Updated: Jun 24
Last week Kol Ami kicked off 21 weeks of anti-racist learning and doing. It is not too late to join us. This is Jewish practice. Learning, doing, working to heal the world and champion justice—through community.
Unlearning racism is something I myself am still doing every day. I see myself as an educated person. I follow the news. Read major American thinkers of many backgrounds. Travel. But I am still appalled at the amount of racism in my life, my community, my family and my society. I have tolerated that which should not be tolerated and I overlooked, diminished and rationalized systemic inequality. Most of us have. That is how we got here.
There is no turning back. We are on the side of history that will build an anti-racist America. It is going to be hard. And the labor of undoing racism must fall on the people who benefit from it the most.
It is hard and holy work. That is the good news. it is redemptive work. We will redeem American from the shackles of racism. We can do better. We can change our society. We can emulate “love your neighbor” at an event higher level every day of our lives.
We need to ready ourselves. This work requires humility. A lot of humility. Patience. It requires: a desire to learn. A desire to listen. Really listen. Shema listening-the holy kind of listen. Listening to experiences not shared.
Our group has been meeting for a few weeks but we are still open to new members. Our learning and doing will continue through the Sunday right after the national election. This group is going to move us through a unique and rather intense period of American history. I hope it gives us resolve and courage along the way. May our consciousness always be raised high and higher. As a closer for thid blog post i offer you a gorgoues redtion of Higher and Higher by Neshama Carlebach and the Green Pastures Baptist Choir led by Roger Hambrick. This song was a big part of the Jewish life of mh childhood. It speaks of the direction our souls, morality, conscioisness should always be going: higher. i hope you enjoy.
21-Week Racial Equity Habit-Building Challenge –
There is never time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now. - James Baldwin
Kol Ami is adapting this 21-day challenge from The Council of the ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law into a 21-week challenge for our congregation. The challenge was originally conceived several years ago by diversity expert Eddie Moore, Jr. to advance deeper understandings of the intersections of race, power, privilege, supremacy, and oppression.
Syllabus: 21-week Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge
Day 1: Nikole Hannah-Jones, America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One, The New York Times (Aug. 14, 2019)
Day 2: How to Not (Accidentally) Raise a Racist, Longest Shortest Time Podcast
Day 3: Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations, The Atlantic (May 21, 2014)
Day 4: Danielle Cadet, Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They Are Okay – Chances Are They Are Not (May 2020)
Katy Waldman, A Sociologist Examines The “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans From Confronting Racism, New Yorker (July 23, 2018)
Day 5: Megan Ming Francis, Let's get to the root of racial injustice, TEDTalks (3/21, 2016)
Day 6: Project Implicit, Implicit Association Test (IAT), (This exercise requires navigating the sign up for the tests, which includes answering a series of questions for the researchers, but it is recommended that everyone do at least these tests: Race, Skin Tone, and Weapons-Race. People are encouraged to add these tests if you are able: Asian American, Native American, and Arab-Muslim.)
