"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." (John Lewis)
The murder of George Floyd, which the whole world saw while he pleaded for his life, has unleashed 400 years of frustration and suffering by not only our black brothers and sisters, but also of all who are not of the dominant culture – read white people of European descent.
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:17)
That day on the streets of Minneapolis has become the proverbial tipping point in race relations in the United States and indeed around the world. There has been anger, there has been violence, there has been denial. And it continues still.
“Do not be wise in words be wise in deeds.” (Jewish proverb)
But we have also perhaps been presented with the best opportunity in our lifetimes to begin to correct the wrongs that have created barriers to equality and to fulfill the U.S. Declaration of Independence’s words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
"O you who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice, as witnesses before God, even if it be against yourselves or your parents and relatives." (Qur’an 4:135)
The time has come to imbue those words in the Declaration of Independence with action, and to that end, all members of our community, whatever their background, religious beliefs or any other circumstance are invited to join with others in educating themselves about the reality of systemic racism, what that means and how it is imbedded in our culture and government, then assessing what we as citizens of this country can do to turn the tide.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” (Maya Angelou)
Members of the First Presbyterian Church of Morgantown invite you to join with others from around the community in this effort to help to create a truly anti-racist society. (While we at First Presbyterian are engaged in this discussion because we believe our faith demands it, we hope all people, regardless of their faith tradition, if any, will join in this endeavor.)
"We should not think of the next year or two as the start of a decade or more of incremental progress. We should think of the next year or two as all the time we have, and a last chance to get it right." (Jennifer A. Richeson, The Atlantic)
We are currently holding monthly meetings to determine what other initiatives are under way in our community, and will eventually decide where our efforts are best concentrated.
For more information, to find out how to participate or to join our online Google Group, send an email to DismantlingRacismTogether@gmail.com.
Dismantling Racism Together:
A Community Response to Systemic Racism
(note date change)
Our next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 21st and the topic will be “The 1619 Project,” begun by The New York Times Magazine in August, 2019, 400 years after the first ship carrying enslaved people arrived from Africa.
You can read the first article at this link. The project has been a catalyst for discussion around critical race theory and has become a flashpoint for conservatives, prompting many states to consider, and in some cases adopt, bans on teaching of “divisive” topics in schools, e.g. “Idaho Governor Signs Bill To Ban Critical Race Theory In Schools.”
At least three such bills were introduced in the West Virginia Legislature this past session. Although they did not make it out of committee, they are still on those agendas and may well continue into the next session. In preparation, please review the project and/or listen to the five-part podcast at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/podcasts/1619-podcast.html.
In July, we’ll hear from folks involved in that issue in Monongalia County.
The June meeting will also begin our regularly scheduled meeting time: the third Monday of the month. So, in addition to June 21, please save the time on your calendars for July 19, August 16, September 20, October 18, November 15 and December 20 (tentative).
In August, the topic will be statewide initiatives and possible legislation around antiracism education.
Dismantling Racism Together is open to those who want to work to lessen and eventually eliminate institutional racism in our society.
We seek to EDUCATE and MOTIVATE citizens and organizations so they can collaborate to ADVOCATE for change.
The Planning Team
John A. Bolt, Margaret Bolt, Susan Eason, Donna Gerber, George Lilley, Mavis Grant-Lilley, The Rev. Zac Morton, Rebecca Rodd, Judy Werner, The Rev. Jenny Williams
In a joint summit with Community Coalition for Social Justice, we began creating a list of actionable items for us and our community to work on going forward.
Our local Morgantown/Kingwood NAACP is working on many of these initiatives, and those interested are encouraged to join with the efforts of our local NAACP - WEBSITE
JANUARY- J. Spenser Darden, Director of Diversity Initiatives and Community Engagement for West Virginia University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lead us into a deeper understanding and awareness of how ingrained racism is in “the system” at our January Meeting.
A Video from our October meeting with our local NAACP,
sharing about their work for local police reform.
Dominion Post Article from our October Meeting: ARTICLE
Dominion Post Article from our September Meeting: ARTICLE
DECOLONIZING THEOLOGY RESOURCE GUIDE:
Facing the history of racism and white supremacy in our society, and in our faith tradition, is necessary work if we are going to dismantle racism together. Our church is committed to this decolonizing work. This work involves educating ourselves with perspectives and teachers that come from oppressed communities and people groups. Below you will find a list of resources to help you get started: