2020-6-8

Racism

 

The world is on fire, once again.

I know that there are some that will disagree with me, but we have a serious problem with systemic racism in our Republic. It is woven into the very strands of our collective DNA.

Since the first African Slaves arrived on the shores of this continent Four-Hundred-One years ago, racism entered our system as sure as the Novel Coronavirus has invaded the bodies of more than one and one half million people in the last three months.

Since 1619 Africans and Americans of African descent have been treated as property, less than human and the “other.” Slaves were routinely beaten nearly to death for seeking freedom or learning to read or teaching others to read or sassing the master or overseer, or sometimes just for the hell of it.

We even use terms like “interracial marriage,” reinforcing that belief that anyone with African blood is not human. The hardest thing for a great number of people to understand is that people of African descent are indeed Human Beings, not some separate race, made of the same genetic material as white people.

This lack of humanity seems to justify brutality against an entire group of people based solely on something as arbitrary as the color of their skin, or the shape or their nose and lips. Which, unfortunately, leads us to our current situation…

The images of three policemen holding down a handcuffed suspect, one with a knee on his throat, was horrifying. To hear Mr. Floyd beg for his life just over a week ago was heart-wrenching. To see the video of his lifeless body be so gracelessly put on a gurney for a trip to the hospital, when it was already too late, in another video was even more so.

One of the most disturbing images from the George Floyd homicide was the image of the policeman with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck with his hand in his pocket, as if killing a man while that man begs for his life is a daily occurrence. That nonchalant spirit and look of smugness on that policeman’s face as the life was drained from Mr. Floyd was, to me, like looking at pure, unadulterated evil.

Not all policemen are corrupt or biased; a few bad apples tend to make all policemen look bad. In spite of the fact that most policemen are not corrupt, most people of African descent are still afraid of the police. That needs to change.

As a Christian, I am called by Jesus Christ to  “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[i]

 As I read it, there are no qualifications on who my neighbor is. My neighbor, in my mind, therefore, is all my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter their ethnicity, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, lack of religion, or any other criteria.

I am a United Methodist. I joined the United Methodist Church for many reasons, chief among them was the UMC stance on Social Justice. According to the Book of Discipline:


Rights of Racial and Ethnic Persons

Racism is the combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races and a value system that assumes that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism includes both personal and institutional racism. Personal racism is manifested through the individual expressions, attitudes, and/or behaviors that accept the assumptions of a racist value system and that maintain the benefits of this system. Institutional racism is the established social pattern that supports implicitly or explicitly the racist value system. Racism, manifested as sin, plagues and hinders our relationship with Christ, inasmuch as it is antithetical to the gospel itself. In many cultures white persons are granted unearned privileges and benefits that are denied to persons of color. We oppose the creation of a racial hierarchy in any culture. Racism breeds racial discrimination. We define racial discrimination as the disparate treatment and lack of full access and equity in resources, opportunities, and participation in the Church and in society based on race or ethnicity.

Therefore, we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access”[ii]

A United Methodist Pastor I know, Rev. Don Hanshew from Dublin United Methodist Church in Dublin, Virginia, had these suggestions that he has collected and modified from sources of influence in his life for helping to deal with racism:

We All See Something, So Say Something:

Speaking out against racism, regardless if you feel influential or not, is critical in helping local and national representatives make better policy decisions. Being silent makes us complicit and only lets the cancer of racism grow.

First Contact:

What would happen if any time a racially charged event comes across the news you became the first to contact a friend you suspect may be impacted or overwhelmed by the event and offer yourself as an ally? Likewise, respect that a person may not want to talk or may not be able to yet process what they are feeling. Do not underestimate the power of an offer to love someone even when what they are feeling is messy.

Talk in Your Bubble:

As we physically distance ourselves to stay safe, we also socially stay connected with specific loved ones. You have influence with these people. If you see or hear discrimination in someone who is close to you, be willing to risk an awkward moment and call it out. To make change we must vigilantly confront prejudice and racism first with the people in our bubble.

Life-Long-Learner:

We all struggle with some degree of racism until we get to heaven, so acting like we are color blind or post-racial is not helpful. There is power in naming and claiming our biases so that we can prevent these biases from bubbling up and into some form of discrimination.

