Anti-Racism Concepts & Definitions

Learning about anti-racism and equity means seeking out definitions to concepts that might be unfamiliar, or words that might have different connotations to different people. No single resource has all of the answers about these complex issues: this Racial Equity Tools glossary is an excellent starting point for of many topics. 

 

Here are a few important highlighted terms from the glossary:

 

Anti-Racism: The work of actively opposing racism by advocating for changes in political, economic, and social life. Anti-racism tends to be an individualized approach and set up in opposition to individual racist behaviors and impacts.
SOURCE:  Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).

Implicit Bias: Negative associations that people unknowingly hold. This kind of bias is expressed automatically, without conscious awareness, and is also known as unconscious or hidden bias. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.
SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 

Racism: Racism = race prejudice + social and institutional power
Racism = a system of advantage based on race
Racism = a system of oppression based on race
Racism = a white supremacy system
Racism is different from racial prejudice, hatred, or discrimination. Racism involves one group having the power to carry out systematic discrimination through the institutional policies and practices of the society and by shaping the cultural beliefs and values that support those racist policies and practices.
SOURCE:  “What Is Racism?” − Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) web workbook.

Are there terms or concepts you’d like to see a defined here? Talk to us! 


More on what it means to be a Matthew 25 Church

First Pres is part of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) and we answered the call that our PCUSA leadership issued to embrace the holy call stated in the New Testament in Matthew chapter 25, verses 31-46.

We are called to actively engage in the world around us; to become a relevant presence in the world through a vital, active faith that wakes us to new possibilities. We join with other Matthew 25 Congregations around the world in feeling the conviction of this passage, and as a result, acting boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

 

We embrace Christ’s call to be a church of action, shining the light of God’s love, justice and mercy into the world with joy and gratitude. First Pres has accepted the challenge to work on three different ambitious goals:

·         To dismantle systemic racism

·         To build congregational vitality

·         To eradicate poverty.

 

To read more about what it means to be a Matthew 25 Church, click here.

 

 

 


MATTHEW 25:34-40

 

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 
 


More on the concept of Beloved Community

 

You may wonder what is behind the First Pres focus on “Beloved Community,” and why we capitalize these words.

 

We are grounding our anti-racism and equity work on a theological concept that has an important history. According to The King Center for Non-Violent Social Change, the term Beloved Community was first referenced in the early 20th century by a philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, and the concept was imbued with a deeper meaning and importance by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he worked to advocate for the breakdown of systems of racial oppression in America and beyond during the mid-20th century.

 

Dr. King spoke and wrote frequently about his vision of Beloved Community, bringing attention to the concept. He believed it was a worthy, realistic and achievable goal—a global social order wherein all people can share in the gifts of the earth peacefully and harmoniously:

“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated, because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”  - Dr. King

 

Dr. King held up “agape love” as the core value of his Beloved Community vision. He distinguished three kinds of love: eros, a sort of aesthetic or romantic love; philia, “affection between friends;” and agape, which he described as “understanding, redeeming goodwill for all,” and “an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative.” He also described it as “the love of God operating in the human heart.” Dr. King said that agape love makes no distinction between friend and enemy—agape love is unconditional and directed toward all, seeking to preserve and create community.

 

“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the Beloved Community,” he said in a speech about a win for the nonviolent Montgomery Bus Boycotts in 1956. “It is this type of spirit, and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep bloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.”

 

Here and now, in 2021, we share Dr. King’s hope for a future in which agape love and the practice of nonviolence bring about a radically transformed world where we share the love of God with all people, building the Beloved Community together.

 

 

For more information on Beloved Community, check out this article.  

For more information on the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, visit The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

For more information about how members at First Pres seek and work to create Beloved Community, subscribe to our newsletter.

 


How we accomplish this work –

First Pres Committee on Anti-Racism & Equity (CARE) Team

As of September 6, 2021, CARE has been elevated to the status of a standing committee at First Pres with the following charter:

 

The First Pres Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE) works to:

1.      Help the members of our congregation become more aware of the systemic racism that exists in our community and               our country;

2.      Develop opportunities for members of our community to engage in anti-racism work through learning prayer and                     action; and

3.      Deepen our congregation’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution.

 

CARE Team is made up of pastoral staff, Session members (ordained church leaders) and members of the congregation. The team is organized into three work groups: GROW (creates educational opportunities), ACT (offers opportunities to build relationships with our brothers and sisters of color) and CALL (oversees administrative actions and communication with Session and the congregation.

