By Nadine Godin-Nassaney
The current political climate has caused me constant stress due to the dismantling of rights of marginalized populations in our country. As a woman, I have followed the #MeToo movement and the Larry Nassar hearings. I started to believe that sexual assault victims, particularly women, finally had a voice. Then came the Kavanaugh hearing where a Supreme Court nominee was credibly accused of sexual assault and still was appointed to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the U.S. More recently, Betsy DeVos proposed changes to the way college campuses handle cases of sexual assault aiming to significantly enhance the rights of the accused and rolling back the Obama administration’s ruling that a “preponderance of evidence” was sufficient for colleges to move forward on such cases. I know many women who are victims of sexual assault and understand the long lasting effects of those assaults. The rights of women are being dismantled.
These events that effect women, have led me to think more deeply about how people of color have been living with the effects of systemic racism for centuries. For example, we had the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many states after the Civil War and protected the voting rights of people of color. Then in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the provision requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to seek pre-approval to change voting rules that could affect minorities. Now photo IDs are required and states are closing offices in neighborhoods where people of color register to vote. The rights of people of color are being dismantled.
These are examples of how new legislation can take away guaranteed rights and privileges of marginalized groups and ensure that little net gain is actually made. Since the founding of this country, the systems and institutions in the U.S. were set up to serve wealthy white men. Wikipedia defines white supremacy culture as “the racist belief that white people are superior to people of other races” and also as a system “that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical, or institutional domination by white people.”
We, as white people, can be well meaning, non-racist and supportive of people of color, yet our systems and institutions in the U.S. continue to support and serve white males and white supremacy culture. How can we interrupt this process that has been taking place since the founding of this country? What is white supremacy culture and how do we dismantle it? How does this relate to us as individuals and to People’s Church as an institution?
Please save the date for an ARAOMC Committee facilitated discussion on “What Is White Supremacy Culture?” This session will take place on Sunday, January 20, 2018 from 12:30-2:00 in Room 19. Please sign up on the clipboard in the foyer., and please indicate if childcare is needed.
Doing Our Own Work – Scholarships available
Doing Our Own Work is an antiracism seminar for white people created by Allies for Change. This meaningful program is returning to Kalamazoo in 2019. People’s people have participated in the past and had powerful experiences. The dates are February 22 and 23, March 22 and 23, and April 19 and 20. Scholarships are available for two People’s people to participate. Scholarship recipients should use People’s Church as one of their spheres of influence for the program and bring their learning to the congregation in some way (through a class, a service, a committee or in some other way). If you are interested in a scholarship, please contact Rev. Rachel by December 31. For more information about the program, visit http://www.alliesforchange.org/doow-kalamazoo-2019.html