An invitation to take on five commitments for racial justice

As white Christian leaders, we’re concerned. We wrote a letter to white Christians, naming how, by many of us voting for, and continuing to support, President Trump and his policies, we contribute to harm against people of color. Recently, people of color have been attacked, and one killed, while white people shouted, “Get out of my country.”

As one response to a divided and anxious nation, we invite white Christians, and their communities of faith, to pledge themselves to take on five commitments for racial justice. Each is designed to help us in this work of repentance and repair in relationship to our sisters and brothers of color. Each has with it two concrete things you can do to start, along with suggested resources to help.

1. Learn about our nation’s racial history:

Read Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen. One of the definitive works critiquing the prevailing narratives of U.S. history as both deceptive and boring because they avoid the challenges of race, while providing a spirited counter-narrative. It is engaging precisely because it directly confronts the racialized dynamics of U.S. history.
Read The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. One of the most important books of this generation dealing with race in U.S. society. It is an unflinching and rigorous consideration of how the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a mean of racial control and subjugation.

2. Break out of white self-segregation:

Intentionally seek out regular social experiences in which you are a racial minority: restaurants, cultural events, political meetings, sports leagues, church services, or volunteer opportunities.
Use businesses owned by people of color whenever possible for your goods and services; commit to shopping in neighborhoods other than your own if that is necessary for you to do this.

3. Educate myself about the hopes, fears, and desires of people of color today:

Include a range of voices addressing race in U.S. politics, economics, popular culture, and civil society in your social media networks. You can start with following these individuals and outlets.
Regularly seek out substantive works of art and popular culture that focus on the lives and experiences of people of color (e.g., watch “Black-ish” or “Jane the Virgin” on TV, see the films Moonlight, Fences, 13th.).

4. Engage and challenge racism in white social circles:

Review, digest, and utilize the Southern Poverty Law Center’s resources on “Responding to Everyday Bigotry” in responding to racist jokes, or stereotypes in a variety of settings.
Become an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement in white circles, engaging white people who have misconceptions or outright resistance about the movement and its goals and methods. Here’s a helpful resource to get you started: “The Black Lives Matter Movement Explained in Under 10 Minutes.”

5. Prepare for public action:

Sign the “5 Commitments for White Christians” pledge and invite your social networks to do the same by posting the link, indicating you have signed, and urging your friends and followers to do the same.
Connect with the nearest chapter of Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ), or a similar organizing and advocacy group directly or through social media to learn more about how white people can organize for racial justice.

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