The Anti-Oppression Team consists of two areas:
“Race is an arbitrary (specious, false) socio/biological construct created by Europeans during the time of world wide colonial expansion and adapted in the political and social structures of the United States, to assign human worth and social status, using themselves as the model of humanity, for the purpose of legitimizing White power and White skin privilege.”
~ Joseph Barndt, Understanding and Dismantling Racism; The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America, p.72.
“Racism is prejudice plus power.”
~ Joseph Barndt. p. 60.
Anti-Racism / White Privilege
Dismantling Racism must be done in community.
The Anti-Racism/White Privilege area has completed a seven month / seven session national teleconference. Anti-racism activists, church leaders and lay people studied Joseph Barndt's "Understanding and Dismantling Racism: The 21st Century Challenge to White America."
People of Color and White folks came together over 7 months to build community, share stories and do the good work to break down the walls of racism and privilege.
Another training will begin after the first of the year. Let us know if you're interested.
The Intersection of Oppressions
As we seek to find our way through our own individual brushes with oppression, whether heterosexism, sexism, racism, classism, and all the other ways in which a section of humanity can judge another, it is very easy to regard our own experience as being singularly difficult and therefore let our own hardships become the sole center of our concern. It is this very human tendency that can be exploited by oppressors to isolate and weaken us in every attempt to escape the oppression that people experience.
Historically, we can take as an example the way the wealthy elite controlled the British colonies in the early 1700’s. By that time they had 150 years of experience in learning how to rule and had developed useful tactics to deal with what they feared.
Native Americans were too unruly to keep as a labor force. Black slaves were easier to control, and their profitability was bringing an enormous increase in their numbers, now up to one-fifth of the entire colonial population. But, as their numbers grew, so did the prospect of rebellion. They also had the class anger of poor whites-servants, tenants, the poor, and the soldier and sailor. As the gap between rich and poor widened, the threat of violence increased.
The problem of control became more serious. What if these different despised groups should combine? The colonial elite became sickeningly aware that only through great vigilance and policies designed to keep their enemies divided could they hope to remain in control of the situation.
- To limit interaction between Indians and blacks, laws were passed prohibiting free blacks from traveling in Indian country.
- To increase resentment on the part of blacks, treaties with Indian tribes contained clauses requiring the return of fugitive slaves.
- To identify them as the enemy, black slaves and poor whites were conscripted into the militia to fight Indians.
- To increase tensions between Indians and whites and to create a buffer zone, small sharecroppers were encouraged to settle in disputed border areas.
- To increase tensions between blacks and poor whites, plantation owners were required to keep at least one white servant as overseer for every six adult male blacks.
- To emphasize the difference between blacks and whites, when whites and blacks rebelled together, amnesty was given to white servants but not to blacks.
- To prevent the advancement of blacks, skilled white craftsmen were forbidden from teaching any blacks, free or slave, and business owners were forbidden from employing them.
Racism became more and more practical. The answer to the problem, obvious if unspoken, was racism, to separate dangerous free whites from dangerous black slaves and from dangerous Native Americans by a screen of racial contempt.
It is this attitude of virtual “contempt” that keeps the various oppressed groups in a state of competition with each other, fighting over the crumbs that fall from the table instead of demanding to be seated. It is the ongoing goal and responsibility of the Church Within A Church Movement’s Anti-Racism Team to maintain the tension between racial oppression and all the other –isms. Not to gain advantage, but to ensure that we march forward, together, watching each other’s backs and ensuring each other’s respect in the journey to equality.
Copyright by The Church Within A Church Movement, Inc. 7.4.2010. Contact us for usage permission.