Category : Race/Race Relations

Still More Food for Thought from Esau McCaulley

Posted in * Theology, Anthropology, Books, Race/Race Relations, Theology: Scripture

John Stott on William Wilberforce’s Great Example of Perseverance on Wilberforce’s Feast Day

It was in 1787 that he first decided to put down a motion in the House of Commons about the slave trade. This nefarious traffic had been going on for three centuries, and the West Indian slave-owners were determined to oppose abolition to the end. Besides, Wilberforce was not a very prepossessing man. He was little and somewhat ugly, with poor eyesight and an upturned nose. When Boswell heard him speak, he pronounced him ‘a perfect shrimp’, but then had to concede that ‘presently the shrimp swelled into a whale.’ In 1789 Wilberforce said of the slave trade: “So enormous so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition…. let the consequences be what they would, I from this time determined that I would never rest till I had effected its abolition.

So abolition bills (which related to the trade) and Foreign Trade Bills (which would prohibit the involvement of British ships in it) were debated in the commons in 1789, 1791, 1792,194, 1796 (by which time Abolition had become ‘the grand object of my parliamentary existence’), 1798 and 1799. Yet they all failed. The Foreign Slave Bill was not passed until 1806 and the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill until 1807. This part of the campaign had taken eighteen years.

Next, soon after the conclusion of the Napoleonic wars, Wilberforce began to direct his energies to the abolition of slavery itself and the emancipation of the slaves. In 1823 the Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Twice that year and twice the following year, Wilberforce pleaded the slaves’ cause in the House of Commons. But in 1825 ill-health compelled him to resign as a member of parliament and to continue his campaign from outside. In 1831 he sent a message to the Anti-Slavery Society, in which he said, “Our motto must continue to be PERSEVERANCE. And ultimately I trust the Almighty will crown our efforts with success.” He did. In July 1833 the Abolition of Slavery Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament, even though it included the undertaking to pay 20 million pounds in compensation to the slave-owners. ‘Thank God,’ wrote Wilberforce, that I have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds for the abolition of slavery.’ Three days later he died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, in national recognition of his FORTY-FIVE YEARS of persevering struggle on behalf of African slaves.

— John R W Stott, Issues facing Christians Today (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1984), p. 334

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations

(Gallup) Ratings of Black-White Relations at New Low

For the second consecutive year, U.S. adults’ positive ratings of relations between Black and White Americans are at their lowest point in more than two decades of measurement. Currently, 42% of Americans say relations between the two groups are “very” or “somewhat” good, while 57% say they are “somewhat” or “very” bad.

The most recent rating of Black-White relations in the U.S. is not statistically different from last year’s 44%. However, the reading has eroded nine percentage points over the past two years as the nation has grappled with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests and calls for racial justice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Sociology

(Observer) God-given talent: Saka, Rashford and Sterling blaze a trail for black British Christians

In the reception area of Bukayo Saka’s old school, brightly-coloured pennants representing the competing nations in Euro 2020 have not yet been taken down. And last week, the 450 pupils at Edward Betham Church of England primary had one final euro-related task to complete. “We’ve been making a card to send to Bukayo,” said school head Caroline Chamberlain.

“A4 size with 15 sheets – one for each class. They’ve written to say how much he has inspired them and what a wonderful example he is setting. So many of our pupils have shared their disgust with us at the abuse England footballers had. They cannot understand the behaviour.”

England’s newest football hero maintains close links with the school on the outskirts of west London. Saka has previously donated a signed Arsenal shirt, which takes pride of place on the school’s “achievement wall”. A letter he sent to thank former teachers has been proudly framed. And for a school which actively promotes a Christian ethos, it would be hard to think of a better role model.

Like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, his England teammates, Saka wears his faith on his sleeve. Until he moved with his family two years ago, to be closer to Arsenal’s training facilities, he attended the Pentecostal Kingsborough Centre in Uxbridge. On winning the young London player of the year award this year, he tweeted “God’s Work”, making clear where he believed the credit for his starring performances truly lay.

“I love the way Bukayo speaks with such passion about his beliefs”, says Chamberlain, a churchgoing Anglican. “In days gone by you wouldn’t hear so much about people being practising Christians or practising Muslims. It seemed that famous people in particular didn’t really talk about their faith. I remember Alastair Campbell’s ‘we don’t do God’.”

