October 28, 2017
Recognizing that our community’s lack of racial diversity is a wound in our community, the Relationship and Association Commission is inviting the CSJ Community to recognize and reflect on how our set patterns create boundaries for some people to engage and join us.
Recently, Signe Harriday, a racial justice presenter/facilitator/actor, lead the CSJ Community in an opportunity to learn and recognize racism and open our hearts to more inclusive ways of relating.
In the opening ritual we sang, “Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.” As prompted, participants added words like “more understanding in my heart”, “to have more room for people in my heart.” After the song, Signe invited us to name all that was in the room that we don’t want, e.g. racism, fear, inequality, privilege, mistrust, white supremacy, closed- mindedness…. To each of these the assembly responded, “We do not submit to you!” Following this we named all that is in the room that we want to welcome, e.g., “love, peace, wisdom, acceptance, hope, appreciation, honesty, action for justice….” To each of these the assembly responded, “We welcome you!”
Structured conversations invited participants to begin the slow work of recognizing and understanding the impact of racism on people of color and how white people hold privilege. Participants answered and considered the questions: “Who am I?” “Who do people think that I am?” “What power and privilege do I have in the roles that I play in my life?” “How do I locate myself in anti-racism work?” “How do I move myself from being an “ally” to being an “accomplice” in the struggle against racism?”
When some participants expressed desires to act for racial justice, Signe challenged us to “slow down and feel the discomfort.” Signe said this as a caution, especially to white people. Rushing blindly into action may end up being more harmful than helpful in the long run to the cause of greater racial justice. She suggested that white people need to avoid feeling or acting like ‘saviors’. For white people some of the work is to learn and recognize systems that privilege and oppress. Signe gave the example of using a compass. “Sometimes you need to sit with the compass for a while as it wiggles and settles on the cardinal directions. Can you sit in the discomfort of not knowing what to do?”
In light of these learnings, we also looked at ways racism influences situations and systems of housing and access/funding for public education.
Community Assemblies are wonderful opportunities for sisters, consociates, and partners in mission to gather with people who share with us a passion for justice and spirituality of loving God and neighbor without distinction—to continue the mission of Jesus in the world today.
October 28th, 2017