OVERCOMING RACISM  

This has been a difficult week for our country regarding race relations. In Minneapolis George Floyd, a black man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck. In New York, a white woman falsely accused a black man of harming her after asking her to put her dog on a leash. Racial division is harmful to all of us. Working with families who are homeless the discrepancy between the percentage of minorities who experience homelessness versus white people is striking. According to End Homelessness, 40% of the homeless population are African American even though only 13% of the total US population is black. At Family Promise in 2019 the percentage of individuals served by ethnicity were:

  • 41% Caucasian
  • 38% African American
  • 11% Hispanic/Latino
  • 10% Bi-racial

Personally, these events have required me to reflect on my own blind spots. The reality is I am a white Catholic Christian man. For good or bad they are the lens through which I have experienced the world. Prejudice is making a premature or uninformed judgement about a person who is different than us. I am not a black man so therefore I cannot fully understand what it is like to be black. I am not a Presbyterian or a woman so I cannot fully understand what it means to be that denomination or gender. The proper response to racism is not to become defensive and claim we are not racist, but to admit that we have blind spots and take steps to correct them. Failing to do so is what cements our un-examined presumptions. This is the path that allows pre-judging to grow into racism.

How do we move forward? Preventing your own prejudices to fester perhaps try the following:

 

  • Human Dignity

Promote the dignity of every human being. Universally all religions recognize that human dignity must be respected. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This is the basis of the human social contract. Without it, chaos ensues.

  • Expand Your Network

Do you interact regularly with people who are different than you? If not, why not?  The best way to end prejudice is to get to know one another listen and learn.

  • Mentality of Abundance

Living life with a mentality of abundance means that we can make room for others without feeling threatened that we will lose our identity and values.

  • Humility

Humility recognizes our place in the world and in relationship to one another. It also realizes that we do not have it all figured out and need to learn from one another.

  • Get Involved

It is no surprise that our volunteers say they get more than they give. Volunteering is a way to eliminate the prejudgements that can exist between people of different ethnicities, faith traditions, genders, ages, etc.

 

This is the foundation of Family Promise. It brings the community together, in all our religious, ethnic, socio-economic diversity, to make the world a better place.

 

Doing self-reflection about our own prejudice, making corrections, and rejecting racism is an absolute must.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

-Martin Luther King

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