Tag Archives: race

Big Tent 2017: Race, Reconciliation, Reformation — Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Hope to see you at the Big Tent where I will be working with my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim.

 

I look forwarding to participating at the Big Tent, held at Washington University, St. Louis, July 6 -8th, 2017. I will be co-leading a Workshop with Rev. Mark Koenig, “Disrupting Racism: Building the Intercultural Community”

via Big Tent 2017: Race, Reconciliation, Reformation — Grace Ji-Sun Kim

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Show up for each other

The Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) participated in the orientation for Presbyterian delegation to the 58th Session to the Commission on the Status of Women.

After being in New York, he flew to Whitworth University in Spokane, WA for the Third Moderator’s Conversation on Unity with Difference on Race, Gender, and Religious Differences.

The Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz was among the speakers at the conversation. As always, Laura made an insightful, challenging, hopeful presentation on Power and the Black-White Binary: Forging Authentic Church Identities in the Midst of White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and Being “Other Asian”.

Laura provides the following summary of her presentation:

Being church together is challenged by the ways in which various church communities and individual church members interact with power based on race and gender, not to mention class status and regional identity. The church, particularly the PC(USA), includes people with diverse capacities for a real conversation. Through exploring the place of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (who in the PC(USA) can check either “Korean” or “Other Asian” for demographic information on some forms) and others dislocated by the black-white binary in church and U.S. society, together we seek a way to move forward toward being a church that allows for complexities of identity and addresses real inequalities.
A couple of passages should encourage you to read the whole presentation:
Race and gender themselves are not the problems obstructing unity. The problems here are racism and sexism. Who we are isn’t the problem, but how we live into oppressive constructs that separate us from one another is. What I will say this morning is part of a longer conversation we in the church need to have with one another, because even though we have been in this conversation for decades, we have yet to diminish our capacity to sin when it comes to relationship with one another.
Our conversation cannot depend upon a generic experience of racism (usually defined by blackness) or sexism (usually defined by middle-aged white women) imposed upon other experiences. Racism is not just about color. It is also about language, culture, colonialism, national origin, and citizenship status. Sexism is not just about how many women get to be heads of staff of tall steeple churches or directors of church agencies. It is about how we continue to think about gender identity and gender roles, and how those thoughts are embedded in our culture and our policies. It is about earning potential; church policies around work hours, compensation, and family leave; about how well churches minister to the lived realities of women in their employ and women who choose to be part of churches. It is about the culture of church leading change in the culture of this country instead of propping up legal and cultural patriarchy.
 
Social issues are theological. It is a theological problem if Christians believe employment opportunity for those with varying levels of education, immigration, the criminal justice system, gun control, political gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, voter ID laws, the financial services sector, hunger, poverty, and economic inequality are not the business of the church. These are things that have a disproportionate impact on the lives of people of color. These are the problems that keep us from attaining a shot at racial justice. These are the problems that shape our lives because we’re always negotiating with banks to allow our in-laws to keep their homes, or finding lawyers so our mothers can stay in the country, or finding people to write letters attesting to the character of our wrongfully accused sons, or looking for ways to feed our families. We have to worry about elected officials who don’t look like us or care about our communities. This takes up a lot of time and energy, and it is our faith that keeps us going. These are the circumstances we bring with us to church every single Sunday.
Laura also identifies resources for further conversations:
I have read Laura’s presentation several times. I will read it several more as I seek ways to respond to her invitation and challenge:
So if we of varying races, genders, and religious groups show up for each other, and if we of varying spiritual gifts show up for each other, maybe that is a way of finding how to be authentically church. Maybe that is how we can create change.
See you along the Trail.

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Bruce Reyes-Chow: “But I Don’t See You as Asian”

racecoversmallMy friend Bruce Reyes-Chow has written a book on race that I look forward to reading: But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race.

Bruce describes his reason for writing as:

If you’ve ever wanted to cultivate honest conversations about race, this book is my attempt at offering ways to help make that happen.

He reflects on his hope for the book in these words:

My hope is that by sharing my story – the joys and the struggles – this book will compel folk to enter a space where they can get at some of the assumptions, misunderstandings and intentions about race so that deeper connections and relationships can be had.

You can get a sense of his perspective as well as the flavor of his writing from some of his earlier articles:

Bruce notes that:

It is also my hope that you will find the time, faith and courage to jump into these conversations with an openness that challenges the expectations of the world around race.

I plan to take that jump. I assume that Bruce’s book will challenge my expectations around race. And I hope that I will be better equipped to engage in conversations that will help me challenge expectations around race and realities around racism. I will let you know.

Here’s how you can get a copy and learn more:

PURCHASE: [paperback $14.99] [kindle $9.99] [itunes $9.99] [nook $9.99] [signed gift copy $14.99]
CONNECT: [twitter] [facebook page] [reviews on Pinterest] [reviews on amazon]
AUTHORGRAPH: [Have your electronic copy signed]

See you along the Trail.

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White and Yellow

A short time back, I subscribed to Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s blog –  Grace Ji-Sun Kim ~ Loving Life.

In today’s post (24 April 2013), Grace reflects on race and privilege and racism.

