Approximately four years ago, the co-moderators of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recommended that all congregations read and discuss the book, Waking Up White and finding myself in the story of race, by Debby Irving. That year, Catonsville Presbyterian used the book and discussion as a Lenten study. Many of the participants, after that four week adult education program, felt that the conversation needed to continue and grow to action. They felt that they could not ignore the systemic racism in this country and formed the Dismantling Racism Committee. The committee has grown and evolved over the past four years to a very vibrant, productive, inclusive, growing group that meets monthly. We have partnered with members of Grace AME Church and are opening our doors to more faith based organizations in the Catonsville area around the subject of dismantling racism.
Over the past two or so years, the committee has been particularly active in educational and outreach initiatives to engage the local community in understanding systemic racism and its effects on us as individuals, our local community, and the nation as a whole. Those activities have included:
Compiled a 30 day challenge for social justice, offered to CPC members, other local churches, national organizations, and family and friends around the country.
- Sponsored an implicit bias training—open to the community.
- Lead book discussions on So you Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.
- Hosted Bystander Intervention training—open to the community.
- Tour and discussion of the travelling exhibit, “Undesigning the Redline.”
- Viewed and discussed videos including the documentary, “Free the Vote,” produced by the ACLU of Maryland, “Seg- regated by Design,” “Asian Americans Battling Bias: Continuing Crisis” by CBS News—0pen to the community.
“All God’s Children are Welcome” initiative to distribute books with diverse characters and topics around diversity and inclusion to schools, and nonprofit organizations throughout the Catonsville area.
ALL GOD’S CHILDREN ARE WELCOME INITIATIVE
Six months ago a sub committee of the Dismantling Racism Committee was formed, entitled “All God’s Children Are Welcome.” The mission of this sub committee is to research and purchase books that promote acceptance of all people and feature multicultural main characters or are written by authors of color. These books are then donated to non profit organizations to enhance their libraries and expose the children to literature that reflects their culture and represents them. As of August 20th, over 85 books have been purchased and donated to 7 non profit organizations: 2 public schools, Catonsville El- ementary School and Catonsville High School, The House of Ruth Shelter for Women and Children, Grace AME Church, Catonsville Presbyterian Church, The Catonsville Presbyterian Church Family Child Care Center and The Children’s Home of Catonsville. We are presently in conversation with The McKim Community Center in the City, to purchase books for their after school program.
“ALL GOD’S CHILDREN ARE WELCOME” BOOK DISTRIBUTION
While our committee is taking steps to dismantle racism, we recognize that we have a long way to go if we are going to experience true, positive racial change in ourselves, our community, and our country. If dismantling racism is something that you too feel is paramount for a just, equal society, please consider joining us. If you would like to learn more about the committee and/or have your name added to our email list, so you can read about upcoming events and what actions we are taking, contact Jeff Bolognese at firstname.lastname@example.org or Vickie Lord at email@example.com.