A Discussion on "Living Into

God's Dream: Dismantling

Racism in America"

Join us as we read together, "Living Into God's Dream, Dismantling Racism in America." From Wednesday to Wednesday of each week we will be reading a new chapter of the book, and discussing the reading below. Finally, we will have a series of discussions with Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing to discuss how we can continue to Build Beloved Community together. 

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WEEK ONE: July 29-August 5, 2020

Chapter 1: Living Into God's Dream of Community by Luther E. Smith Jr.

Discussion Questions: 

1. "Racism persists because a large segment of the population benefits from it." Reflect upon this statement and list several ways you can see how segments of the population benefit from racism. How much thought have you given to this idea in the past?

A few reflections:

  • "Segments of the population benefit from racism through job hiring and promotions; education specifically public education; and ability to maintain a standard of life which includes access to healthcare, food and safety."

  • "Indians and their lands, the Irish/Chinese/Blacks jailed to get free Labor, the cost of not caring for all in taxes and change."

2. If the transformation of hearts alone will not undo racism, what will? What other elements are needed to succeed in this challenging world?

A few reflections:

  • "Regardless of some being invested in racism, OUR jobs NOW are to come out of inaction. 'Be the change you wish to see in the world" - M. Gandhi'"

  • "Systems that offer equal access to all. Interactions with others of different races outside of the workplace like church, clubs, teams. Get past relationships based on power dynamics. When is the last time a person of a different race visited you at home - to share a meal, coffee, etc? Being open and encouraging of our children to have relationships with people of different races. Be open to this ourselves. Speak out about anything in our systems that discourage the ability for diverse races to interact together."

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK TWO: August 5-12, 2020

Chapter 2: Dissecting Racism: Healing Minds, Cultivating Spirits

Discussion Questions: 

1. What were you told about members of different racial or ethnic groups? What kinds of comments were made about members of different racial or ethnic groups in your household? Were there any racial or ethnic slurs or compliments or was yours a household where race wasn’t discussed, but only hinted at or acted out in innuendo?

A few reflections:

  • "Race was very rarely discussed in my household. My family and extended family are all white and grew up in middle class households. While they would discuss racism with me if I directly asked, the actual systemic elements of it were never fully discussed. Furthermore, I often noticed that race was unnecessarily included in stories--if I was being told a story of an interaction my family had with a white person, race was never mentioned, but if with a person of color, it was absolutely mentioned. Oftentimes, the interaction had the POC as the butt of the joke."

 

2. Where did you learn about race in school--was it from textbooks or teachers and what exactly did you learn? How did this information form your attitudes or feelings about your own ethnic or racial group and those from other racial or ethnic groups?

A few reflections:​​

  • "Ironically, though I attended a historically black high school, I found my education to be incredibly white-washed. The school had been transformed into a magnet school in the 90s, and had a majority white population despite being a historically black high school in a diverse neighborhood. We learned many overly glorified versions of American history, oftentimes neglecting to discuss slavery, taking land from the natives, and much more."

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK THREE: August 12-19, 2020

Chapter 3: Why Is This Black Woman Still Talking About Race?

Discussion Questions: 

1. Do you have a story about a moment in your life that changes your viewpoint? If so, how did it change you?

A few reflections:

  • "I grew up in a very racially and ethnically diverse community in a northern city. It wasn’t until I started to travel south, that I realized how much emphasize is placed on race. It opened my eyes to how others have had different experiences than me and that I should do my best to be open and listen and acknowledge their experiences. And do what I can to share mine and the possibilities of being in communities where inclusion is the norm."

  • "If I'm being entirely honest, it took having to travel outside of the country for me to truly recognize the privilege of my white skin. I was a student abroad (already an inherent privilege in itself) when I found myself the only white person in the room for the first time. That feeling of being "out of place" really got me thinking--why isn't this something I have experienced in my own country? I have never been the only white person in a room, I have never felt out of place for the color of my skin, I have never been treated differently because of it. My privilege was so ingrained in my day-to-day life I failed to truly recognize it until I was faced with even a small part of the opposite experience."

