I am personal of privilege – white (Anglo-Saxon to boot); financially independent; a home owner; a graduate of high school, college, and seminary – all with honors; and I have a voice in circles of power. I am a beneficiary of the GI Bill – I have no proof of this except that my father (and two uncles) seemed to be able to marry, buy property, and build homes in the suburbs within five years of returning stateside after being in the Pacific or European theater. For this alone I can recognize I was born to succeed in America. Not something my eight-year-old “colored” friend who was bussed to my elementary school in the 1960s could ever say. This is just the tip of the iceberg to understanding how much more I need to do to help dismantle racism.
For the past several years I have been doing “personal work” regarding my privilege as a white person in America. Yes, over the years I have taken lots of “anti-racism” trainings and workshops – even so much as to be a trainer to lead workshops for others. Yes, I have consciously made decisions about not succumbing to the “white flight” of many of my young children’s friends’ parents to flee to the white suburbs . . . called many people of color my friends . . . come to grips with the racism (what I saw as bigotry) from my family members . . . and tried hard to make sure diverse voices were heard and included in the many committees, task forces, and projects I have participated in. But that isn’t enough.
It is work that continues for me. It is work that must be ongoing for every white person in America. We cannot depend on people of color to “help” us “get it.” The Episcopal Church has put Racial Reconciliation as one of its priorities on a church-wide level. Dioceses are beginning to speak of becoming the Beloved Community by providing more than “anti-racism training” but experiences that help us confront our past, our complicity, and our privilege.
This is not my first time using this platform to speak on the topic of racism. You can read a post I wrote two years ago on Violence, Racism, and Hostile Rhetoric that offers numerous links of articles and resources as well as Resources for Discussing Racism and Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. In addition to the personal work we all must do, this is also the work of Christian formation in our congregations with children, youth, families, and adults. Yes, we each need to come to grips with our own racism but we need to raise awareness that this work is important for everyone. A very incomplete compilation of resources to add to the ones I have already shared in the links above:
- Discussing Diversity and Racism with Children from the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina offers a multitude of links and ideas.
- This article on Anti-Racism Camp (also in North Carolina) offers suggestions and a readying list for creating a program.
- Raising Race Conscious Children, is a website offering webinars, resources, and activities to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children
- Fuller Youth Institute offers resources for “processing radicalized violence with students.”
- Rooted in faith, the Diocese of Atlanta has developed a Christian formation program specifically for youth (grades 6-12). Dismantling Racism: A Youth Curriculum is a 6-session curriculum will help Middle School and High School youth have conversations about race, become allies, and build relationships to address systemic racism in their context. The goal is to help youth connect their faith with racial healing in our communities. Training is available and necessary to obtain this curriculum. (Note: I have been steeped in these materials for the past six months as I am working with the authors to update the Leader Guide and Student Journal thru Church Publishing. Request a training to get the new materials here.)
- Many dioceses offer pilgrimages, retreats, book studies, and more. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut launched a Season of Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation at its 2018 diocesan convention. They continue to offer a resource list and other models that may prove helpful to local communities.
- The Tracing Center This is run by descendants of the DeWolf family that produced the documentary “Traces of the Trade.” They also do travellng presentations where they show the film and lead discussions on racism. If you haven’t seen this documentary, you need to run, not walk, to get the DVD. It was run on PBS several years ago. If you are not familiar with the DeWolf family, they ran the largest slave trading operation in the US from Bristol, Rhode Island. Katrina Brown led a pilgrimage of the triangle trade with several other family members and this film chronicles that pilgrimage.
- Antiracism and America is a collaboration between The Guardian and American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, Antiracism and America is an ongoing series that sheds light on the structures at the root of racial inequities. It highlights the ideas of writers, scholars, activists, and others focused on dismantling these structure in an attempt to move to an antiracist America.
- New books!
- Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness by Peter Jarret-Schell. Examining how Whiteness has distorted his own perceptions, relationships, and sense of self, Jarrett-Schell argues for the personal stakes that white people have in dismantling racism, and offers the creative possibilities that emerge when we begin to do the work.
- Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells as Prophet for Our Time by Catherine Meeks and Nibs Stroupe. Ida B. Wells was a powerful churchwoman and witness for justice and equity from 1878 to 1931. Born enslaved, her witness flowed through the struggles for justice in her lifetime, especially in the intersections of African Americans, women, and those who were poor. Her life is a profound witness for faith-based work of visionary power, resistance, and resilience for today’s world, when the forces of injustice stand in opposition to progress.
What new resources have you discovered? Please share here!