The sin of racism in our world, especially in our country, is one that must be named as part of the brokenness of our humanity. As people of God we are called to dismantle the systems that oppress others – especially our black and brown siblings in this world.
We continue to pray for peace, for understanding, for life, and most of all, for God’s justice to come and renew the face of the earth as we do the essential work of eradicating racism from our communities. Together we are called to work for the future God desires for all of God’s children.
Below are resources meant to help us become educated on the issues of racial injustice and learn ways that we can be allies working to break down the things that divide us and oppress others. This is a part of our commitment to our Reformation mission in serving our neighbors and to the work of the gospel in this world.
Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture expresses the ELCA’s calling to celebrate culture and ethnicity. This calling commits the ELCA to confront racism, to engage in public leadership, witness and deliberation on these matters, and to advocate for justice and fairness for all people. The statement is grounded in the conviction that the church has been gathered together in the joyful freedom of the reign of God as announced by and embodied in Jesus. That reign has not come in its fullness, but the message of God’s yes to the world breaks down all dividing walls as we live into that promise.
In daily life, cultural, ethnic and racial differences matter, but they can be seen and celebrated as what God intends them to be – blessings rather than means of oppression and discrimination. We are a church that belongs to Christ, where there is a place for everyone. Christ’s church is not ours to control, nor is it our job to sort, divide, categorize or exclude. This statement was adopted by the 1993 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
The Racial Justice Ministries of the ELCA serve as catalysts and bridge builders committed to the work of:
- Equipping leaders to recognize and understand the complexity and implications of racism and racial issues.
- Training and education in the areas of anti-racism and racial justice for leaders in partnership with synods, congregations, associations and social service agencies.
- Building alliances and strategies across race, ethnicity, class, gender, age and sexual orientation to break through barriers of racism and oppression.
- Creating and supporting ecumenical networks that call for and help equip the church to be a multiracial and multicultural community.
- Working together throughout the church in public witness, programs and policies that advance racial justice — locally and globally.
- Developing and sharing educational tools and training models for congregations to use in facing the challenges of racism in a diverse, complex and changing world.
Our bishops recently affirmed for us, the ELCA is committed to naming and combating the sins of racism and white supremacy in all of its manifestations.
Sign the pledge to start listening, learning and working to dismantle racial injustices.
A Service of Prayer and Lament from 2016 and plenty of other resources from the ELCA for fighting racial injustices.
WEBINAR: Becoming the Body of Christ – Condemning White Supremacy
Over 450 participants joined Bishop Kevin Strickland of the Southeastern Synod – ELCA, and several panelists on Thursday, May 21st 7-8:30pm EDT for a conversation around “Becoming the body of Christ where all bodies are valued: A conversation around the ELCA’s resolution to condemn White Supremacy.” Bishop Strickland was joined by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. Other speakers joining our bishops included: Pastor Tiffany Chaney, Pastor Ron Bonner, Ms. Roxann Thompson, Ms. Judith Roberts, Pastor Matt Steinhauer, and more.
Long before the most recent shootings, our anti-racism team had decided we needed be talking about race. Our Theological Conference, keynoted by Reesheda Graham-Washington and Shawn Casselberry, the authors of Soul Force: Seven Pivots toward Courage, Community, and Change, made us realize how much work we have to do. Read more below by Bishop Michael Rinehart of ELCA Texas-Louisianna Gulf Coast’s Synod.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Synod’s Anti-Racism Team (ART) is available to help lead your congregation understand racism as it exists in individuals, institutions, and societal structures, including our churches, and how to become allies with persons who live with this sin on a daily basis.
Find many resources here on Racial Justice and Dismantling White Supremacy
Talking about social issues together from the perspective of our faith is something that Christians can learn to do, or do better and with more spiritual depth. This resource introduces congregations and other church groups (such as synod groups, committees or social ministry organizations) to the art of public conversation about social issues. It can also help those who have experienced this already to improve their skills and practices.
Anti-Racism confession and reconciliation introduced at 2017 Synod Assembly.
In this time of national upheaval, outrage, and fear, The Episcopal Church’s Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care and the Office of Government Relations have assembled resources to assist individuals, congregations and communities seeking to LEARN, PRAY and ACT.
Reading Lists, Activities, etc.
This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now.
This robust list includes articles, books, podcasts, film, movies, TV series, social media accounts to follow, etc.
This is a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources. The goal is to facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work. These resources have been ordered in an attempt to make them more accessible. We will continue to add resources.
Talking about race, although hard, is necessary and a lifelong journey. We at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture are here to provide tools and guidance to empower your journey and inspire conversation.
These articles, videos, podcasts and websites from the Smithsonian chronicle the history of anti-black violence and inequality in the United States.
Topics include: Historical Context, Systemic Inequality, Anti-Black Violence, Protest, Intersectionality and Allyship and Education.
New York Times – May 27, 2020 –
No one becomes “not racist,” despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be “antiracist” on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage.
We learn early the racist notion that white people have more because they are more; that people of color have less because they are less. I had internalized this worldview by my high school graduation, seeing myself and my race as less than other people and blaming other blacks for racial inequities.
To build a nation of equal opportunity for everyone, we need to dismantle this spurious legacy of our common upbringing. One of the best ways to do this is by reading books. Not books that reinforce old ideas about who we think we are, what we think America is, what we think racism is. Instead, we need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs and make us aware that “I’m not racist” is a slogan of denial.
From Audre Lorde’s groundbreaking essays to Ibram X. Kendi’s guide to being antiracist, these books are a great resource for understanding why people are protesting right now.
A long list of items you can start doing TODAY! The list is continually updated for accuracy.
