General Convention prepares for expansive conversations on racism and racial healing
Episcopal Church leaders already had begun thinking about spiritual responses to racism in 2015 when a shock of events underscored the urgency of that discernment.
A young white supremacist gunman with a fondness for the Confederate flag opened fire June 17, 2015, at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, killing nine people. That massacre, along with news reports of arsons at black churches and police shootings of unarmed black men, helped fuel passage at the 78th General Convention of Resolution C019, which called on church officers to develop a churchwide response to racial injustice, and up to $2 million was approved for that work.
The Charleston massacre, in particular, left bishops and deputies “feeling a sense of shock and outrage because I don’t think they thought that that could happen in 2015,” Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation, told Episcopal News Service.
Kim had been on the job about a year at that time. Since then, she has helped lead a team of Episcopal Church staff members in carrying out the mandate of Resolution C019 through a framework agreed on by church officers, including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who was elected in 2015 as the church’s first black leader.
The racial reconciliation team developed the framework into Becoming Beloved Community, which now is the centerpiece of the Episcopal Church’s racial reconciliation efforts. How to follow through with those efforts will be the core question before the Racial Justice and Reconciliation Committee when it convenes at the 79th General Convention next week in Austin, Texas.
But racism and racial healing are such big topics, both socially and spiritually, that the discussion is expected to expand well beyond a single resolution, or even a single committee, to include meetings, events and exhibits in all corners of the convention center from July 5 to 13.
Trump appointee guts UN document on racism, says leaders don’t have duty to condemn hate speech
A Trump administration appointee to the State Department tore into standard UN documents that condemn racism as a threat to democracy.
The deputy assistant secretary for refugees and migration, a foreign service officer promoted by the White House to an unusually senior position for his rank, disputed the idea that leaders have a “duty” to condemn hate speech and incitement, and repeatedly rejected use of the words nationalism, populism, and xenophobia.
“The drafters say ‘populism and nationalism’ as if these are dirty words,” wrote Andrew Veprek, the deputy assistant secretary for refugees and migration, in documents obtained exclusively by CNN. “There are millions of Americans who likely would describe themselves as adhering to these concepts. (Maybe even the President.). So are we looking to here condemn our fellow-citizens, those who pay our salaries?”
President Donald Trump has described himself as a nationalist.
Veprek also pushed to soften language about fighting racism and about racism in politics in his proposed amendments to a UN Human Rights Council resolution titled “The Incompatibility between Democracy and Racism” that is adopted without a vote, with much of the same language, every few years.
In response to one section that says national leaders have a responsibility to condemn hate speech, Veprek writes, “‘[d]uty to condemn’ goes too far. Our public figures can’t be obliged to police every intolerant thought out their [sic] at the risk of being condemned for intolerance themselves.”
Fear of foreigners
And he repeatedly argues against using the word “xenophobia,” or the fear of foreigners, writing in side notes that he has concerns over “the malleability of the term now and in the future.”
“[W]hat real or perceived offense is next to be considered ‘xenophobic?’” he writes. “How does that square with our historic respect for the right of free expression? The drafters need to focus on behavior and actions – which states can control – rather than attitudes and states of mind.”
The internal administration documents show suggested edits Veprek apparently made, marked by his electronic State Department identifier on notes in the margins, according to a source familiar with the documents.
It’s unclear if Veprek has the authority within the State Department to make changes to the documents, which are full of crossed out sentences and other comments vigorously contesting the UN statements.
Shortly after the edits were suggested, the US announced it was leaving the Geneva based Human Rights Council.
Reflection, repentance from the sin of racism seen as key to evangelization
To be effective at the task of evangelizing the culture, Catholics must first reflect and repent from the sins of years of institutional racism in the Archdiocese of Detroit and beyond, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said in a new pastoral note.
The note was released one year after the publishing of his blueprint for evangelization in the Detroit Archdiocese, “Unleash the Gospel.”
The pastoral note, released June 18 in English and Spanish, is titled “Agents for the New Creation” and released as the first in a series over the coming months that will examine cultural and societal topics in light of “Unleash the Gospel.”
