Rising from the writing desk in order to visit Jesus in prison: Susan Rebecca White and Joshilyn Jackson on how activism deepens your writing (and your life.)

Fri 11:00am - 11:50am

Venue: Portal


Novelists Susan Rebecca White and Joshilyn Jackson have always had a heart for social justice, but their passion was limited to touching on issues of inequity in their books, and making donations to non-profits. That all changed for Joshilyn eight years ago, when she began volunteering to teach writing to incarcerated women in Georgia through a non-profit called Reforming Arts. Jackson says that her time volunteering with Reforming Arts has shown her, among other things, how deeply systematic racism is, something she knew beforehand, but didn't really KNOW until spending time volunteering in the prison system. This experience has not only changed Joshilyn, but has filtered into her writing, in which she now more explicitly explores issues of systemic racism and restorative justice. Several years ago, inspired by Joshilyn, Susan began visiting with undocumented immigrants being held (sometimes for years) at a detention center in rural Georgia. Going to the center, talking with the men in detention (behind plexiglass windows, through staticky phones) taught her more about America's broken immigration system than any book or lecture ever had. Both of these women were compelled by their progressive Christian faith to stand up from their desks and go out into the world to meet those at the margins, the people closest to Christ's heart. In doing so, both women believe that their writing and their lives have been enriched, that they have gained wisdom and depth, and been granted a temporary reprieve from the prison of privilege that too often keeps them blinded from the reality of the lives of people on the margins, the least of these whom God calls beloved.