Welcome to the last week (well, 9 days) of CPC’s Dismantling Racism Subcommittee’s 30 Day Challenge. Thank you for participating so far! We hope that you’ve found the activities from first three weeks informative, rewarding, and empowering and that you’re ready for the home stretch! Please see the link below for the activities for the fourth week of the challenge. Even if you’ve only participated in a few activities over the past weeks or perhaps you haven’t completed any yet, don’t let that stop you from diving into these activities. Our goal should be to at least try some of these activities and actions. Every step we take to educate ourselves and act to address racism in ourselves and society, no matter how small, takes us closer to dismantling those racist structures.
NOTE: From Aug. 24-30th, the PC(USA) is hosting a “Presbyterian Week of Action” with daily activities to encourage Presbyterians to become more engaged in responding to systemic racism in our country:
“This endeavor is structured to provide a public witness that facilitates education, visibility, and action that reinforces our PC(USA) statements and policy around the support of eradicating racism and acknowledging that God loves all Black lives. By joining together as national staff and the greater church, we hope to provide faithful leadership in the area of justice, love, and equality within our denomination and communities.”
You can find the schedule of daily events for that week here:
We recognize that participating in both the 30 Day Challenge and PC(USA) activities could be a bit much, so feel free to substitute the PC(USA) “Week of Action” activities for some or all of the activities highlighted in the 30 Day Challenge. Or, save our Week 4 activities for NEXT week and extend the challenge beyond 30 days!
Theme: Advocate for Changes in Government
Challenge: Get Out the Vote and Be an Informed Voter
Details: John Lewis left us the challenge by saying “The right to vote is precious and almost sacred, and one of the most precious of our democracy. Today we must be vigilant in protecting that blessing.” He wanted young people (and older people) to continue his life’s mission.
- Listen to the New York Times op-ed John Lewis wrote to be printed the day of his funeral.
- Be sure your family members are registered with current addresses and get absentee ballots. Follow instructions at Maryland Board of Elections website: www.elections.maryland.gov.
- Encourage 3 (or more) younger people to register (they need to be 18 by election day) and get absentee ballots.
- Ask 3 neighbors or friends if they are registered. If they don’t have a computer, offer to help them register and get absentee ballot form.
- Know what or who you are voting for. Printed LWV Voters’ Guides with candidates’ views on issues will be available in September. Or go to www.VOTE411.org for the same information as well as election information on registration and absentee ballots.
- If you are willing to be an election judge at one of the 360 MD vote centers, contact Board of Elections. In Baltimore County, call 410-887-5700. You can also go to the MD State Board of Elections website https://elections.maryland.gov/get_involved/index.html and find out how to volunteer to be an election judge, poll watcher, or to help register voters.
- FYI. As of 2016 in MD anyone convicted of a felony who has completed serving a court-ordered sentence of imprisonment is eligible to register to vote. DON’T DELAY! The USPS has slowed down, so beat the rush.
Theme: Amplifying Minority Voices
Challenge: Seek out new perspectivesDetails: Explore minority voices expressing their lived truth in our society.
- Norma Johnson poem video: A Poem for My White Friends: I Didn’t Tell You. https://youtu.be/3UVIgjuovt8 (7 minutes)
- ExploreBlack Recording Artists:
George Benson Freddie Cole
- Explore the works of Black American poets. The following resource provides poems and commentary for poets who wrote in the 18th-21st centuries. Poets.org “12 Poets to Read for Black History Month.”
- For science fiction fans: There are not many Black American voices writing science fiction, but their ranks have grown in recent years. If you’re looking for some authors to explore, you can find a list of 11 of them on this site.
- For students and educators, participate in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s “Reading Through the Galleries” summer reading challenge.
- Explore Black-American visual artists. The National Gallery of Art website includes images and information on several works by African American artists featured at the Gallery. The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world, with more than 2,000 works by more than 200 African American artists. While the museum is still closed to COVID-19, you can view many of the works of art on their website.
