Don’t take it so personally!

THINKING ABOUT RACE (May 2011)  – Don’t take it so personally!

There is a tendency among white Friends, when talking about race, to “take it personally” and to point out the ways in which one, as an individual, is not “racist.”  Yet the larger problem of racism within this country has to do with institutionalized or systemic racism.  We are all affected by it, and we can all work to change it.  If our “first motion” is individual denial and resistance, then we won’t get far.  If we look at it more broadly, we may feel more empowered.  Peggy McIntosh, a professor at Wellesley College in Mass., and the author of the widely circulated 1989 article, “Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege,” talks about this in a 2009 article, “White Privilege:  An Account to Spend.” It was published by the St. Paul Foundation through its anti-racism initiative, “Facing Race: We’re all in this together.”  Here is one brief quote:  “I find that working against racism mends the social fabric, heals the soul, and reduces fear, isolation and alienation.  It is not merely altruistic—it makes things better for everyone.”

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But what are the fears of liberals?

The passages below are from an article by Robert Jensen in Yes! Magazine, Spring 2010.  Jensen is the author of The Heart of Whiteness:  Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (2005), and, in 2010, of All My Bones Shake:  Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice. He concludes:  “I can rest comfortably in the privileges that come with being white, or I can struggle to be fully human.  But I can’t do both.  Though the work is difficult, Continue reading

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Building an Anti-Racist Identity

THINKING ABOUT RACE (June 2011)  – Building an anti-racist identity

Many religious organizations have begun building “an anti-racist identity.”  Are Friends ready to take this on in earnest?  Here is one story – it is from Pax Christi USA (PCUSA).  In 1992 PCUSA surveyed its membership and found that it was 97% white.  This did not reflect the membership of Continue reading

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“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander

THINKING ABOUT RACE (April 2011)   According to a carefully researched book by Michelle Alexander, the rates of use and traffic in illegal drugs are roughly equal among white, blacks and Latinos.  Yet by 2004, three-fourths of all persons imprisoned in the US for drug offenses were blacks or Latinos. Since, in most jurisdictions, it is legal Continue reading

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