Diversity Task Force
In June 2020, the Session commissioned a Wellshire Diversity Task Force. The Task Force purpose statement is below, find the entire document here.
God loves diversity. God delights in justice. Jesus reminds us to love all of God’s children. Therefore, we commit ourselves to exploring and exposing injustice, beginning with our positions of privilege and complicity, in the Church and in our society, and commit to ongoing learning and action. We challenge ourselves and each other to recognize the existence of white privilege in church and society, and to dismantle structural racism.
For more antiracism resources provided by the PC(USA) visit: https://facing-racism.pcusa.org/
- Building Bridges, leadership training for teens and diversity training for all ages
- InterFaith Alliance, supporting racial equity, economic justice, and religious freedom
- Casa de Paz, uniting immigrant families and offering transitional support for detainees
- Korey Wise Innocence Project, defending those falsely accused of crimes
Race – a social construct, not a biological fact. Historically, race and racial categorizations were created to support the view that some groups of people are superior and some are inferior. Race designations and the way racial categorizations are enforced have changed over time. Source: adapted from Racial Equity Tools Glossary
Racism – This definition has changed over time from referring to individual prejudice to now refer to the systemic and structural ways that our society is white-centered, white-dominant, and white-identified. It is an ongoing structure of society that gives advantage to whites at the expense of people of other racial groups. Racism is ingrained in almost every aspect of our culture and society. It affects us all – positively or negatively, directly or indirectly – on a daily basis. This definition of racism is structural and systemic. It does not apply to individuals and it is not concerned with personal feelings or attitudes. Source: PC(USA) Facing Racism Guide
Source: Racial Equity Tools Glossary
Diversity – The Bible insistently reveals that God loves diversity and justice. This is seen in the wide variety of creation in which God delights. It is heard in the words of the prophets, who reject oppression and commend justice as true worship. It is embodied in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, who resists the power of empire and values all persons, regardless of status, as children of God.
Source: PC (USA) Facing Racism – Churchwide Antiracism Policy – Vision Statement.
Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender—the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used—but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.
Source: Racial Equity Tools Glossary.
Equality – ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, and believing that no one should have poorer life chances because of where, what or whom they were born, what they believe, or whether they have a disability. Equality recognizes that historically, certain groups of people with particular characteristics (race, disability, sex and sexuality) have experienced discrimination.
Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Inclusion – the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. Source: Building Bridges; UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been in the news lately and may be hard to understand just what it is. Developed by scholars in the 1970’s and 80’s in response to their concern about a lack of racial progress following the civil rights movements of the 60’s. CRT is a way of thinking about American history through the lens of racism. Central tenets of CRT are that race is a socially constructed concept and that racism is systemic in this nation’s institutions and they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. Click here for more on understanding CRT.
White Privilege – The unearned, mostly unacknowledged social advantage white people have over other racial groups simply because they are white. Source: adapted from Racial Equity Tools Glossary.
Individual Racism includes the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate racism. This can be deliberately done, or a person may act to perpetuate or support racism without knowing that they are doing so. For example, telling a racist joke, avoiding persons of color whom you do not know personally (like crossing the street to avoid such an encounter), believing in the inherent superiority of whites over other groups, or simply accepting things as they are and that they cannot be changed.
SOURCE: Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).
Interpersonal Racism – Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals as the name implies. It is when we bring our private beliefs into our interactions with others as in public expressions of racial prejudice, hate, bias, and bigotry between individuals. SOURCE: Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence and Terry Keleher (2004).
Internalized Racism – The situation that occurs in a racist system when a racial group oppressed by racism supports the supremacy and dominance of the dominating group by maintaining or participating in the set of attitudes, behaviors, social structures, and ideologies that undergird the dominating group’s power.
SOURCE and for more information: Donna Bivens, Internalized Racism: A Definition (Women’s Theological Center, 1995).
Institutional Racism – The ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.
• Government policies that explicitly restricted the ability of people to get loans to buy or improve their homes in neighborhoods with high concentrations of African Americans (also known as “red-lining”).
• City sanitation department policies that concentrate trash transfer stations and other environmental hazards disproportionately in communities of color.
SOURCE and for more information: Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).
Cultural racism refers to representations, messages and stories conveying the idea that behaviors and values associated with white people or “whiteness” are automatically “better” or more “normal” than those associated with other racially defined groups. Cultural racism shows up in advertising, movies, history books, definitions of patriotism, and in policies and laws. Cultural racism is also a powerful force in maintaining systems of internalized supremacy and internalized racism. It does that by influencing collective beliefs about what constitutes appropriate behavior, what is seen as beautiful, and the value placed on various forms of expression. All of these cultural norms and values in the U.S. have explicitly or implicitly racialized ideals and assumptions (for example, what “nude” means as a color, which facial features and body types are considered beautiful, which child-rearing practices are considered appropriate.)
