Race of Races

Sparked by the tragedy in Charlottesville and all the discourse that's followed since, we've been thinking quite a bit about race... 

We've been struck once again by the fact that we use the term "race" to talk about skin color and the various assumptions, judgements, and cultural constructs it embodies. As you certainly know, we use the same term to define a competition in which the fastest and strongest will claim victory--supremacy over others--and all others will be defeated.

The latter definition, perhaps unsurprisingly, appears to have entrenched itself in the former.


Historically, and still today, it seems hatred and violence have elevated those who claim victory in the race of the races (or classes or genders or sexualities or abilities). Wouldn't love and compassion render all victorious rather than the majority of people on our humble earth defeated?

We echo the call of Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie in saying that we believe "Tomorrow Belongs To We." He writes that it might be made so "if and only if we rise up with courage and compassion to claim the many sides of truth, to honor human dignity, to come from love, not fear, and fight for freedom with everything we got."

We're reminded, also, by the Race Forward Response to Violence in Charlottesville: A Call for a Multiracial Movement to Resist the Rise of What Nationalism that racial fear and hatred is a form of violence so deeply embedded in our history and institutions that "[a] strong multiracial movement is the only solution for dismantling structural racism."

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So how do we cultivate such a movement in meaningful ways?

For us both, that requires understanding our white privilege just as Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, has called us to do here. It also involves sharing and acting upon practical resources and inspirations for white people who want to fight against racial injustice and transform their own internal biases as is happening in this collective forum.  

Author Brian McLaren also offers a few ideas in his reflection, "What I Saw at Charlottesville," most notably: "All of us, especially people of faith, need to proclaim that white supremacy and white privilege and all other forms of racism and injustice must indeed be replaced with something better – the beloved community where all are welcome, all are safe, and all are free."

As we contemplate the alignment of our actions with our values, we also share writer and activist Janet Mock's conviction that each and every one of you who struggles daily under the weight of racial oppression has God/Higher-power/Universe/Life-granted permission "to prioritize your well-being just as you prioritize your movement work. Dismantling these systems will take lifetimes, and none of us can be useful if we are depleted." Resiliency is critical to resistance. 

In offering you this compilation of articles this week, our hope is that each offers a unique framework for contemplating the fight against white supremacy and that, together, they serve to dissolve the barriers to transforming ourselves and inspiring deep-rooted social change.