Yes, I am writing this Musing from Singapore. Came back to celebrate my eldest brother 80th birthday. The last few years he has some heath issues. I told my second sister recently that I don’t know which one of us will go first. I am the second youngest in the family of six. I am a realist.
40 Days of Engagement on Anti-racism
Not long after I arrived in MUC, I was told that there are racists in the congregation. I wasn’t surprised. I have experienced racism in the church and wider community. A few months ago, I had to call out someone who made racist comments. To my surprised the person didn’t push back by saying it wasn’t her/his intentions. After a long pause the person said, “I guess only white people are racists.” And I said to the person, “I never said that. I am a racist too but hopefully I am a recovering racist.” And hence I continue to educate myself and participate in “Anti-racism” trainings. By the way this is my second year I am involved in the ’40 Days of Engagement on Anti-racism’ program organised by the United Church of Canada.
Racism exists on an individual level but more importantly, racism exists in the institutions and structures of our society and in the church.
We need to remember that systemic racism cannot exist without individual racist actions and racist people. Racism and privilege are systemic, but they are also something in which we choose, whether intentionally or by omission, to participate. As the phrase goes: ‘When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’
According to Angela Y. Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.”
Proclaiming that you are “not racist” does not require anyone to consider how they should fight racism. To be anti-racist, on the other hand, means developing a philosophy that directly confronts that of a racist.
You know there is no middle ground in fighting racism. We either support systems and policies that promote racial inequality – with enthusiasm, or by our own passivity – or we actively fight them. So, the term ‘not racist’ not only has no meaning, but it also connotes that there is this sort of in-between safe space sideline that a person can be on when there is no neutrality. Truth is that we’re either all being racist or anti-racist.
Become an anti-racist:
- Acknowledge the factual history of this country and the generational trauma inflicted on the indigenous people.
- Educate yourself and be intentional in adopting anti-racist practices
- Use your privilege to advance change & equity in our region.
- Prepare to call out racist comments and behaviours when we see them.
Isaiah 58 reminds us of the importance of choice in how we worship God. Verse 6 asks: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
Two questions for us to reflect on:
- How are you yoked to systems of privilege and racial discrimination?
- How might you unbind yourself and be more faithful to what God asks of you?
Hope you register?
We are leaving the Gospel of Luke soon and enter the Gospel of Matthew. Hence the 360 degrees Matthew Workshop we have organised for you on Saturday, 19th November from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm, to better understand the Gospel of Matthew. Recently I come across an article by Rev Dr John Squire, ‘Leaving Luke… Meeting Matthew’. It’s worth reading. I have his permission to share with you.
… in the meantime, blessed be.
Rev Swee Ann Koh