Racist Policies – any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between or among racial groups. Policies are written and unwritten laws, rules, procedures, processes, regulations, and guidelines that govern people. There is no such thing as a nonracist or race-neutral policy. Every policy in every institution in every community in every nation is producing or sustaining either racial inequity or equity between racial groups. Racist policies are also expressed through other terms such as “structural racism” or “systemic racism”. Racism itself is institutional, structural, and systemic.
SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.
Related Resources: Laws and Policies
Structural Racism – The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional, and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics, and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.
For example, we can see structural racism in the many institutional, cultural, and structural factors that contribute to lower life expectancy for African American and Native American men, compared to white men. These include higher exposure to environmental toxins, dangerous jobs and unhealthy housing stock, higher exposure to and more lethal consequences for reacting to violence, stress, and racism, lower rates of health care coverage, access, and quality of care, and systematic refusal by the nation to fix these things.
1. Chronic Disparity: Strong and Pervasive Evidence of Racial Inequalities by Keith Lawrence, Aspen Institute on Community Change, and Terry Keleher, Applied Research Center, for the Race and Public Policy Conference (2004).
2. Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building by Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens, and Barbara Major (2005).
1. The term white, referring to people, was created by Virginia slave owners and colonial rules in the 17th century. It replaced terms like Christian and Englishman to distinguish European colonists from Africans and indigenous peoples. European colonial powers established whiteness as a legal concept after Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, during which indentured servants of European and African descent had united against the colonial elite. The legal distinction of white separated the servant class on the basis of skin color and continental origin. The creation of ‘whiteness’ meant giving privileges to some, while denying them to others with the justification of biological and social inferiority.
2. Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of color. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate, and goes beyond naming specific privileges (McIntosh, 1988). Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined, and elevated through their racialization and the individual and collective consciousness formed within it … Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes and practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times and on myriad levels. These processes and practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences purported to be commonly shared by all but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people.
2. PBS, “Race: The Power of an Illusion” (2018–2019 relaunch of 2003 series).
3. Robin DiAngelo, “White Fragility” (International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 2011).
Colonization can be defined as some form of invasion, dispossession and subjugation of a people. The invasion need not be military; it can begin—or continue—as geographical intrusion in the form of agricultural, urban or industrial encroachments. The result of such incursion is the dispossession of vast amounts of lands from the original inhabitants. This is often legalized after the fact. The long-term result of such massive dispossession is institutionalized inequality. The colonizer/colonized relationship is by nature an unequal one that benefits the colonizer at the expense of the colonized.
Ongoing and legacy colonialism impact power relations in most of the world today. For example, white supremacy as a philosophy was developed largely to justify European colonial exploitation of the Global South (including enslaving African peoples, extracting resources from much of Asia and Latin America, and enshrining cultural norms of whiteness as desirable both in colonizing and colonizer nations).
SOURCE: Emma LaRocque, PhD, “Colonization and Racism,” (Aboriginal Perspectives). Also see Racism and Colonialism, edited by Robert Ross (1982), and Andrea Smith, “Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy” (Racial Formation in the Twenty-First Century, 2012).
Bigotry – Intolerant prejudice that glorifies one’s own group and denigrates members of other groups.
SOURCE: National Conference for Community and Justice, St. Louis Region. Unpublished handout used in the Dismantling Racism Institute program.
Implicit biases, also known as unconscious or hidden bias, are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess.
SOURCE: Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University.
Accountability – the ways in which individuals and communities hold themselves to their goals and actions, and acknowledge the values and groups to which they are responsible.
To be accountable, one must be visible, with a transparent agenda and process.. Accountability demands commitment. Accountability also requires some sense of urgency and becoming a true stakeholder in the outcome. Accountability can be externally imposed (legal or organizational requirements), or internally applied (moral, relational, faith-based, or recognized as some combination of the two) on a continuum from the institutional and organizational level to the individual level. From a relational point of view, accountability is not always doing it right. Sometimes it’s really about what happens after it’s done wrong.
SOURCE: Accountability and White Anti-Racist Organizing: Stories from Our Work, Bonnie Berman Cushing with Lila Cabbil, Margery Freeman, Jeff Hitchcock, and Kimberly Richards (2010).
Racial Justice – The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures. Source: Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).
Ethnicity – a social construct that divides people into smaller social groups based on characteristics such as shared sense of group membership, values, behavioral patterns, language, political and economic interests, history, and ancestral geographical base.
Examples of different ethnic groups are: Cape Verdean, Haitian, African American (Black); Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese (Asian); Cherokee, Mohawk, Navaho (Native American); Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican (Latino); Polish, Irish, and Swedish (White).
