racial justice

Lisa Sharon Harper 03-20-2017

Photos by JP Keenan / Sojourners

Here’s how: We have been living according to different stories of America’s past. As a result, we interpret the present differently. In turn, we dream a different future.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rajdeep Singh Jolly with the Sikh Coalition, and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) (from left to right) urge the Trump administration to treat hate violence seriously.

The shooting of two Indian men in Kansas is one of the most recent examples of an increase in racially motivated violence in the U.S., and the Trump administration must rigorously investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, a group of Democratic members of Congress and South Asian-American advocates said Friday at a rally outside the Capitol.

Jim Wallis 02-16-2017

Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington, D.C. in 1926.

The only answer to the racial divide among Christians — evangelicals in particular — is to go much deeper into what racial equity and healing will require. America’s Original Sin was written for such a time as this. It is a book written to and for white Christians and white churches — to help lead them to new conversations with black and brown Christians and their churches. It could be that studying racism in congregation after congregation, and especially between congregations across racial lines, could be a fundamental building block for genuine racial reconciliation in America.

Dhanya Addanki 01-23-2017

Image via JP Keenan/ Sojourners 

 America is beautiful because we have the power to define what it means to be American. 

Too often, we immigrants define what is "American" by what white culture tells us it should be. We internalize colonialism and let it run thickly in our veins: We give our offspring English names because we’re embarrassed of our language, or afraid that our children won’t be accepted with anything too “exotic.” We eagerly give up a culture that so proudly raised us. I’ve watched as we villainize black people and turn our backs on undocumented immigrants.

 

Cathleen Falsani 01-17-2017

Image via Cathleen Falsani.

Some of the boys involved in carrying out those acts in December we know, and we know their parents. The parents we do know are not frothing-at-the-mouth bigots. We can’t imagine their sons learned racist ideas at home.

But they learned them somewhere.

Racists and bullies aren’t born. They are made.

Da'Shawn Mosley 01-13-2017

America rests on a foundation of sin. Its body is strong but its soul is dead. Yes, America provides so much freedom and benefits so many lives. But woe to us if we look at this country’s glass as half full when so many of our fellow citizens barely have water at all. Woe to us if we praise the calm in our lives while failing to give the distress of others’ lives the full attention it needs.

Any speech about America that fails to look at this nation’s current state with the realism and gravity it deserves is speech about a country that doesn’t exist. The America that President Obama spoke of, in his farewell address, is an America I barely recognize.

the Web Editors 11-23-2016

Image via Google doc/SURJ-DC.

6. Be Kind…To Yourself, Too

“Remember that this isn’t the only conversation/interaction you’re going to have,” writes Christena Cleveland.

7. 19 Questions to Ask

The New York Times had Clinton supporters and Trump supporters ask each other these questions. Listen to their results here.

8. Call the Holiday Hotline

If all efforts at engaging have stalled, SURJ has a holiday hotline to help. “Get stuck? Simply text SOS to 82623.”

Jazmine Steele 11-03-2016

Halloween has passed and people are still scared out of their minds. The ghoulish costumes, haunted houses, and spirits, just don’t compare to the future of this country set to unfold over the next few days. Separatism, sexual assault, and scandal have set the stage. The anxiety of what is to come is chilling. I see it everywhere.

Layton E. Williams 10-06-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

The reality of our privilege is that it makes many truths of systemic injustice unclear to us. We fumble around with murky awareness and bump into our own ingrained racism and ignorance. As allies, the question for us is not if we will screw up, but how we will move forward when we inevitably do.

Jim Wallis 10-06-2016

“The vast majority of evangelicals support Donald Trump.” We’ve heard that statement so often during this election season that it’s all but assumed fact. But there’s a problem with that line and with how we talk about “evangelicals” in this election.

Deeohn Ferris 09-26-2016

One critical lesson from the environmental justice movement is this: Racial inequity and economic disparities are intertwined fault lines running in different directions, crisscrossing the everyday lives of people of color. History shows by what means the two interact and the consequences. These crisscrossing forces downgrade the quality of life and narrow opportunities for health, housing, and financial stability. Meanwhile whole communities suffer. Remember Flint, Mich. Consider the Sioux Nation’s historic push against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Parks and monuments tell our nation’s stories and shape our collective memory. Our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are where we learn, play, and pray. We treasure these places of beauty that reveal the wonders of our Creator. And today, on the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, we must pass on their spiritual and cultural significance from generation to generation.

Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. do not yet find their stories reflected or protected in our system of national public lands. While there are plenty of sites that honor military leaders or white historical figures like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison, there are far fewer sites that honor Native American, African-American, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, or women’s history.

08-23-2016

At Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, an interracial group of clergy gathered to discuss the role of the white church in perpetuating racism. And what the church might do to heal the wounds. A tough subject, but dealt with unflinchingly

Matthew Skinner 08-15-2016

Why We Can’t Wait is the familiar title of Martin Luther King Jr.’s book from 1964. The volume includes his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (written April 16, 1963) and makes an argument to recognize 1963 as the beginning of “the Negro Revolution” while extolling the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.

King’s “Letter” issues a call for urgency. He wrote it as a response to eight local white clergymen who had criticized his activities in Birmingham and appealed for a more patient and restrained approach to lobbying for civil rights. The “Letter” expresses King’s deep disappointment with “the white moderate,” who “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.”

the Web Editors 08-12-2016

This week Asian-American women leaders at American University in Washington, D.C., released a video of local Asian Pacific Islanders reading a letter of solidarity in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The collaborative letter was drafted online last month as Asian Americans across the country responded to the shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, black men killed recently by police officers.

Anna Panzo 08-03-2016

Image by JP Keenan for Sojourners

I want to encourage us to consider the ways we can engage our neighbors beyond an effort to provide a sense of comfort or peace. I believe we are called, in whatever small way we can, to not only accompany them in their grief, but also to acknowledge, validate, and recognize the injustice or atrocities that occur — and to seek to take action to address this within our own sphere of influence. 

Moral March in Raleigh, N.C., in Februar 2014. EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com

Since the summer of 2013, we have called this law — which the 4th Circuit struck down on Friday — a monster voter suppression bill. It was the first and the worst of many voter suppression measures to pass through state houses since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision stripped the Voting Rights Act of its power to guarantee fair elections in this country. In many ways, it performed the new Southern Strategy of James Crow, Esq., which attempts to hold onto power as white voters become one among many minorities in this country. It is a strategy that necessarily depends on old fears, racism, and divide-and-conquer tactics.

Ruslan Grumble / Shutterstock

Ruslan Grumble / Shutterstock

AS THE BLACK LIVES Matter movement has shone a light on police brutality against black people across the country, the public conversation in the United States has been unable to ignore the legacy of racism that shapes many of our nation’s most vital institutions. In his important new book, The End of White Christian America, Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), makes the bold claim that White Christian America (WCA)—the fertile ground that gave root to and energized the legacy of American racism—is dead. Granted, this does not mean the death of racism. But for those of us striving for racial reconciliation, the changing societal narrative that Jones offers here is a hopeful one.

Jones begins the book with a tongue-in-cheek obituary for WCA: “Although examiners have not been able to pinpoint the exact time of death, the best evidence suggests that WCA finally succumbed in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st century.” He ends the book with a eulogy for WCA that is much more serious in tone and draws upon the stages of grief named by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her eminent book On Death and Dying.

Jones defines the WCA as a distinctly Protestant entity, with two primary branches, white mainline Protestants and white evangelical Protestants. Jones notes that although these two subgroups are often at odds, together they comprise the “single dynasty” of WCA. “For most of the nation’s life, White Christian America was big enough, cohesive enough, and influential enough,” Jones writes, “to pull off the illusion that it was the cultural pivot around which the country turned.”

Jesse James DeConto 07-05-2016
Franklin Golden / RNS

Children sing at the community-organizing camp in Durham, N.C. Photo via Franklin Golden / RNS

Instead of the traditional vacation Bible school, this downtown church partnered with seven other congregations — black, white, Baptist, Jewish, Episcopal, Pentecostal, and nondenominational — to put on a community-organizing camp for kids aged 4 to 12.

Lisa Sharon Harper 06-20-2016

What if these were not our foundations? What if these foundations did not lay the groundwork for philosophical and legal frameworks that created separate and unequal schooling for the next 150 years? What if they did not lay the foundations for racialized de-facto exclusions from the Homestead Act and the G.I. Bill. And what if they did not lay the foundations for environmental and climate injustice that causes heightened hardship in communities with less healthcare and fewer resources. And what if they did not lay the foundations for 1.5 million black men to go missing from black communities, families, churches, and civic structures — prized booty of America’s racialized Drug War and a new source of near free labor for American corporations within state and federal prisons.

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