2. Why is the idea of race as an illusion a difficult one for Black people to embrace?

A few reflections:

  • To me, the idea of race being an "illusion" seems similar to the ill-conceived idea of "colorblindness." I hear so many people using this phrase, "I don't see color!" as a way to prove they are not racist, when in fact, the phrase discredits the experiences people inherently face because of the color of their skin. Rather, I think white people need to practice acknowledging the experiences of our brothers and sisters of color, "I see your color and it's beautiful, and I want to listen."

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK FOUR: August 19-26, 2020

Chapter 4: Mama, It Is So Hard to Be Black in America

Discussion Questions: 

1. Why is it dangerous to the human psyche to allow small racist acts, so called microaggressions, go unchecked?

A few reflections:

  • "It is dangerous to allow microaggressions to go unchecked because if they are not brought to light, the assumption is that they are acceptable."

2. Is it difficult for you to engage in conversation about race with those outside of your race? Reflect upon the reasons for your experiences or discomfort.

A few reflections:

  • ​"It is not difficult for me to have discussions with people outside my race. However, it has only been in the past few years that race can be a topic of discussion across races. I think because it is very obvious that issues we thought were resolved or on the right track after the 60’s, only went under the radar. The diversity of ethnicities and races should be acknowledged, discussed and celebrated."

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK FIVE: August 26-September 2, 2020

Chapter 5: Diary of a Spoiled White Guy

Discussion Questions: 

1. What do you think affected the author of this chapter the most as he learned about the reality of race? Think about the moments in your life that helped you to embrace the reality of race.

A few reflections:

  • When the author spoke about his time in Malaysia, that truly resonated with me. I too actually had a very similar experience--I went to visit friends in a small town in Malaysia, and found myself for the first time, not only the only white person in the room, but in the TOWN. It was suddenly extremely clear to me how much I took for granted in being a white person in my primarily white community back home and how I had never truly felt out of place for the color of my skin before. 

2. What are some of the conflicts that you have had around issues of social justice and equality?

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK SIX: September 2-September 9, 2020

Chapter 6: A White Lens on Dismantling Racism

Discussion Questions: 

1. With whom do you talk about racism or White privilege? If you are White, how and when do you talk about these issues when you are with just White friends? Is the conversation different when you are with people of color? If so, why and how does noticing that difference make you feel?

A few reflections:

  • I am a person of color. Within the past few years, I have had conversations about racism and White privilege. Usually as a result of a training or something in the news. I have some friends with which I have very natural, open conversations. These conversations are two-way and respectful of what is being shared and the feelings that sometimes surface.

2. If racism is an exploitative system set up by White people, maintained by White people, and benefiting White people, who has the primary responsibility for dismantling it? If White people have a primary responsibility for dismantling structural racism, what is a primary responsibility for people of color?

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK SEVEN: September 9-September 16, 2020

Chapter 7: Architects of Safe Space for Beloved Community

Discussion Questions: 

1. What interesting coincidences have happened in your life that might have led you to greater congruence between soul and the role that you play in life?

2. When have you been confronted with your own unconscious prejudice? How did you deal with it?

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 

WEEK EIGHT: September 16-September 23, 2020

Chapter 8: The American South is Our Holy Land

Discussion Questions: 

1. What thoughts and feelings are provoked within you when thinking about the American South as the Holy Land?

2. "Facts don't fly high enough or reach deep enough. Poetry riding on melody is necessary," proclaims the author of this chapter as he describes the Holy Land for the United States which is the American South. Why does music help make sense of the comparisons that are being made between the American South and the biblical Holy Land?

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 
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WEEK EIGHT: September 23-September 30, 2020

Chapter 9: Getting Dismantling Racism Right in America

Discussion Questions: 

1. This chapter tells the story of the Dismantling Racism Commission in Atlanta. What do you know about the work of dismantling racism which is occurring in your community? Who is charged with doing this work? Have you been involved in doing such work?

2. What do you believe could be the hardest part of having conversations about race such as the ones that you would expect to have in a dismantling racism workshop?

SHARE YOUR REFLECTIONS

 
OFFICE HOURS

Monday- Thursday: 8:30 AM-4:45 PM 

Friday: 8:30 AM-3:30 PM

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