Larissa Kwong Abazia, Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reflects on what the story of an interaction between a Syrophoenician woman and Jesus teaches the church today.
Tag Archives: sexism
The system is broken.
I have heard that often following the decisions of grand juries not to indict in the cases of the killing of Michael Brown and the killing of Eric Garner.
The system is broken.
Unless the speaker means she/he is just realizing that for people of color, women, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA community, and many others, the system has always been broken, I strongly disagree with that statement.
The system was built on the institution of chattel slavery. And when that institution ended, it was replaced by Jim Crow laws that legalized segregation. And when those laws were overturned, institutionalized racism remained, expressing itself today in the New Jim Crow that results in “millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then denied rights, rights won in the struggle, and relegated to a permanent second-class status.
The system was built on indentured servitude.
The system was built on the genocide of the indigenous peoples and the theft of their resources.
The system was built on the theft of the land of Latinos/Latinas.
The system was built by controlling who could enter the country. And then providing a welcome that grudginly accepted labor but only slowly and incompletely accepted humanity.
The system was built on the view that women and children were property of men to care for, perhaps, but also to dominate and abuse and violate.
The system was built on driving people who did not fit the cisgender, heterosexual norm into closets.
The system was built to privilege a few at the expense of the many.
The system is broken. The system has always been broken.
The vision of a system that provides justice and equality for all has long been with us, perhaps always been with us. It judges and challenges the status quo. Since the beginning, there have been people who have been caught by the vision and have challenged the system, who have worked to remake it. Through their efforts, progress has occurred. I give thanks for them. I give thanks for where we have come. But significant work remains to create a system that provides justice and equality for all.
The system is broken. It has always been broken.
God grant me grace and courage to support and join those who seek to remake it.
See you along the Trail.
The notices have appeared again outside the Shire.
“Trick-or-Treat in Morningside Gardens will take place on October 31. for If you want trick-or-treaters, please come to the office for a sign to put on your door.”
As Halloween nears, here are some dos and don’ts that make sense to me:
Do support Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF
Don’t wear costumes that demean or exploit other peoples
Don’t wear racist or sexist or tasteless costumes
Do prepare to give thanks for what God has done in the lives of faithful people (living and dead) who have touched your life
What would you add?
See you along the Trail.
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.
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.
- The Racism Study Pack, downloadable ecumenical studies for adults with sections on how to talk about race, white privilege, affirmative action, the Bible and racism, and a history of racism in the U.S.
- Responding to Racism, downloadable ecumenical study for youth
- Faith and Feminism: Ecumenical Essays, eds. Phyllis Trible and B. Diane Lipsett
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.