The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police reveals again the deep racial wounds of our society. This is a momentous time with protests and marches across our city and nation. This also becomes a significant time for us to reflect faithfully and honestly on our connection to the racial wounds and God’s desire for justice for all, especially black and brown people who have suffered too long in our unjust society.
As an expression of renewed and heightened commitment to this cause, the Trinity staff encourages each member of the church family to participate in a 21-day exploration into faith and racial justice. We ask everyone to commit to this venture in an effort to grow, to be open to God’s Spirit, to move closer to what God intends for our lives and for the world. This reflection and recognition of our own complicity in the continued oppression of people of color is a first step in our re-commitment to actively participate in dismantling systemic racism.
As you work through the 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge, spiritual self-care will be important. Engaging our minds and hearts in antiracism work is hard work that is deeply spiritual. It involves learning that moves toward self-examination and prepares us for active engagement. You might try one of these exercises:
Pray a favorite Psalm. For example, Psalm 139:23-24 offers a prayer to invite God into our learning and self-examination process.
Journaling can be a wonderful spiritual companion to your 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge. You may use the daily reflections/prompts as an invitation to reflect about your own experience.
Trinity is offering a weekly Zoom discussion so we can walk this road together. Please indicate your interest in participating in a Zoom meeting here. If you like charts and want to track your progress, here is a helpful planning tool that you can download.
Most of these resources come from the work of Eddie Moore, Jr. Take time to explore his entire website here. There is music, podcasts, articles, and many helpful resources. In addition, Trinity has been blessed to have been given access to these resources through the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Virginia.
Through it all, remember to be kind to yourself. We trust God. We seek to serve God.
Watch “When is Someday?”, a sermon by Otis Moss III, preached on May 31 after just learning of George Floyd's death. (18 minutes)
“We shall overcome someday.” When is someday? How will that day come? What will it take for us to transform our nation so that black lives truly matter? The question is not “where is God,” the question is “where are you?” How will you speak?
Watch “White Bred,” a quick introduction to how white supremacy shapes white lives and perception. (5 minutes)
Collective, societal progress depends now, more than ever, on complete mutuality of race relations. The burden is on dominant whites to become educated on this issue. How do we who grew up thinking we were “color blind” realize that actually we have been formed by a predominantly white society and benefited enormously from being part of the dominant group?
Watch an updated version of the Clark doll experiment, which explores how early-in-life ideas of racial inferiority and superiority are internalized. (5 minutes)
Watch New York Times Op-Docs on Race, multiple videos with a range of racial and ethnic perspectives on the lived experience of racism in the U.S. Start with A Conversation About Growing Up Black. (each video about 6 minutes)
In the NY Times video with police personnel Graham Weatherspoon said that “racism is such a part of the system, of the network of the American society, that people, white and Black, don’t realize when racism is being executed for them or against them.” Was there a time when you were, unknowingly, benefiting from systemic or systematic racism? Can you pinpoint the moment you realized that racism is a prevalent issue? What brought you to the point to realize that this matters?
Watch (maybe twice) “Why “I’m not racist” is only half the story.” Robin DiAngelo explains the function of white fragility in maintaining racial hierarchy. (7 minutes)
Racism has often been reduced to the personal, largely forgetting the societal (based in an individual who consciously does not like people of another race and intends to be mean to them.) Are you willing to look to the larger picture, away from the personal to the societal, to the system that has created patterns that has systematically excluded minorities?
Watch “Confronting 'intergroup anxiety': Can you try too hard to be fair?” It explores why we may get tongue tied and blunder when we encounter people from groups unfamiliar to us. (5 minutes)
Feeling discomfort or even panic when talking with persons who often experience rejection or bias is both common and distressing for both parties, and, in fact, can exacerbate the very bias one is trying to combat. Can we look at our own intergroup anxiety with a view toward correcting it?
Watch “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race,” a TEDx talk by Jay Smooth that suggests a new way to think about receiving feedback on our racial blindspots. (12 minutes)
When you are told that something you said is racist, it is often a natural reaction to take it as a personal attack, as if you are being called a racist and are a bad person. No person is perfect, we will all make mistakes, so what will you do to not take these conversations as a personal attack? How will you, the receiver, open yourself to hear the intention behind the speaker’s words?
Watch The Disturbing History of Suburbs, an Adam Ruins Everything episode that quickly and humorously educates how redlining came to be. (6 minutes)
Read Long History of Affirmative Action for Whites
Redlining in housing suburbs was part of the systemic exclusion of racial minorities. Early racial preferences continued to enlarge the gap as white advantages grew. Neighborhood schools are more segregated today than ever before. “Hear our prayer, O Lord: open our hearts and give us courage to challenge these oppressive structures. Amen.”
Read “Race, Inequality, and Covid-19”, co-written by the leaders of Virginia Interfaith Power and Light (VAIPL) whose office is here in Richmond, VA.
Watch this 3-minute video defining Environmental Racism.
Watch this 3-minute video on the history of environmental justice in the U.S.
Environmental Racism is a widespread reality for communities of color, evident when these communities find their environments more polluted than white communities, even when communities of color and white communities have similar income levels. Let’s learn together what Environmental Racism is and what can be done about it.
View & Read a photo story of environmental racism in Buckingham County, VA.
Skim a summary of VAIPL’s work on environmental justice for Buckingham County.
Can you think of a place in your community or a place where you have visited that has experienced environmental racism? If this is a current issue of environmental racism, do you see a space for interfaith community help? Explain.
