Anti-racist, Multicultural Commitment

In 2007, the Council of Cherokee Park United Church created an Antiracism Team. The Antiracism Team provides leadership for Cherokee Park United Church in the transformational work of becoming an antiracist, multicultural community of faith. This ministry incorporates the on-going work of the church and its mission with the wider community. The Team works to build the process of becoming an antiracist, multiracial church on sound scriptural and sociological grounds.

The Team sees antiracism work as confessional – acknowledging that racism is a violation of covenant and the relationship humans owe each other in their interdependence. Racism denies another’s humanity, worth, and godliness. Racism is a violation of justice.  At Cherokee Park United Church we seek to move beyond a superficial understanding of racism through continued study, reflection, and dialogue on social, personal, institutional, and systemic racism. We strive to understand and undermine a racial framework that privileges white identity over the many identities of People of Color.

Antiracism Learning Resources
Because antiracism learning as a field is evolving and deepening our learning is ongoing.  We continue making available to Antiracism Team members, leaders of the church and the congregation as a whole resources that further our own understanding of colonialism, white privilege and systemic racism.  Several of those resources along with recommended books can be found here.

Cherokee Park United’s commitment to antiracism and multicultural work includes the following:

  • Partnership with and fiscal agent for the Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles (ASDIC).
  • Sponsor of an Antiracism Workshop that has grown to become an annual event, called the Overcoming Racism Conference.  The Conference is now organized by a collaboration call FREC (Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative).  CPUC remains one of the sponsors and FREC’s Fiscal Agent.
  • Partnership with Communidades Construyendo Esperanza (Communities Building Hope or CCE).  In partnership with CCE the congregation works on immigration justice and has developed a supportive relationship with villages in Ostuma, El Salvador.
  • With CCE hold an annual bilingual worship service in memory of Monsignor Romero.
  •  Supportive relationship with the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community, including hosting the closing feast for the annual POW WOW (wacipi).
  • With Dakota leaders held two Truth Telling Forums.
  • Provide meals for the annual Dakota Commemorative March, which retraces the steps of the 1,700 women, children and men who were force marched to Fort Snelling.
  • Worship services include an annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. with Grace Community UCC, creative engagement – such as a puppet production of the children’s book Boycott Blues celebrating Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, music and art – creating a welcoming place for people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Developing a common antiracism vocabulary, with periodic moments for interpretation during worship.  See Definitions below.
  • Regular art exhibits with a specific outreach to Communities of Color.

Antiracism Study – Dialogue Circle (ASDIC)

Fostering wholeness
Spinning webs of relationship
Untangling knots of oppression

 The Antiracism Study – Dialogue Circle ( ASDIC, “azdek”) is a community of twelve to fifteen people who gather as a “Circle” to create supportive relationship as they explore the ways their social behaviors and Identities have been formed in the context of “race” and the practices of racism in the United States.  The relationships are built around honest and deep dialogue. Circle participants, representing a range of faith and humanistic perspectives come from many walks of life. Participants include teachers, students, congregational leaders, activists, artists, attorneys, civic leaders, college and university faculty, and school administrators.

Binding them together as a Circle are values about the importance of relationship, the desire to eliminate personal and institutional racism; and a willingness to engage in an extended dialogue process that leads to an action plan.

It promotes an understanding that study and dialogue can contribute to self-understanding, create empathy for ourselves and others in our complicity and injury, and empower us to take responsibility for personal and social transformation.

This work takes place as the ASDIC collaborates to:

  • Organize and host antiracism study dialogue circles (ASDIC)
  • Create and sustain partnerships and networks
  • Create, identify, and provide resources
  • Develop antiracism curriculum
  • Provision, enable and empower participants
  • Train new facilitators
  • Build capacity for ongoing antiracist transformation within institutions and communities
  • Reconcile through social justice

Also visit www.ASDICircle.org and visit www.facebook.com/asdiccircle

The Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (FREC) is a loose collective of organizations and individuals committed to overcoming racism in Minnesota. We have organized annual Overcoming Racism conferences in the Twin Cities since 2009.  In recent years the Conference has been held at the Metropolitan State University with over 400 in attendance.  In 2012, we also organized a year-long film and discussion series, “Refocus the Frame: Turning a Lens on Race and Racism.”

Mission:   To work collaboratively and democratically toward just, equitable, antiracist communities.

Members:

  • Members, who may be organizations and their representatives or unaffiliated individuals, are committed to working against racism, systemic racism, white privilege/supremacy, and colonialism.
  • Meetings are open to all interested parties.  Parties may become members after attending three meetings and taking on tasks for the organization, serving on a committee, and/or providing financial or other support, in a manner consistent with the organization’s mission and norms.  Members commit themselves to the mission, norms, and guidelines included in this document.

Also visit http://www.overcomingracism.org/

Definitions

Colonialism is a political-economic phenomenon whereby various European nations and the United States invaded, conquered, settled, and exploited large areas of the world. The purposes of colonialism included economic exploitation of the colony’s natural resources, creation of new markets for the colonizer, and extension of the colonizer’s way of life beyond its national borders.  (www.answers.com/topic/colonialism) Typical aspects of colonialism include: racial and cultural inequality between ruling and subject people, political and legal domination by the imperial power, and exploitation of the subject people. (www.answers.com/topic/colonization)

Colonization occurs when one people is conquered by another people through destroying and/or weakening basic social structures in the conquered culture and replacing them with those of the conquering culture.  Colonization robs the colonized of most of their land and resources.  Loss of the land base means loss of the foundation for their traditional social, economic and cultural ways of life.  Colonization robs the colonized of their cultural inheritance. Colonizers view and treat the colonized as lesser human beings; this leads to stigmatization, shame, and sense of worthlessness. (Bill Mussell, member of Skwah First Nation, “Cultural Paths for Decolonization.” http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/publications/aboriginal-people/bck/2)

Decolonization is the undoing of colonialism. It can be understood politically (political independence, regaining control over land or territories) and culturally (undoing of pernicious colonial effects, especially psychological injury.)

White Privilege An invisible package of unearned assets given to white people based on race. “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group” Peggy McIntosh:  White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White Racial Frame Since its development in the 17th century, this racial frame has been a “master frame,” a dominant framing that provides a generic meaning system for the racialized society that became the United States. The white racial frame provides the vantage point from which European American oppressors have long viewed North American society. In this racial framing, whites have combined racial stereotypes (the cognitive aspect), metaphors and interpretive concepts (the deeper cognitive aspect), images (the visual aspect), emotions (feelings), and inclinations to discriminatory action. This frame buttresses, and grows out of the material reality of racial oppression. The complex of racial hierarchy, material oppression, and the rationalizing white racial frame constitute what I term systemic racism. This white racial frame includes much more than the usual concepts we use in the study of racial matters, such as stereotyping and prejudice or discrimination. (Feagin, Joe R. 2006. Systemic Racism: A Theory of Oppression. New York, NY: Routledge)

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