Youth Resources on Racism #2
Parents, here are some more resources for conversations around racism and systems. There’s a plenty of options to choose from if you want to only use a few bits, or break it up. Conversations around this topic can feel vulnerable and uncomfortable sometimes. Yet, that is why we should lean in.
If you have ever had to put anti-bacterial stuff on a fresh wound you know it is painful but vital to prevent infection. Race issues in our country have been covered and bandaged for hundreds of years, but often that is not enough to bring about healthy healing. Covering over the messy stuff just keeps us from seeing it so we never deal with the infection.
And the truth is that we all fail to do what is right all the time.
Racism is the evidence of a broken system and a broken world and is defined as this: Systems create patterns of discrimination through vast economic, political, and social disparities (or differences) all due to one’s race.
Option 1: Video
(This video does have a man repeat the “N” word as part of his story, so please be aware)
People Tell The Stories Of The First Time They Experienced Racism!
Option 2: STORY This is a personal story written by a girl named Eniitan’s.
The theater department in my high school was a form of refuge for me for quite some time. Every semester, we attempted to blow the town away with an (adequate) production of whatever play was popular at the time and once a year we competed in a regional theatre competition. For one particular year’s competition, our director was convinced that we had just the right crop of students to take on a classic: Seussical the Musical.
This would be my fourth play and having risen to an upperclassmen status, I had high hopes of getting a lead role unlike any character I’d played before. I went into my audition and read the part for Gertrude McFuzz – a nerdy, bashful little bird who goes on a journey of self- discovery. I believed she would be just the character to stretch my acting abilities. I gave my all to the scene that I read through with my director. Before I could lower the packet of lines, my director asked me to read instead the part for the Sour Kangaroo – a villain riddled with a bad attitude and a gospel flare. And yes, that was the exact part I received. I was disappointed to not receive the role I hoped for but I was happy to see the number of songs I would sing. I tried to see the silver lining in receiving a few more lines than the last time.
I excitedly shared the news about my role to Kirby, the kid cast for the lead role, Horton the elephant. I was caught off guard when he immediately busted into laughter. He yelled, “Oh my gosh, you were so typecast!” I had no idea what that was – my very short acting career was obviously not the most informative. Kirby explained that typecasting was when a person is continually cast with a certain type of role that is associated with that actor’s skin color, ethnicity, or some other trait.
Slowly, I realized that I was the only girl of color that auditioned. I considered the assumed connection between my dark-skin and the gospel nature of all of my songs. I found all the similarities between the Sour Kangaroo, the Gospel singing, bible toting mother I played the semester before and the drunk, belligerent wife I had played as well. All were angry, abrasive women which I knew were characteristics often associated with my dark-skin in mainstream culture. None of those roles were the ones I auditioned for; they were the ones I was given.
While more students of color auditioned as the years went on, there was never one cast for a lead throughout my four years. They were largely cast as characters that were “other” in one way or another. Beyond that, a play was never selected for our department that had a person of color actually written in it as a protagonist or main character.]
[This story is larger than anyone’s hurt feelings or Eniitan not getting what she wanted – don’t miss the point here. There are deeply ingrained ways of thinking that are at play. Here are some personal stories by people who have experienced racism.]
1. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
“Racism ended with slavery and the civil rights movement is the proof. Besides, there are laws that keep people from being racist within systems.”
Read these statements, each of which is a common comment made about systemic racism in this country, and then we will talk about your thoughts.
1. “I’ve seen evidence of racism but it hasn’t disrupted my way of life. As long as my life goes uninterrupted, what does it have to do with me?”
2. “I see evidence of racism in my own life/the lives of people I love but it’s too big. How could we actually fix all this stuff?”
3. “I haven’t known life without being directly affected by racism. It’s hard to believe things could actually change. I feel hopeless.”
1. Which of the three typical responses to the conversation of systemic racism did you resonate with? Why?
2. Do you ever interact with people who might think those other statements?
[Most people who are in separate categories might struggle to communicate on this topic. That is why the purpose for this space is to gain understanding through sharing our personal experiences. So, it is okay to resonate with one over the other and it is okay to struggle with understanding those who do not share the same viewpoint as you. Make sure you are listening with compassion to one another.]
1. Why do you think people shy away from the conversation of race?
2. Have you had any personal experiences or witnessed systemic racism? How did that affect you?
Scripture and Message
22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.
1. Knowing that we as human beings are not able to do what is right all the time and are often selfish in our choices, how do you think this brokenness might impact the decisions that powerful people make on behalf of those who are not like them because of poverty, appearance, customs, etc…?
[We live in a world that is made up of systems. Every day, we see a number of parts come together and work toward one common goal. The structure or arrangement that was created in order to get to that common goal is a system.
So our families, our schools, the church, the news, the government … these are all systems that help us interpret the world around us. And because they are not perfect and often messed up, it gets really confusing for us. We see all the disunity and maybe it feels overwhelming.]
Matthew 5: 1-11
1 Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountain (as Moses had done before Him) and He sat down (as Jewish teachers of His day usually did). His disciples gathered around Him.
2 And He began to teach them.
3 Jesus: Blessed are the spiritually poor—the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
4 Blessed are those who mourn—they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek and gentle—they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness—they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful—they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are those who are pure in heart—they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers—they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness—the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
11 And blessed are you, blessed are all of you, when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account.
Focusing on verses 8-10,
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
1.What stands out to you about these verses?
2. How might they impact the way we approach the discussion about systemic racism?
3.So how do we respond to the disunity around us?
4.How do we respond to the pain of others?
Lord, give us eyes to see the brokenness of our culture’s systems, especially when it applies to racism and racial injustice. We know this is not how you intended for your children to do life together. Please, burden our hearts with the desire to see the infection be treated and for our country, our community, our church and ourselves to receive healing. Holy Spirit, help us remember where you’ve brought us from and empower us not to go back. Instead, may we lean into the promise of unity in Christ. May we long to see that in our world. Give us the courage to lean in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.