Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sermon on Racism

It isn't up here yet, but it soon will be. Within the week, probably. Here's the blurb about the sermon:

Questions of Power: Race, Class, and Privilege
Presenter: Antonia Won, Ministerial Intern

UUs espouse equality and diversity, yet our congregations remain overwhelmingly white and middle class. Stories from New Orleans and New Mexico help to define the factors that perpetuate racism, and to find questions we can ask of ourselves.

The sermon was good, a remarkably well done handling of a thoroughly uncomfortable topic. How uncomfortable? It was a white female Canadian minister giving a sermon to white educated upper middle class Americans, and added to that setup is the dimension
of New Mexico and racism (White privilege in a climate of more marked skin gradations, the whole Latin America bit about class and race before the American dimension was added on, and the nature of indigenous/Hispanic cultures, as opposed to the more clear cut white/black dynamic). Finally adding to this is New Orleans as a catalyst for anti-racism, and New Orleans has one of the more complex histories of the white/black dynamic (free creole blacks, slave port, Ruby Bridges, and the white exodus/surrounding suburbs following desegregation). The sermon did not, as is almost certainly best, address this whole range of experience, but it touched upon some of it, and it was a remarkably skillful handling of a topic and message that, by its very nature, is designed to make people uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable, depending on the goal. This being a sermon, the discomfort was appropriate; anti-racism training and activism can make things uncomfortable on an unforeseen level, designed so that every day you wake up thinking "hey, I need to change things because this system of power and privilege is really, really messed up".

This was not anti racism training. But I'm hoping it sparked some anti-racism impulse, and I'm hoping that translates to anti racism work.

No comments: