Article appeared on On Earth Peace Website: http://www.onearthpeace.org
This week we continue to honor the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., who helped articulate the pain of oppression and potential pathways to redeem the soul of society.
The board and staff of On Earth Peace are on a multi-year journey as we seek to understand and unravel institutional racism within our organization. Together, we continue to build a shared analysis of the ways oppression plays out in society as a whole and in our cherished institutions.
The following statement comes from our emerging understanding.
The Time Is Now for Racial Justice
On Earth Peace denounces structures of violence and injustice, and stands in solidarity with people of color who are harmed by them.
In 1963, the Church of the Brethren adopted the statement,“The Time Is Now to Heal Our Racial Brokenness.” Yet some fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington and the Church of the Brethren affirmed his call that “justice delayed is justice denied,” U.S. society is still broken when it comes to racial reconciliation and racial justice.
Events over the past year have thrown into sharp relief the racial divisions, prejudices, and inequalities that continue to plague our society. Racial progress has stalled in the face of racial setbacks.
We see evidence of this in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key parts of the Voting Rights Act that protect people of color. And we see it in the circumstances surrounding a Florida jury’s decision to find George Zimmerman not guilty for pursuing and killing Trayvon Martin, a young, unarmed black man. Furthermore, we are troubled by the conversations and claims surrounding these high-profile cases that suggest that racism is a vestige of our past, and not an evil of our present.
Indeed, when we look closely we notice racism all around us. And it cannot be ignored if it is to be overcome. We see this in the War on Drugs and unjust system of mass incarceration, as more African Americans are disenfranchised today than during any time in U.S. history. We see this in the institutionalization of racial profiling, such as New York City’s stop-and-frisk program that almost exclusively targets people of color. We see this in the record-high level of deportations of undocumented immigrants, and the militarization of our southwest border. And we see this in the gaping racial disparities in wealth, health outcomes, education, employment, housing, and incarceration.
At the same time, we recognize that racism not only harms people of color, but grants unearned power, privilege, and advantage to white society. As an organization rooted in white culture, we regret that even as we deplore racism, and name it as an evil, we also benefit from it. As On Earth Peace continues to examine and challenge white privilege within and outside our organization, we invite the larger Church and all peoples of faith to join us on this journey.
We understand that racism is violence and prevents us from living fully into God’s vision of shalom. And so in the spirit of Christ’s love, we declare: the time is now for racial justice, as it has always been and always will be.