On Monday I spent the day at the Congregational Church in South Glastonbury UCC for a mandatory Racial Justice Training through the Connecticut Conference UCC. In addition to Boundary Awareness Training, clergy serving in the CT Conference are now required to have Racial Justice Training to maintain our Ministerial Standing. (All of that is a churchy way of saying that there are requirements our denomination expects us to meet in order to serve local churches) Our co-facilitators both had to undergo training in order to lead us. So it’s not like I can learn for one day and come back to teach all of this information to our congregation here at CFC—I’m not qualified. Though what I can do is share a few aspects of my individual learning.
We talked about what racism actually is and the concise definition we learned is that racism is racial prejudice plus power. We all can (and some would argue that we all do) harbor some racial prejudice. Though it’s the power side of how our society functions that makes racism what it is. Sometimes racism is intentional and sometimes it’s unintentional. The use of power is based on a belief in superior origin. And racism is enforced and maintained by the legal, cultural, religious, educational, economic, political, and military institutions of societies. It’s more than just a personal attitude. It’s the institutionalization of that attitude. The Church isn’t immune to racism either.
So racism is not just the KKK. Racism is a white person seeing a person of color walking on the street toward them and crossing to the other side or holding your purse a little tighter. Racism is people of color being followed around stores because a white clerk believes that they are more prone to shoplift. Racism is a person of color being pulled over by a police officer in a mostly white neighborhood because it looks like “they” don’t belong “here.” (That happened to a close friend.) We could go on with daily microaggressions people of color experience. The point is that racism is in the very air we breathe whether white people want to think about this or not.
Racism is often hard for white people to talk about. Let’s face it Colchester, Connecticut is 92% white so we may even think that racism isn’t a big issue here. But to believe that we never have to address racism is in itself white privilege. We can opt into the conversation if we want to. People of color don’t have that option. I am hopeful that white people like me can move from tolerance to solidarity. We have work to do, though understanding how deeply racism is embedded in our society is a step on the path to true solidarity.
(This Week’s Thoughts 6.13.19)