SOURCE: Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook, edited by Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin, Routledge, 1997.
Microagression – a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority) also : behavior or speech that is characterized by such comments or actions.
Source: Microaggression.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microaggression.
21 Day Racial Equity Challenge
You are invited to join us and churches around the nation in a 21-day racial equity challenge. Through exposure to a variety of voices in videos, podcasts, and articles, we can listen, learn and grow, and be equipped to help make real change.
Thank you to Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte for adapting and sharing these valuable resources.
Pick one of the resources listed below every day for 21 days.
Diversify your understanding by doing some of each.
Track and reflect by using the planning tool below.
Share your reflections at the end of the challenge.
Pray for the places you are challenged and for those you are learning about whose lives may be different than yours.
Resources for Children
Want to get your children involved? Check here for great age appropriate resources!
Resources for Adults
This is Us, Dr. Eddie Glaude explains why blaming current racial tensions on Donald Trump misses the point. (video, 3 minutes)
Confronting ‘intergroup anxiety’: Can you try too hard to be fair? Explores why we may get tongue tied and blunder when we encounter people from groups unfamiliar to us. (video, 5 minutes)
CBS News Analysis: 50 states, 50 different ways of teaching America’s past, Ibram X. Kendi reviews current history curriculum production and use across the U.S. (video, 5 minutes)
The Disturbing History of the Suburbs, An “Adam Ruins Everything” episode that quickly and humorously educates how redlining came to be. (video, 6 minutes)
What Kind of Asian Are You? Humorous two minute YouTube video that illustrates the utter silliness of the way many white Americans interact with Asian Americans. (video, 2 minutes)
Birth of a White Nation, Keynote speech by legal scholar Jacqueline Battalora, offers a blow-by-blow description of the moment the idea of, and word for, “white” people entered U.S. legal code. (video, 36 minutes)
13th, Netflix documentary by Ava DuVernay about the connection between US Slavery and the present day mass incarceration system. (video, 1 hour, 40 minutes)
How to overcome our biases? Walk boldly toward them, TED Talk by Vernā Myers, encourages work vigorously to counter balance bias by connecting with and learning about and from the groups we fear. (video, 19 minutes)
The danger of a single story, TED Talk by Chimamanda Adiche, offers insight to the phenomenon of using small bits of information to imagine who a person is. (video, 18 minutes)
How to deconstruct racism, one headline at a time, TED Talk by Baratunde Thurston that explores patterns revealing our racist framing, language, and behaviors. (video, 10 minutes)
Indigenous People React to Indigenous Representation in Film And TV, Conversation with a diverse range of Indigenous people by FBE about media depictions of Indigenous people, Columbus day, and Indigenous identity. (video, 15 minutes)
What Being Hispanic and Latinx Means in the United States, Fernanda Ponce shares what she’s learning about the misunderstanding and related mistreatment of the incredibly diverse ethnic category people in U.S. call Hispanic. (video, 12 minutes)
Tyler Merrit Project: Before You Call (video, 3 minutes)
Code Switch, hosted by journalists Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji
Black Like Me, host Dr. Alex Gee
Scene on Radio – Seeing White Series, host John Biewen and collaborator Chenjerai Kumanyika
TED Radio Hour – Mary Bassett: How Does Racism Affect Your Health? host Guy Raz speaks with Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
Here & Now – Without Slavery, Would The U.S. Be The Leading Economic Power? host Jeremy Hobson and author Edward Baptist
NPR Morning Edition – You Cannot Divorce Race From Immigration journalist Rachel Martin talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas
Pod Save the People, Activism. Social Justice. Culture. Politics. On Pod Save the People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson
21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear on a Daily Basis, by Heben Nigatu
Climbing the White Escalator, by Betsy Leondar-Wright
Guide to Allyship, Created by Amélie Lamont
It’s Not Just the South: Here’s How Everyone Can Resist White Supremacy, by Sarah van Gelder
Making America White Again, by Toni Morrison
Understanding the Racial Wealth Gap, by Amy Traub, Laura Sullivan, Tatjana Mescheded, & Tom Shapiro
What White Children Need to Know About Race, by Ali MIchael and Elenora Bartoli
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh
My President Was Black, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Caught Up In God, by Willie James Jennings
Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?, by Ibram X Kendi
This video shows us the importance of paying attention, and how much more we see when we are looking for particular things around us.
Use each question below separately as one day’s challenge.
- Who is and is not represented in ads?
- What are the last five books you read? What is the racial mix of the authors?
- What is the racial mix of the main characters in your favorite TV shows? Movies?
- Who is filling what kinds of jobs/social roles in your world? Can you correlate any of this to racial identity?