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Men, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sports

(NYT Op-ed) Esau McCaulley–Why Christians Must Fight Systemic Racism

I wake up to messages on social media from other Christians calling me a racist, communist, false teacher. Such messages have become as ordinary as my cup of coffee before morning prayer. I receive them because part of my work as a Christian theologian addresses issues of systemic injustice. I never imagined such work would be controversial. Racism­ — personal and societal — still affects the lives of people of color in the United States. Part of the Christian witness involves addressing this among a host of other maladies.

Nearly every Christian of color I know who addresses these issues has been subject to similar attacks, no matter the nuance of our argumentation or the sources we cite. I have been accused of believing that all white people are irredeemably racist and of seeing humans as only victims or oppressors. None of this is true, but that does not seem to matter. They call us “woke,” but the disdain with which they use that word makes it feel like a stand-in for deeper and more cutting insults.

I remain puzzled as to why discussions of racism and injustice stir up so much venom from fellow believers. They do not simply disagree. They are angry. Despite this hysteria, there is simply no theological or historical reason for Christians to hesitate over acknowledging structural racism.

When people point out bias or racism in structures (health care, housing, policing, employment practices), they are engaging in the most Christian of practices: naming and resisting sins, personal and collective.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Excesses of Antiracist Education

What’s really inflaming today’s fights, though, is that the structural-racist diagnosis isn’t being offered on its own. Instead it’s yoked to two sweeping theories about how to fight the problem it describes.

First, there is a novel theory of moral education, according to which the best way to deal with systemic inequality is to confront its white beneficiaries with their privileges and encourage them to wrestle with their sins.

Second, there is a Manichaean vision of public policy, in which all policymaking is either racist or antiracist, all racial disparities are the result of racism — and the measurement of any outcome short of perfect “equity” may be a form of structural racism itself.

The first idea is associated with Robin DiAngelo, the second with Ibram X. Kendi, and they converge in places like the work of Tema Okun, whose presentations train educators to see “white-supremacy culture” at work in traditional measures of academic attainment.

The impulses these ideas encourage take different forms in different institutions, but they usually circle around to similar goals…..

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Race/Race Relations

(NYT Magazine) I Write About the Law. But Could I Really Help Free a Prisoner?

During law school, I took a class on capital punishment and learned that many wrongful convictions had something in common: a mistaken eyewitness ID. I read the work of Elizabeth Loftus, the psychologist whose research helped establish the limitations of human memory. The basic problem is that people often aren’t good at remembering the specific features of faces they’ve seen only once; they’re more likely to recall a general trait, like eye color or a mustache, that many people share. But if eyewitness testimony is fallible, Loftus explained, it is also potent. “There is almost nothing more convincing than a live human being who takes the stand, points a finger at the defendant and says, ‘That’s the one!’” she wrote in her 1979 book, “Eyewitness Testimony.”

Since 1989, mistaken IDs have factored into nearly 30 percent of about 2,800 convictions of innocent people tracked by the National Registry of Exonerations. And yet the legal system depends on them because the testimony of an eyewitness may be the only piece of direct evidence. Though no comprehensive data exists, one old but often-cited survey from 1989 suggests that eyewitness testimony is most likely used to solve at least 80,000 crimes each year.

The upshot is that eyewitness identification “presents the legal system with a challenge unlike any other,” Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the federal District Court in Manhattan writes in his recent book, “Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free.” “Modern science suggests that much of such testimony is inherently suspect — but not in ways that jurors can readily evaluate from their own experience.”

As I became absorbed by Briley’s case, I wanted to understand more about the science of memory. What did the research suggest about the reliability of the identification Joseph made? Eyewitnesses like him often have the best intentions. Nonetheless, I learned, their error rate increases when more time lapses between the initial viewing of a person and the retrieving of that memory to make an identification. Cross-racial IDs become even weaker with the passage of time. The circumstances of a street crime itself can also affect accuracy. Victims and witnesses may have only a brief chance to view the perpetrator, and making an identification becomes harder with dim lighting, stress, fear and the distracting presence of a weapon. One study showed a “catastrophic decline” in accuracy — dropping as low as 18 percent — depending on a witness’s level of anxiety.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Race/Race Relations

Harriet Beecher Stowe on her Feast Day

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live,–to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered,–this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour,–this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs,–came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.

Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn’t he?””he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes, souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts,that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

–Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations

(NPR) Portland Congregation Races To Get Members Vaccinated Before Oregon Reopens

Oregon is counting down to reopening as the state’s vaccination numbers tick up. Governor Kate Brown has established a threshold to lift most restrictions: 70% of Oregonians need to have at least one shot. The state is expected to reach that number in the coming days.

But at Highland Christian Center in Portland, the mood is not one of excitement.

“It feels like a war,” says Senior Pastor Shon Neyland. “It feels like a war of attrition.”

Neyland speaks from experience. Before he retired, he was a chaplain in the Air Force and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now he pastors this church of nearly 700 mostly Black congregants, big enough that it takes up a whole city block and has its own coffee shop and bookstore.

Today, Neyland is fighting an invisible enemy: the forces keeping his congregants from getting the vaccine. He estimates at least half the church isn’t vaccinated. Once the state reaches 70 percent, this could mean hundreds of unvaccinated, unmasked people attending his Sunday service. And that has Neyland worried.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(CT) George Yancey–In the Push for Racial Justice, There’s a Middle Path Between Passivity and Aggression

….in our current society, we often deal with race by consistently trying to overpower our “enemies,” rather than by finding ways to communicate and persuade them of our perspective. Why can’t we work at finding common values and agreements? Why can’t we listen to each other until we accurately understand the interests and desires of others? Should not everyone be “quick to listen, slow to speak,” as James 1:19 reminds us?

Sometimes I think that we already know what we need to do to improve race relations but we simply don’t want to do it. But we are going to have to live in this society together. We are going to have to find answers to the racial issues of our day. We can choose to remain in a power struggle with each other, or we can begin to learn how to dialogue in a healthy fashion.

Many people on different sides of these racial issues have a vested interest in continuing our unproductive fighting. But if we learn to stop listening to those voices and start listening to each other, we can finally take important steps toward real racial unity and equality.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Apologetics, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Tuesday Food for Thought–Ideas that Matter: Lisa Bowens, Esau McCaulley, and Mariam Kovalishyn: “The Black Experience in Biblical Interpretation”

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Books, Race/Race Relations, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) One Woman’s Decades-Long Fight To Make Juneteenth A U.S. Holiday

Opal Lee is 94, and she’s doing a holy dance.

It’s a dance she said she and her ancestors have been waiting 155 years, 11 months and 28 days to do.

Ever since Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states. President Abraham Lincoln had signed it more than two years earlier.

“And now we can all finally celebrate. The whole country together,” Lee told NPR minutes after a landslide House vote on Wednesday approving legislation establishing the day, now known as Juneteenth, as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

President Biden signed the bill on Thursday, and Lee was standing beside him during the ceremony.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations

(Local Paper front page) Charleston clergy, activists mark 6th anniversary of Emanuel AME Church shooting

The bells tolled at 9 p.m. in downtown Charleston and the crowd stood in silence as they listened to the pastor dressed in black read nine names.

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders and the Rev. Dan Simmons Sr. — nine names, nine lives whose loss on June 17, 2015, irrevocably changed the Holy City.

At least 50 people gathered at 8 p.m. on June 17 in front of Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street to remember those names, marking the sixth anniversary of the racially motivated mass shooting that continues to scar the Black community.

“I’m so grateful that you are here to remember,” said Marlena Davis, a church member.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(RNS) Ed Litton, a pastor known for racial reconciliation, is surprise winner for SBC president

Ed Litton, the relatively unknown senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, defeated two preeminent rivals to be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during a session of the SBC’s annual meeting Tuesday (June 15).

Litton has made racial reconciliation a hallmark of his work since at least the 2014 riots after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Litton’s election is considered a defeat for hard right conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent battles over race, sexual abuse and gender roles.