 

The team includes: Debra Alexander (Co-Chair), Tucker Olson (Co-Chair), Dan Brame, Kathy Chapman, Amy Christian, Jarael Cosmano, Juli Dunsing, Vanessa Griffin, Anna Groebe, Rob Heinrich, Kristin Marsden, Rosemary Monahan, Brian Smith. Bob Smith, Fred Ulanday, and Ryan Wallace.

 

The CARE Team invites you to share comments, questions and/or ideas anytime. Feel free to email us. 


Frequently-Asked Questions on this Ministry at First Pres

 

You had large Black Lives Matter banners displayed on your church recently. What's that about, and where did the banners go?

First Pres leaders raised these bold statements in banner form in June 2020, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Our banners served as an expression of solidarity with our siblings of color whose lives have been historically devalued in our society. We raised them in support of the broad and important social movement crying out for us all to place value on black lives.

 

We believe holy scripture leads us to support the statement Black Lives Matter. When we say it, we are calling attention to the deep and abiding sin of racism in our society, our institutions, and in our own hearts. Black Lives Matter is both a lamentation about our collective sin and a call to action to repent of that sin, and seek authentic equality and peace of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Beloved Community.

 

Our banners were put up and displayed at a time when Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and conditions meant Libertyville sign ordinances not being widely observed or enforced. As of May 1, 2021, the Village of Libertyville began enforcing sign ordinances. First Pres is committed to being a good organizational citizen in our community and following all village rules and applicable ordinances, so our committee acted accordingly and changed our banner out.

 

How is your church responding to the urgent call for racial justice & equity in this country?

First Pres is committed to the work of eradicating racism in all of its forms. A group of our members volunteered to serve as part of our Anti-Racism & Equity Task force in 2020, and that group has grown to include 18 leaders serving on a standing committee.. These volunteers have committed themselves to the work of uprooting personal, institutional and structural racism. Subcommittees are working to create anti-racist educational programs and forums for discussion for people of all ages. Programs are open to the public and all are welcome to come learn and unlearn with open hearts and minds.

Be sure to sign up for updates here.

 

Your new signs mention growing "Beloved Community." What is that about?

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King developed and popularized the concept of Beloved Community, which is a vision of community that could be built as an outgrowth of non-violent resistance to oppression. rooted in a very specific kind of love called ‘agape’ love, an understanding, redeeming goodwill for all. Dr. King also described agape as the “love of God operating in the human heart,” and he envisioned a world emanating from this love where poverty, oppression and inequality would no longer be tolerated and people could live together peacefully, enjoying the gifts of God’s creation together. You can learn more about Dr. King’s vision and the reasons we at First Pres embrace that concept here.  

 

What has been the response to your anti-racism programming?

We are heartened by the robust interest we have seen from our members and from the wider community. Hundreds of people, including First Pres members and many community members have participated in our Be the Bridge studies, our Soul Cinema discussion groups, and our Anti-Racist Parenting Series in these programs. To learn more, sign up for email updates here.

 

How can I get involved with your anti-racism and equity initiatives?

ABSOLUTELY! We would love to welcome you to this work! First, be sure to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter. Then, send us an email telling us about yourself—someone from our CARE committee will be in touch soon!

 


Biblical Grounding For Black Lives Matter
 

Rev. Dr. Brian R. Paulson

Rev. Amy Heinrich

Rev. Kara Smith-Laubenstein

Rev. Ryan Wallace


Get your Yard Sign today!
 

Support and promote anti-racism & equity initiatives at First Pres with your very own Yard Sign modeled after our new banners! Pick one up at the Church Office or email us today!


Measuring the Anti-Racism & Equity Work of First Pres

Through the hands and feet of member volunteers, First Pres has been focusing energy on anti-racism and equity work since June of 2020. During that time, God has been at work, both in our church and in our greater communities in the following exciting ways:

 

First Pres forms Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force to address systemic racism                   June 2020

This group meets monthly to create programming, explore partnerships and integrate anti-racism and equity work into the life and congregation of First Pres Libertyville. Leaders are Tucker Olson and Debra Alexander, and the group has consistently enjoyed the contributions of 15-20 members.

