Racial Justice Newsletter

For Such a Time as This: Racial Justice Newsletter

For Such a Time as This: Racial Justice Newsletter

United Methodist Women has a history of taking faith-filled, bold, and justice-seeking positions based on a clear-eyed look at the conditions of women, children, and youth here in the United States and around the world. It is time for us to take a look at the statistics on violence, poverty, and race in the United States and break ourselves of the illusion that the system is basically fair, that it is working pretty well, and that it usually rewards effort and merit evenhandedly to all. Throughout the next several years as we work on our new set of priority issues, we will have the chance to take a look at the reality of the (1) massive incarceration of mostly poor people of color in the United States, (2) the increase of wealth inequality, (3) maternal health outcomes, and (4) issues of environmental justice. In each focus area, race is an aspect that must be addressed.

Our United Methodist fore mothers, who drafted the Charter for Racial Justice in 1952, recognized that our work to undo racial injustice must happen precisely within the institutions where we exert the most influence and power.

Racism is the systemic oppression of people of color. It occurs at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels. It may be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional. Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves having the power to carry out systemic discriminatory practices through the institutions of our society. Race prejudice plus the misuse of power by systems and institutions = institutional racism.

"For Such a Time as This" (based on Esther 4:14) is the 2016 theme of the North Texas Conference United Methodist Women. In times, such as these, United Methodist Women members are called to reflect what the Charter for Racial Justice means for us today as we grapple with the persistence of racial injustice at every level of our society.

How are we called to do racial justice work in our times? The Charter for Racial Justice mandate is very clear and very practical: "Work for the development and implementation of national and international policies to protect the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of all people. As followers of Christ and as part of the Wesleyan tradition, we are called because in our time, as ever, we must do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the places we can, for all the people we can, as long as ever we can.

Listening to one another gives us the opportunity to truly begin to see how injustice is impacting all our lives and to go where God leads us, even if that means seeing how we might be perpetuating injustice. You can deepen your listening and dialogue skills by using the United Methodist Women Manual: Link opens in a new window. Tools for Leaders: Resources for Racial Justice

Racial injustice will not be solved at a personal level, because personal prejudice is only a small part of racism. We must, together as a society, begin to examine and attack systemic racism, which was embedded in the founding of all of our society's institutions and persists in every institution to this day.

Two actions are key to doing racial justice work in the 21st century:

  1. White people must listen more intently and consistently to people of colors' racial realities.
  2. We must understand that if racism is about systemic inequity, then undoing racism must be about realizing systemic equity, not merely personal equity.

The United Methodist Church's Charter for Racial Justice says that "racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ" and that "all women and men are made in God's image and all persons are equally valuable in God's sight."

In addition to our silent and contemplative prayers, again we are called to pray in action. You can act publicly, privately, collectively, and individually. It is simply important to act, and to do so consistently.

The challenge Esther received (in Esther 4:14) may very well be the challenge that our Savior has for you at this point in your life. "Who knows but that you have come to this point of time in your life for such a time as this?" In other words, God has placed you where you are, not just to enjoy the benefits of life in America, but to build His kingdom, to help His people, and to fulfill His purposes.

Posted or updated: 3/14/2016 11:00:00 PM

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