August 24, 2019

Garrison Writes that Racism is an Existential Threat

By Jacqueline Isaacs

Bishop Garrison, Rainey Center president and co-founder, published an op-ed in Inkstick Media about how racism has become a growing threat in recent years. Garrison outlined a few of the recent mass shootings that have taken place around the world, touching on the recent incident in New Zealand that targeted Muslims, as well as both Pittsburgh’s and Los Angeles’s 2018 shootings targeted at Jews. He states,

Now, arguably more than at any time in recent history, we need to recognize that extremism, racist policies, and white supremacy stand as existential threats not only to American life but to the future of our country and others around the globe. It’s time we have very real, very honest, and potentially very awkward conversations about race, the role it has played throughout American history, and what we are going to do to reconcile our past and protect our future.

Garrison says that while progress has been made throughout history, the refusal of some to even talk about and acknowledge past injustices is a huge problem that halts any continuing progress. He says, “The country’s horrific history on race and its continued refusal to engage these problems head-on has exacerbated the issue to the point of a violent crisis. This crisis continues to seep into our state and local domestic policies, our technologies, the algorithms of social media companies, and (potentially) our future like a corrosive poison contaminating a water table.”

He then highlights a recent positive example, New York Times Magazine’s 1619 project. The project is a series of essays written to reflect upon this continent’s history of slavery, segregation, and racism. It was launched to mark the 400th anniversary of the first Africans being brought to North America to serve as slaves in 1619.

Each work highlights not only past atrocities and injustices experienced by black Americans, but ongoing systemic issues that have plagued the nation from its original sin of slavery into the present day. It’s an important effort that may very well shape the dialogue around race, inclusion, and the need for steadfast policies that may one day fill the discriminatory gaps in our society and help heal the country. And the effort is, somehow, in 2019, controversial.

Garrison concludes that the controversy over this historical project continues to enable violent racism, by pretending such atrocities aren’t nearly as bad as people are making them out to be. It also makes it hard for people of different backgrounds and opinions to have civil discussions. He encourages readers saying, “We must not run from engagement with each other; the change we desire can be achieved through heartfelt, frequently difficult, and awkward conversations among family, friends, and neighbors about race and its continued impact on our lives.”

Read the entire article here: Racism is an Existential Threat

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