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Anti-Racism Presentation

Al Dixon

Good evening.  My name is Al Dixon, I am a co-chair of the Anti-Racism Task Force.

How many of you think racism is dead in our community? How many of you think that racism is alive and well in our county?  Yes, there may be some skeptics.  A young Hispanic woman was cussed out in a McDonald’s by a Georgia deputy sheriff because she was speaking in Spanish with her girlfriend and was told to stop speaking.  Look what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, or the killing of the innocent Black man in Ferguson, Missouri.  How many saw the mounted Galveston Texas police arrest a mentally ill and homeless young black man for trespassing, hand cuff him then lead him by a rope around his neck down the street.  In 1967, I was told by two North Carolina deputies after stopping me, that they should turn me over to the Klan. Now Megan Dooly, young woman in our city has been receiving threats because she dared to speak out on social media when she saw members of the proud boys, a hate group associated with white supremacists.

Deacon Karen McDonald

Yes, racism is alive in our community and we need to take action.  Racism is the roots of and connects other social issues, LIKE:

  • Lack of access to culturally competent health care;
  • Disparities in education that leave behind students of color and contribute to the student to prison pipeline;
  • Overcrowded prisons DUE TO injustices in the criminal justice system that target people of color giving them harsher sentences than whites ;
  • Lack of affordable housing created by years of redlining, and lending practices that have prevented blacks from owning land, homes and living in certain areas.
  • Poverty that follows in the footsteps of the wealth gap between blacks and whites.
  • When our brown students are bullied in school leaving them scarred, it adds to the present anxiety and depression from fear of separation from their family.
  • Our indigenous population continues to suffer from our racist actions.

Unless we address racism along with other social issues we are not going to make much progress.

Kerria Randolph and Rev. Joslyn Mason

Kerria: ISAAC is a force for positive change and the Anti-Racism Task force has been working hard to promote racial healing and the beloved community.  We’re looking at historical context, the systems that promote and sustain racism and asking what can we do to change the hearts and minds of everyday people and those who have the power to promote systemic change.

Rev. Joslyn: We have held racial healing circles and activities for clergy, community members and politicians.

Kerria: Our Public Meeting ask to public officials:

  • to commit to prioritize in the 116th Congress adoption of a humane process to gain permanent resident status and then citizenship for long-term members of our communities–including those with DACA status? We had all officials stand and say yes.

Rev. Joslyn: We held racial healing circles in conjunction with

  • Cradle Kalamazoo – Understanding the impact of racism on infant mortality workshop – 100 attended
  • Housing Task force – Healing through Exploring Local History of Segregation and Racism – Housing workshop

Kerria: This work of fighting racism is about action and that action must include listening and learning from others. This is how change begins, we must nurture the civil discourse and work diligently and intentionality to bring together people with different perspectives.  However, it is not just our programs nor it is our faith and spirituality that create lasting change, it is the relationships of trust and respect and the help and commitment of everyone here today.

Kerria & Rev. Joslyn: Because We are ISAAC! We are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Unitarians and Non-Religious. We are Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, Middle Eastern and White. We are Immigrants. We are suburban, inner-city and rural. We are haves, have-nots, and have-a-little-want-mores. We are bold, tenacious, and we don’t back down. We are Kalamazoo County!

Coach Dick Shilts

My name is Dick Shilts.  I have spent 46 years of my life coaching basketball.

One day I was asked by an African American friend if I thought my life would have been different had I been born Black.  My reflections on that question have helped lead me to read many books and to become a member of ISAAC’s Anti-Racism Task Force.   My participation in this group has resulted in a deeper understanding of systemic racism, and the role that I, and my white privilege, play in it.

I want to learn more about how to end the harm I unwittingly do to People of Color, and to enter a new realm of coaching – that of learning how to be an ally in the dismantling of racism and then to share what I have learned with others.  And while it’s true that becoming aware is an important first step, awareness without action is merely an academic exercise. We can do so much better, and this task force is helping me find out how.

Dr. Carolyn Heineman

I’m Carolyn Heineman, and I’m here specifically to lift up the 8-month workshop on Healing Whiteness that the ISAAC Anti-Racism Task Force has made possible.

Healing Whiteness is a safe and transformative place for white people to build our racial self-understanding and our skills to face our own misshapen learnings around whiteness.

In my ongoing journey to become an effective ally, I am being transformed by this opportunity to heal my own version of whiteness.  And I believe that unless I am able to do this, I have no standing to reach out and suggest to others that they are the ones who need to change.  The task force is giving me this opportunity.

Al Dixon

That is why we need an anti-racism task force.  The work is far from over. We don’t want what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia or Ferguson, Missouri to happen here.  Or have our citizens threatened by white supremacists, because they dare to stand up against racism. Our task force has been and will continue working towards helping to eliminate racism.  Businesses, hospitals, other organizations, clergy and their congregations must join us in the fight. We are asking for your vote so we can continue the work.

Chant with Audience:  When I say Racism must go, you say: Join the Fight

Racism must go….Join the fight! 

Racism must go… Join the fight!

Racism must go…Join the fight!