Act 7 of #40acts brought the challenge to learn more about those who are different from me, to interact with people who have a different race or culture than I, to be an ally to the other.

My family is part of me.  My family members are also different than me.  I watch people, in public settings, struggle to put my mixed-race family together – literally.  My family members of color have a different experience of America than mine. My husband grew up in the segregated South. Our daughters are often seen first as Black, and then as young women.

I am still learning how racism functions in America and how to participate in change.

Pressed by the challenge UNDIVIDED, I changed my schedule on Thursday.  I needed to show up for the second meeting of a loose Roundtable on Race hosted by Whitewater Valley Presbytery.  We are a motley crew:  longtime activists, young and committed, just becoming aware.  Some host programs on anti-racism for whole school systems. Some are prepared to address the implicit bias of the Indianapolis Police Department.  I need resources for our youth group.

One participant asked whether we grew up understanding racism as “personal interactions” or “history and systems.” Then, she offered the analysis: race prejudice (individual) + misuse of power by systems and institutions (systemic) = racism.

I grew up understanding that racism developed out of a historical system of oppression, which was reinforced by ongoing systems of power.  As I have aged, people may have changed, but much of the system hasn’t.

It takes time, courage and humility to come alongside and be an ally to those who are different. I wonder if I will be generous enough with my time and spirit to be part of dismantling the power structures that perpetuate racism.

If you are interested in learning more about race and racism in America, read Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race, by Debbie Irving. You can join our Sunday School at 10 AM for discussion on the book.  Or check out some of the resources at CrossRoads.  Maybe you will want to join me for the third Roundtable on Race on May 11.