It seems that not a day passes without another story of racism rearing its ugly head in our nation or our metro area. Recently two incidents in Warren County have left us shaking our heads in disbelief. First, a youth basketball team wore racist and vulgar jerseys. Then we learned that a white middle school teacher told an African American student his classmates would lynch him if he didn't get back on task. The student's mother was not satisfied that school officials had taken the matter seriously. She said, “I believe Mason is a community that is OK with the way it is,” referring to racial tensions. I wonder what this mother might say about the culture of race in greater Anderson Township if she lived in our community. For answers, let's look at recent history.
On June 17, 2015, a young white man walked into Emanuel African American Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and executed nine black members of the church while they sat and prayed in a Bible study. For a diverse group of church members in our community that was a wake-up call that we could not simply sit back and lament another heinous act of racism in our nation. Through conversation and prayer we discerned that we had to take action and do something positive to address racism. Anderson Churches for Racial Unity (ACRU) was born.
For the past two and a half years ACRU has striven to raise awareness among the residents of our community regarding issues of racism. We promote inclusion, encourage participation in solutions, and build individual and congregational relationships between people of color and white people. We have hosted speakers on a variety of topics, offered film screenings and discussion, provided workshops, and utilized the arts to help better understand race and racism.
We know from experience that conversations about race are not easy. However, I believe that it is only through raising awareness to change attitudes about racism and in building relationships with people of color that we can break down walls that divide us and build bridges toward becoming the beloved community that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. prophetically imagined.
Attendance at our events has steadily grown and we believe that we are making a difference to foster welcome and acceptance of all people in our community. To be sure, if an act of racism occurred in our community, ACRU, in partnership with Greater Anderson Promotes Peace, would be alongside the victims assuring them in action and in word that we are not OK with it. Those interested can find out more about us on our Facebook page. We invite you to our next event, Whiteness Awareness Workshop, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 1950 Nagel Road, on March 3.
Pastor Henry Zorn
Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
Anderson Churches for Racial Unity:
Anderson Hills Christian Church, Anderson Hills United Methodist Church, Eastern Hills Friends Meeting, Faith United Church of Christ, Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church, Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, and Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
About the Author: Pastor Henry Zorn is Co-Pastor of Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Cincinnati, OH. A vibrant and welcoming community of faith and a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.