 

Educational programming created & rolled out to a variety of audiences                         Fall 2020-present

Programs to inform, educate and involve members of the congregation in Christian fellowship and conversation around the complex topics of racism and equity has included:

Be the Bridge 101 – Foundational Principles Every White Bridge Builder Needs to Understand, a five-week small group study which has run multiple times

Soul Cinema – Film and Documentary viewings with small group discussions of questions raised by titles such as Thirteenth,

Raising Anti-Racist Kids – Small group discussion of Ideas, insights and practices for parents of kids aged birth to 18 who are interested in understanding how to raise kids who will understand and reject racism in all its forms

Juneteenth Weekend 2021 – A “Something For Everyone” weekend of programming to recognize the emancipation of black people who were enslaved in this country we all share

 

Robust participation in programming                                                                                   Fall 2020-present

God is speaking to many people through First Pres anti-racism & equity programming:

Two sessions of Be the Bridge 101 five-week study – 100 participants

Summer 2020 Film Series – 67 participants

Two sessions of Raising Anti-racist Kids - 48 participants

Winter 2020 Soul Cinema – 46 participants

 

Outreach, programming efforts inspires congregational self-reflection & addition of new members June 2020-present

Banners, postcards, and promotions of our work on the First Pres website and member communications have opened our doors wide to our member and larger communities. First Pres congregants are having deep and sometimes difficult conversations about racism in our society. And new members have joined our church as a result of this visible gospel work. The work of uprooting racism and growing beloved community is complex, daunting, and is a calling across generations and centuries. People of faith will not always agree on all aspects of how to best express the love of God in our broken world. But we know Jesus Christ calls us to be his hands and feet in the world, loving our neighbors as ourselves. And we remember the call of Matthew 25—"whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

 

First Pres Session votes to elevate Anti-Racism & Equity work                                            September 2021

The Session of First Pres voted in September 2021 to elevate the task force to a standing committee, called the Committee on Anti-Racism & Equity (CARE). This means anti-racism and equity programming has been adopted as an ongoing initiative at First Pres, with investment of time, talent and treasure. Praise God!

 

To get involved with anti-racism & equity work at FirstPres, send us an email. We can always use more help with this work, and would love to hear from you!
 

To find out more about what we’ll be doing in the coming year, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

 


Do you have a story or personal experience to share related to anti-racism & equity?

 

We all bring with us our own ideas and experiences when it comes to racism and equity. We want to hear about your life and your spiritual journey.

 

What experiences lead you to be reading these words today?

What do you believe Christians should be doing to uproot racism right now, in our world?

How can our church Be a Bridge to repair and restoration in a broken world?

 

Tell us what’s on your mind. We would love to hear from you.

 

 


MOVIES

Movie Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rose Byrne and Oprah Winfrey star in this movie based on the book of the same name. The title is a reference to the cancer cells taken from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman, in the 1950s without her knowledge or permission, and how those cells, known as HeLa, are still living today and have been (and continue to be) the basis for many major medical breakthroughs and treatments we all benefit from, such as the polio vaccine and advances in invitro fertilization and gene mapping. Although Henrietta has been gone for over 60 years, her cells still live on and benefit the medical industry even now.

 

Author Rebecca Skloot (Byrne) is a biologist and writer who tracks down the Lacks family, in particular Henrietta’s grown daughter Deborah (Winfrey), to find out the story of Henrietta. We learn about the poverty, lack of health care, and inequities the Lacks children suffered from, although their mother’s cells enriched many. This compelling story, told with humanity and empathy, brings home the fact that many Black people are not treated with the dignity and equity with which they deserve as human beings.

 

The movie is a great place to start learning about HeLa cells, the biomedical industry and inequities suffered by people of color, but if you have time, read the book as well for a deeper look into Henrietta’s past, the lives of the children she left behind, and for a full picture of how the medical industry has benefited from her immortal cells.

