Take-Aways from Recent Meetings
10/18 – Our discussion continued about new things we’ve read, listened to, or watched and how we are being changed.
• Deborah McGurn and Frank Sadowski attended a girls’ soccer game and racial justice speak-out that was organized by the teams at Burlington and South Burlington High Schools and by UVM Athletes of Color. It was very moving.
• Ann Nauman continues her efforts to learn about and work with local police about the situations migrant workers in Vermont are facing and the hope that Richmond Police will choose not to cooperate with ICE.
• Sue Brooks said, “I’m not the person I was before – my consciousness is being raised and I can tell the difference.” She is especially paying attention to examples of systemic white privilege and realizing that those who benefit are those who need to change the systems. As an example, she told a story about a person who created band aids of diverse colors of “flesh” for a diverse people – rather than accepting that there is just one color that band aids should be.
• Barbara Jordan talked about her growing realization that racism exists in Vermont even though it is easy for many of us not to see it. She told a personal story about a grocery store situation faced by her bi-racial grandson. Racism is closer to home than she had thought. She was also disturbed by reports of a very racist Trump rally held recently in VT.
• Paul Jordan spoke about how little he knew about the Penobscot people in Maine where he grew up – their history and what they dealt with as the land was settled by others. “It’s more convenient for us to believe that native people are extinct.”
• Marjorie MacNeill spoke of being in a book study/discussion group at College Street Church in which people were willing to share their thoughts/feelings. She also spoke of the impulse of many to want to act for change – but also the importance of doing our own work of changing ourselves as we continue to learn more.
• Carol Jenkins spoke of the importance of sharing with others what she is learning from several books about racism. It is “taking action” to recommend what we are reading to others and to take part in serious discussions with those who are also learning.
9/20 – Our discussion expanded to include racial justice issues in Vermont. Marjorie reported meeting with the Burlington VIA Clergy Caucus and Mark Hughes of New Alpha Church and the Racial Justice Alliance to learn about the complex issue of Burlington police protests. Frank spoke about supporting Tabitha Moore, who heads the Vermont NAACP and was physically and verbally attacked. Read more about these issues in the ACT section below.
8/16 – Our third discussion began with Mary Beth talking about the concept of “tracking” that she learned in diversity training in the past. “What are you tracking?” the trainer would ask. “What are you seeing? What are you noticing?” An example of our increased awareness was Paul’s realization that we need more black nurses with whom patients who are “people of color” can relate and that it is difficult for black medical people to advance in their field.
7/19 – We continued our discussions and found new resources and opportunities to continue our understanding of racial justice. Knowing that many of us will be working to deepen our understanding and respond in active ways to this call for justice, we have updated this list of resources that folks at CCP have found helpful or would like to explore with others.
6/14 – Our discussions of racial justice began when many members of CCP met via Zoom to explore and discuss what we had been noticing and learning about racial justice following the killing of George Floyd and so many others. At this time, we surfaced resources for learning, deepening our knowledge and responding.
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson (John O. selected this as the fall discussion book and found especially “eye opening” the author’s description of daily indignities she and other people of color experience. Sue mentioned Oprah’s recommendation to give it as a Christmas gift.)
Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerroro (Ron, Joy, and Ann O. recommend)
Dear White America by Tim Wise (Valerie recommends)
The Hate U Give – VIA will host several discussions between October 11th and November 29th. For more information, contact Melissa at melissa(at)viavt(dot)org or 802.651.8889.
Separated: An American Tragedy by Jacob Soborof (Sue and Ann O. recommend)
Waking Up White by Debby Irving (Sue and Lorrie recommend)
White Fragility by Robin DeAngelo (Sue recommends. Sue invites others to read both books and join her for an online discussion.)
White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America by Margaret Hagerman (Valerie noted this book that addresses how little is taught to white kids beyond the basics of the MLK and Rosa Parks stories.)
America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis (Frank recommends)
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad (Frank is leading a discussion with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility)
My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem (Frank recommends)
Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? by Ibram X. Kendi
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (recommended by Virginia and Marjorie)
“On Witness and Despair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic” by Jesmyn Ward, in September’s Vanity Fair. (Ann O. recommends this powerful piece)
“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, in The Atlantic (Mary Beth plans to read this article and invites others to join her for a discussion.)
