Witnessing Whiteness

Throughout this winter and long cold spring, a group of about twenty-five persons has been meeting on many Thursday evenings in WHUMC’s Ed Wing. I’m one of these folks; together we have been taking part in a Witnessing Whiteness group, hosted by our congregation.

Since 2011, the YWCA in the St. Louis area has been sponsoring Witnessing Whiteness groups as part of its ongoing mission to eliminate racism.

— Continued from the Messenger —

Witnessing Whiteness groups are white people coming together to do work around racism in a supportive, non-threatening setting. Our primary resources is the book Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It (2nd edition), written by Shelly Tochluk. Our commitment to this group was for ten 2-hour sessions; we have completed eight and have two to go.

Reflections? Sure. What a group of interesting, open-hearted people: varied interests and experiences, willing to be vulnerable and open to participating in difficult conversations about racism in St. Louis, our home, and about white privilege. Some group members – but not all – are from our congregation. Almost all of them are women. I wonder about that, and – readers – I would welcome your conversation about it.

Together we have learned something about the history of race in our country and we have shared in conversation about our own early experiences of race and of whiteness. Now, as this experience winds down, we’re involved in hearing and challenging one another to further learning and action in the struggle for racial justice in our society. Many of us are committed to opening ourselves to having more and deeper experiences with persons of color and surprised by the forethought and effort required to do that in our context.

In much the same way that Pastor Linda and our WHUMC worship leaders confronted us with the ‘what next?’ question following Easter, our Witnessing Whiteness facilitators are urging and helping us to plan our next steps of education and involvement. At the very least, I think you can look forward to hearing about future book study and discussion about race, and about some simple actions of solidarity.

BTW, the YWCA is currently forming a new round of Witnessing Whiteness groups for fall 2018. Sixteen groups are planned, to be spread across the St. Louis metropolitan area. Without doubt, some of them will be within easy driving distance for WHUMC members and friends. See www.ywcastlouis.org for complete information about being part of a fall 2018 group and/or phone or e-mail me for further conversation.

Easter season blessings to you all – see you in church.

Rev. Dr. Martha Robertson