Litton won in the second round of voting Tuesday, defeating conservative Georgia pastor Mike Stone, a former SBC Executive Committee chair and favorite of the Conservative Baptist Network, which has been critical of SBC leadership, saying it has become captive to liberal ideas.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology, Violence

The 6 year Anniversary of the Mother Emanuel Church Massacre (II)–A local Newspaper Editorial

As we mark the sixth anniversary of the massacre inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on Thursday, we’re pleased to see significant progress on a memorial that will honor the lives lost and those forever altered on that tragic day. It will be the most tangible acknowledgement to Emanuel’s victims; we hope still more is done.

The Emanuel Nine Memorial, which will completely remake the grounds around the church on Calhoun Street, promises to be one of the most important things built in the city this decade. Work on the ambitious $17.5 million project is closer than ever after the city agreed to contribute $2 million to the Mother Emanuel Memorial Foundation, which also will create an endowment to maintain the site and new initiatives to advance social justice and combat racism. Those initiatives will begin later this year, around the same time construction starts on the memorial.

The Rev. Eric S.C. Manning, Emanuel pastor and co-chairman of the foundation, said he is humbled and thankful for the support the city and Charleston residents have shown, adding that the city’s contribution “will ensure that the memory of the Emanuel Nine will never be forgotten, the resilience and strength of the survivors will continue to be celebrated, and the messages of forgiveness, love and grace will draw all people together.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

The 6 year Anniversary of the Mother Emanuel Church Massacre (I)–A profile article on Chris Singleton

So Singleton asks everyone to stand, to find “someone who doesn’t look like you,” to give that person a hug and declare “I love you.”

He knows it might be awkward for many, but the statistical odds are in his favor. Nearly 5 percent of U.S. adults are coping with depression; around 11 percent are dealing with forms of anxiety, according to government statistics.

He was one of them. On June 17, 2015, when he was 18 years old, he received a phone call informing him about a shooting at Emanuel AME Church, where his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was an assistant pastor involved in Wednesday night Bible study.

His father, who struggled with alcoholism, was not around much, so it was Chris who was forced to grow up fast and care for his two younger siblings. He took his responsibility very seriously.

“I was pretending to be Superman,” he said.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Olney church to remember slave trader turned abolitionist

A church is to create an educational area about a slave trader who became an abolitionist.

John Newton was curate of St Peter and Paul’s Church in Olney, Buckinghamshire, between 1764 and 1780.

During that time he wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.

Churchwarden David Phillipson said the church was “not trying to glorify the slave trade” but rather educate people about Mr Newton’s work to help abolish slavery.

Thousands of people visit the church every year, prompting the plans for an educational space.

Mr Phillipson said: “We are not trying to glorify the slave trade by having this area but educate people and explain what happened and what John Newton eventually did in terms of his work to abolish the slave trade and write Amazing Grace, which is known worldwide.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations

(CT) Tulsa Church Ledger Preserves Stories of Faith After Historic Massacre

The book might look like it’s just a list of names and numbers, but Robert Richard Allen Turner, pastor of Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, knows it’s more than that.

“It’s a ledger of our history that we still need to know today,” Turner said. “It’s a story of faith and folks who had faith in God.”

The city of Tulsa will pause on June 1 to remember the 100th anniversary of a racial massacre. In 1921, white Oklahomans killed hundreds of Black people and completely destroyed a prosperous Black community. When the violence ebbed, Greenwood Avenue—the heart of what was then called America’s Black Wall Street—was rubble. The mob had destroyed four hotels, two newspapers, eight doctor’s offices, seven barbershops, half a dozen real estate agencies, and half a dozen churches. One of the Black houses of worship that was damaged was the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, located then at 307 N. Greenwood.

The only thing left of the AME was the basement, and it too had been badly damaged. But the church decided to rebuild, and it kept a ledger of all the people who pledged to help and the money they contributed to the cause.

When Turner looks at that book, he thinks of the biblical genealogies and the Book of Numbers, where God told Moses to write down the names of the people who assisted him and to count and record the names of the people who had escaped bondage in Egypt and the descendants who went through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) The Tulsa Race Massacre 100 Years Later

Tulsa boomed in the early 1900s due to the discovery of nearby oil. Its population grew rapidly from 1,390 in 1900 to 72,075 in 1920, according to census records. Despite the strictly enforced Jim Crow laws at that time, Greenwood had become a “prosperous, vibrant” district and “an American success story,” according to historian Scott Ellsworth.

But in 1921, that success story was interrupted.

