Racial Justice in This Time
Rock Spring's theme this year is “For Such a Time As This." This 2020 time is: heightened awareness of systemic racism and racial violence, a global pandemic that has far-reaching consequences for all of us — but particularly for marginalized populations, and a government that has been focused more on power than on the welfare of its people. We began with a study of the story of Esther, someone who took the position that she held and used it for good. In Esther, we see someone who is scared and doesn’t realize the power that she has. And we see someone who is seemingly placed to help others (and herself?) through a difficult journey toward wholeness.
God has given each of us some resources — whether they are financial, educational, time, wisdom, or position — so that we can take the opportunity to use our voices for the “relief and deliverance” of oppressed people in such a time as this. How are you being called during this time?
How are we being called to stand and fight for racial justice and equity?
The Racial Equity Committee is developing programs and opportunities for Rock Springers to take steps forward, including
(a) Educational sessions for Rock Spring members and friends to increase understanding of the impacts of individual, institutional, and systemic racism, including an understanding of (i) who, how, and when the Christian Church, European colonialism, and U.S. government officials created, sanctioned, and supported racism, (ii) the impact of white privilege, and (iii) the intersection of racism and other justice issues, such as poverty, voting rights, or environmental justice;
(b) Safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race, resulting in (a) meaningful relationships between members committed to the journey of dismantling racism and (b) an openness to examining ourselves as members of Rock Spring for racism within our own church structure and practices; and
(c) Creating a structure that allows the Rock Spring congregation to consider the extent of its commitment to work for racial justice and equity, including our willingness to bear the costs and risks of confronting systemic, institutional, and individual racism.
Please contact the Racial Equity Committee if you would like to be involved in these efforts or learn more.
Some Program Highlights:
- The Racial Equity Committee launched a six-week course entitled Challenging White Supremacy: Becoming Anti-Racist in partnership with Dr. Beverly Mitchell of Wesley Theological Seminary. The course reached its 100 person capacity within five days of opening registration, and met by Zoom over the summer and concluded in September. In addition to weekly readings and on-line sessions, class participants were encouraged to set intentions for personal work, engage in a self-inventory, share our learning with our family and social circles, and practice what we have learned in our work and community environments.
- Noting that the United Church of Christ is “among the whitest Christian denominations in America,” the wider UCC’s leaders are launching an assessment of “racial diversity, equity and inclusion” throughout the UCC. In spite of the UCC’s strong commitments to racial diversity, equity, and inclusion, our congregational reality remains 84% White with no other racial or ethnic group representation exceeding 6%. Read more here: https://www.ucc.org/news_leaders_announce_assessment_of_ucc_s_racial_diversity_equity_inclusion_09012020
- Watch this space for information on Rock Spring's developing partnership with Calloway United Methodist Church, a multicultural church serving the Arlington community, as we join together to provide our congregations and community with a dynamic educational and outreach offering in 2021.
- Watch the PBS Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan interview with Bryan Stevenson. As a community of faith thinking about ways to challenge white supremacy, one Rock Springer says “there are no words to describe how powerful and inspiring the PBS interview with Bryan Stevenson is.”
- Click here to read the Arlington Coalition of Black Pastors' Statement on Racial Justice and Equity
- We are still learning. For additional resources on the topic of racial justice to WATCH, LISTEN to, or READ, consider the thought-provoking and educational resources gathered here. These resources, updated regularly, have been recommended from many diverse sources, including Rock Springers, and may or may not reasonate with all of us. Watch, listen, and look for guidance on bringing about the world we humbly believe God intends.
Suggestions for Going Deeper
- Take the Harvard implicit bias test. Take the test on race (about 15 minutes) to understand more about how your unconscious mind works and begin moving toward a practice of acceptance, learning, and transformation. This is an Implicit Association Test (IAT) that attempts to measure attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about. Check it out here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html
- Arlington County is working with Challenging Racism, an Arlington organization founded in 2004 and with which many Rock Springers have been involved, to host a series of Dialogues on Race and Equity this fall. Arlington County is also conducting an Assessment about Perspectives on Race and Equity. Sign up to receive updates on the Arlington County Dialogues on Race and Equity (DRE) effort and participate in the conversations.
- Be intentional about diversifying your news and social media feeds. Sign up with Challenging Racism at challengingracism.org to receive email or social media updates on the prevalence and inequities of instiutional racism, as well as tools and knowledge to challenge racism where you encounter it.
- Sign up for the UCC’s Sacred Conversations to End Racism Fall Institute 2021. The seven-week sessions will convene Thursday evenings in September and October 2021 via Zoom with the goal of learning best practices towards dismantling racism. More information can be found at "Race is Not Real – Racism is Real.” Register and become part of a listening and learning community: https://www.ucc.org/sacred_conversations_to_end_racism_fall_institute_2021.