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Learning to Love

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By Paige K Slighter

On MLK Sunday, we kicked off our first ever Race and Peace Learn-a-thon. Our goal was to reach a total of 500 learning hours by the end of February– but you guys blew the top off that goal by doubling it in just a few weeks. We thought we’d check in with a few of you to see what you’re learning.

Eric (MN) said, “The Learn-a-thon is an interesting and tangible way to get everyone involved with the Sunday morning teachings. The ‘choose your own adventure’ style homework is a novel way to get families and friends reading, watching, discussing and wrestling with this immense topic that impacts us all. When I was young, I was taught to be ‘colorblind.’ I now see how detrimental that was to my understanding of race in America.”

Amy (MN) is implementing our recommended Children’s Resources into her homeschooling for her boys for the rest of this school session. She said, “The hours we have used so far have been simply reading together and discussing. We also are working to find ways to support and give back.”

George (MN) said, “Gradually, my spiritual consciousness has grown into a new awareness of inequity. I am committed to learning more about the history of social, economic and racial injustice that underlays the society in which I have thrived. This initiative inspired me to delve deeper by reading and viewing materials that expand my perspective and reveal the truth behind some of the fiction. Mostly I have learned that we as God’s people have to help change this system through our efforts to realize all God’s children are equal in his eyes.”

Jennifer (MN) said, “The books and movies have opened my eyes, and the more I can share this new perspective, the better. I feel awful that it has taken this long for me to see, but I’m so grateful for a church that wants to make me better and the world a better place for everyone. I look forward to learning more and being loving as I grow.”

Sherrie (MN) said, “The Learn-a-thon has been an answer to what my heart and mind have been seeking for years. I’ve been challenged to not look away anymore and own up to my white privilege. These resources have given me the confidence to be part of the conversation in turning ugly systems inside out, exposing them for what they are. I want to be a voice for change towards a more loving, compassionate Jesus-following world.”

Since many of you are reading something, it only fits to have you “turn-in” your book reports. 🤓

Summary: Professional counselor Rowe exposes the symptoms of racial trauma to lead readers to a place of freedom from the past and new life for the future. In each chapter, she includes an interview with a person of color to explore how we experience and resolve racial trauma.

“This was a difficult read as a privileged white woman, but it was good because it forced me to open my eyes to see perspectives far different from my own and acknowledge that there is a role for us all to play to change the narrative. I knew but didn’t truly understand that the same hurt, pain and suffering that people of color have experienced for generations permeates their everyday lives. I still have so much more to learn about how racism is impacting our country and the individuals therein.” – Karyn, MN

Summary: This 1861 autobiography chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs, whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North.

“As a person of white descent, I want to understand the patterns of racial injustice that have harmed our brothers and sisters so that I may actively join in their efforts to break those patterns. Reading about Jacobs’ experiences is rather difficult at times. Her pain is recorded so vividly that it can become overwhelming. However, in these moments, I try to remember the importance of understanding the depth of injustice. By studying the history of racial relations in our country, I slowly gain a better perspective of the present.” – Diana, NC

As a podrishioner, Diana has enjoyed connecting with Woodland through the Learn-a-thon. She said, “Sometimes it is hard to feel a sense of community with the rest of the church body, but the Learn-a-thon has been a great way to engage in meaningful activities with the rest of the church.”

Summary: McCaulley calls the church to a dynamic theological engagement with Scripture, in which Christians of diverse backgrounds dialogue with their social location as well as the cultures of others.

“Reading While Black opened my eyes to a perspective that I’ve never seen before. After reading the Exodus story dozens of times, I was startled to read an interpretation from a black theologian. The meaning had a much more personal impact on Esau than it ever had on me in light of our backgrounds and current social position. Reading about the Exodus will never be the same. Thankfully.” – John, MN

Summary: The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.

“The New Jim Crow is packed full of powerful statistics, stories and quotes about how the war on drugs and the criminal justice system is keeping a disproportionate amount of African American men locked up. Once labeled as felons, they are second class citizens, unable to apply for certain jobs or housing. All in all, I’ve learned that I don’t know what I don’t know. As a white person, I’ve taken for granted the safety and opportunities I have simply because of my race and privilege. I believe the only way to create change is for people to educate themselves and challenge their own beliefs, perspectives and assumptions. ” – Kayla, MN

Summary: Acho takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many White Americans are afraid to ask—yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever. With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.”

“It’s like Acho climbed in my head and has methodically and passionately explained so many things I’ve wondered. His well-researched and historically-influenced perspective has been so enlightening. What I love most about this book is his recap at the end of each chapter, with practical information on what I can do to be an ally. I realize that my experience of this county and my understanding of our history, and the influences that have created the country we have today has been inaccurate and skewed. It’s been a painful journey for me, but worth it to get to the truth and to learn how to be an ally.” – Sharon, OR

Summary: In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader Howard Thurman demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised.

“Thurman’s grandmother drilled in him something her slave minister taught her in secret meetings: ‘You are God’s children.’ We need to work for social justice and dignity; without it, we don’t have that profound sense of personal worth to enter the fight without fear and anger getting in the way of the work. I am amazed at how much work was done by Black people long before the civil rights movement in the ‘60s. Fannie Lou Hamer summed it up best, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’ I am making choices to keep myself awake and aware.” – Bonnie, MN

Thank you to everyone for your passionate participation in learning. Together we can work towards God’s beloved community here on earth.

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