- From Privilege to Progress is a useful website, especially the info on Speaking Up Against Racism-Responding to Everyday Bigotry (Southern Poverty Law Center).
- Buy books, choose TV shows and movies, and opt for toys for your kids, relatives and friends that show people from different races, religions, countries and that teachreal American history.
- Seek out a diverse group of friends for yourself and your family through school, church, volunteer groups, workplace colleagues, etc. This is a long-term process. Practice real friendship and intimacy by listening when POC talk about their experiences and their perspectives — they’re speaking about their pain. Expect a few bumps along the way as their trust grows and they feel open to share when you have messed up in a conversation or overall attitude. These friendships will enrich your life and the life of your family
Theme: Educate yourself on topics of Diversity and Inclusion
Challenge: Learn about White Privilege
Details: As defined in the book “So You Want to Talk About Race,” “Privilege, in the social justice context, is an advantage or set of advantages that you have that others do not. These privileges are not due 100 percent to your efforts (although your hard work may indeed have helped), and the benefits of these privileges are disproportionately large or at least partially undeserved when compared to what the privilege is for.” Let’s “pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing and may in fact be contributing to those struggles.”
- Learn about how blacks experience life in America, read this article: Mom of biracial child lists the things she had to unlearn and learn after marrying a Black man.
- Do you have white friends who say; ‘I don’t pay any attention to the news’? Such behavior is a clear sign ot white privilege. Read John Pavlovitz’s article as he uncovers this in one of his friends: The White Privilege of Ignoring the News https://johnpavlovitz.com/2020/06/23/the-white-privilege-of-ignoring-the-news/
- Concerned about the prospect of children returning to school? Read Dr. Shayla R. Griffin’s article about equity and social justice in our schools: Some Students Should Go to School, Most Should Stay Home.
- NPR story (5 minute listen) “’Pandemic Pods’ Raise Concerns About Equity” https://www.npr.org/2020/07/28/896334963/pandemic-pods-raise-concerns-about-equity
- Watch the on-line PBS series, “What I hear When you Say.” This series explores how words can both unite and divide us depending on our own perspective, experience, and interpretation. Each episode covers a different phrase or term that challenges what we think we know about race, class, gender, and identity. Each segment is 6-7 minutes in length.
- Watch “The Eye of the Storm” (1970 documentary) which documents educator Jane Elliott’s controversial exercise to help elementary students understand racism (25 minutes). Follow it up with the PBS Frontline episode “A Class Divided” which revisits Jane Elliott and her students 30 years later (53 minutes).
Theme: Learn About Current Issues Around Racial Injustice
Challenge: Explore how COVID-19 has highlighted racial biases, inequities, and racism in the US
Details: The current COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed inequities and biases in healthcare, education, and the workplace, particularly for Black and Hispanic populations. It’s also sparked violence against members of the Asian community due to racially charged descriptions of the virus. These inequities and biases were not caused by COVID-19, but give us an even clearer view of where and how we need to address the issues highlighted.
- Listen to the NPR story “Americans Want To Go Back To Normal, But ‘Normal’ Is What Got Us Here” https://www.npr.org/2020/08/04/898918006/americans-want-to-go-back-to-normal-bu t-normal-is-what-got-us-here (The audio is 11 minutes long)
- Read the article, “What white Americans can learn about racism from the coronavirus” https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/08/what-white-americans-can-learn- about-racism-coronavirus/
- Read the Business Insider article “White conservatives like Rush Limbaugh believe white privilege doesn’t exist. But the coronavirus pandemic shows the painful divide between white and black Americans.” https://www.businessinsider.com/white-privilege-real-look-at-coronavirus-impact-on-b lack-america-2020-6
- Read the Time article, “’I Will Not Stand Silent.’ 10 Asian Americans Reflect on Racism During the Pandemic and the Need for Equality” https://time.com/5858649/racism-coronavirus/
- “Systemic Racism Makes Covid-19 Much More Deadly For African-Americans”
- Watch the Aspen Institute forum, “American Racism Through the Lens of COVID-19”https://www.aspeninstitute.org/videos/american-racism-through-the-lens-of-covid-19/
(This video is 43 minutes long)
Theme: Advocate For Change in Your Community and Workplace
Challenge: L earn About and Advocate for How Race and Racism are Addressed and Taught in Schools
Details: How schools discuss race and racism in their curriculums and how they address those topics in their student body, staff, and policies can have a tremendous impact on the success of students. How those issues are addressed can vary widely between states and school districts. Understand what your local school is doing and advocate for policies and curriculum that address systemic racism in the classroom.