Storytelling has played a crucial role in Black American history. Andrea Collier, a Black author and multimedia journalist from Lansing, Michigan, spoke recently on the importance of storytelling within the Black community.
“Stories, including the razor-edged ones of lynchings and segregation, are the ties that bind us. So are the stories of being brought up in segregated neighborhoods, traveling through the South knowing where you could and couldn’t go. There is no question that storytelling for black America is a way of saying I am here and I matter,” she wrote for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine.
Recounting the stories told by marginalized members of the Black community to get even the smallest glimpse of their historical and present-day struggles is one piece of an infinitely complex puzzle, but it is an imperative one.
Before we can take action, we need to create the space to listen and learn from Black voices. “Not being racist” is simply not enough. It’s time to use our voices, be advocates, and serve as allies for change. Those of us who are non-Black will never fully understand the struggles of our friends of the Black community, but we can educate ourselves so that we can stand with them in their continued fight for equality.
We all have a duty to remember their names and remember their stories. We vow to remember them and to remind others of their impact. Let’s get to work:
As early as 3–6 months of age, babies begin to notice and express preference by race (Bar-Haim, 2006). Between the ages of 3 and 5, children begin to apply stereotypes, categorize people by race, and express racial bias (Winkler, 2009). White North American children begin to report negative explicit attitudes toward people of color as early as age 3 (Baron, 2006). By age 3, children also use racist language intentionally — and use it to create social hierarchies, evoke emotional reactions in people of color, and produce harmful results (Van Ausdale, 2001). By 6 years of age, children demonstrate a pro-white/anti-Black bias (Baron, 2006). Adolescents, when looking at Black people’s faces, show higher levels of activity in the area of the brain known for its fight-flight reactions (Telzer, 2013).
To counter racist socialization and racial bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible. Children’s books are one of the most effective and practical tools for initiating these critical conversations, and can also be used to model what it means to resist and dismantle oppression.
This article is bypublished in Today’s Parent.
Talking to your kids about racism can be tough. Here are some books to help get them thinking about it.
It’s easy to point fingers at a criminal justice system that has certainly failed, but each of us has a part to play in ending racism. All of us need to examine the assumptions we’ve been taught, because make no mistake: Hate is taught. We are born in and with pure love. We learn the hate that exists within us.
We need to examine our own complicity in systems of racial injustice. It’s easy to say I’m not part of the problem – that I’m not racist. But as long as I deny that systemic racism exists, I am complicit.
Yes, we need to examine the systems that are in place that allow injustice to occur. Failing criminal justice systems that target Black people; education systems that fail to close the achievement gap; a history of redlining neighborhoods to promote segregation.
Many parents and teachers of young children share concern that children should be shielded from learning explicitly about race and racial differences. Adults often worry that introducing these topics too early could be harmful (Husband 2010). Early childhood educators who wish to make space for learning about race and racism in their classrooms may feel unprepared to approach these complex issues (Vittrup 2016). Shaped by their own experiences with issues of race and racism, parents and teachers may hold differing views regarding the appropriateness of teaching about this topic in the early childhood classroom.
Research demonstrates that children’s awareness of racial differences and the impact of racism begins quite early (Tatum 2003; Winkler 2009). Multiple studies document the ways that young children take notice of racial differences and note that as early as preschool, children may begin excluding their peers of different races from play and other activities (Winkler 2009). Many argue that creating safe spaces for children to explore these topics is more important than ever, given the current political and cultural climate, where these issues are highly visible (Pitts 2016; Harvey 2017; Poon 2017). As such, parents and teachers have an obligation to teach and learn with children about these critical and complex issues (Delpit 2012; Derman-Sparks, LeeKeenan, & Nimmo 2015; Ramsey 2015). This article documents how one kindergarten teacher, Diandra Verwayne (the second author), worked with the parents in her classroom to grow together in their understandings of the role we all must play in talking with young children about race and racism. Additionally, this piece offers curricular and pedagogical resources for adults who are committed to engaging with young children in this crucial work.
From Treasure Box Tuesday:
Today’s question: How can I help children’s/family ministry to be anti-racist?
I’m answering this question as a white leader speaking to other white faith leaders, as this is the majority of my readership and audience. It is my hope that everyone will find something here that is useful. White faith leaders have the moral imperative to do the work of identifying how we are contributing to structures of systemic and institutional racism, how we benefit from these systems, and how we need to be active in dismantling them. As we influence children and young people, we need to be listening, learning, acting. As we work on becoming anti-racist ourselves, we’ll be able to help teach and form the young people in our care.
“The only way to undo racism is to consistently identify and describe it — and then dismantle it,” writes professor Ibram X. Kendi. That is the essence of antiracism: the action that must follow both emotional and intellectual awareness of racism. Kendi sits down with journalist Jemele Hill to explore what an antiracist society might look like, how we can play an active role in building it, and what being an antiracist in your own context might mean.
On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, left home and went for a jog. During his run, two white men follow Ahmaud, confront him with a loaded shotgun, assume he’s a suspected criminal, and within minutes of their encounter–according to the recorded video–three shots are fired. Amhaud falls to the ground and dies.
“Racism is a virus. It infects the spirit.” (The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III)
The United Church of Christ invites you to rewatch Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III’s cinematic sermon entitled, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery.” Immediately following the live video, a panel of four respected thought leaders, racial justice advocates and UCC pastors discussed the impact of historical and present-day acts of racism and violence towards African Americans. And they discussed how the Christian Church can be actively involved in dismantling racism.
Working for Racial Justice as a White Teacher – Robert Roth on an anti-racist approach to high-school history