Watch “The danger of a single story,” a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. It offers insight to the phenomenon of using small bits of information to imagine who a person is. (18 minutes)
We often create a single story about a person/a people and miss the depth and the facets of the human experience. God, give us a commitment to reject the single story; open our eyes to the additional stories that exist in every human being.
Once people start to learn about white privilege and America’s systems of oppression through history, they often ask, “Why didn’t I see this sooner?” Take yourself on a noticing adventure with these steps:
Start by watching the Test Your Awareness: Do The Test
Then...go out in the world and change up what you notice. Here’s some of what you might look for:
Who is and is not represented in ads?
Who are your ten closest friends? What is the racial mix in this group?
As you move through the day, what’s the racial composition of the people around you? On your commute? At the coffee shop you go to? At the gym? At your workplace? At the show you go on the weekend?
What percentage of the day are you able to be with people of your own racial identity?
Notice how much of your day you are speaking about racism. Who are you engaging with on these issues? Who are you not? Why do you think this is?
What are the last five books you read? What is the racial mix of the authors?
What is the racial mix of the main characters in your favorite TV shows? Movies?
What is the racial mix of people pictured in the photos and artwork in your home? In your friend, family, and colleagues’ homes?
Who is filling what kinds of jobs/social roles in your world? (e.g. Who’s the store manager and who’s stocking the shelves? Who’s waiting on tables and who’s busing the food?) Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?
Who do you notice on magazine covers? What roles are people of color filling in these images?
If you’re traveling by car, train, or air, do you notice housing patterns? How is housing arranged? Who lives near the downtown commerce area and who does not? Who lives near the waterfront and who does not? Who lives in industrial areas and who does not? What is the density of a given neighborhood? Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?
Here is a truism: we often miss what we don’t notice. Racial self-awareness if crucial to racial relation progress. How can we become aware?
Watch this 3-minute trailer from a documentary explaining the Doctrine of Discovery and it's enduring impact on Native American communities and our nation's racial history.
Read this article, "Denominations Repent for Native American Land Grabs"
In the Doctrine of Discover trailer Safwat Marzouk explained that “European Christians have committed colonial and imperial crimes and violence, also in the name of God and also in the name of religion.” As a Christian community, do we have a responsibility for the intergenerational trauma that many Native Americans experience?
Read the “Confession of Belhar.” Reflect on how our church is using and living into it.
Read this article Caught Up In God from The Christian Century by Willie James Jennings
Riding my bike through city streets, I knew that once I crossed a particular street into a white neighborhood I would be followed by police cars. I knew that certain areas of town were forbidden to me if I wanted to stay safe beyond the reach of handcuffs or racial slurs. Have you been privileged to never experience this?
Watch “What Kind of Asian Are You?” It’s a two-minute video that illustrates the utter silliness of the way many white Americans interact with Asian Americans. (2 minutes)
Watch “Holy Post - Race in America” Succinctly chronicles our country’s history of systemic racism. Watch for the quotes at the end calling us to action. (18 minutes)
Poor race relations trace their roots to systemic discrimination codified by law in the years following the Civil War and remained in place until the Civil Rights Acts in the 1960’s. Will you learn what Systemic Racism is, why it has persisted, and what you can do to counter it?
Watch “Indigenous People React to Indigenous Representation in Film and TV.” It’s a conversation with a diverse range of Indigenous people by FBE about media depictions of Indigenous people, Columbus day, and Indigenous identity. (15 minutes)
Native Americans are rarely represented in contemporary films. Additionally, racist narratives and images used in the media often dehumanize Native Americans or portray them as the protagonist. What does this kind of representation signal to media consumers, particularly children?
Watch the TED Talk, “How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them,” by Verna Myers. She encourages vigorous work to counter balance bias by connecting with and learning about and from the groups we fear. (19minutes)
It takes intention to address many of our unconscious biases. Don’t try to be more colorblind; try to walk toward your discomfort. Look at awesome Black people to remember that young Black men grow up to be amazing human beings. Will you commit to looking anew with an open heart and mind?
Watch the 12-minute TED Talk, “Understanding My Privilege.” University Chancellor Susan E. Borrego reflects on her life as an emancipated minor and dissects the emotionally charged conversation surrounding race relations in the U.S. This storyteller uses her powerful first-person account of "White Privilege" and "Black Lives Matter" to underscore the responsibility each one of us has to bring about change.
Read “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh.
“Invisible Package of Unearned Benefits” is a reality which constitutes White Privilege. Can we let go of our racial defensiveness and understand white privilege, and help pave the way for a better society?
Watch this powerful sermon by The Rev. Dr. William Barber, II from June 14, 2020 (43 minutes but worth every one)
In his moving sermon, the Reverend Dr. William J Barber II cautions that America has accepted death for far too long but “America accepting death is not an option anymore.” Reflect on the causes of death that the Reverend Dr. William J Barber II recounts. In the past, have you been complicit about any of these causes of death? What can you do about the unnecessary deaths that are a reality for many Black Americans? What can we do to signal to God that we are tired of this injustice?
Read “For Our White Friends Desiring To Be Allies” by Courtney Ariel
Privilege means you owe a debt. How will you commit to stepping outside of your comfort zone to being a genuine ally to persons of color?
Watch “A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery,” a sermon by Otis Moss III (22 minutes)
What are the ways that you will support and be there for the Black people and people of color in your life? Write your own statement of convictions and intentions.