I enjoy learning about history, especially stories that show how people lived in a previous time. I could try to put myself in someone else’s place and time, to try to discern how that would feel. My mom used to say I would “root for the underdog.” I was a teenager in the 1960s, and was shocked and fascinated to learn stories about black history which had never been included in the history books I read at school. When student protesters in colleges around the country demanded that this black history be taught in the schools, my dad said, “What history?” I thought it was strange that he was under the impression that black people had no history that merited study. Now I understand why he said that. There was so much that needed to be “’brought into the light.”
The more I learned about the history of racism, the more I tried not to be a racist, but I found myself stumbling all the time. I felt frustrated and guilty.
When I attended the one-day ERAC/CE training at People’s Church in 2009, I realized that the problem was a lot bigger than my personal racism—it was a systemic and institutional situation, developed over hundreds of years. I wanted to do more to become anti-racist, but it seemed like an overwhelming task. I was stunned into action within the past few years, by the murders of Trayvon Martin in Florida, and of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As the murders of unarmed young black men by whites, often police officers, showed up in the news more often, I was motivated to join the new Anti-Racism Anti-Oppression and Multi-Culturalism Committee at People’s Church, and participate in the 2 ½ day ERACE/CE workshop “Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism.” Now I feel like I have more of the tools to be able to work towards an antiracist transformation, systemically, at People’s Church. Even though there is a long way to go, I have hope for the future now.