When people think about our congregation's racial justice programming, one concern sometimes raised is that we do a lot of thinking and talking about racism, but not a lot of doing anything proactive and productive to change things. It can certainly be argued that, for people who have been raised to think of themselves as white, thinking and talking is doing something, and something quite important. People who have been raised white have been acculturated in the dominant world view so deeply that we often don't recognize that the way we see the world is not the way the world is but, instead, one of the ways the world is ... and one which intentionally and systematically oppresses people who are not seen as white. Coming to see this truth is hard work for many of us, and even when we've done so there is always more unlearning to do. Many racial justice advocates of all races assert that this unlearning is one of the most important people who think of themselves as white can do. [Tim Wise's book Dear White America: letter to a new minority and Debbie Irving's Waking Up White, And Finding Myself in the Story of Race are two great resources. Both are available in our Undoing Racism Library.]
All that said, though, there are more concrete, hands-on ways we can be involved. One is showing up to listen and learn, to be with people of color as they address the issues that affect their communities. (Issues that those of us who think of ourselves as white often have no inkling about.)
On Saturday, May 21st, at 4:00 pm, Mt. Zion African Baptist Church will be hosting a panel discussion on race relations, education, and gun control in Charlottesville and the surrounding communities. Joyce Murrary will moderate the discussion, and the panel will include: Mozell Booker (Fluvanna County Supervisor), Rev. Dr. Alvin Edwards (Pastor of Mt. Zion), Kathy Galvin (Charlottesville City Council), Steve Harris (a health care professional), Robert Tracci (Albemarle Attorney General), and Alex Zan (a community activist and motivational speaker). There will be an opportunity for the audience to participate in the discussion.
Do not for a moment underestimate the importance of showing up, showing solidarity, and demonstrating your commitment to the eradication of all that divides us. This is one opportunity ...