nadineAs some of you may already know, I started on my antiracism journey in 2009 as a member of People’s Church when Rev. Jill McAllister approached me to be part of a panel of congregants who would talk about our ideas on race as part of a Sunday service. I gladly accepted her invitation, but struggled with what to say. After preparing my brief talk for that service, I realized that I had much work to do in examining what I knew about racism and how I fit into the world as a white person. I decided   to actively pursue knowledge about race and racism. One of my most powerful learning experiences was attending a 2 ½ day antiracism training entitled “Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism.” At that training I gained extensive knowledge about how racism was built into the foundation of the United States. I found myself becoming angry at myself and other white people and wondered how I could help dismantle racism rather be sit back and allow it to continue.

I recently finished reading a book entitled Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk about Race and How to Do It by Shelly Tochluk. This was another powerful experience for me. In this book I read about how to “witness.” Tochluk defines witnessing as a verb requiring action. She also stresses the need to become “response-able.”  I need to develop my ability to actively witness the racism I see in the world when I am in social situations, at work, and while interacting with the groups and institutions in which I participate.

To develop my ability to witness as described by Shelly Tochluk, I need to 1) continue to build my antiracism knowledge including examining my white privilege, 2) build skills: a set of tools I can use when witnessing either subtle or overt racism, 3) build capacity to make use of my skills in the face of my emotions which takes courage and practice, and finally 4) create a community to support me as I practice these skills even when I feel confused, disappointed or frustrated.

If you want to help end the racism that exists in our world, but aren’t sure what do to, I encourage you to read this book. It is easy to read and has some very practical steps to take in, helping make a difference. Look for this book in the church library soon.

In community, Nadine Godin-Nassaney

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