As part of its recommitment to dismantle white supremacy, the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries has updated its website to include a new Anti-Racism Center. The creation of the center is one of many actions to be taken as a follow-up to the Pandemic of Systemic Racism statement released by CHHSM board and staff last June.
“We released our statement on systemic racism — and are following up with projects like the Anti-Racism Center — in order to work toward achieving the goal of our vision statement, ‘Together, we create a just, caring and compassionate world,’” says Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO. “CHHSM will offer additional resources, studies and activities in the near future in response to our call to be serving leaders.”
The new area provides a rich array of resources — books, articles, poems, podcasts, and videos — that offer grounding for racial equity work from movement leaders as well as materials from CHHSM, its member ministries, the United Church of Christ, other nonprofits, and other justice movements. It includes resources for reflection as well as materials to support action.
“We hope that everyone will spend time exploring the new Anti-Racism Center, and that it will provide a ‘Brave Space’ that allows all of us to do the demanding work of racial equity,” says the Rev. George Graham, CHHSM vice president. “We are grateful to the Rev. Elyse Berry, our associate for advocacy and leadership development, for compiling the center’s resources.”
The Anti-Racism Center also includes a section on how to begin dismantling white supremacy in the workplace and in employee and employer policies. It helps make the connection between systemic racism and such social inequities as poverty, food injustice, disability injustice, housing, and gender discrimination, among others.
“Through self and communal reflection and by continuing to gather resources, ideas, and wisdom, this online collection will support our journey together on the road of justice and grace,” says center author Berry.
In addition to the center, CHHSM already is actively pursuing other avenues in dismantling white supremacy. Its Together We Grow Book Group on How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi meets every other Thursday via Zoom (and welcomes new attendees — sign up to join the group).
CHHSM also is making a financial commitment to racial equity. At its next meeting, the CHHSM board will approve gifts to organizations doing racial equity work. Additionally, it has engaged the Equius Group to conduct a race, diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment of the organization. The assessment begins in November and will conclude in Spring 2021. It will provide a baseline of CHHSM activities and a clear plan of next steps toward greater equity.
All of these activities are intended to help CHHSM be faithful to its vision and mission of a just, caring, and compassionate world, says Berry.
But “such a world cannot exist while white supremacy, racism, and anti-blackness continue to dominate policies, organizations, faith communities, culture, beliefs, and daily life,” she says. “Christ preached a message of liberation, lived a life of interconnectedness, and died by state-sanctioned violence for doing so. But Christ shows us that violence does not have the final say, and calls us to the deeply spiritual work of reckoning, repair, and recreating.
“To be a disciple is to be anti-racist.”