Seventy-five years after the infamous civil unrest of 1943 that took the lives of 34 people and wounded 400 others in Detroit, a catalyst for decades of racial animosity and bitterness, Catholics in the Detroit metro area have a role to play in bringing Christ into the deepest recesses of lingering division by repenting of evil and recommitting to protecting the inherent dignity of all people, the archbishop wrote.
“Our nation’s history has many tremendous accomplishments of which we should be proud. But it also bears the stain of many years of institutional racism whereby blacks – even after emancipation – were treated as second-class citizens or worse. Complicit in these sins were many who professed the Catholic faith,” Vigneron wrote.
“Sadly, we are living the wounds of those many years of injustice in our local communities. For the sins of these Catholics past and present, I as your Archbishop am truly sorry. Acts of racism are sins.”
To become a truly missionary archdiocese, Catholics in southeast Michigan must acknowledge the past with a forthright trust in the “life-changing power of Jesus Christ” to overcome sin and move forward in love, he said.
“For us in metro Detroit, this mission-oriented attitude means that we keep Jesus Christ at the center of everything we do,” Vigneron wrote. “Our role is to entrust ourselves faithfully to him and to let his teaching shape our lives and our actions.”
The fact that the archbishop has repeatedly addressed the topic since before the 2016 Detroit synod that led to “Unleash the Gospel” is a sign that the issue is of paramount importance in the still racially divided city, said Msgr. Dan Trapp, pastor of St. Augustine and St. Monica Parish on Detroit’s east side and a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
“This is a problem that has to be faced. It’s something we all need to be praying about and repenting – that is, thinking again – about,” Trapp told The Michigan Catholic, Detroit’s archdiocesan newspaper.
“We’re not in a post-racial society. Some people like to think we are; we’re not,” he said.
“We’ve had four or five race riots in Detroit, depending on how people count them. This is just a long-standing difficulty, and the fact that the archbishop points it out, I think is helpful for all of us.”
Leon Dixon, director of black Catholic ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said the archbishop’s repeated efforts to bridge racial divides have not gone unnoticed in the black Catholic community.
“So many times when dealing with matters of race, sex or anything that makes people uncomfortable, it kind of just sits there. He’s keeping (this) at the top of the conversation,” Dixon said. “In our world today, everything is so polarized and politicized, with people drawing lines in the sand. But the archbishop is telling us, there is no line to be drawn in the sand if you’re a Catholic or a Christian because Jesus has proclaimed salvation for all.”
While inner-city parishes that are predominantly black – some with churches built to house 1,000 to 1,500 parishioners – have suffered from dwindling congregations, Dixon said those who remain often feel isolated from the rest of the Church.
The racist myth of the ‘physical’ African football team
I love listening to white men, especially old white men, talk about black athletes during major global sporting events. I have been following the kind of language white pundits use during FIFA World Cups and Olympic Games for years, so I am well aware to their fascination with and ridicule of the black body.
I was hardly surprised that someone like British businessman and reality TV star Alan Sugar came up with a bitter and racist tweet about the Senegalese team at the World Cup in Russia.
Sugar’s colonial mindset saw the Senegalese team as people selling sunglasses on beaches, not as world-class players who deserve praise for their success.
Sugar’s statement demonstrates the implicit prejudice that often surfaces in Western media discussions about African players. That Sugar and many of his supporters initially did not see the racism in his tweet and tried to play it down as a “joke” confirms the latent bigotry that haunts football and how media covers it.
But beyond Sugar’s raw racism, there are all kinds of “veiled” racist discourses that dominate the language white commentators use during football matches.
My favourite is their widely normalised assumption that African teams are always the “physical” and never the “tactical” side. When Senegal faced Poland in their first World Cup appearance since 2002 earlier this month, the same assumption was repeated.
After Senegal defeated its Eastern European opponent 2-1, NBC Sport claimed in an online article that Poland had succumbed to Senegal’s “pace and physicality”. Former West Ham Coach Slaven Bilic, now pundit for British ITV, also commented on Senegal’s “pace and power”.