1. Research how your local schools address issues of race, racism, diversity, and inclusion. School district websites are a good place to start looking:
Anne Arundel County
Prince Georges County
- Read (https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2013/is-my-school-racist) to explore how racial bias and inequity may be showing up in your local schools.
- Watch the video, “Race in Education with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfArryQMIv4) Dr. Tatum is the author of the book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race.” In this conversation with Carol Jenkins, Dr. Tatum points out the importance of conversation with children on race and references a time when her son was in school and another child asked him if he was black from drinking chocolate milk. She believes that many are reluctant to talk about issues of race, and that we must begin to consider the psychological effects of racial identity development. (This video is 29 minutes long)
- Learn how history is represented differently in school textbooks across the country (even books from the same publisher). The New York Times does a side by side comparison of textbooks that illustrates how state politics shapes what students learn (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/12/us/texas-vs-california-history-textbo oks.html)
- If you want to understand what’s wrong with our public schools, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: white parents. Listen to this five-part series from Serial Productions, a New York Times Company. Hosted by Chana Joffe-Walt: https://art19.com/shows/nice-white-parents. Each episode is about 1 hour long.
Theme: Learn about the history of race in the US
Challenge: Read and view historical events of racial injustice that were either glossed over or never taught in schools.
Details: The history of racial injustice has impacted and continues to impact the lives of Black Americans.
- In 1964, after the passage of the Civil Rights Bill, Martin Luther King told Lyndon Johnson that a voting rights act needed to be passed. Johnson told King that with the recent passage of the Civil Rights Act he would not be able to muster the votes necessary to pass a bill. He told King, “make me do it”. Thus began the voting rights marches in 1965. The most famous is the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, which became known as Bloody Sunday because it ended in state troopers beating nonviolent protesters as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The march was led by Congressman John Lewis, who at the time was the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He nearly died after being beaten the “Teaching Tolerance” website’s article, “Is My School Racist?” in the head by an Alabama State Trooper using a night stick. PBS revisits the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in a 3-minute video. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/03/05/391041989/the-racist-history-be hind-the-iconic-selma-bridge President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965.
- Juneteenth, what is it and why should Americans honor it? Watch this 7-minute video by University of Oklahoma historian and African American Studies professor, Karlos K. Hill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FX-Iisvrj8Juneteenth commemorates the effective end of slavery in the United States. Short for “June Nineteenth” marks the day when federal troops arrivedin Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox CourtHouse two months earlier in Virginia, but slavery had remained relatively unaffected in Texas, until U.S. General Gordon Granger stood on Texas soil and read General Orders No. 3, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
- The Tulsa Race Massacre is believed to be the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. The bloody 1921 outbreak in Tulsa has continued to haunt Oklahomans. During the course of 18 terrible hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921, more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Greenwood community otherwise known as “Black Wallstreet” were destroyed. It is estimated that 300 black Americans died during this event. And then the coverup began. Watch this 9-minute video explain what occurred. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-ItsPBTFO0 Tulsa was not an anomaly. There were massacres in Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia. This link gives a brief overview of each. https://www.bet.com/news/national/2019/12/17/not-just-tulsa–five-other-race-massac res-that-devastated-black.html
- The Green Book a s it is most often called became an invaluable resource to black people living in and traveling through America. It catalogued Black-owned businesses around the country, directing motorists to safe establishments such as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gas stations, recreation sites and more. Imagine planning a trip in your own country under such conditions. Watch a 23-minute video by WMAR on the history of The Green Book Then and Now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbaITfKYptA
Theme: Share What You’ve Learned
Challenge: Be a Voice to your community for the information and perspectives you have experienced.
