by Rev. Dr. Paul Reiter
I would like to thank my father for introducing me to the subject of racism. Perhaps it was the conversations I overheard at the dinner table as he talked with my mother about the plight of Black persons in the Post Office; or it may have been my observation of his inclusion of people in our family circle, when others were excluding. Margaret, who cleaned the Main Post Office in Miami attending my older sister’s wedding, while others scoffed at her “sitting with the family”. My take away was that racism can operate through personal encounters – like watching how blacks reacted to the “White only” drinking fountain at the post office, or systemically as I watched Satchel Paige pitch when he was with the Miami Marlins, and the “system” spoke about him in the Miami Herald. To me racism is a system of oppression based on race. It operates through impersonal systems, but also through the malicious words and actions of individuals. The definition that I have found that has meaning is that racism is often prejudice + power. It is not only personal bigotry toward someone of a different race that constitutes racism; racism can also include the imposition of bigoted ideas on groups of people. It is yet to be determined if it was a factor in the recent shootings in Georgia.
Closer to home, it is what is behind the work of SURE (Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity) when it pushed several years ago for bus routes to be expanded onto Longboat Key so that service personnel that served luxurious homes could have a way to and from work. And this year SURE’s efforts have focused on seeking civil citations for adults who commit non-violent misdemeanor crimes, like forgetting to have a driver’s license, or having a minor marijuana infraction because they were found to have the substance in a glovebox of their car. If you read the Sarasota Herald Tribune yesterday you would have seen an opinion piece from David Brooks titled “A new vision of social justice” in it he quoted theologian Esau McCaulley who said social justice begins with respect for the equal dignity of each person, based on the idea that we are all made in the image of God. It sounds a lot like the view of humanity that my father shared with me. If you have a vision of your Christian life that includes social justice, you are invited to the Nehemiah Assembly – no attendance required – just sign into the Zoom Call and join 1,000 others as we quietly work for social justice for our community. The time: Mar 29, 2021 06:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Register in advance for this meeting:
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Prayer: Lord, give me a vision of what it means for us all to be an embodiment of your self-emptying love. Give me courage and wisdom to see the fullness of Christ in my neighbor, and to bring about the beloved community and multi-ethnic family you seek that is indeed a glimpse of your Kingdom. Amen.
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