“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh. (recommended by Elinore “Black Men and Public Space” a December 1986 Harpers essay by Brent Staples now
available in other forms. (recommended by Elinore)
“13th” (TV documentary about racial history in this country). Consider getting a group of friends to watch and then discuss. (Sue and Marjorie recommend this movie and would be happy to be part of a discussion on this.)
“Just Mercy” available for free viewing this month from Warner Brothers on Amazon Prime.
( Watch now, discuss with Reel2 Real in the fall) “Birth of a Nation” 1915 D. W. Griffith film (YouTube)
“I am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin. Tom also recommends re-reading articles about the history of the 1960s racial justice actions/protests because there is much more to learn than we knew going through that time. Wikipedia has some excellent and informative articles.
“Racial Justice in Vermont: Three Black Perspectives” Three black leaders in Vermont, including Bishop Shannon MacVean-Brown of the Episcopal Church, discuss their experiences living and working in a largely white state. The program was recorded and can be accessed through the Worthen Library in South Hero, VT. (Ann Rathbone)
“When They See Us” (Ava DuVernay’s outstanding 4-part Netflix series on the falsely accused Central Park 5)
“Me2 Orchestra” Barbara recommends a 2017 documentary about the Me2 Orchestra and mental illness because she saw similar issues of access. The documentary was on PBS.
• “What I am Learning from my White Grandchildren: Truths About Race”
• “How Studying Privilege Systems Can Strengthen Compassion”
• “Let’s Get to the Root of Racial Injustice”
• “How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Towards Them”
• How We’re Priming Some Kids for College and Others for Prison
(Mary Beth plans to watch one Ted Talk/week and hopes to discuss this with others. Let her know if you’d like to watch and discuss one / week for the month of July.)
•“Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools” PBS documentary under an hour. (Elinore recommends)
• “Stone Ghosts in the South: Confederate Monuments and America’s Battle with
Itself” A 27-minute NBC News documentary that aims to help us understand hate, heritage, and the legacy of the Confederacy. (Elinore recommends)
• “Shelter in Place: Living in the Shadow of the Petrochemical Industry” a 45-minute documentary
“9066 to 9/11” focuses on the parallels between the post-September 11 treatment of Arab Americans and Muslims in this country with treatment of Japanese Americans after the start of World War II. (Elinore recommends)
• Take a virtual tour of the Underground Railroad at http://rokeby.org/ (Audrey recommends)
• Learn the difference between being a racial justice ally and a co-conspirator by listening to Bettina Love https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4844082/user-clip-ally-vs-conspirator-means-abolitionist-teacher (Audrey recommends)
Podcasts and Music
Caste – discussions with Oprah Winfrey and Isabel Wilkerson are available on Apple (Ann Rathbone)
• Krista Tippett interview with Rev. Otis Moss III on NPR which talks about how “black children have been robbed of their childhood” because of the need to teach them “how to get home safely” even at a young age as they are growing up. (John Steele)
• Only a Pawn in the Game by Bob Dylan. Tom listened to it recently and found it meaningful.
Your Body Is Being Used, CodeSwitch Podcast , NPR
• When Civility is Used as a Cudgel Against People of Color, CodeSwitch, NPR
• The Power of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Anger, CodeSwitch, NPR
• Opinion: My Father Stood for the National Anthem for the Same Reason Colin Kaepernick Sits, CodeSwitch, NPR
• Interview with Resmaa Menakem, from “On Being” podcasts, with Krista Tippett, https://onbeing.org/series/podcast/ . (Carol J. recommends this.)