Reviewed by Susan Henning,

Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Movie Review: High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America

“It was strange to come home to a place I’d never been,” chef and food writer Stephen Satterfield says in the opening moments of “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America.”

Those words serve as the through line for the documentary series as it traces African American cuisine from its roots on the African continent. The four-part series, which debuted in the summer of 2021 on Netflix to great critical acclaim, travels from the West African nation of Benin through New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas, exploring how African slaves and their descendants helped define American cuisine.

 

Visiting West Africa for the first time, the sounds, smells, and tastes of an open-air market evoke “fragments of a lost memory” for Satterfield, who serves as host and guide throughout the series. He’s joined in the first episode by food historian and cookbook author Dr. Jessica B. Harris, who wrote the 2011 book on which the series is based.

The series, beautifully filmed and edited, has a compelling narrative and features powerful storytelling that honors the culinary legacy of enslaved Africans, helps to unravel the tangled history of American food culture, and reminds us that history isn’t just written in textbooks, it’s also in the stories and food traditions passed down through generations. 

Reviewed by Michelle Groenke,

Director of Communications & Member Ministry, First Pres Libertyville

 


Movie Review: The 24th, a historical drama depicting the true story of the Houston Riot of 1917, directed by Kevin Willmott

One night my husband and I were looking around the TV networks, trying to find something to watch, and the movie The 24th caught our eye. He is always interested in military history stories, and we both have been searching for media that open our eyes to racial conditions in our country. It checked a lot of boxes for us, and turned out to be a very informative and emotional experience. It is based on a true story, and the events were heartbreaking and relevant to today.

 

The 24th was an Army Infantry regiment composed of African American soldiers who were stationed in Texas in 1917, shortly after America entered World War I. Their job was to guard the construction of a training camp on the outskirts of Houston. At this point in American history, officially sanctioned racial discrimination throughout the South was enforced through the "Jim Crow laws." The presence of this all Black unit stationed so close to a segregated city made many white citizens resentful, and tensions grew over the summer, as the members of the 24th were subject to harassment, discrimination and provocation by the citizens and local law enforcement. This tension culminated in a riot in the city of Houston, and many people were killed. It led to the largest murder trial in US military history in which 19 soldiers were sentenced to death.

 

This movie was a painful reminder of a period of history when Black Lives, in the eyes of many white people, did not really matter. Although the bigotry displayed in this movie is much more vicious and prevalent than it is today, it remains a major problem in America. The main character was Sorbonne educated and joined the Army because he was hoping African Americans could win the sympathies of more white people by demonstrating their patriotism. He was being encouraged to go to a training school for black officers which would have opened doors for him and other young Black men. The loss of this individual to racial violence is just one unfortunate example of the loss of someone who may have helped make this country greater. I recommend this movie because it portrays the history of our nation in terms of racial injustice, and helps white people understand the depths of pain and sorrow that are experienced by our Black brothers and sisters.

Reviewed by Debra Alexander,

Co-chair, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE) & Elder

 


BOOKS

Book Review: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob (2018)

I loved this thoughtful, thought-provoking (and at times hilarious) look at societal issues. This is my first time reading a graphic memoir, and it JUST WORKS! Mira Jacob writes from personal experience. She is U.S. born, but her arranged-marriage parents are immigrants from India and Mira marries a white, Jewish man. Her very curious 6-year-old son, Z, adds an innocent element as he asks difficult questions about race. By juxtaposing her parental conversations with her lived experience, you will experience the tension of living in a country with hope for a better future, and frustration with racial inequities that haven't changed and in some ways have regressed.

Reviewed by Mary Kovatch, Member of First Pres Staff

 


Book Review: America’s Original Sin – Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by Jim Wallis

This book is a must-read for all Christians trying to find a thoroughly biblical understanding and grounding in their quest to address “America’s original sin” of racism, written by one of American’s leading Christian writers. Rev. Wallis was educated at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield and became founder and president of Sojourners, a Christian group dedicated to the biblical ideal of social justice.

 

In this book Rev. Wallis states that it is “time we right this unacceptable wrong” where the “wrong” is racism and the “we” is White Christians. The book carefully and skillfully weaves contemporary events into a biblical account of reconciliation and justice. He traces the history of the White church and its involvement in systemic racism and oppression. The book concludes with strategies that White Christians and White churches can use to “cross the bridge” and address this “original sin.”

