Last night, my wife and I attended one of a series of “talks” around improving racial relations. It is a weekly chat sponsored by a multi-faith group based in our city. In essence, it is facilitated small group and large group discussions on breaking down barriers and listening to others who do not look like you do. It was well done and very meaningful.
To hear stories about small and large examples of racism is very important. To hear about how assumptions can be made and, if not corrected, can be become more concrete in the eyes of the beholder. Children learn lessons whether you want them to or not, even when you try to do the right thing. So, it is imperative to have open conversations about treating people like you want to be treated and listening to comments, so that they can be reinforced or amended.
Yet, it is we adults that need to do better. A few themes we discussed include:
– do not indict a group for the actions of a few;
– recognize that small sleights can be hurtful, as well;
– try to walk in another person’s shoes; understand that a white person has more liberty to go anywhere, while a black man, even when dressed-up, has restricted access;
– shine a light on hateful speech or behavior; tolerance must be viewed toward a greater good, so it is OK to be less tolerant of those who use words to demean and diminish;
– speak up and speak out to people who share your skin color who are indicting others who are different; a white person’s voice will be listened to when admonishing the behavior of fellow white people;
– be the change you want to see and see people for whom they are; and
– recognize that racial injustice is also the result of a larger poverty issue, which affects people of all colors.
There are many more lessons that were conveyed during the session, but one of my takeaways is this is religion at its finest. Welcoming, including and helping. Let me end with one more tidbit on how religion can help provide solutions and create a welcoming dialogue. The Kindness Blog is a compilation of good news stories from around the world. People need to read this blog to balance the many negative stories that we are bombarded with. Their latest post, which can be linked to below, is evidence of the best of religion.
Jesus said it so well in his Golden Rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. If we do this, we are way ahead in the game. So, welcome, include and help.