Because of the intensity of all that is happening in our society right now, I wanted to reach out with some resources to help support you in processing and reflecting on the brutal killing of George Floyd and the resulting events of this past week. I have been reminded that it’s not enough to be “not racist.” We must become anti-racist, which is one who is actively working to dismantle racist systems and undoing our own biases that help to uphold those systems. For many white people, talking about racism and learning to identify our own privilege can be uncomfortable. Here are just a few resources if you’re not sure where to start.
Don’t know what to say? Feeling overwhelmed? Read up. This is a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources: https://bit.ly/scaffolded.
Not sure which books to read first? Louisiana United Methodist Bishop, Cynthia Fierro Harvey has encouraged all United Methodists in Louisiana read “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. Bishop Harvey says of these books: “They will be challenging but transformative. They helped me understand and name my own sin and complicity and continue to do so.”
Some other great book options are: “I’m Still Here” by Austin Channing Brown, “White Supremacy and Me” by Layla F. Saad, and “Between The World and Me” by TaNehisi Coates. Please consider buying these books from local bookstores – such as Cottonwood Books and Cavalier House Books.
It’s not too early to talk about racism with our children and grandchildren. Here is a resource roundup for those who engage with children and youth. We also have some good children’s resources for talking about racism and diversity in our St. John’s Faith Friends Facebook group. We welcome those raising children to join the group.
Make time to watch this conversation with University of Washington professor Dr. Robin DiAngelo, who reads from her book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” explains the phenomenon, and discusses how white people can develop their capacity to engage more constructively across race:
For the month of June, the movie “Just Mercy” is available to rent for free across a number of digital platforms. This true story, based on the book by the same name, follows the work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, who defends Walter McMillian, in order to fight a wrongful murder conviction. In February 2019, our pastors preached a sermon series inspired by the book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.”
We are blessed to have programs such as Dialogue on Race Louisiana that offer the opportunity for us to grow and learn together with our peers. Pastor Lane and a number of other St. John’s members have attended the DOR original series and each has found tremendous value in the tools gained from it. If the events of this week have inspired you to take action to become anti-racist, consider signing up for an upcoming series.
Where we put our money can speak just as loud as words. Donate to dialogue, justice groups, and bailout funds to help folks on the ground right now do their work:
Since we’re all about feeding people at St. John’s – both spiritually and physically, support African American-owned restaurants in Baton Rouge the next time you order take out or go out to eat.
In Luke 4:17-18, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to liberate the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Everywhere he went, Jesus disrupted the status quo. He challenged systems, healed broken lives, and brought good news to those outside the places of power. As Christ’s followers, we are called to carry on his work.
Let’s stay engaged, my friends. Even when our newsfeed shifts, the work of dismantling systemic racism is not over. This is the work of a lifetime and something that will take all of us. Please pray for me as I am certainly praying for you on this journey of repentance, listening, growing, and transforming.