Why Anti-racism training?

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The Executive Council Committee on Anti-racism (ECCAR) is meeting this week in St. Louis including a visit to Ferguson with the Bishop, young adults, and others working for reconciliation. Representatives from the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Episcopal Church Missioner for Racial Reconciliation, Heidi Kim, from the national church staff (she is based in Seattle and there via internet), are meeting in person for the first time this triennium. All their meetings have been electronic until this week. Lelanda Lee, Representative from Province VI to the Anti-racism Committee, a member of Executive Council and an anti-racism trainer writes on the Women’s Caucus Facebook page about the meeting in St. Louis with the other members of the committee. Speaking for herself and not as the official report of the committee:

Hello from St. Louis where we are meeting. There are eight of us
present representing seven provinces and one staff member. This is our
first and only in-person meeting in this triennium. … Please be sure to
read the Blue Book report from the Executive Council Committee on
Anti-Racism when it is posted. We have three resolutions included in
that Blue Book report and would appreciate support from Deputies and
Bishops.

And this:

Hi, Everyone! It’s been a long, but very good day for eight of us at the Executive Council Anti-Racism Committee’s (ECCAR) meeting here in St. Louis. I’ve only just read the posts here since our meeting has been one of conversations on many topics that our committee is and has been covering, of which Anti-Racism Training is only one topic among many. It is good to see so much interest in the topic and to see also so many comments that echo much of what we committee members have discussed and felt about the work over time.

In this triennium, the ECCAR was constituted with representatives with Anti-Racism experience and expertise as appointed or elected by their respective provinces. Thus, we have been blessed with not only members committed to the work of Anti-Racism, but also with experienced, highly creative trainers and workshop facilitators and leaders who have decades of experience and a wide range of training backgrounds, both for the church and in other venues such as university and business settings.

While Seeing the Face of God is the beginning or jumping off place for many of us when conducting Anti-Racism Training, to a person, each of us has revised, adapted, enhanced, added to, updated, and deleted portions of the Seeing the Face of God curriculum in order to make the training effective for the specific contexts in which we are invited to participate.

We have especially stepped into the 21st century, taking advantage of myriad videos from sources as diverse as Traces of the Trade and Race: The Power of An Illusion to YouTube videos from comedians who focus on race, such as Jay Smooth and Hari Kondabalu, and zeroing in on current events as topics for discussion and deconstruction of race issues.

We are also utilizing resources focused on Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, the Mankato 38, the Sand Creek Massacre, the Internment Camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and other localized racist incidents, as appropriate and relevant to the specific audiences and geographical locations to which we are invited.

Many of us also focus on the “So What” piece that is about preparing participants to continue to relate to and engage the work of being and becoming anti-racists in their everyday lives. We ground Anti-Racism work in our theology as foundational to our formation as followers of the Christ. Proclaiming the Gospel is not just sermonizing, but it is also transforming our behavior and our institutions to be anti-racist and affirming of all individuals as Beloved Children of God. Part of what we hope to achieve is teaching people how to recognize racism in its subtle forms and to deconstruct incidents such as those in the current events section of the news so that they are able to take a stand as anti-racists.

My ECCAR colleagues and I would all agree on the importance of knowing the contexts in which we are invited to lead conversations (including “training” conversations). Thus, those of us with the call to do anti-racism work know and practice the importance of making the work contextual and thus, currently relevant to those with whom we interact in training and other anti-racism conversations. All this is to say, ECCAR is actively working to address how we can replicate this work within our provinces and dioceses and how we can share the work across the broad swathe of the church.

While budget and money are always important facilitators of important work, they are not the only resources that are needed. Identifying and raising up a cadre of people who feel called to this work and who have some gifts for this work are very important, too. So, our meeting this week is about a whole host of ideas that contribute to how to enlarge and sustain the work in a changing, evolving church structure. We think it’s doable. We want to be involved in helping birth it.

Susan Snook adds that the line item for Anti-racism is in lines 110-114 (see comment on line 111) of the 2016-18 proposed TEC budget.

Why do we need Anti-racism training? Lelanda Lee writes at her blog, What a Cup of Tea:

One of the questions that is frequently asked before and during the trainings is why we still use the term “Anti-Racism” when there are so many other terms that are “friendlier” and “more inviting” to participants. Examples include “Diversity,” “Multicultural,” “Intercultural,” “Dismantling Racism,” and “Racial Justice.”

So, why the term “Anti-Racism”?

The answer is, because racism is a sin, as the House of Bishops taught in their March, 1994, Pastoral Letter. That Pastoral Letter was a teaching that included analysis, confession, covenant, and invitation to the church to join the bishops in those actions. If you haven’t read the Pastoral Letter recently, please read it, because it is an important teaching….

Read it all here

Read also the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter “The Sin of Racism: A Call to Covenant,” which recommitted the bishops, and invited the church, to covenant with the bishops on eleven actions personally, corporately, and globally.

 

From the FORMA conference: on racial reconciliation.

posted by Ann Fontaine

 

Image: “No to racism” by ElIndignado653 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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