On May 31, Dick Rowland, a Black shoe shiner, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a white woman. She would eventually refuse to cooperate with his prosecution.

That night, a mob of over 1,000 white Tulsans gathered in front of the county courthouse where Mr. Rowland was being held. A boxer, Jack Scott was one of the approximately 75 other Black men who came to protect Mr. Rowland.

A fight broke out. The Black men retreated to Greenwood. The white mob organized an attack, and in the early morning hours invaded and burned Greenwood to the ground.

Read it all (and the 8 other articles as well).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

A Good BBC Report on Race and Policing in Saint Louis County, Missouri

Watch it all and note the role of faith all the way though; I especially love the policewoman’s reference to daily prayer; KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations

(PR FactTank) Most Black Protestants say denominational affiliation is less important than inspiring sermons

Black churches are among the oldest and most influential institutions dedicated to supporting Black Americans. When they were first founded, denominations like the African Methodist Episcopal Church gave Black Americans a place to worship freely.

Over the years, Black congregations have not only offered a place of prayer for many Black worshippers, but also played a role in the advancement of Black Americans more generally – from supporting colleges to taking the lead in many civil rights causes.

Yet, when it comes to choosing a house of worship, most Black Americans don’t prioritize denominational labels. A welcoming congregation and inspiring sermons are far more important to them, according to a recent Pew Research Center report.

Only 30% of Black adults say that it would be “very important” to find a congregation in their current denomination if they were looking for a new house of worship, according to the survey, conducted Nov. 19, 2019-June 3, 2020. Far larger shares say it is very important to find a congregation that is welcoming (80%) or that has inspiring sermons (77%).

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Tablet) Church of England lays out plan to tackle racism

Shortlists for top posts in the Church of England should include at least one minority ethnic candidate as part of a raft of measures to address the “alarming” lack of senior clergy of colour, according to a report out last week.

The report, From Lament to Action, published by the Archbishops’ anti-racism task force, added that people responsible for senior appointments should undergo anti-racism recruitment training, and that 30 per cent of nominees for the Church’s leadership training programme should come from ethnic minorities.

The report brought together 47 recommendations that had not been acted upon from decades of previous reports on how the Church could address racism within its ranks. The recommendations, or “actions”, focused on areas of education, training and mentoring, investing in minority ethnic young people and reforming governance structures, as well as increasing the participation in the Church by clergy of colour.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who together commissioned the report, said: “Racism is a sin … and we are determined to make sure there is no room for it in the Church.

“But it is here. We have seen, time and time again, people being bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded from the life of the Church, from the family of God. It breaks our hearts, and we are truly sorry.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Implement race proposals or lose trust, says C of E’s first female archdeacon of colour

THE first female archdeacon of colour in the Church of England, the Ven. Wilhelmina (Mina) Smallman, has said that the Archbishops’ Taskforce’s report on racism in the Church “reads really well”. If, however, the Church failed to put its recommendations into practice, she said, “I can’t see that any person of colour will trust that anything will ever change.”

The report, From Lament to Action, was published on Thursday of last week — Stephen Lawrence Day — by the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce (News, Leader Comment, 23 April). It brings together 47 previously ignored “actions” from reports published over more than three decades.

In their response to the report, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury acknowledge that churchgoers of colour had been “bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded from the life of the Church, from the family of God”.

The report was dedicated to the memory of Mrs Smallman’s two daughters, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, who were murdered last summer (News, 19 June 2020). Their funeral was conducted by the only black bishop in the House of Bishops: the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Race/Race Relations

From Lament to Action: Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce calls for urgent changes to culture of Church of England

The Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce has today published its report ‘From Lament to Action’ proposing a suite of changes to begin bringing about a change of culture in the life of the Church of England.

It issues a warning to the Archbishops that a failure to act could be a “last straw” for many people of UK Minority Ethnic (UKME) or Global Majority Heritage (GMH) backgrounds with “devastating effects” on the future of the Church.

The report sets out 47 specific actions for different arms of the Church of England to implement across five priority areas: participation, governance, training, education and young people.

Without these changes the Church risks denying and disregarding the gifts of a significant part of the nation, the Taskforce makes clear.

