Bahai News - Coalition Of Religious Leaders Opens Campaign To End Racism
Coalition Of Religious Leaders Opens Campaign To End Racism
A multiracial coalition of Protestant, Jewish and Baha'i religious leaders
affirmed their commitment yesterday to dismantling racism and "white
privilege," opening a yearlong campaign to change hearts and minds in the
"We don't even know we are being racist, and we are," the Rev. Boyd
Stockdale, executive presbyter of the Presbyterian Church USA, said at a
"We've got to admit Seattle is racist, Presbyterians are racist. ... It's
going to take each one of us as human beings, as persons, to face the
racism within ourselves - and maybe then we have a chance."
Speakers lamented the persistence of racism in America decades after the
civil rights movement. Some called for less talk and more action.
"I'm embarrassed to be here in 2001 dealing with the same issues we were
dealing with in the '60s," said Bishop Vincent Warner of the Episcopal
Diocese of Olympia, who entered the seminary in response to the
assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. It is time to "once again
take to the streets" to demonstrate a passionate concern about racism, he
Speakers detailed few specific initiatives being contemplated as part of the
undertaking. A news release mentioned teach-ins, faith-based dialogues,
speeches and discussions of films and books, with a culminating conference
planned for September 2002. Yesterday's announcement was preceded by a
closed-door discussion among the religious leaders.
The program originated in the Commission for Racial Justice of the
interdenominational Church Council of Greater Seattle. The commission, whose
roots go back to the early 1990s, developed the idea last spring, partly in
response to the racially tinged Mardi Gras rioting in Pioneer Square and to
the resulting news media coverage.
The mission gained urgency in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of a black
man by police in the Central Area in May, an alleged case of racial
profiling involving jaywalking charges against a group of Asian American
teens in Seattle in July, and the fatal shooting of a Hispanic man by
police in Bellevue in August, commission co-Chairwoman Joy Shigaki said.
Yesterday was selected as the starting date for the coalition's "Year of
Action Against Racism and White Privilege" to coincide with the United
Nations World Conference in South Africa.
The Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr., regional minister of the Disciples of Christ,
warned against hoping for a quick fix. "We've got to gear up for a long
run," he said.
Sullivan also urged his fellow religious leaders to promote "God's vision
for humanity, without apology" - a vision that includes racial justice,
integrity and love.
"As much as we can talk about software, we can talk about faith," Sullivan
P-I reporter Gregory Roberts can be reached at 206-448-8022
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