She begins with an experience on a plane trip with her daughter. A brief encounter while leaving the plane brought the reminder that:

… an Asian is always already viewed as a foreigner no matter how long they have been living in this country.  Even fourth or fifth generation Asians are viewed as the “perpetual foreigner.”  Asian Americans have been depicted as “perpetual foreigners,” “unassimilatable,” and other stereotypes that reveal historic and persistent racism experienced by this racial/ethnic group.  For example, almost every Asian in America has been afflicted with the perpetual foreigner syndrome.  Many have been asked, “Where are you really from?”  This loaded question, which I shall call the “really-question,” differs from the usual one, “Where are you from?”  The really question figuratively and literally ejects the Asian American respondent to  Asia, because the assumption behind the question, even if the questioner is oblivious to it, is that Asian Americans cannot be “real” Americans.

From the experience on the airplane, Grace proceeds to explore being viewed as the “other” or a “perpetual foreigner.” She considers the social construction of “whiteness” and white superiority and white privilege. Race, as she notes, intersects with gender, sexuality, age, sexual orientation and more.

Her story and reflection remind me to remain ever vigilant about the role of privilege in my life. In so many ways, I am privileged.That brings me responsibility to challenge the systems and structures that create the privilege and give it to me. Sometimes I do not do that well. Sometimes I do. Always I must pay attention and try to do better.

Grace closes with a vision:

I envision a world for my daughter in which people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and social classes can come together in harmony and love.

The reality of my privilege challenges me to work to overcome racism and other systems of domination and strive to create another world. The vision encourages me to do the same. Check out Grace’s post and see how it speaks to you.

See you along the Trail.

 

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My friend Bruce is writing a book

My friend Bruce is writing a book. I am supporting his effort. You can read why below or you can just take the plunge and become a supporter too.

No . . . where are you FROM?A Book on Race by Bruce Reyes-Chow

During a trip to San Francisco, when I served as the Presbyterian Church’s associate for antiracism training, I asked a number of friends, colleagues, and wise people who I should meet for conversations about race and racial justice. A number of individuals were named, but one individual was named on a regular basis.

Bruce Reyes-Chow.

I listened. I contacted Bruce. And, over coffee, we met for the first time.

Our conversation ranged across the landscape of the social construction of race and the deconstruction of the structures put into place by racism. We explored the different perceptions of race held by different generations … the different experiences of raced lived by different generations … the differences between racism as experienced on the West Coast and in the Mid West and in other parts of our county. And we experienced the commonalities interwoven within these distinctions.

In the short time we spent together, I developed a deep respect for Bruce, the seeds of friendship were planted, and I realized that he has a voice I and others need to hear on questions related to race. Of course, listening to each other applies to all people. The difference is that Bruce is writing a book.

Bruce will self-publish No … where are you FROM?  He is in the process of raising funds through Kickstarter. I am proud to be a backer – even though I will receive no Pittsburgh Steelers swag as a result – despite my many suggestions of how that would enhance the project to my San Francisco 49ers supporting friend (comments about the results of this weekend’s games will be deleted).

Bruce describes his reason for writing as:

If you’ve ever wanted to cultivate honest conversations about race, this book is my attempt at offering ways to help make that happen.

He reflects on his hope for the book in these words:

My hope is that by sharing my story – the joys and the struggles – this book will compel folk to enter a space where they can get at some of the assumptions, misunderstandings and intentions about race so that deeper connections and relationships can be had.

You can get a sense of his perspective as well as the flavor of his writing from some of his earlier articles:

Bruce notes that:

it is also my hope that you will find the time, faith and courage to jump into these conversations with an openness that challenges the expectations of the world around race.

I plan to take that jump. I assume that Bruce’s book will challenge my expectations around race. And I hope that I will be better equipped to engage in conversations that will help me challenge expectations around race and realities around racism.

Thanks Bruce for writing this book (even if you are a heretic and you talk to your cat – it’s on the Internet, it must be true).

I’m a supporter and I urge others to become supporters as well!

See you along the Trail.

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Down by (or near) the Riverside

Saturday 30 June brought Riverside Conversations (the convention center is on the Allegheny) at the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Commissioners, advisory delegates, and others gathered to consider a range of topics. Some conversations looked at issues before the assembly, some at broader topics in the life of the church.

My friend and colleague Irene Pak and I (our mutual friend and colleague Bruce Reyes-Chow took the photo for us) led an introductory conversation on the church’s need to address racism if we wish to live into the wondrous diversity God creates.

We started with prayer and then had participants (somewhere near 50 in number) introduce themselves and share an experience of diversity. A brief reflection on diversity, race (social construct built on the diversity God creates) and racism (people with power granting themselves privilege based on that construct) followed. We acknowledged that the Presbyterian Church has a mixed record on race and racism – as do all churches and institutions. We have helped create racism – we help perpetuate racism – and we help dismantle racism. A litany affirming God’s intention that we live together in diversity and reminding us of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s commitment followed.

The group then heard three remarkable stories of efforts to dismantle racism: the work of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh that began with a focus on slavery in Western Pennsylvania; the New Beginning Initiative toward reconciliation between the Alaska Natives and Presbyterians; and a range of efforts that focus on racism in the criminal justice system.

Participants then used Mutual Invitation to engage in conversations about what they had heard. The event closed with the song “I’m Going to Live So God Can Use Me” as our prayer.

In my closing observations, I noted that working to dismantle racism is a calling for a life-time. It is ongoing work. It is challenging work. It involves us in encountering other systems of oppression, privilege, and domination. It is a journey. But it is a journey God calls us to make. And it is a journey on which we have wonderful traveling companions.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Dazzling pool

As a dazzling pool
of gold, red, and bronze
swallows the sun,
the pilot reluctantly concedes
yet another race
and banks the plane toward
the nearest airport
and the consolation prize:
a safe landing.

26 October 2011
DL 2044
MSP – SMF

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