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LIFEGroup Reflections

If you participated in the Justice and Mercy series and the break out sessions, at some point you probably ended up asking yourself “What can I do?” The question is a difficult one to answer because racism has so many facets. Racism is about so many things. Think of all the places where racism resides.

Racism is about attitudes. We are racist in our thoughts and attitudes. We are racist in our actions and words. Our government and social institutions our filled with racism. Our schools and our churches are filled with racism.

Racism is about distance. How many of us actually live in the places that are most affected by racism? How many of us are involved in the communities that are hurt by oppression? How can we expect to help changes take place when we've decided not to be neighbors with our brothers and sisters?

Racism is about power. Where does the power reside in the current system and how is it used? Who has access to it? Are those with the power willing to examine the current structure and make changes? Are we willing to demand that the system change?

Racism is about resources. Who has access to health care? Who has access to nutrition? Who has access to safe neighborhoods? Who has access to education? Who has access to jobs? Who has access to transportation? Do those with more power have more resources? Are those with more resources willing to sacrifice to balance the scales?

Racism is about responsibility. Are we all, black and white, rich and poor, powerful and oppressed, willing to be responsible for and take care of one another? Are we each willing to take responsibility for our sins and to work towards justice and mercy?

So what can you do? The Urban Center Revitalization Task Force gave four goals for meeting the needs of urban residents in the Muskegon area.

1.Engaged citizenry: Local decisions should reflect the vision of the community and the needs of its residents. All citizens-regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, pr income level- should have their voices heard.
2.Diverse population: A diverse population should be encouraged and celebrated and educational opportunities should be available to explain the the values of diversity.
3.Healing racism: Racism should not be tolerated in any practices or policies.
4.Disperse and decrease poverty: Actions should be taken to address both the causes and consequences of concentrated poverty. All residents must have access to good schools, affordable housing, employment and advancement opportunities, save neighborhoods, quality health services, recreation and other quality of life amenities.
(July 25, 2005 Report of the Urban Center Revitalization Task Force)

How can we make these goals a reality? The simple answer is to get educated and get involved. If you want to get educated, The Covenant with Black America is a good place to start. The Covenant with Black America is a collection of essays on major problems caused by racism along with steps that can be taken to work towards a solution at the community level, the individual level and the political level. The website www.covenantwithblackamerica.com has many resources on combating racism. So log on, read, get educated and get to work.

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