Racial Justice Initiative

This I Believe | Racial Justice Is Personal

Plymouth member Jeff Smith is featured in This I Believe | Racial Justice Is Personal video, a project of the Racial Justice Initiative. The goal of these personal stories is to inspire reflection and action, and we offer them with humility and vulnerability. The video is included below.

Through This I Believe | Racial Justice Is Personal, Plymouth members can practice speaking up, and we invite you to listen with an open heart and mind. RJI hopes that all of these personal stories, from people you may know, will inspire deeper thought about your own relationship to systemic racism. Before Plymouth can become a truly antiracist church, we need to first look at our own participation in a system that favors white people.

If you are interested in writing a personal statement and/or being featured in an upcoming video, you can learn more about the journey and view previous videos below, or contact Jean Kennedy at jekennedy21 (at) comcast.net.

Contact: Karen Barstad barstadkaren@gmail.com.

This I Can Do

  • I can watch a documentary about the racial history of the United States. (Example: “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”)
  • I can diversify my social media feed by following an organization founded by people of color.
  • I can check out the website of a Black organization.
  • I can check out the website of an Indigenous organization.
  • I can check out the website of an Asian American/Pacific Islander organization.
  • I can listen to a podcast by a person who is Black, Indigenous, or Asian American/Pacific Islander.
  • I can visit the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery (12 Penn Avenue North, 4th Floor, Minneapolis).
  • I can go to Mia to see their collection of Native American art (2400 3rd Avenue South, Minneapolis).
  • I can talk with a friend or family member about race, choosing someone with whom I haven’t had this conversation before.
  • I can participate in one of Plymouth Church’s weekly racial justice vigils (Tuesdays from 12:00-12:30 at the church).
  • I can have a conversation with a vendor at the Midtown Global Market (920 East Lake Street, Minneapolis).
  • I can donate to an organization that advocates for racial justice.
  • I can contact an elected official about the importance of creating a racially just community.
  • I can vote (if I’m eligible) and/or encourage someone I know to vote.
  • On a piece of paper, I can complete this sentence: “Racial justice is important to me because___________________________.”
  • I can learn about mass incarceration by exploring the website of The Marshall Project (themarshallproject.org).
  • I can eat at a restaurant owned and operated by people of color.
  • I can talk to an owner or employee of one of the businesses in the Plymouth Church neighborhood.
  • I can read about, listen to, or watch a story about the Japanese internment camps of World War II.
  • I can go to the Plymouth Church library and check out a book about racial justice.
  • I can listen to an episode of “Hey Black Child” on Apple Podcasts.
  • I can read a novel or poem written by a writer of color.
  • I can go to a Juneteenth celebration.
  • I can participate in a “Sacred Sites” tour sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Churches (http://www.mnchurches.org/what-we-do/healing-minnesota-stories).
  • I can shop at the Hmongtown Marketplace (217 Como Avenue, Suites 2-100, St. Paul).
  • I can make a list of my health care providers (dentist, eye doctor, primary care physician, chiropractor, massage therapist, etc.) and note how many of them do not share my racial identity.
  • I can read the text of the Emancipation Proclamation and identify the exceptions that kept some people legally enslaved.
  • I can read the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and identify the exception that can keep a person legally enslaved.
  • I can go to a pow wow.
  • I can go to a farmers’ market and talk to a vendor whose race is different from my own.
  • I can learn five new things about the indigenous people of Alaska.
  • I can learn five new things about the indigenous people of Hawaii.
  • I can learn five new things about the indigenous people of Puerto Rico.
  • I can learn five new things about Islam and the traditions of Muslims.
  • I can learn five new things about Judaism and the traditions of Jewish people.
  • I can learn five new things about Hinduism and the traditions of Hindus.

Volunteer

The RJI is always looking for volunteers to assist with programming activities.  Topics and sub-committees include the following:  building working and personal relationships with organizations and fighting systemic racism; partnering with Isaiah and other local organizations on voter enfranchisement efforts; reforming police and improving public safety; communicating to the congregation about how people can get involved; fostering the congregation’s curiosity about U.S. history and dismantling the narrative about white supremacy, American exceptionalism and the history of race relations; promoting congregational dialogue through Racial Justice Circles and other ways; inviting speakers on racial justice topics; providing support and racial justice resources; cultivating a relationship between the RJI and the Immigration Welcome Working Group; enhancing resource offerings with books, articles, podcasts, movies and encourage internal reflection; leading book reviews; and encouraging members to share their personal experiences and to understand their own white privilege.  Please contact RJI chair Karen Barstad barstadkaren@gmail.com.

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