Scarborough: “Overt Racism” Is The Central Driving Principle Of Trump Presidency, Attacking People Who Aren’t White
“It has gone from a seasoning to the beginning of the campaign to literally the central driving principle of his presidency,” he said. “You look at the press conferences he is holding and the statements he is making. The central — the central defining nature of his presidency now has to do with attacking people who are not white. Look at his tweets!”
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Children seized from their parents. 2,500 infants, toddlers, children, spread out. Reports that a 3-year-old actually — 3-month-old I mean, moved to Michigan. A 4-year-old was put on a bus at the border in Mexico/Texas. Driven up on a bus with a government contractor who couldn’t touch them, couldn’t hug them. Some who didn’t even speak Spanish, driven all the way up, 2,000 miles to New York City.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: People don’t know what to do, and they are very — I mean, I really meant more than ever, people who are visibly upset about what is going on, and I totally understand a very good, honest debate about whether or not somebody who works in the white house, you know, should be shouted out of the restaurant or not. The answer is not.
MIKA: But dwelling on it, and the white house press secretary tweeting about it is completely inappropriate, off topic at this point and pales in comparison to what is ailing this nation. People don’t know what to do, so they are doing what they can.
JOE: Shouting people down is not the thing to do, at the same time, keep your head down and worry about parents. If you were a parent — and I had somebody who usually defends trump saying, I’m not sure at this point, how anybody who has children could not look at this and be moved in a personal way and ask, what’s happening to our country? And yet, we’re going to have Jeremy Peters on later today. Jeremy wrote a story that the more Donald Trump is attacked, whether it’s for lying and they admit that he is a liar, whether it’s just overt racism where it has gone from a seasoning to the beginning of the campaign to literally the central driving principle of his presidency. You look at the press conferences he is holding and the statements he is making. The central — the central defining nature of his presidency now has to do with attacking people who are not white. Look at his tweets. Look what happened over the past week. People understand that too, and yet they go, well, I know. That makes me uncomfortable, and they still support him.
U.S. police chiefs oppose Trump move to detain immigrant families
Republican and Democratic U.S. police chiefs and sheriffs on Wednesday urged U.S. congressional leaders to find alternatives to detention of immigrant families because of the risks it poses to children and its huge cost.
In a joint letter, 48 law enforcement heads appealed to lawmakers to consider possibilities other than incarceration, such as allowing families to live in the community and require heads of households to wear ankle bracelets or receive telephone checks while awaiting court or immigration hearings.
Police chiefs from across the geographic and political spectrum voiced apprehension at locking up migrant families at a time when U.S. law enforcement is trying to gain the trust of immigrant communities.
U.S. President Donald Trump issued an order last week to end separation of children from parents, which had occurred because of his administration’s policy of prosecuting all adults caught entering the United States illegally. The police chiefs praised the order.
But the zero tolerance policy remains in place and under the order, which is likely to be challenged in court, families would instead be detained together for the duration of immigration proceedings, which can take months or years.
Family detention centers could radicalize young people, pushing them toward street gangs or hate groups, said Houston police chief Art Acevedo.
“The last thing we need to do is marginalize and disenfranchise young people,” said Acevedo, who emigrated to the United States from Cuba as a child. “You can accomplish the safety aspect and monitoring aspect at a fraction of the cost without having the negative impact on kids.”
Vetting of families would show most do not need to be incarcerated as they pose no threat to the community, the group said.
Confinement would endanger their children’s physical and emotional development, according to the active and retired officials who included the heads of major law enforcement groups such as Montgomery County, Maryland, police chief Tom Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.
Taxpayers could save millions of dollars each year through incarceration alternatives, given the average cost of holding a person in family detention is above $300 a day, according to the group.
Past alternatives to immigrant detention were more than 99 percent successful in getting family members to immigration hearings, it said.
“Local governments have been using alternatives to incarceration for a long time,” said Fresno, California, Sheriff Margaret Mims, a Republican who runs a local jail.
Trump’s tax-cut scam will only deepen racism and inequality
The six-month anniversary of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed last week with little fanfare. Despite Republicans’ dishonest spin, most Americans recognize that President Trump’s crowning legislative achievement was a plutocratic heist that will do nothing to help working people. Greedy corporations have used their windfalls to reward chief executives and stockholders, while workers’ wages have actually declined. Barely a third of Americans now support the law.
