Mapping Prejudice

Dismantling White Supremacy Culture Resource of the Month

Rev. Phillip Lund, Congregational Life Consultant

This month’s Dismantling White Supremacy Resource comes from Faith & Leadership, a learning resource from Leadership Education at Duke University. A recent article on their website, “Crowdsourcing data projects help faith congregations get involved in creating justice,” features one of our MidAmerica congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka, Minnesota. The article details the work UUCM has done to “help expose the racist practice of land covenants, which drove segregation in Minneapolis, neighboring suburbs and many other U.S. cities.”

 This example shows a racial land covenant used in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Mapping Prejudice project

This example shows a racial land covenant used in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of the Mapping Prejudice project.

According to Rev. Lisa Friedman, UUCM “went through a process of learning as a congregation as part of our commitment to racial justice and looking at what it means to repair past harm and how housing impacts so many other things, housing and other inequities. That learning has rippled out to the neighborhood, to the city and to a larger story. … If we want to be an inclusive, justice-oriented community, it is really important for us to take a stand and raise this awareness.”

The congregation has joined a “massive crowdsourcing data effort known as the Mapping Prejudice project,” an initiative by the University of Minnesota Libraries. The project is “visualizing the hidden histories of race and privilege” by showing “the spread of racially-restrictive deeds across Hennepin County during the first half of the twentieth century.” As the Faith & Leadership article states,

The participation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka in the Mapping Prejudice project is just one example of how churches and their members can contribute to developing data and learning from it. The process can help members and congregations understand their history, manage programs and services to meet changing needs, and take part in or learn from surveys about how their cohorts are responding to the pandemic and other issues.

Todd Nelson, the author of the article, closes with some useful “questions to consider” that could help your congregation find ways to expose the history of white supremacy in your community.

  • What projects are in your community that are helping uncover your community’s history?
  • Are there experts around you who could help you research your context?
  • What are some primarily online activities that you could encourage your community to take part in?
  • How have you attempted to understand the divisions of race, economics and class in your location?
  • Are there actions you could take, symbolic or otherwise, that acknowledge the history of the places you serve?