While the book was written in 2016, just after the Ferguson, MO riots following the Michael Brown killing and the Baltimore riots following the Freddie Gray killing, the message to White churches is chillingly similar to the situations we encountered last year after the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor – and many more. It is sad how little we have learned since 2016 as Christians continue confront systemic racism.

 

The chapters explore topics like “Dying to Whiteness,” which asks us carefully explore our white privilege, and “Segregated Church or a Beloved Community” which develops a new model for churches striving to be anti-racist and non-segregated. Perhaps the most exciting chapter is Rev. Wallis’s call for White churches to repentance. This is almost a stand-alone chapter that looks carefully at the Old and New Testament’s passages on what it means to truly repent. Says Wallis, “Repentance is not just expressing sorrow or admitting guilt; it is about turning completely around and going in a whole new direction.” In the chapter “Welcoming the Stranger,” Wallis calls on us as biblical Christians to step outside our comfort zones and open our churches to diversity and inclusion.

 

As we at First Presbyterian Church strive to understand our role in the changing and developing world of anti-racism and what the Bible says about our role, Wallis’ book is a challenging book to add to our repertoire.

Reviewed by Brian Smith, Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Book Review: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (Flatiron Books, 2020) by Emmanuel Acho

Many people in our country felt that the killing of George Floyd was a turning point that spurred them to new action on issues of racial justice in America. Emmanuel Acho is one of those people, and I thank God for this peacemaking book.

 

Acho has a knack for breaking down complex and (yes) uncomfortable topics into accessible, real insights that crystallize and illuminate what it’s like to be a black man in this country. Acho is the son of Nigerian immigrants who grew up in America and has been a prep school student, professional football player, a sports analyst and broadcaster, and he holds a master’s degree in sports psychology.

 

In the wake of the Floyd killing, he began a new chapter of peacemaking work, beginning by producing and distributing a series of videos addressing hard questions related to race. The videos grew into this book, which cuts through the noise, addressing often unspoken questions about labels and names, implicit bias, white privilege, cultural appropriation and so-called “reverse racism,” among many other topics that often feel off-limits in polite conversation.

 

Acho is a man of faith, who credits Jesus as his model for how to love in a broken world, and a sense of pragmatic hope undergirds his words. His voice embodies a unique and godly combination of directness and grace that make it a shining example of deft intercultural diplomacy.

As I read, I began to think of Acho as the “tough but fair” teacher/coach/boss who knows you might dread to hear the words he’s using to describe today’s assignment/workout/project, but you respect him enough to do the work anyway. And as you do the work, you become wiser, stronger, and more effective because you chose to follow his lead.

 

The book jacket cover says it best: this book is “an essential guide to the conversations we should all be having to increase our understanding and join the anti-racist fight.” As someone who is interested in rolling up my sleeves and understanding the deeply embedded and abiding sin of racism in our society, I found this book to be a healing balm and I recommend it most highly.

Background:

Author’s video series:

Illuminating interview with author and psychologist Brené Brown:

Reviewed by Vanessa Griffin, Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE) & Elder

 


Book Review: The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby

As a life-long Presbyterian I am used to things being orderly and predictable. To say that The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby shook up that view is an understatement.

 

It is significant to note that the copyright on this book is 2019, which means it predates all the turmoil that was the year 2020: the racial disparity of the global pandemic as well as the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbry just to highlight a few events.

 

2020 was a significant year in race relations, but it is just one year of many. Jemar Tisby seeks to use the history of the American Protestant Church to highlight how race relations have reached the pinnacle of contention that they have. From the very earliest times, European settlers came to this country and attempted to erase people of color not only from their land but from their very identity. Their customs and spiritual lives were dismissed in favor of a life that was deemed better by those same European settlers.

 

This book brought me to a perspective I had not previously considered. From the very beginning of the American Protestant Church, the Church was actively involved in establishing systems that created systemic racism. The Church failed, over and over, to stand up to acts of racism and in fact advocated for laws that actively discriminated against people of color. And, that failure to stand up is a result of a fear of offending someone, in fact, a fear of things not being orderly and predictable.

