Hi everyone. This newsletter is for Swedenborgians (and friends) who want to learn how to support anti-racism. But we are not going to pretend that we are experts here; we are learning alongside you. There are lots of activists and educators who have been working in the anti-racism field for a long time. Our plan (in the words of Meera Mohan-Graham) is to Absorb and Amplify those voices, and follow their lead.
As we all strive to learn, change, and act together, we invite you join the Manifold Angels Facebook group for connection throughout the journey. The work is just beginning. If you would like to be added to the email list, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
This is an (approximately) tri-weekly newsletter, though the schedule may change occasionally. Some editions will be a deep dive into a particular issue (you can find links to these at the end of the newsletter). Other editions (like this one) will be more personal/devotional, aiming to help build stamina and commitment for the ongoing work for racial justice. Thanks for joining us!
Racial identities, like other social identities, have been created in various cultures from the numerous ways that we categorize and group subsets of people within our populations. When we say that race is a social construction, we mean that race (like gender) is created and re-created, day to day, through social habits, trainings, and conditionings that range from personal performance to institutional policies, and are most often so subtle as to evade our conscious awareness.
Not one of us can escape from engaging in ongoing, often subtle practices of racialization or race-making--the personal, interpersonal, and ultimately systemic processes by which races and their social implications are made and remade daily, monthly, yearly, in each generation. Through the subtle, often unintentional, social practices of radicalization, we give political, legal, and social meaning and value to racial identities.
And yet, as we experience race and racialization today, these practices are neither as simple nor as uniform as they were in the past. For example, research of the past generation has helped us to see that the firmness with which we construct race is actually different for each racial group. In addition, the lived experience of members within so-called racial groups may vary widely with the intersections of other identities, such as class or sexual orientation.
When we look more closely at this thing called "race," then we see a more complex picture than first meets the eye. It is so complex and so pervasive, in fact, that its inherent emptiness if often very hard to see. At the same time, if we can see its emptiness, we may be tempted to try to ignore race altogether. What we must become adept at doing is seeing race in more nuanced and sometimes contradictory ways. We must see how it is real and not real, at once. And we must at the same time resist investing it with the stories and meaning about it that we have inherited from previous generations. We need perceptive flexibility and the capacity to let go. Mindfulness can help us build those.
You’ve heard all of the following before:
•we don’t want employees to be uncomfortable
•when is it appropriate to start teaching kids about race
•will this be relevant/tiring to members
Hiding in all of these sentences is the word “white”. Do you see it? All you have to do to see that whiteness is hiding in plain sight is to ask yourself *which ones?*
Which employees are we concerned will be uncomfortable? Which kids are we uncertain to talk about race with? Which members do we think will find these conversations tiring or irrelevant? As soon as you start asking “which ones”, whiteness enters the chat.
And it’s important that it does, because by naming whiteness we can also name those who are not being considered. Are poc employees still wanting to have diversity programs? Are students of color already learning about race? Do we care about their feelings or about what they’d like to see from staff and administrators? Do we have any regard for our poc members? Has anyone spoken to them about why they might be tired? Do we care about the relevancy of race to their lives?
Name whiteness, especially when it’s hiding, and you give yourself at least a fighting chance at recentering the dialogue and asking some new (and potentially transformative) questions.
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From: TRUE CHRISTIANITY #67
Before creation, God was love itself and wisdom itself. That love and that wisdom had a drive to be useful. Without usefulness, love and wisdom are only fleeting abstract entities, and they do indeed fly away if they do not move in the direction of usefulness.
God created the universe so that usefulness could exist. Therefore the universe could be called a theater of useful functions…All aspects of the divine design have been brought together and concentrated in us so that God can perform the highest forms of useful service through us.
Without usefulness as a third party, love and wisdom would be as unreal as the heat and light of the sun would be if they had no effect on people, animals, and plants. That heat and that light become real by flowing into things and having an effect on them.
FROM THE SPIRIT
To See and To Do, from Meditations of the Heart by Howard Thurman
I seek courage to see the true thing. It is a fearful admission that courage is required to see the true thing. So much of my vision is blurred by my fears, my anxieties, my narrow self-interests that I find difficulty sometimes in giving full range to a searching scrutiny. It may be that I suspect the effect on me of seeing things in their true light. Waiting in the quiet experience of worship I seek the courage, the push of God, to see the true thing in everything with which I am involved.
I seek courage to do the true thing. To see the true thing is not necessarily to do the true thing. It may be that it takes a heightened form of courage to do the true thing. The act carries with it its own commitment. The act of a person finally involves the person and they are required at last to back their deed. Therefore, to do the true thing places a searching liability on the integrity of the person who does the deed. We want always to escape the full liability for the deed. The truer the deed, the more the responsibility involves all of a person's life.
I seek courage to do the true thing that my own life may not be double talk. Here, in the quietness of worshipful waiting, I seek courage to do the true thing. I seek courage to see and do the true thing.
Just a note: the various viewpoints included in these newsletters (either by authors of content or the organizations they represent) do not necessarily represent the viewpoint or position of the Swedenborgian Church of North America (SCNA). The editors present them in the spirit of learning and reflection.