Details: Share the information and perspectives you are finding on your journey as you study and advocate for POC. Your circle of influence respects your voice.
- More and more stories of POC encountering racism are being documented and shared through social media — whether it’s at a hotel, with the police, in a coffee shop, at a school, etc. When you see such a post, call the organization, company, or institution involved to tell them how upset you are. Then share the post along with the institution’s contact information, spreading the word about what happened and encouraging others to contact the institution as well. Whether the company initiated the event or failed to protect a POC during an onslaught by a third party, and they need to hear from us and change their policies.
- When people ask, “Why aren’t you talking about ‘black-on-black crime’?” and other myths about BLM, let Francesca Ramsey help you with those talking points. Many of the current books out also address that and other deflecting issues.
- Talk to the white people you know who aren’t clearly upset by white supremacy. Use “I” statements and “I care” messages (“I care about [issue] because …). They need to know you see a problem. Call them out, and call them in. As a start, ask them to watch these videos to hear first hand accounts of what our black brothers and sisters live.
- As you find resources during this challenge that you find particularly useful or create “Ah ha!” moments, share them with family and friends in conversations or via social media. Talk about how and why that information affected you personally. Take this on as an ongoing information campaign – the issue will not be quickly settled or it would have been already.
- Consider writing a “Letter to the Editor” sharing what you’ve learned and/or expressing your concerns and solutions for combating systemic racism. Use the links below to find out how to submit letters to the editor:Baltimore Sun Washington Post Washington Times Capital Gazette
Theme: Contribute to Minority Serving Organizations
Challenge: Check out organizations on a national or state level working for systemic change. Join or support organizations you become passionate about.
- Research the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP, ACLU, Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Campaign Zero (works to end police brutality), Color of Change (addressing racial disparities in government) or National Cares Mentoring Movement (provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college)
- Support organizations focused on anti-white supremacy work such as your local Black Lives Matter Chapter, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, the Southern Poverty Law Center, United Negro College Fund, Black Youth Project 100, The Sentencing Project, Families against Mandatory Minimums, A New Way of Life, and Dream Defenders.
- Donate to groups that are working to put women of color into elected office, to get out the vote, and to restore voting rights to disenfranchised voters.
Theme: Join Up
Challenge: Consider Participating in the Dismantling Racism Subcommittee
Details: The work of dismantling racism is ongoing and goes far beyond our 30 day challenge. If you are motivated to continue this work, to continue to educate yourself, to seek out ways that CPC and our congregation can partner with others in the community dedicated to this work, please consider joining the Dismantling Racism subcommittee of CPC’s Peace and Justice Committee. We normally meet monthly, though there may be more frequent meetings as we plan for events (like the 30 Day Challenge and “So you Want to Talk About Race” book discussion.) You do not need to be a member of CPC to join our group.
If you’re interested in joining or just finding out more about the subcommittee, please contact one of our committee members such as Jeff Bolognese (email@example.com), Tracy Lantz (firstname.lastname@example.org) , Vickie Lord (email@example.com), or Nancy and Bill Henderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) . Participating in the work of this subcommittee could mean joining us, volunteering to help plan upcoming events, or even just getting on our email distribution list. We encourage you to participate in any way that you’re comfortable with (and maybe encourage you to stretch at least a bit out of that comfort zone!). Whatever your participation in continuing this work looks like is fine, just as long as you do commit to continue our collective duty to dismantle racism!
Thanks for participating in the 30 day challenge!