Concert pianist Awadagin Pratt plays Bach’s Brandenberg Concerto and talks about his experience as an African-American man. (Virginia recommends)
• VBSR (Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility) held a conference on September 22nd and 80% of those attending signed up for workshops regarding racial justice issues in the workplace. The organization will be working with 12 local organizations on these concerns – spaces for such training filled quickly. The business community is taking recent racism/white privilege concerns seriously in VT. (Frank Sadowski)
Battery Park Protests/Racial Justice Alliance – In response to the ongoing Battery Park protests, Marjorie reported meeting with the Burlington VIA Clergy Caucus to speak with Mark Hughes of New Alpha Church and the Racial Justice Alliance in Burlington. He reported that several serious efforts for change regarding racial injustice are underway in Burlington but that the “movement building” effort to protest police behavior in Burlington is complex to resolve. VIA Clergy Caucus will meet with Rev. Debbie Ingram again on September 22nd and Frank will join.
• Support Tabitha Moore, head of Vermont NAACP, who was physically and verbally assaulted by a neighbor. Because she and her children no longer feel safe in their home, she needs help with moving expenses. Frank suggests supporting Tabitha by making a financial contribution through CCP and by joining the Rutland NAACP. Virginia echoes this support and added that she and Tabitha share a sisterhood because they are both graduates of Wells College.
• Valerie spoke about information she and other Winooski residents received from the school district concerning student, administration, and school board involvement as they all become aware of the student experiences of racism within the school setting. All are taking it seriously including much student involvement and discussion at school. She is impressed with the thoughtful and determined involvement of the students.
• Several people mentioned that we should be aware of President Trump’s efforts to shut down racial justice/white privilege education in schools, businesses, and organizations funded by the government.
• Visit the “Stopping Stones” in front of Ski Rack that commemorate the history of slavery in Vermont. Video of the commemoration may soon be available. (Sue)
Participate in the weekly Silent Vigil outside St. Paul’s each Sunday from 1-1:30 pm. Masks and social distancing are in practice. Bring a non-perishable food item.
• Virginia shared that Hunger Council reports food insecurity increases of 48%; these are also impacting many people of color. Need to provide greater support to existing programs that provide food for people/families suffering during this pandemic. The Vermont House has approved releasing Federal Government dollars to help Vermonters during this time but there are many competing requests. Virginia provided details so we could learn more about this and be in touch with our Representatives, Senators, and the Governor with our concerns.
• John O. identified 3 bills in the Legislature that are related to police issues. He encouraged us to speak up about H. 808 regarding police use of deadly force and noted an important bill about data collection. Debbie Ingram is working on a bill about law enforcement and record keeping when race is involved. (For more details, see Sophia’s email to CCP congregation 6/25/20.)
• Check out this excellent Anti-Racist Reading list by leading racism scholar, historian and author Ibram X. Kendi https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/books/review/antiracist-reading-list-ibram-x-kendi.html
• Sign the Faith in Action Declaration: Faith in Action White Faith Leaders’ Declaration
• Consult comprehensive resources on how to work for change. Two excellent resources are: Justice in June and 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice • Support black businesses. Find them on We Buy Black.
• Donate to organizations working for change. Two possibilities include: Southern Poverty Law Center and Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative
Join local organizations working for change. Ann Naumann is working in Richmond and Franklin County for Justice and Equity are two opportunities.
• Visit the Peace and Justice Center for resources (Frank recommends)
• Support our Post Office by speaking to your local carrier and contacting Rep. Peter Welch (Charlie recommends)
From the Faith and Work Space Initiative, via Frank, some resources that are centered around racial equality in the faith and work spaces:
o Check in on Your Black Employees Now by Tonya Russell
o The Invisible Burden of Being a Black Woman in the Workplace – Austin Channing Brown for the Theology of Work Project
o Race, Economics and Apologetics: Is There a Connection? by Luke Bobo
o Race and Work – Part of the Voca Center’s Resilience Webinar Series with Rasool Berry, Nena Ugwuomo, and Brian Jacks
o Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Presbyterian Church USA Resources/Faith-Based Resources
• The Matthew 25 effort of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is promoting/providing resources for a 21-day focus in July on racial justice issues and encouraging our congregations to join in. Marjorie participated in this course as did nearly 300 other people, including Elinore. All did the homework and listened to the Bible study and the lectures. Marjorie hopes that the videos of those presentations will be available to share with congregations.
• Poor People’s Campaign Call to Justice