Dismantling Racism from the Inside Out
People come to All Saints because they think it is good for their spiritual lives and because All Saints makes a difference in the world. One of the ways we are making an impact has to do with all forms of bigotry and discrimination. Much of the spiritual fuel for that work is our embrace of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. As we approach our annual celebration of him, I have on my heart our friend Bryan Stevenson’s comment “I don’t believe slavery ended in 1865, I believe it just evolved.”
I am convinced that we can make a difference about that reality. A child of the American South, I am profoundly aware that the systemic racism which is part and parcel of that evolution remains a forceful, deadly and dangerous toxin in our nation today. We have seen those feelings erupt in hot violence and murder, as well as in the cold violence of institutional poverty, mass incarceration, and the absence of comprehensive immigration reform. Stevenson says that very few people in this country have any awareness of how expansive and debilitating America’s history of slavery is—because we’ve never had the conversation.
Tim Wise, another great friend of All Saints, puts it this way: “The irony of American history is the tendency of good white Americans to presume racial innocence. Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege. In other words: It is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.”
Tim Wise will be with us January 30 and 31 for a weekend of study, skill-building, and inspiration focused on our ongoing work of dismantling racism. Tim’s last visit in 2013 addressing “Using Privilege to Fight Prejudice” was a presentation so powerful that it has nearly 8500 views on You Tube. On January 30th he will lead a Saturday morning workshop entitled “Racism, Privilege and Denial: Healing White America’s Blind Spots” and then be our guest speaker in the Rector’s Forum on Sunday, January 31. More details are available here. I hope you will claim it as your responsibility to be with us for what I know will be an eye-opening and transformative weekend.
Every time I’m disturbed by news related to another act of bigotry, whether it is against African-Americans, Muslims, transgender sisters and brothers, women, or any other form of discrimination I think of Edmund Burke’s famous quotation:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good people to do nothing.”
Each of us needs to do our part in dismantling the evils of modern racism and all forms of exclusion. The truth is we cannot make this journey of transformation alone and without skills. Being well intentioned, sympathetic, and understanding will not be enough to dismantle institutional and structural racism. We must become more skillful in these matters. That takes place within community. In order to think and act in new ways we need resources — and we need one another.
So, I implore you to join me in making 2016 a year in which together we develop more skills for the ongoing work of turning the human race into the human family.