As Rev. Otis Moss III noted in his prophetic sermon “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” from May 17, 2020, “Racism is a virus. It infects the spirit.” As our church – and our nation – has grappled with the pandemic of Covid-19, we are also actively addressing the pandemic of racism. For some, this has meant participating in the All-Church Read of Ibram X. Kendi’s book, “How to Be an Antiracist” or exploring how their committee work can be intentionally antiracist. Others put their efforts into Get Out the Vote Campaigns or Eco-Justice advocacy. Part of my work in this area has been through the Wednesday evening OSC Antiracism Small Group.
Though I have helped to coordinate our Small Group Ministries for nearly 2 years, this was my first time participating regularly in a small group community at OSC. But when I received four emails from different church members in the space of three days following the death of George Floyd, asking what we could do to educate ourselves and take action as white antiracists at Old South – it was clear there was a deep need for a group like this. At Old South we are blessed by the leadership of (G)race Speaks and the people of color who help guide our community in conversations around race. But, it’s important that white people do our own work to become more Antiracist as well.
The Antiracism small group has been meeting since July. So far we’ve had two 9-week sessions, with 8-12 people in each session. Each Wednesday evening we discuss a different topic related to racism in our society and in our lives. We do this through a faith perspective. As group participant Allison Cooley noted: “You can’t hide when you are in covenant with God and with others, so your internalized racism is laid bare and you must account for it, ask for forgiveness and then be transformed anew.”
In asking God to transform us, and transform our world, we remain mindful of how we can take direct action to dismantle inequality, injustice and oppression. Many of us have made personal commitments – investing in Black-owned banks, buying from black-owned businesses, engaging in challenging conversations with family and in the workplace – and we have also taken action to support black communities – by working on political campaigns, advocating for legislation and educating ourselves about important justice issues. We have also complied a long list of resources. We want to share those resources with you all. You may find a topic that you’d like to explore or an area in which you are ready to take action. (Thank you Laura for putting this list together).
We know that Antiracism work is a marathon and not a sprint. We intend to keep this small group going as a way to continue learning, taking action, and holding ourselves (and our OSC community) accountable for our commitments to fight racism and advance justice and mercy for all people. How is God calling you to share your gifts and talents to be the change the world needs right now to fight racism? You may find some ideas above. Or consider joining the Antiracism Small Group when we being our next session in January.