“We can harness the spiritual power of our complicated past to transform and heal our future as a nation. ”
In my almost fifteen years of anti-racism work, particularly with congregations and judicatories but also with nonprofits, clubs, and student groups, I'm aware of the urgency of our task. I'm also aware of the need for a personal grounding and something transcendent that is related to hope in order to stay sustained in the work.
On the edges of the secular justice movements and on the progressive edge of the activist church, people of color are beginning to navigate what it means to do anti-racism on behalf of their ancestors. On the rare occasion I invite faith communities to address what they learned from those before them that equips them for the work of anti-racism, it is uncomfortable for white people and empowering for many people of color. I believe this work can be empowering to all people, and that it is also complicated and needs to be navigated with an eye to that complexity for all people.
Through workshops, research, and interviews, I will expand my own anti-racism trainings and those I do with my denomination and with activists to interweave into the model the following: (a) space for us to learn about and reckon with the role of our biological, movement and spiritual ancestors in either contributing to or dismantling white supremacy, (b) learning about the spiritual practices that gave our and one another's spiritual ancestors the strength to resist white supremacy, and (c) space to build out rituals that allow us to honor some ancestors, lean on some, and perhaps even redeem or reject others.