He also strongly urged white readers to boldly read the book White Fragility.

Above all, I am a Human Being. As such, it hurt my very soul to see those videos, as it did with Eric Garner. It hurt my soul when the news about Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston broke…a white supremacist had killed all those people, just because of the color of their skin after they had invited him into their Church to Pray and study the Bible. That was five years ago this month.

All the Mother Emmanuel shooter wanted was a race war…he did not realize that we have been in a race war for four centuries.



[i] Matthew 22:37-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

"I Do Believe"

Even though the pandemic has spread throughout the world
and racial equality has spread unrest
I look up towards the Heavens
for I am truly blessed.
 
Now for sure I have health problems
as most can readily see
yet if I look around a bit
there are many with more than me.
 
I have deep faith that keeps me strong
and flower gardens too
the lilies are blooming everywhere
creating a beautiful view.
 
Yes nature is my comfort zone
which all of us do need
I've many lovely song birds
and squirrels that I feed.
 
We are all in this together
a fact we should understand
show love and true compassion
when holding out your hand!
 
                         - Roy E. Schepp

Library Offers Contact Free Pick-Up

Since closing to the public in March due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Richardson Memorial Library (part of the Meherrin Regional Library System) has been working toward bringing services and reading back to the community. Recently the library installed a set of self-service lockers to be used for patrons picking up their reading wish list. While not quite ready to open for full service, the library does offer many online resources such as Overdrive for ebooks and Pressreader featuring newspapers and magazines. The library will be announcing reopening plans soon. For questions contact the Richardson Memorial Library at 434-634-2539, email at richardsonmemoriallibrary@gmail.com, or Facebook at Meherrin Regional Library.



 

Brunswick Academy to hold Baccalaureate/Commencement Ceremony

Brunswick Academy will celebrate the graduating Class of 2020 at a special ceremony combining the traditional Baccalaureate Service with Commencement Exercises on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. The ceremony will be held on the Dennis A. Moore Football Field and will include a religious service to honor the graduating class as well as the awarding of diplomas. The 40 graduates will march and be seated 6 feet apart and will be wearing a Brunswick Academy Class of 2020 mask to ensure the safety of each student and to minimize health risks. The ceremony will begin with a message from the Reverend Greg Hand of Pleasant Hill Christian Church and a student-led prayer, followed by the Valedictorian and Salutatorian speeches. Students will then be presented their diplomas, awards, scholarships, and other accolades before being officially pronounced Brunswick Academy graduates. Although the conclusion of the 2019-2020 academic year has not been what we expected for our Seniors, we are excited to finally be able to celebrate their accomplishments in the company of the entire Brunswick Academy community.

Top Regional SBA Official Discusses New NFIB PPP Survey

Steve Bulger Lauds Findings that SBA Assistance Helped Most Applicants

PHILADELPHIA – The small business advocacy association, National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), recently released the results of a small business survey showing a positive impact by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP) in helping small businesses and non-profits during the challenges stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The independent group’s survey finds that more than three-quarters of eligible businesses have applied for a PPP loan, and 93% of those received a loan. It also indicates the “vast majority of small business owners (67%) who have a PPP loan have found the loan ‘very helpful’ in financially supporting their business,” with another 14% reporting the PPP loan is “moderately helpful” and 11%, “somewhat helpful.” Only 2% say that the PPP loan was not at all helpful, and 7% said that it is too early to tell.

“The Paycheck Protection Program was created by the CARES Act to provide forgivable loans to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help pay the bills and keep employees on the payroll,” said SBA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Steve Bulger, who oversees the agency’s operations in the Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic Regions. “The most recent SBA data show that 826,696 small businesses received $103,936,930,794 in the SBA’s Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions combined. This goes to show the PPP is going a long way to meet the demand of small businesses and their employees during this critical time.”

“The agency worked quickly with Treasury, SBA staff and SBA partner organizations helping lenders and small businesses understand the process of applying for a PPP loan and getting the money to pay their employees and creditors quickly, allowing them to stay in business while we ride out this pandemic,” he added. “There is still plenty of money in the PPP appropriation, and now is the time for any small business owner, who feels the program could help them, to contact a participating lender and apply.”

For information about SBA resources and services, visit: SBA.gov/coronavirus.

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