Slideshow image

I am racist

That is how Twila MacNair, from the United Church of Canada begins her story of learning on taking ownership of the ways that racism showed up in her life. She writes about how she would notice automatic judgements pop up in her head before she could suppress them. Her examples reminded me of my own subconcious judgments I did not know I harbored until they surfaced unannounced. The first time it happened was at my father's funeral. A priest of African descent was appointed to preside, and I found myself thinking how it would have been more fitting to have had a priest of Anglo-European heritage preside at my father's funeral, instead. Why did I think that? Did I not believe, as Twila writes, that all people are made in the image of God? But in spite of what I profess, my racist judgements and prejudices run deep within my subconcious and I need to intentionally do the work to root them out. 

In our work towards becomeing actively anti-racist,  Twila gives the following suggestions:

  • Read Indigenous authors. I found it helpful to explore stories set right in my own city! Some told stories of past horrors and some tell of today’s consequences and continuation of those tragedies. 
  • Engage more Indigenous and racialized leaders. It is important for all participants to recognize and engage with Indigenous and racialized peoples at every level of leadership, to break a cycle of expecting to see mostly White people in the most prominent roles. 
  • Move beyond what’s comfortable. For me, as a White person, this involved building relationships with Indigenous leaders. I needed to move beyond my initial discomfort with difference. Consider challenging yourself to move beyond any discomfort that you may feel about racial and other differences. 
  • Examine your own beliefs. What might you be holding in your own subconscious, and what might you need to re-examine in your own life? Consider concrete ways that you can also work to becoming more anti-racist. 

You can read Twila MacNair's complete story on the United Church webpage.  

For additional reading, this is a good piece by Globe and Mail's Elizabeth Renzetti, "When it Comes to Racism against Indigenous people, we Dont Want to Look in the Mirror.