"From the Upper Room to Pentecost: White Christians and Racism in America"

Dr. Maureen O’Connell, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion LaSalle University, Philadelphia, Pa.

When:  Monday through Friday, August 7 - 11

Time:   12 noon till 1:00 pm

Place:  Assembly Building

Monday, August 7th: What is racism?

While we may seem to talk about race much more openly today, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re all talking about the same thing or conversing in an effective way. In this session we’ll lay the groundwork for the week ahead by establishing some working definitions and types of racism, as well as by developing a “covenant” for how we will relate to each other (and ourselves) in our time together.

Tuesday, August 8th: Where did racism come from?

We cannot fully know how we’ve arrived at this particular moment in history, or where we want to go from here, unless we know where we’ve been. This session is designed to help us see the evolution of racism in America over 30 generations, and to help us identify the way it has shaped the communities of which we are a part, including our Christian faith communities. It’s a history that keeps repeating itself - but it doesn’t have to, especially if we make different choices when we come to the all too familiar crossroads that racism keeps presenting to us.

Wednesday, August 9th: Why is it so hard for white Christians to respond effectively to racism?

We may seem more comfortable naming something or someone as racist, but meaningful conversations about what makes a situation or even an individual racist, or more importantly what we ought to do in response, are often short-circuited by a variety of things: defensiveness, guilt, fear, ignorance. In this session, we’ll show ourselves some compassion and examine where these personal and collective reactions might come from and how to work with them in order to move conversations and ourselves in new directions.

Thursday, August 10th: What skin do white Christians have in this game?

We often assume that racism only hurts people of color, when in fact it wounds all of us. While the demands of our neighbors to respond to injustices should be enough, we know that a little self-interest can go a long way in motivating meaningful action. In this session we’ll look at the ways in which racism has also disadvantaged white people - including ourselves - in order to find common ground with communities of color and cross the boundaries between us that racism has created.

Friday, August 11th: What does it mean to be an anti-racist racist?

Is it enough simply to declare “I’m not racist,” or is something more required of us? In this final session we’ll unpack what Christian leader and multicultural educator Joseph Barndt means when he suggests that we should strive to “become anti-racist racists” and develop some ideas for moving forward with renewed spirits of commitment.