Racial Justice and Reconciliation: August 2020 Vestry Papers

August 5, 2020

Dear Friends,

Here we are in August, still in the middle of a pandemic and still uncertain about what lies ahead. We are anxious about re-opening, we’re scared for our children, our teachers, our healthcare workers, our families – the list goes on and on. And while there is clearly so much that occupies our minds and hearts, we cannot press pause on our pursuit for racial justice. Whatever our future holds, we must be quite clear that we will not return to a place of injustice and hatred. We must not return to systems that benefit one and oppress another. We are all longing for some kind of ‘return’ but let us work to ensure that our return is to a place that upholds the dignity, celebrates the life and gives every opportunity to communities of color.

There is so much work to be done, and I know how weary we all are, dear friends. And so I encourage us to resist, rest and reset. Our journey towards a just future for people of color has only just begun. Remember this is a marathon (not a sprint), so we need to train our minds, nourish ourselves and recuperate so we can keep going. In this issue, we bring you powerful voices sharing their deeply personal stories on racial justice, healing and reconciliation. As these writers open up their hearts and lives to us, let us honor them by thoughtfully listening, learning and then taking action.

Asian-Americans have long been hailed as a ‘model-minority’ in the United States, but that certainly hasn’t shielded them from suffering incredibly hateful and violent acts of racism. In In This Moment, Heidi J. Kim shares her experience with racism in this country and her commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. This article is available in English and Spanish.

What can white persons do to actively participate in the movement to dismantle racism? In The Messy Business of Being White, Anna Olson shares the story her own childhood through the lens of race, and then lists helpful practices that white people can implement in their lives today to make a difference. This article is available in English and Spanish.

While this year has stolen much from many of us, it has also pulled the curtain back on the broken systems and exploitative cultures we have lived with for years. In Unprecedented Times, Isaiah ‘Shaneequa’ Brokenleg questions our desire to ‘return to normal’ and sheds light on how this is an opportunity to course-correct and build a society based on love and justice for and by all. This article is available in English and Spanish.

Racism exists in every space we inhabit, even in our beloved Episcopal Church. In More Than A Black Thing, Kim L. Coleman takes us through her experience of becoming and being seen as a black Episcopal priest in a ‘white’ church, explaining why inclusion doesn’t necessarily mean acceptance, and the role of the Union of Black Episcopalians in this important work.

How is a young, black woman perceived in our Church and world? In Triple Threat, Adialyn Milien asks us to think about what it truly means to ‘welcome all’ and explains how our comfort and desire to maintain status quo is in the way of creating and provoking lasting change. This article is available in English and Spanish.

What tools can we offer our communities to help open their hearts and minds to honest dialogue on racial justice? In Antiracism as a Developmental Effort, Alissa Newton and Arienne Davison tell us about their work in the Intercultural Development Continuum and how it prepares individuals for understanding how people perceive their own cultures, those of others and how to respond to the differences in positive ways.

The Vital Practices team is pleased to share that our Racial Justice, Healing and Reconciliation resource page is now live here. On it you will find four sections – Read, Watch, Listen and Act, and multiple resources for groups, individuals, children and youth at varying levels of learning and comfort. Our goal is to collect and curate these resources on an ongoing basis, so there are always fresh voices and ideas to learn from. This resource collection is one part of ECF’s long-term commitment to racial justice, and we will share other ways we are continuing this important work in the coming weeks. If you have a relevant resource to share, please send it to editor@episcopalfoundation.org

To learn more about ECF and our programs, please visit our website.

Faithfully,

Charis Bhagianathan
Editor, ECFVP