Home Forums Noticings… 190925 – Racism

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    Noticings…

    September 25, 2019

    Our Prime Minister has found himself in some pretty significant hot water lately due to pictures that have surfaced that show him to be dressed in costumes including “brownface” and “blackface”. For those of us in the majority culture these kinds of things typically generate a tired shrug and a “that was a long time ago” kind of response. I read a very thoughtful newspaper article the other day, written by a black man, which suggested that while such actions are indeed racist, before anyone heaps scorn upon such things they have to ask what they would have done if they were there. If I had been at that event in 2001 where the future PM was in brownface would I have objected or spoke up against it? I highly doubt it. The deeply offensive nature of it was certainly known to me back then, but I would not have challenged the perpetrator. Would I today? That is the question. I sincerely hope that I would.

    Our denomination has talked extensively about being “intercultural” for many years now. Multi-cultural means to accept and respect diversity, but allows one to keep “otherness” at arm’s length. “They” can do “their” thing as long as “they” don’t make me change. Intercultural means to embrace diversity and to partner with diverse persons in meaningful ways – ways that will transform us. Our talk makes claims of interculturalism. Our walk, however, repeatedly shows how far too often we fall tragically short. The challenge is that we, in the majority culture, are racist. It’s a horrific word, and we recoil at the idea, because we know that we would never intentionally act in a racist manner. Our racism is quiet, hidden, systemic. It rears its ugly head in comments like, “I wouldn’t want a minister with an accent,” or “I don’t think that person would fit in with our congregation.” The unspoken message is that “our” way is normative and “they” are outliers. It is classic “othering” – it is racism – and it is antithetical to Jesus’ way.

    A year ago at General Council 43 in Oshawa there was a holy moment when the Spirit moved and the truth was told. Several persons of colour stood at microphones and shared their experiences of racism in our Church – some overt, but mostly covert, unthinking, unaware, just like the people at the event where the Prime Minister wore his racist costume. Of course neither he nor they had any intention of being racist. Such is the problem. These things are embedded within us, beneath our awareness. So our challenge going forward is to acknowledge that past mistakes were made, apologize for them, and commit to not repeating them and to call out those who have not yet awoken to their hidden racism.

    It is not enough to just be non-racist. We must strive to be anti-racist – actively taking steps to identify and address racism whenever and wherever we encounter it – especially in our churches. The Prime Minister’s unfortunate event has opened an opportunity for awareness and dialogue. Our task is not to explain his actions away or equivocate about their inappropriateness. Our task is to courageously live into our commitment to being a truly intercultural church, and to intentionally and explicitly be anti-racist – especially in church. These are uncomfortable conversations. That’s where Jesus leads us.


    Crockpot Dinner – Thurs. Sept. 26th @ 5PM

    Come and enjoy a delicious supper with your family and friends. Mouth-watering main courses, plus salads, rolls, assorted desserts, tea and coffee.  Admission is a free will offering.  Funds raised will be to support the repairs to the roof. This is a casual evening of fun, fellowship and food.

    Songs For Sunday Night

    Here’s a way to make your Sunday Night Worship experience even better! Here’s a link to the songs we’ll be singing this week. Now you can listen to the songs before you come and enter into worship more fully! And if you can’t make it Sunday you can just click and listen for your own worship time. Sunday Nights at 7:15pm. (Bring a friend!)

     

    Shalom,
                                                                                                                                                                                        Larry

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