push you a little bit to order this book by Sandra Dalton and her co author. Remind us of your co author's name, Sandra.
Her name is Laura. Uh, Stanley Rollervant. And we do have a quick website. It's colorfulconnectionbooks.com, and that's where you can get the free conversation cards as well as a pre prayer journal that you can have five days of walking in prayer through the process before you dive into the conversation.
Oh, I love that. So that will be in the show notes. Make sure you join us. Next time on The Connected Mom Podcast.