30 Days of Anti-Racism
The challenge for today is to learn greetings and phrases in other languages. I have always felt that the key to addressing our own biases and prejudices is through relationship. It's easy to be scared of a person you do not know. But often, when we break down the faćade and get past the defenses we can discover the humanity of others. One of the best ways to make new friends is to respectfully and lovingly learn the language they speak.
Did you know that Wesley Park is still an important host for The Literacy Council's English as a Second Language course? The class is now online, and is a continuation of the ESL experience that so many have found to be life-giving. It is a beautiful thing to hear people speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Swahili, and English as they work together and support each other. That work often begins with a greeting.
Hello! Hola! Xin chào! Karabuni!
What phrases and words can you find and practice that would create a space for hospitality and friendship? How can language bring us closer together? When Restoration Community Church became a part of our faith community at Wesley Park, we made cards people could color and customize as a sign of welcome. Feel free to print it off and keep as a reminder of our common bond, or send to the church. I can make sure Pastor Banza gets any that are sent in as we celebrate our ongoing friendship.
30 Days of Anti-Racism
Today's challenge as we focus on the goal of a world that more fully understands and addresses racism is to "engage in the difficult conversation."
Have you had an experience that made you uncomfortable? Maybe someone forcibly or subtly said something that was racist and it made your stomach ache. That's a good clue of what could initiate "the difficult conversation." Like anything, practicing makes it easier to engage in a difficult conversation in a healthy way. You could even do a pretend scenario with a friend and take turns practicing how to open up a dialogue and name the elephant in the room.
Morgan Stafford, who put the 30 day of anti-racism calendar together, has this insight and suggestion for today.
"Often, when another white person says or does something racists in our presence, we are not sure how to respond. Anti-racists learn to interrupt racism, even though it may be uncomfortable because authentic anti-racism means addressing racism whenever you witness it."
He suggests watching this video to help us learn and practice how to engage in difficult conversations.
Here are six things to keep in mind when engaging in a difficult conversation:
Keep Psalm 121 in front of you as well. "I lift up my eyes to the hills - from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
30 Days of Anti-Racism
I hope you had a restful and reflective Labor Day weekend. There is much to hold in our prayers.
Today's 30 Days of Anti-Racism challenge invites us to learn more about our local elections. The national elections certainly have a great impact on our lives. But the election of those in our community and state are perhaps more responsive to the needs of our neighborhoods. If racism is to be eradicated local officials who are aware of and sensitive to the struggle in our communities can help.
Here is a listing from the Michigan Secretary of State's website of all those who are running for office in Michigan in November. As I scrolled through I was amazed at how many people are listed. It takes a tremendous amount of talented and civic-minded servants to help us live as a society. Let us return to this page and keep all of them in prayer in the weeks ahead. (As an aside and with absolutely no intention to sway your vote, I was amazed to see one person running for the Michigan Supreme Court who played third base for one of my church softball teams!)
How do you think elected officials could make a difference and help us address racism in our communities? What kinds of legislation could you imagine passing that would address our inequalities?
30 Days of Anti-Racism Challenge
The goal for today is to participate in intercultural conversations. One of the biggest challenges to confronting racism is the often limited opportunities we have to have intercultural conversations. We live in a largely segregated society. These 30 days would be a good time to consider why our communities are so divided by race and culture. Even if there is cultural diversity in your neighborhood or circle of friends and family, it can be hard to know how to begin a meaningful conversation about racism. Honesty is the best approach. Beginning with something like, "I am really trying to understand better racism in our community and my own implicit biases. Would you feel comfortable talking with me about your experiences?" The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race has an online course called "You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism." The $39 cost for the course might be money well spent if it helps to find ways to open new conversations and understandings.
Tomorrow the challenge is to donate to or volunteer at a Food Bank. Consider supporting the work at UCOM, United Church Outreach Ministry, located on Chicago Drive, just past Burlingame.
As you look ahead to Sunday, consider the challenging book "How to Be An Anti-Racist" and find a couple of people to read it with you. The discussions are difficult and important.
God bless you as you do this important work.
30 Days of Anti-Racism Challenge
Yesterday we began our 30 Days of Anti-Racism Challenge in prayer. I hope God met us in this time of prayer with these words, "do not fear." Thinking about racism can cause some anxieties. Most of us do not want to treat others unequally. We do not want to judge others by the color of their skin. And, we are afraid of being judged. If our actions are seen by others to be racist we are hurt, embarrassed, and defensive. Prayer can help. God can remind us to trust and do not fear.
Today's step is to draft your racial autobiography. This assessment helps us understand where we came from and the context of our experiences with people of differing races. Many of us grew up in communities that lacked diversity. Again, that is not a reason to become defensive. It is helpful to know and name our experiences as we confront racism in our world.
Attached is the Family History/Influences Questionnaire from www.gborr.org. Use this as a start, and write down your experiences relating to other races. For instance, some may have grown up with limited racial diversity in their community, then went to the military or college or had some broadening of those experiences. Write down your experiences, and find someone who is willing to listen lovingly and prayerfully to your racial autobiography.
During the month of September let us explore what it means to be anti-racist. The United Methodist General Council on Religion and Race is a good place to start. Go to www.gcorr.org to find expanded resources. Attached is a calendar that will help us participate in the 30 Days of Anti-Racism challenge.
From www.gcorr.org, here is the story behind the 30 Days of Anti-Racism challenge.
Campus minister Morgan Stafford has committed himself to live an anti-racist faith and life. “As a white man, I have learned that I’ve benefitted from racism, while people of color have been harmed. I believe that white Christians must take the lead to confront and dismantle racism. It’s our job.”
To focus and make tangible his beliefs, Morgan spent the month of June doing at least one thing every day to listen to, learn from, do, and become more anti-racist, reporting his progress via social media. We at GCORR liked the idea and reached out to Morgan to share his story, what he accomplished, and how it’s changed and enhanced his spiritual growth and his work with young people.
As a result, GCORR invites white allies (and others) to spend the month of September doing #30DaysAntiRacism. Please post photos of your activities using #30DaysAntiRacism and encourage your friends, members of your congregation, Sunday school class, pastors, and community partners to join this 30 day.