That fear is justified. The road to social justice is not a smooth one and real conflict is inevitable. However, as Tisby reminds us, God commands us to move forward without fear “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Tisby calls on us to practice “Courageous Christianity”

 

Reading this this book has caused me to examine every single experience in my life through a different lens. Upon completion of this book, the question in my mind was “if not me, then who?”

Reviewed by Kristin Marsden,

Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Book Review: Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule (St. Martin’s Press, 2020)

Our national reckoning with racial injustice must first happen in individual hearts and minds and the changes in those deep parts of us can feel glacial. The author of this book has experience with one of those personal transformations—his own. 

 

Seidule was born and raised in the south and attended one of thousands of “seg schools” that cropped up in the wake of the landmark Brown v. Board of Ed that compelled desegregation of public schools. He grew up revering Robert E. Lee and learning the “Lost Cause” mythology that emerged among defeated southerners in the years after the Civil War.

 

It is often said that the winners write the history books, but Seidule suggests that in the case of the Civil War, the opposite is true—that the forces aligned behind the white supremacists in the south may have seen the war as simply a lost battle in a larger war for hearts and minds.

The true gift of this book is the way Seidule models the process of personal reckoning on race. He does this by asking himself hard questions, and not shying away from the difficult answers. He pulls the loose threads on the mythology he grew up believing and went on to embody, recognizing that there will be a cost to facing the truth. He is willing to pay that cost.

 

I could not help feeling a simultaneous gratitude for the careful and efficient way Seidule excavates and examines his life from boyhood through school, college and a military career for evidence of how he came to believe the Lost Cause lies, along with a frustration that it would take such a well-educated, thoughtful, Christian person so long to reckon with the facts of history. In fact, Seidule did so only after contributing to the systems upholding of white supremacy and inequality for most of his life. He is a history professor, after all. A southerner. A military man. But Ty is me. And I am Ty.

I, too, have looked the other way, accepting redacted histories for most of my life. I did not know many people of color personally growing up in rural Wisconsin, and was taught by Christian parents that we should be “colorblind” and “take personal responsibility.” But given how broken things in our country seem, I began to question the colorblind approach, seeking out books and articles that introduced me to voices of color, and the parts of history that were glossed over in my formal education. I began to understand the differences between personal racism and systemic racism. I began to understand the reasons why true equity has been elusive in this country. And like Ty, I am changed by what I have learned.

 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the process of personal reckoning, understanding southern cultural mythology, Confederate monuments, and Civil War history.

 

QUOTES: “Racism is the virus in the American dirt, infecting everything and everyone. To combat racism, we must do more than acknowledge the long history of white supremacy. Policies must change. Yet, and understanding of history remains the foundation. The only way to prevent a racist future is to first understand our racist past.” – p. 256

 

“Today, we are finally, finally, having a national dialogue and what the confederacy and the lost cause myth meant. It’s gut wrenching. The truth is ruthless. We are finding out that many of the stories and myths that white America grew up with were untrue and racist. We are finally taking into account the millions of African-Americans who lived enslaved, realizing that their lives were every bit as important as the white planter class. Cities and schools across the country are confronting the past.” – p 254

 

Bonus Takeaways:

Seidule has been involved in committees and decisions related to how military leaders are commemorated, and parts of this book explore different monuments and the stories behind the monument designs. Memorials discussed at some length include the Confederate Memorial, added to Arlington National Cemetery in 1914, the West Point Battle Monument, dedicated to the professional soldiers of the Union in 1898, and the art and sculpture in the “chapel” on campus at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA.

Background:

Washington Post Book review: 

Reviewed by Vanessa Griffin,

Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE) & Elder

 


PODCASTS

Podcast Review: The Vanishing of Harry Pace, Radiolab

This 6-part series by the Radiolab team explores the fascinating story of pioneering African-American music label founder, Harry Pace. His life story could fill several volumes, as he "launched the career of Ethel Waters, inadvertently invented the term rock n roll, played an important role in W.C. Handy becoming 'Father of the Blues,' inspired Ebony and Jet magazines, and helped desegregate the South Side of Chicago in an epic Supreme Court battle.”

