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21 Weeks of Consciousness Raising: Undoing, unlearning, upending Racism

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

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 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)

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)

Day 12: Hannah Giorgis, Black Art is dangerous because it marries the personal and the political, The Guardian (Feb. 22, 2015)

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

Day 14: Perspectives in Poetry:  

OR Perspectives in Music on Change:

    The Beatles – Revolution #1 

    Nina Simone – Revolutions 1 and 2 

    Nina Simone - Mississippi Goddam

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)

Day 20: National Conference for Community and Justice, Colorism

Day 21: Karyn Lacy, How to Convince a White Realtor You’re Middle Class, The New York Times (Jan 21, 2020)

Extra Resources

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