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Exploring Racism

May 7, 2019 by Beth A. Richardson

I am, like many of us, on a journey of recognizing the racism woven into my own perceptions, attitudes, stereotypes. It is painful to discover this within myself. This is a process of seeing with new eyes and hearing with new ears.

I remember, several years ago, when a new police precinct was opened in the primarily African-American neighborhood where my church was located. Someone from our church said, “Let’s have a welcoming reception for the police.” I remember one of the church staff-persons gently saying something like, “Hold up here. Our neighbors have a difficult relationship with the police.” This was a shock to me. I was completely blind to the reality of my siblings of color who risk racial profiling any time they get into their cars. Now, several years later, I have eyes to see and ears to hear. And I can’t “un-see” what I now know.  (“For Black Motorists, a Never-Ending Fear of Being Stopped.”)

I wondered, as I saw my blindness, “How in the world did I not know this?” That may be the question for another post. But I do know that now that I do see, I will continue to listen and learn and seek the truth. To be fearless in looking at my own perceptions and misconceptions. What matters is that I continue to educate myself about issues of racism. That I recognize and acknowledge my own ignorance, my own privilege, my own white privilege and live differently. (Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism.)

Sometimes this journey of becoming aware of my racism feels like a difficult, solitary path. But I don’t walk it alone. We are journeying together into this opening of our hearts, into seeing more clearly the ways that we have been conditioned not to see that the fabric of racism is stitched into every life, every organization, every part of society.

Many of us were called in our baptismal covenant to resist evil in its many forms. May God guide us into this task of becoming the beloved community of peace, justice, and love.

Beth A. Richardson is director of prayer and Upper Room worship life.

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Our resolve must be different. My prayer is that we have finally reached a tipping point. My hope is that when the protests fade and the marches slow that our will as a church to truly eradicate the scourge of racism won’t dissipate but grows even stronger.” 

View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.