Day 7: How microaggressions are like mosquito bites, Sam Difference (Oct. 5, 2016)
Heben Nigatu, 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear On A Daily Basis: A photographer at Fordham asked her peers to write down the microaggressions they've encountered. Here is what they had to say, BuzzFeed (Dec. 9, 2013)
Essence Grant, 27 Workplace Microaggressions That'll Make You Ask "How'd They Even Get Hired?" In conclusion, adults can be wildly dumb, BuzzFeed (Oct. 8, 2017)
Ali Vingiano, 63 Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project, BuzzFeed (March 3, 2014)
Day 8: James McWilliams, Bryan Stevenson On What Well Meaning White People Need To Know About Race: An interview with Harvard University-trained public defense lawyer Bryan Stevenson on racial trauma, segregation, and listening to marginalized voices, Pacific Standard (updated Feb 18, 2019)
Day 9: Media Portrayals and Black Male Outcomes, The Opportunity Agenda
Day 10: Cheryl I. Harris, Whiteness As Property, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 106 No. 8 (June 1993)
Day 11: Karma Allen, More than 50% of homeless families are black, government report finds, ABCNews (Jan. 22, 2020)
Scott Winship, Richard V. Reeves, and Katherine Guyot, The Inheritance of Black Poverty: It’s All About the Men, Brookings (March 22, 2018),
Day 12: Hannah Giorgis, Black Art is dangerous because it marries the personal and the political, The Guardian (Feb. 22, 2015)
Reggie Ugwu, Lena Waitheʼs Art of Protest: The “Queen & Slim” writer on mixing art and politics, the key to collaboration and those infamous comments about Will Smith and Denzel Washington, The New York Times (Dec. 2, 2019)
Bryan Stevenson ’85, "We can't recover from this history until we deal with it." legacy of slavery and the vision for creating the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum, Harvard Law School YouTube (Jan 30, 2019)
Day 13: Rebecca Epstein, Jamilia J. Blake, and Thalia González, Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood, Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality
Adrienne Green, How Black Girls Aren’t Presumed to Be Innocent: A new study finds that adults view them as less child-like and less in need of protection than their white peers, The Atlantic (June 29, 2017)
Day 14: Perspectives in Poetry:
Alice Walker - The World Rising
Audre Lorde - Who Said it Was Simple
June Jordan - Poem for Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer
Langston Hughes - Harlem
Richard Wright - Between the World and Me
Claudia Rankine – You are in the dark, in the car . . .
OR Perspectives in Music on Change:
The Beatles – Revolution #1
Nina Simone – Revolutions 1 and 2
Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddam
Day 15: Peggy McIntosh, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege
Day 16: George Johnson, White gay privilege exists all year, but it is particularly hurtful during Pride, NBC News (June 30, 2019)
Laverne Cox Talks about Intersectionality at Harvard (Video clips) (March 11, 2014)
D-L Stewart, Black Trans* Lives Matter (TEDxTalks) (April 22, 2019)
Day 17: N. K. Jemisin, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? The Toxins of Speculative Fiction, and the Antidote that is Janelle Monae, Blog (Sept. 30, 2013)
Day 18: Sam Dylan Finch, 9 Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive, Everyday Feminism (May 29, 2017)
Day 19: Jolie A. Doggett, 4 Questions About Hair that Black Girls Are Tired of Answering, HuffPost (Feb. 14, 2020)
Jessica Moulite, Exclusive: Rep. Ayanna Pressley Reveals Beautiful Bald Head and Discusses Alopecia for the First Time, The Root (Jan. 16, 2020)
Hair Love, Oscar®-Winning Short Film (Full), Sony Pictures Animation, YouTube (Dec. 5, 2019)
Day 20: National Conference for Community and Justice, Colorism
Natasha S. Alford, Why Some Black Puerto Ricans Choose ‘White’ on the Census: The island has a long history of encouraging residents to identify as white, but there are growing efforts to raise awareness about racism, The New York Times (Feb. 9, 2020)
Day 21: Karyn Lacy, How to Convince a White Realtor You’re Middle Class, The New York Times (Jan 21, 2020)
Who is "Karen" and Why Does She Keep Calling the Police on Black Men?, On the Media (Podcast) (May 29, 2020)
“The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture today launched Talking About Race, a new online portal designed to help individuals, families, and communities talk about racism, racial identity and the way these forces shape every aspect of society, from the economy and politics to the broader American culture.”
Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D, Critical Racial and Social Justice Education: List of Resources
Verna Myers, How to Overcome Our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them, TED Talk (video)
John Biewen, Seeing White (14-part series podcast, 2017)
Janice Gassam, Your Unconscious Bias Trainings Keep Failing Because You’re Not Addressing Systemic Bias (Forbes, Dec. 29, 2019)
Michael Harriott, How to Be a Better White Person in 2020, The Root (Jan 9, 2020),
Debbie Irving, Waking up White (2014)
Robin DiAngelo, Phd., White Fragility (2018)