Nadine Godin-NassaneyA column sponsored by the ARAOMC Committee

I have been advocating for marginalized individuals since I was a child. I always spoke up for those with less perceived power and privilege, hoping to make their lives better. When it came time to choose a major in college I finally settled on social work and have continued my advocacy for oppressed and marginalized children and families. I never harbored intentional prejudices against people who were different than me and I felt that I was doing all I could to make our society a more equitable and just place to live in. In February 2009, I accompanied Jill McAllister to a meeting with ERAC/Ce (Eliminiating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality) to discuss bringing a 6 hour introductory systemic anti-racism workshop to People’s Church. With the help of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation we brought ERAC/Ce to People’s in March 2009. Thirty people attended.

As part of the workshop, we all wrote down next steps we would take to help ourselves grow as antiracists. I chose to go to the 2 ½ day workshop entitled “Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism” which was hosted by ERAC/Ce and facilitated by their national partner Crossroads Antiracism Training and Organizing. At that workshop I found out how racism has been legislated in our country and how I unknowingly participate in racism due to my racialized identity. I have been socialized to believe that white is the norm/standard for how everyone should be.

I now feel that my work in antiracism is with myself and other white people. I work every day to be aware of the ways that I “fit into” my white privilege and how I can consciously change the way I act to live into a white antiracist identity. I also talk with my white friends and family about how racism dehumanizes us all. I try to interrupt racism within the institutions that I engage with. People’s Church is one of these places. I now feel like there is much I can do to interrupt racism in my life and see this work as a lifelong journey.

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