by Catherine Shreves and Sonia Cairns, co-chairs of RJI
The Racial Justice Initiative met in September for a half-day retreat to discuss its purpose and goals for the year ahead, and it has since approved these as follows:
Purpose Statement: Live out our faith by accelerating Plymouth’s actions to heal pervasive racial injustice through individual, congregational and community transformation.
Goals: The group embraced Plymouth’s existing within/among/beyond planning structure to arrive at the following goals:
- Deepen our personal awareness of white advantage in systemic racism.
- Fuel our commitment to actions that address racial injustice through a spiritual, honest and compassionate approach to ourselves and others.
- Pursue opportunities to work with organizations led by Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other allies committed to fostering racial justice in our communities.
These three goals are not mutually exclusive. They all support each other.
RJI has agreed that these spiritual principles will guide its work:
- We acknowledge that many of us are beneficiaries of a system that advantages white-bodied people.
- We follow the yearning of our souls to build a just world.
- We will care for one another with grace and compassion through this challenging work.
- We will foster non-judgmental spaces and safe places to have honest conversations.
- We will deepen our understanding of our country’s more complete history by learning from people whose stories have not been included in the dominant historical narratives.
An ambitious schedule of program offerings — designed to engage the entire Plymouth congregation — has been planned. Offerings will include four signature activities:
- “Seeing White” podcast series discussions started Nov. 24 and will run monthly through January 2022. We encourage members to listen to an episode each month and join in online discussions, but members can participate for one, several or all episodes over the next year.
- An audio/video program titled This I Believe | Making Racial Justice Personal that will communicate Plymouth individuals’ personal statements about white advantage and anti-racism actions will begin in December 2020. These will appear in Friday emails (see other article in The Flame on this new project);
- Plymouth Reads The congregation will together read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown, and online discussion groups will be held; and
- Richard Rothstein, author of Color of Law, whose appearance at Plymouth in March was cancelled due to the pandemic, will speak sometime in 2021 .
Other RJI activities will include a regular opportunity to participate in local speakers’ talks; a multi-media discussion group on the intersection of racial injustice and immigration, to begin in January; a healing event to coincide with the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death; Dakota Sacred Sites tours next spring and summer; a community healing vigil tied to the outcome of the four Minneapolis police officers who will be on trial; book reviews; podcasts; and classes.
Many other yet-to-be-determined program offerings will be offered as the year progresses. All RJI activities are open to the congregation and will regularly be communicated via The Flame, Friday email pushes and other Plymouth communications vehicles.