 

The first two episodes detail his amazing story, diving deep into the history of early American record companies and how musical genres were marketed differently to black and white audiences. Harry Pace's unlikely rise as founder of Black Swan Records will bring to mind the story of Berry Gordy, Jr. and his Motown Records in the 1960s. Pace then became a lawyer, worked with WEB Du Bois, and was involved in several high-level court cases in an attempt to desegregate the South Side of Chicago.

 

From there, the story becomes more mysterious as we meet Pace’s grandchildren who never knew about his achievements, but even more surprising, that their family was African-American. It seems that later in his life, Harry Pace and his family began to “pass” as white. The producers explore the possible reasons for this change in his self-identity, tying it in to the civil rights movement and the politics of the era.

Three bonus episodes dive deeper into blues singer Ethel Waters, lyric tenor Roland Hayes, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Black national anthem. 

Reviewed by Dan Brame,

Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Podcast Review: Nice White Parents, by Chana Joffe-Walt

After the first time I heard of the podcast Nice White Parents in August of 2020, I heard about it at least four more times within that same week. My friends were texting and emailing about it. It was trending on my Facebook page. It was advertised by another podcast I listen to. “Have you heard about Nice White Parents , Amy?” “Amy, you’ve got to listen to Nice White Parents!” You see, the circles I run in are predominantly filled with predominantly nice white parents, and I suppose I, too, am a “nice white parent.” What does that phrase mean? In this context, a nice white parent is a well-intentioned parent who wants public schools to be an equitable place for all students no matter their race AND who wants the best education possible for her own (white) kids.

 

What Chana Joffe-Walt reveals throughout the Nice White Parents podcast series is how those two desires have been in conflict with each for decades across American public schools. She does so by reporting on the fraught history of a middle school in Brooklyn, all the while asking questions that extend far beyond Brooklyn (and certainly into Libertyville, IL). This five-part series is for anyone who wonders why American public schools are just as segregated today as they were in the late 1960s. It is for anyone who wonders how race impacted their own schooling or how it impacts their children’s schooling. It is for anyone who wonders why white parents have the most power in most school systems and how that impacts education. And it is for anyone who wonders what systemic change could look like and how it could be possible. I recommend you listen to it, and--more importantly--I recommend you talk about it with those in your circles. 

Reviewed by Amy F. Christian,

Member, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Podcast Review: Scene on Radio - Seeing White

While participating in a few seminars dealing with issues of race, one thing really caught my attention. People were asked to introduce themselves and give a short description of their background. After we had done so, the facilitator noted that every member of a racial minority in the room included their racial identity in their introduction, not one white person did.

 

Why was that? To help dig deeper into this anomaly, I joined a group called Be the Bridge. As a part of the newbie orientation, we completed a number of units of self-study. One of those units included listening to podcast series called “Seeing White.” Each episode of this multi-part podcast helped me understand “why” and provided me with a new perspective on the privileges, often unperceived, of being part of the majority race. I think you will find this podcast series illuminating, moving, inspiring and deeply thought provoking. So, find yourself a quite space, free of distractions, so you can focus on this exceptional series. Hope you find them as profound as I did.

Reviewed by Tucker Olson,

Co-chair, First Pres Libertyville - Committee on Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE)

 


Podcast Review: Code Switch – By NPR (National Public Radio)

Code Switch is a fascinating podcast that talks directly about race in America. It covers a diverse array of topics Including poetry, sports, history, business, romance, friendship, personalities, politics, and much more. It's an NPR production that was awarded Apple's first ever "Show of the Year" award for 2020. The hosts are knowledgeable, funny, and laid back. A recent episode that I really enjoyed was "Do the Golden Arches Bend Towards Justice?" which looked at the history of McDonalds courting of black ownership. Check out this podcast. You'll learn and enjoy at the same time!

Reviewed by Rob Heinrich,

Member of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force

 


Resources for Adults

 

We are always learning and expanding our understanding of racism and the systems that uphold and enable it, so that we may do the work of uprooting and dismantling it.  We hope you will join us in that lifelong work!

 

Check out our media reviews here.

 

Here is an anti-racist parenting resource complied by our CARE Team.

 

We hope you will subscribe to our newsletter, and watch this space for future programming opportunities.

