By Marilyn Sponzo
First Congregational Church of Granby and South Congregational Church are partnering to offer
a series of conversations on racism in America. The program is based on “Sacred Conversation on Race,” an initiative of the United Church of Christ, the denomination to which both churches belong.
The program will use a three-pronged approach to explore issues of race, privilege and systemic inequality in America. First, Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority, a provocative, candid analysis of white privilege by Tim Wise, will be the subject of parallel discussions at First Church on Oct. 18 and 25, and at South Church on Oct. 11 and Nov. 15. Second, both churches have available tickets for the CT Forum on Race at the Bushnell on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.; panelists will include Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Wes Moore, author, speaker and founder of BridgeEdU; and Jessica Williams, writer, actress, comedian and correspondent on The Daily Show. Finally, both churches will host a joint follow-up conversation, to be held Dec. 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. at South Church.
In explaining the need for this program, Rev. Dr. Virginia McDaniel, senior pastor of First Church, noted that black teenagers are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white teenagers, black Americans are 10 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites although their rates of use are identical, and black Americans killed by police are twice as likely to be unarmed as white people. She commented, “I find those statistics staggering. For most of us at a personal level, we do believe in the equality and dignity of people of all races and backgrounds. Few harbor attitudes of overt bigotry or prejudice. But the safety and well-being of black Americans is affected by systems and forces far larger than any of our own personal attitudes—and we can make a difference when we confront the issue.”
Rev. Denny Moon, senior minister of South Church, noted, “My sense is that we first need to listen, to discover how white privilege affects each of us and to understand what it is like to live in the skin of urban people of color living in the shadow of poverty and violence. I see our discussions as a way of opening our ears and our hearts.”
For more information on this joint program, contact First Church at 860-653-4537 or South Church at 860-653-7289. All are welcome.