The Journey Toward Wholeness Path to Anti-Racism was born out of the premise that racism and its effects are embedded in all social institutions as well as in us and won’t change without deliberate engagement in analysis and action.
There are at least three ways of doing an analysis of racism.
- Anti-bias or prejudice reduction
- Diversity or multiculturalism
- Anti-racism based on a power analysis of systemic oppression
If we diagnose racism as personal prejudice then we create models of change to reduce prejudice. If we think that racism continues because whites don’t understand or appreciate people of color, then we develop programs to foster diversity and promote multiculturalism. And if we perceive that racism is caused by the systemic misuse of power then we do a power analysis.
We acknowledge that many Unitarian Universalists have been working to reduce their personal prejudices and develop multicultural competency. Those are essential efforts but they do not address the systemic misuse of power and the imbalances of power in our institutions. With the Journey Toward Wholeness we hope to do a more effective job of dealing with systemic racism and the significance of white power and privilege in our congregations.
To deal more effectively with systemic racism it is important to have an accurate diagnosis of racism and to use terms that have clearly understood meanings in our common analysis. The JTW analysis features:
- The definition: Racism is prejudice plus the systemic misuse of power.
- How racism operates at the personal, institutional, and cultural levels.
- A wall of history to learn about the historical context of race and racism in our nation, in our denomination, in the local church, and community.
- A power analysis of the dynamics of racism so that we realize that racism not only has devastating consequences for people of color but it also provides undue privilege and power for white people in our society.
- Understanding the power of racism to shape our personal, social, and spiritual identities.
Agreeing on a common language concerning racism is a challenging task. People need time to struggle with core concepts in order for that to happen. This process can be especially challenging for those of us who are white. It calls us to again and again do the work of reflection.
As Marjorie Bowen's Wheatley wrote:
“Once one acknowledges white privilege, it is both easier and more difficult to be intentional and committed to taking a proactive stance against racism. It is easier because white people are more informed and aware of what racism is, how it works, and its insidious nature. It is more difficult for the same reason because whites now have to face their own demons, and their own struggles about what it means to be a racist.”
What do we hope to foster as we move forward on the Journey Toward Wholeness?