Yet the racial implications of Trump’s tax scam have been radically underreported and remain poorly understood. While fair tax reform could reduce the impact of structural racism in the economy, the law that Republicans passed in December will make it much worse.
That’s the conclusion of an important new report from economists Darrick Hamilton and Michael Linden of the Roosevelt Institute (where I serve on the board). As the institute has documented, the U.S. economy is shaped by informal rules that create disparities that harm people of color in virtually every part of society. Many of these “hidden rules of race” can be found in the federal tax code.
“Far from addressing, fixing, or improving the hidden rules of the tax code that disadvantage people of color, the new law strengthened some of these rules and even added new ones,” they write. “The sum total effect of the Trump tax law is likely to further increase the economic disparities, particularly with regards to wealth, between white Americans and communities of color.”
Start with the obvious fact that it disproportionately benefits corporations and the rich. This will clearly lead to greater economic inequality in general, but it will also exacerbate the racial wealth gap, because the wealthiest Americans are overwhelmingly white. As the Roosevelt report notes, median net worth among white households is about 1,200 percent larger than it is among their black counterparts. Any tax policy skewed toward the wealthy, then, is also racially skewed against people of color.
Furthermore, while the richest Americans reap the benefits of the law, many workers at the bottom of the income ladder, where people of color are overrepresented, will actually see an overall tax increase over time. That means the law effectively raids black and brown Americans’ paychecks to fatten the investment accounts of the largely white financial elite.
World Cup exposes England not Russia as the country with a racism problem
England fans giving Nazi salutes in Russia’s Volgograd, Lord Alan Sugar posting racist tweets. Just how deep does England’s problem with racism run?
Baseless warnings about racism in Russia
Exposed as baseless during this World Cup has been the anti-Russia propaganda peddled by Western ideologues, particularly in the UK, when it comes to the security and safety of travelling fans.
In the lead up to the tournament the contents of a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report was made public by the BBC. Consider the following paragraph: “Fans from BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) backgrounds and those who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) face additional risks of attack and persecution [in Russia].”
This exercise in scaremongering was undertaken by the usual crew of Russophobic cranks that colonises the UK political and media establishment, undertaken as part of a campaign to undermine the tournament and see it end in failure. In deterring fans from England in travelling to Russia to follow their team it worked, reflected in significantly lower number of tickets being sold in England than were sold for past World Cups in which the country’s national team were involved.
Alas, with the undoubted success of the tournament thus far, grudgingly acknowledged even by strident critics of Russia, England fans that made the mistake of believing this Russophobic guff have missed out and will be kicking themselves – even more so considering the hospitality the England fans who braved the journey have reported receiving in Russia, “praising a particularly warm reception from their hosts.”
‘F*** racism!’ – Sweden players rally behind team-mate’s powerful statement after online threats
SWEDEN’S JIMMY DURMAZ has denounced “unacceptable” messages of racial hatred and even death threats after he gave away the foul that led to Toni Kroos’s late winner for Germany at the World Cup.
Abusive comments on the 29-year-old substitute’s Instagram account poured in after Germany won 2-1 in the 95th minute in Sochi on Saturday.
“I can be criticised for my performance… but there is a line, and that line was crossed yesterday,” Durmaz said in a statement he read out to reporters at the team’s Black Sea coast base in Gelendzhik on Sunday.
“When you threaten me, when you call me a “blatte” (a pejorative word for a dark-skinned foreigner), an ‘Arab devil’, a ‘terrorist’, ‘Taliban’, then you have gone far beyond the limit,” he said.
Durmaz, who was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey, said his family and children had also been threatened.
“Who the hell does such things? It is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Earlier in the day, general secretary Hakan Sjostrand confirmed the Swedish FA had reported the abuse to police on behalf of the player.
“A number of complaints have been made with the Swedish FA as the plaintiff so that Jimmy can concentrate on what he is here to do – play football. But Durmaz is fully behind the complaints,” Sjostrand said via a statement.
“We do not tolerate a player being subjected to threats or abuse. It’s uncomfortable and very upsetting to see the treatment that Jimmy Durmaz has had to put up with. Completely unacceptable.”