December 7, 2021

Episode 15 – “Building Bridges Between Cultures” with Rasool Berry

Grace and truth must go hand in hand. But how do you do that when these two things are sometimes in opposition? This is the question that today’s guest, Where Ya From? host Rasool Berry, hopes to shed light on. Rasool shares his story of finding a way to understand his experience as a Black man, of living the African American experience, and of learning through a theological standpoint.
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Show Notes


Guest Bio:

Rasool Berry serves as teaching pastor at The Bridge Church in Brooklyn, New York, and he is also the director of partnerships and content development with Our Daily Bread Ministries. Rasool graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies and sociology. He is committed to helping people live out a biblical framework for social justice. He hosted Our Daily Bread Media’s travel series In Pursuit of Jesus, where he journeyed across five continents exploring what he can learn about Jesus through others. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Tamica and their daughter Ire’Ana, and he hosts the Where Ya From? podcast.


Summary of EPISODE:

This episode switches things up as the regular Where Ya From? host, Rasool Berry, becomes the guest. Where Ya From? producer, Daniel Ryan Day, asks Rasool about his personal story and the many parts of his childhood that you may have heard pieces of throughout his other interactions with guests on the show. Rasool’s education crafted a unique understanding of African American literature and the way it impacts our society and culture today. From being in boarding school to moving to Orlando, Florida, Rasool has a lot to share about where he’s from and how it shaped him to be who he is today.


Notes and Quotes:

  • “Because of civil rights activists, Martin Luther King Jr. actually came to the school to call for its desegregation. It was finally desegregated, and so I ended up going and enrolling as a fourth grader in a boarding school in North Philly.”
  • “Very early on, I was an outsider. And that really shaped a lot of who I became as a person because nothing came easy. I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t cool. I was not smooth at that point. And there was nothing about me that drew people to me. And so I found myself on the outside looking in, and that was tough. But it was also something that over time kind of caused me to be more observant about people and curious about people because I was kind of observing a lot.”
  • “I decided to just confess to the other girl that I had cheated. I was searching and trying to find a sense of how I could even, not just be the lowest piece of scum on her face of the planet, I guess. I didn’t want to live with the secret anymore. So I just confessed, fully expecting to get another well deserved tirade about how bad I was. And she said, ‘I forgive you.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And she was like, ‘I forgive you.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ I had no frame of reference for it. And she said, ‘Well, Jesus has forgiven me for everything that I’ve done. So I don’t think I should hold this against you.’”
  • “Then we got to the church and it was this supernatural encounter of me sensing God’s presence in a way that in my, at this point, somewhat agnostic, somewhat academic intellectual mind was not possible. I didn’t think that this was actually a possible experience. So it kind of freaked me out.”
  • “This is a different place with a different type of dynamic. And it was not the same. And all of a sudden, I was made to feel more different and alien. And I did have a struggle in terms of my cultural identity, and what that meant on campus in a way that I never had before.”
  • “The topic of affirmative action comes up. And it was funny, because it was a graduate student that was the teacher. And so, he gives this unique premise that he didn’t give with anything else. We had talked about euthanasia, abortion. We talked about all these different things and had debates. But when it came to affirmative action, he was like, ‘Now I know this is a touchy subject. And we want to be respectful.’ I was the only black person in the class.”
  • “All of those things were things that I started to realize as I saw the assumptions that formed American society, assumptions about the supposed inferiority of Africans that justified slavery.”
  •  “Frederick Douglass had a whole appendix in his autobiography that clarified that his criticisms against Christianity in America were not to be taken as a criticism of the Christianity of Christ. And he makes this great contrast between slave-holding Christianity and the Christianity of Christ.”
  •  “It was a lot of challenging for folks to see that, no, you don’t have to choose between your ethnic identity and Jesus. You can actually have both, because the gospel actually shines the light and celebrates our ethnic identity and who we are in Christ.”
  • “This was after Trayvon Martin was killed, and then Michael Brown, and that whole situation, which Ferguson just erupted. And all of a sudden, a lot of the insights and perspectives that I had from my African American studies background, which had kind of laid dormant for years, were needed again to help make sense of what was being experienced.”
  • “Sometimes there’s this tendency to just say, ‘Oh, we should just forgive everything and forget.’ And it’s like, well, forgiveness is a huge part, but there’s also, ‘We need to speak the truth.’”


Links Mentioned In Show:


Verses Mentioned in Show:

  • Story of Zacchaeus

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