Dismantling Racism Implementation Team promotes and leads an integrated commitment to antiracist/anti‐oppression work at People’s Church. They provide opportunities and experiences for church members to learn and explore their racial identity. They also apply anti‐racist, anti‐oppression, multicultural knowledge and principles to transform our congregation and to strive for justice and equality for all.
Formally known as the Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Multi-Cultural (ARAOMC) Committee, in September 2013 the team facilitated a book discussion of last year’s UUA read “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. The committee also provided a training on “microaggressions” for the membership committee and church greeters.
In October 2013 a new chalice circle entitled “Beloved Conversations”, which focused on increasing awareness of White identity and privilege, was started with 8 participants. It continued to meet once a month through the end of the church year.
In December 2013 we began reaching out to other UU churches in the Mid-America region to see if any of their members would be interested in attending a 6-hour “Introduction to Systemic Racism” training. This effort is ongoing with an October 11, 2014 date set. The training will be held from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at People’s Church. We hope to have 40 participants.
In March 2014 ARAOMC provided training on “microaggressions” for church members.
We also planned and presented a Sunday service and brought in Lillie Wolff, co-director of ERAC/Ce, to give a talk on systemic racism. This coincided with the opening of an exhibit entitled “Working Together to Achieve Justice Through the Underground Railroad in Southwest Michigan,” that ran for 6 weeks on the art wall.
In April & May 2014 ARAOMC Committee members showed the 3 segments of the video entitled “Race: The Power of an Illusion” followed by discussion. Approximately 40 people attended at least one of the videos.
History of Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression Multi-Culturalism Committee (ARAOMC)
Through a Kalamazoo Racial and Economic Justice initiative, funded by the ARCUS Foundation, in which Rev. Jill McAllister, then minister, participated in, we became engaged in local anti-racism work. In May 2009 we invited a local anti-racism organization, ERAC/CE (Eliminating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality), a regional partner of Crossroads Organizing and Training, to present an introduction to the Crossroads anti-racism training at People’s. More than 30 members attended that workshop. Of those 30, ten attended the full 2.5 day ERAC/CE/Crossroads training over the next year. During the following church year we hosted several anti-racism videos with discussions and led several tours and discussions of the American Anthropological Associations’ Race Exhibit which was housed in the Kalamazoo Valley Museum. We have obtained grant funding to bring in speakers such as Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed and Rev. Dr. William Gardiner to People’s and to Kalamazoo, to present a weekend workshops on congregational anti-racism work, in addition to speaking in the Western Michigan University symposium “Race Matters.” Since 2009 these grants have also helped to fully or partially fund approximately 25 staff and church members’ attendance at anti-racism training. Out of that work, several of our trained members have formed the People’s ARAOMC Committee, which has sponsored adult education classes using the “Examining Our Whiteness” and “Beloved Conversations” curriculum, and is now engaged in planning for long-term congregational anti-racism transformation. This process will include training for all members of the Board of Trustees, and key church leaders, continuing book readings and movie viewings with discussions among members of the congregation, hosting and facilitating UUA and other anti-racism curriculum, and integration of ARAOMC themes into the Sunday Services and into Religious Education offerings.