TAKING A KNEE: A RACISM PRIMER

Colin Kaepernick took a knee on an NFL field to protest structural racism, which sparked a national debate about what racism is, especially in the post-civil rights era.  We recognize that taking a knee is not about the flag, or veterans, but about “liberty and justice for all”.  It is vital for communities to have a common understanding of what racism is and how it is expressed in order to move forward in the work to undo structural forms of racism.

At our last gathering on Sunday, Nov. 12, we continued our conversations on race with Kiku Brooks, Associate Minister of Zion Grove Baptist Church and executive board member of MORE², an interfaith social justice organization where she serves as co-chair of the Criminal Justice task force.  Our dialogue topic for the night was about the basics of racism and privilege, as well as why the Christian community needs to be active in the work against racism.

Minister Brooks invited us to consider several questions and led an interactive dialogue about these and the following definitions.  We will continue to draw from these throughout our series on race.

Questions

What was one of your first experiences of race?  

What definitions are you working with?

How will you take a knee symbolically to dismantle and change [structural racism]?

Definitions

Racism:
Unequal access to social goods and services based upon race (plus the ignoring of this dynamic)
Superiority and white privilege
Assigning worth based on race
One’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others

Equality:
The state of being equal, same

Equity:
Everyone gets what they need
The quality of being fair and impartial

Internalized Racism:
Believing stereotypes about oneself and subscribing to these negative beliefs

Interpersonal Racism:
Interactions between individuals based on racial stereotypes

Systemic Racism 

Institutional Racism:
Preservation of power structures (the ingrained racism in systems) that occurs within systems

Structural Racism:
Part of the fabric of the structure, but it survives beyond the life of the one who created it—with or without intent of those who benefit
Normalizing an array of dynamics that produces desired outcomes to benefit one race

 

If you didn’t get the chance to join us, you can listen here, and check out the resources below.  Our next gathering will be Sunday, Nov. 26 at 6:30 p.m., and will be a conversation about microaggressions led by Rev. Jose Martinez.

 

RESOURCES

Food for Thought: For an interesting take on that equality vs. equity comic with the fence that’s floating around the internet, check out this article at Cultural Organizing.

Closing Blessing:  This blessing has become a staple for our community–we hope you’ll join us in praying it!

 

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that we may live from deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations
So that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in the world,
so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.

 


 

If you would like to contribute to the cost of our shared meals, hospitality, and conversations, we invite you to donate by texting the word “give” to 816-656-3310, or by giving online.

 

By | 2017-11-20T16:11:06+00:00 November 20th, 2017|Comments Off on TAKING A KNEE: A RACISM PRIMER

About the Author:

Wendie Brockhaus, MDiv, is the Assistant Curator of The Open Table in Kansas City, Missouri. She considers herself “polyliturgical,” as a member of the United Church of Christ, a pastor for a Presbyterian Church Plant, and a former Director of Spiritual Formation/Adjunct Instructor at local Methodist and Baptist seminaries. She has also served as a public school music teacher and hospital chaplain at an urban trauma center. She is married to Michael and they have two wily german shepherds. When she isn’t reading voraciously, she enjoys Star Trek, shared meals, and long walks on the beach (born in L.A.).