Critical Race Theory: What Christians Should Know. This video was produced by the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race in July 2021.
Here are some questions for reflection as you watch the above video:
When did you first hear the words: "Critical Race Theory"? Who did you hear them from? What do you notice about your reaction to those words now?
What does it feel like in your body to imagine having a conversation about race and racism? (Try and describe bodily sensations as well as feelings. We will practice having compassion towards ourselves with these feelings.)
What thoughts come to you as you think about having conversations about race and racism? What are your beliefs and attitudes about this? What are some of your questions about this?
Now think about your behavior, your actions regarding conversation about race and racism. When did you recall first realizing your own “racial identity”? Describe your action/interaction with different races. What actions are you taking (or would you like to "try on") that you would describe as "anti-racist"?
What learning or re-learning has happened for you as a result of watching the video?
This is referenced in the above video:
Bartolomé de Las Casas debates the subjugation of the Indians, 1550
This tract, a summary of a debate concerning the subjugation of Indians, contains the arguments of Bartolomé de Las Casas, the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, and Juan Gines Sepulveda, an influential Spanish philosopher, concerning the treatment of American Indians in the New World.
Las Casas came to Hispaniola, in the Caribbean, in 1502 with a land grant, ready to seek his fortune. A Dominican friar nurtured Las Casas’s interest in the priesthood as well as his sympathy toward the suffering of the native inhabitants. In 1509, Las Casas renounced his land grant, released his slaves, and returned to Rome to take his religious vows. He returned to Hispaniola in 1512 as the first ordained priest in the Americas and denounced the Spanish exploitation of the Indians and the military conquest of the New World.
His efforts to end the encomienda system of land ownership and forced labor culminated in 1550, when Charles V convened the Council of Valladolid in Spain to consider whether Spanish colonists had the right to enslave Indians and take their lands.
Sepulveda argued against Las Casas on behalf of the colonists’ property rights. Sepulveda rationalized Spanish treatment of American Indians by arguing that Indians were “natural slaves” and that Spanish presence in the New World would benefit them.
Citing the Bible and canon law, Las Casas responded, “All the World is Human!” He contradicted Sepulveda’s assertions that the Indians were barbarous, that they committed crimes against natural law, that they oppressed and killed innocent people, and that wars should be waged against infidels. Las Casas managed to convince the theologians at Valladolid that the Spanish policy was unjust and had to change. However, his victory had no impact on the colonists, who continued to enslave American Indians. Las Casas has been called the “father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism,” and he greatly influenced the drive to abolish the Spanish encomienda system.
This article is a prompt for dialogue about the theology that makes supremacy culture possible (or at the very least unquestioned).
Further reading about the theological foundations that support a culture of white supremacy.
The Poverty and Justice Bible - World Vision Publication
Website - Black Methodists for Church Renewal http://bmcrumc.org
Website - United Methodist Church Social Principles https://www.umc.org/en/what-we-believe/basics-of-our-faith/our-social-positions
Website - Proposed update to the UMC Social Principles https://www.umcjustice.org/documents/124
The Color of Compromise - Jamar Tisby
How to Fight Racism - Jamar Tisby
Video: “The Black Church” - Henry Louis Gates
Jesus and the Disinherited - Howard Thurman
The Cross and the Lynching Tree - James Cone
Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson
The Spirituals and the Blues - James Cone
Faith after Ferguson - Leah Francis
Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God - Kelly Brown Douglas, Rethinking Incarceration - Dominique Gilliard
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity - Robert P. Jones
The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race - Willie Jennings
How to Heal our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew about Racial Reconciliation - Derwin L. Gray
Be the Bridge - Latasha Morrison
Waking Up White: and Finding Myself in the Story of Race - Debby Irving
For deepening your understanding of the way racism functions today at a policy making level.
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America - Richard Rothstein
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness - Michelle Alexander
The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together - Heather McGhee
How to be an Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi
Race: The Power of an Illusion
This Three-Part Film Series answers the question of whether race has any basis in biology (it does not). It covers the history of how the idea of race was created as a justification for subjugation and enslavement. And it covers some of the significant policies in the United States that have contributed to disparities based on race. The DVDs can be purchased online or borrowed from the Grace Church.
Articles from the Public Policy and Witness Team for the Florida Annual Conference. These offer some insight into ways the church can raise our voice and advocate for antiracist policy in Florida.
Video series “Beyond Fear” produced by Florida UMC clergy.
They are conversations on race, racism and the Christian witness.
Episode 1: Marxism, Communism & Socialism -- Ways Conversations on Race and Civil Rights are Demonized Featuring: Rev. Dr. Brett Opalinski, Pastor, Christ Church UMC
Episode 2: Why is it Difficult to Talk about Racism?
Featuring: Rev. Dwayne Craig, Pastor, East Naples UMC
Videos from “Do We Want to be Healed: Racism In the White Church” at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary.
Racism in the White Church: "White Evangelicals on Race" with Kristin Du Mez
Racism in the White Church: “White Too Long” with Robert P. Jones and Mia Moody-Ramirez
White Fragility: Why It is so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. This book is helpful for a lot of white people as a first read for understanding the way racism is bigger than simply "individuals who consciously don't like black people and intentionally seek to do them harm." This book is helpful for recognizing the way racism is embedded in the institutions and culture of our country in ways that are often unseen and unappreciated by well meaning white people who would not consider themselves racists. This book validates the lived experience of many people of color and seeks to awaken white people to the way the system of racism shapes our lives, how we uphold that system and how we might interrupt it. Here is a book discussion guide for White Fragility.
Connected to this book, Robin DiAngelo has made several short videos which can be helpful for opening up conversation about the (often unconscious) ways white people perpetuate systems of racial oppression. This 20 minute video called "Deconstructing White Privilege" was produce with Robin DiAngelo and the United Methodist Church's Commission on Religion and Race. And this 9 minute video called "Being Nice Is Not Going to End Racism" is a good discussion starter about the deeper work necessary for ending racial oppression.
Preparing for Policy Advocacy: 15 Things to Consider for Building a Relationship with Your Elected Leaders.
Twelve Books to Help Children Understand Race, Anti-Racism and Protest.