 

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH RESOURCES:
 

Commission on Anti-Racism and Equity (Presbytery of Chicago)

 

PC(USA) Resources on Anti-Racism 
 

Responding to the Sin of Racism and a Call to Action (A Resolution from the 224th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), June, 2020) 

 

 


PAST PROGRAMS OFFERED BY FIRST PRES

June 2020 – September 2021

 

Be the Bridge 101 – 5-week small group study for people seeking to learn about race and connect with others who want to welcome diversity & healing into our communities

Two sessions, Offered Fall 2020 & Winter 2021, which drew 100 participants made up of First Pres members and some interested community members

Film Discussions – Meetings to screen and/or discuss films such as 13th,  FILM, FILM, and 12 Years A Slave

6 films throughout the last program year

Six sessions attended by # members and interested community members

Book Studies – Gatherings for discussion of books and articles that help inform the work of becoming anti-racist, including “The Color of Compromise” by pastor, theologian and activist Jemar Tisby


Get More Involved With Our Work

 

To get involved with anti-racism & equity work at FirstPres, send us an email. We can always use more help with this work, and would love to hear from you!
 

To find out more about what we’ll be doing in the coming year, subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter

 


PARTNERSHIPS

 

FIDE (Faith & Illumination in a Digital Environment) Churches

A faith formation collective made up of five suburban-Chicago-area Presbyterian Churches that share faith formation activities, extending the reach and expanding the diversity of opportunities for members

Learning and fellowship opportunities are hosted and presented by each of the partner churches, and members from all may participate in readings, discussions and studies either digitally, usually via Zoom, or in person.

 

FIDE programming covers a wide array of topics including many with anti-racism and equity themes. Find the most recent set of FIDE offerings here.

 

The following churches are involved contributors to the FIDE partnership:

Deerfield Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights

First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton

First Presbyterian Church of Libertyville

Lake Forest Presbyterian Church

 

For more information about our FIDE Partnership, email our CARE Team here.

 


First Pres & Hope Pres:  A Long History

Hope Presbyterian pastor the Rev. Dr. Leslie Sanders warmly welcomed the Rev. Dr. Brian Paulson into ministry in the Chicago Presbytery when he became lead pastor at First Pres, and the two have maintained a supportive and caring collegial relationship ever since. 

 

Over many years, the two pastors have exchanged pulpits and words of encouragement, members have worshipped together, youth group members have traveled and served together, and the two congregations have partnered on various cooperative acts of service and mutual support.

 

Most recently, the two congregations worked to provide school supplies to Vacation Bible School students attending and learning at Hope Presbyterian in the summer of 2021. Work is underway to explore ways the partnership can continue to grow, evolve, and grant mutual support, including ways for our congregations to pray for each other.

 

For more information about this partnership or to get involved, email our CARE Team here.

Find out more about Hope Presbyterian Church here.

Find out more about the long history of Hope Presbyterian Church here.

Find out more about the congregation’s HopeTEC career and job training programming here.  

 


Mosaic House Ministries + Mosaic Hub

Christ calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and First Pres members believe that our neighbors include our friends who share Lake County as our home. Our First Pres CARE Team is working on the foundational stages of establishing a partnership with Mosaic House Ministries in North Chicago, Illinois.

 

Mosaic House Ministries is a discipleship community on God’s mission together, practicing prayer, hospitality, fellowship, and discipleship, rooted in North Chicago.  Mosaic Hub will be a transformational gathering place to share life and fellowship together including youth development and creative arts programs, worship and prayer. Located in the historic North Chicago Public Library building, which has also housed the award-winning Angel Drill Team before undergoing its transition, Mosaic House will serve the community in faith-based ways. Renovations to bring Mosaic Hub from vision to reality are ongoing and organizers are still hoping for a 2021 or early 2022 opening date.

 

Members of our CARE Team are working with Mosaic House Ministries staff members to co-create a wise and fruitful partnership between our church and this unique ministry for our Lake County neighbors. Members are participating in a study of the book “Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity” by David W. Swanson as preparation for creating a mutual respectful partnership.

 

For more information about this partnership or to get involved, email our CARE Team here.

Find out more about Mosaic House Ministries here.

Find out more about Mosaic Hub here.