“This is the culture change that is required if the Church is to live up to its mandate of being a body where all the gifts of all its people flourish to the full, for the benefit of the church as a whole, the nation of England and the greater glory of God,” they say.

They add: “Decades of inaction carry consequences and this inaction must be owned by the whole Church.
“A failure to act now will be seen as another indication, potentially a last straw for many, that the Church is not serious about racial sin.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Black Church Group Offers Its Best Shot at Closing Vaccine Gap

As the nation passed 500,000 coronavirus deaths this week, government data revealed that the life expectancy for African American men dropped three years—triple the decline among Americans overall during the first half of 2020.

In an effort to help reach minority communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 but less likely to get the shot, a coalition of 150,000 churches recently announced its plan for vaccinating over 100 million black and Latino churchgoers.

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), which represents historic black denominations and partners with Latino leaders, has been lobbying the federal government for a more comprehensive plan to address disparities in COVID-19 vaccine uptake. NBCI president Anthony Evans wants to see the government more deliberately use churches’ built-in trust and familiarity to make the vaccine more accessible for minority populations.

Evans said at a press conference at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Washington, DC, last week that he supports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for who should become vaccinated first but worries that African Americans and Latinos who qualify because of their age or underlying medical conditions aren’t getting the vaccine.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(PRC) Three-quarters of Black Americans say Black churches have helped promote racial equality

Though primarily places of worship, Black churches have long played prominent roles in African American communities, offering services such as job training programs and insurance cooperatives, and many of their pastors have advocated for racial equality. Today, around three-quarters of Black adults say predominantly Black churches have done either “a great deal” (29%) or “some” (48%) to help Black people move toward equality in the United States, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

That is lower than the share of Black adults crediting civil rights organizations a great deal or some (89%) but higher than the share who credit the federal government (55%), predominantly Black Muslim organizations such as the Nation of Islam (54%), or predominantly White churches (38%).

Majorities of Black adults, irrespective of the racial composition of their house of worship or whether they attend one at all, say predominantly Black churches have done at least some to help Black Americans. Even 66% of Black Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” – hold this view, according to the survey of 8,660 Black American adults conducted Nov. 19, 2019, through June 3, 2020.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(NYT) Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College

The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN picked up the story of a young female student harassed by white workers. The American Civil Liberties Union, which took the student’s case, said she was profiled for “eating while Black.”

Less attention was paid three months later when a law firm hired by Smith College to investigate the episode found no persuasive evidence of bias. Ms. Kanoute was determined to have eaten in a deserted dorm that had been closed for the summer; the janitor had been encouraged to notify security if he saw unauthorized people there. The officer, like all campus police, was unarmed.

Smith College officials emphasized “reconciliation and healing” after the incident. In the months to come they announced a raft of anti-bias training for all staff, a revamped and more sensitive campus police force and the creation of dormitories — as demanded by Ms. Kanoute and her A.C.L.U. lawyer — set aside for Black students and other students of color.

But they did not offer any public apology or amends to the workers whose lives were gravely disrupted by the student’s accusation.

This is a tale of how race, class and power collided at the elite 145-year-old liberal arts college, where tuition, room and board top $78,000 a year and where the employees who keep the school running often come from working-class enclaves beyond the school’s elegant wrought iron gates. The story highlights the tensions between a student’s deeply felt sense of personal truth and facts that are at odds with it.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

Remembering the remarkable Percy Julian

Percy Julian was one of the great scientists of the 20th century. In a chemistry career spanning four decades, he made many valuable discoveries, for which he was awarded dozens of patents, 18 honorary degrees, and membership to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences—only the second African American bestowed such an honor.

Yet Julian’s achievements as a trailblazer for Black chemists, while less well-known, are no less remarkable. Growing up when racial discrimination factored into every aspect of life for Blacks in America, from riding a bus to getting a job, Julian persevered to realize his dreams. And when he finally “arrived” as a successful chemist and businessman, he did not lose sight of the challenges that fellow Blacks still faced. He became a mentor to scores of young black chemists and, later in life, an inspiration for thousands as a civil-rights leader and speaker.

As the late Vernon Jarrett, one of the nation’s leading commentators on race relations, put it, “This man is Exhibit A of determination and never giving up. I think he’s a role model not only for blacks but for all races.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Austria, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology

(1st Things) Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Prison/Prison Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture