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Lesson from Ferguson: we must talk about racial equity

Posted by: Gordon on 8/21/2014
Last week, 100-plus participants in Gamaliel weeklong training took part in an evening conversation about race and structural racism. At tables of 8, facilitated by staff organizers, multi-generational and intercultural groups progressed from sharing their first experiences of race to how structural racism manifests in their issue organizing. 

We believe these powerful conversations show us a way forward that we believe illustrates what must happen next for St. Louis to address the crisis in Ferguson. 

We mourn Michael Brown's killing. We must and we will hold law enforcement accountable for what happened. But we have an even greater responsibility as community organizers: to focus in like a laser on racial inequities of which Ferguson is really a symptom and act to make the region fairer for all. 

It's not just about policing. Unemployment in St. Louis City stood at 26 percent for African Americans and 6.2 percent for whites in 2012, according to the Census Department's latest available stats. In May, area researchers revealed residents of St. Louis zip codes separated by only a few miles have up to an 18-year difference in life expectancy. The racial disparities in education for St. Louis-area children are widely known as well. 

Today, our St. Louis affiliate Metropolitan Congregations United will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. at the County Justice Center to call for the county prosecutor to step aside so that the U.S. Department of Justice can lead the investigation into Michael Brown's killing and everyone in the region can have confidence in the process. 

On Saturday, Aug. 23, they plan a community canvas with clergy and leaders from across the region including the Metro East in Illinois, Kansas City, and beyond hearing from and speaking with people of Ferguson. Also this weekend, they plan to ask faith leaders in St. Louis County to preach on racial justice. 

Next week they will put all the issues raised the past two weeks front and center on the agenda for their upcoming public meeting Thursday, Aug. 28, where they will employ the strategies of fire of faith to rekindle their economy and generate opportunities and jobs in St. Louis, rekindle democracy by mobilizing votes, and rekindle their congregations. 

Of course, our thoughts and prayers go with them and the people of Ferguson and the St. Louis region. But for those of us who cannot be there, this incident on top of so many others in recent years creates an opening all of us can seize to talk about the impact of structural racism on our economy, our democracy and our congregations.  
Last week, 100-plus participants in Gamaliel weeklong training took part in an evening conversation about race and structural racism. At tables of 8, facilitated by staff organizers, multi-generational and intercultural groups progressed from sharing their first experiences of race to how structural racism manifests in their issue organizing. 

We believe these powerful conversations show us a way forward that we believe illustrates what must happen next for St. Louis to address the crisis in Ferguson. 

We mourn Michael Brown's killing. We must and we will hold law enforcement accountable for what happened. But we have an even greater responsibility as community organizers: to focus in like a laser on racial inequities of which Ferguson is really a symptom and act to make the region fairer for all. 

It's not just about policing. Unemployment in St. Louis City stood at 26 percent for African Americans and 6.2 percent for whites in 2012, according to the Census Department's latest available stats. In May, area researchers revealed residents of St. Louis zip codes separated by only a few miles have up to an 18-year difference in life expectancy. The racial disparities in education for St. Louis-area children are widely known as well. 

Today, our St. Louis affiliate Metropolitan Congregations United will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. at the County Justice Center to call for the county prosecutor to step aside so that the U.S. Department of Justice can lead the investigation into Michael Brown's killing and everyone in the region can have confidence in the process. 

On Saturday, Aug. 23, they plan a community canvas with clergy and leaders from across the region including the Metro East in Illinois, Kansas City, and beyond hearing from and speaking with people of Ferguson. Also this weekend, they plan to ask faith leaders in St. Louis County to preach on racial justice. 

Next week they will put all the issues raised the past two weeks front and center on the agenda for their upcoming public meeting Thursday, Aug. 28, where they will employ the strategies of fire of faith to rekindle their economy and generate opportunities and jobs in St. Louis, rekindle democracy by mobilizing votes, and rekindle their congregations. 

Of course, our thoughts and prayers go with them and the people of Ferguson and the St. Louis region. But for those of us who cannot be there, this incident on top of so many others in recent years creates an opening all of us can seize to talk about the impact of structural racism on our economy, our democracy and our congregations.  
Rev Dietra Baker St. Louis
MCU leaders spoke to the news media about Ferguson yesterday

Last week, 100-plus participants in Gamaliel weeklong training took part in an evening conversation about race and structural racism. At tables of 8, facilitated by staff organizers, multi-generational and intercultural groups progressed from sharing their first experiences of race to how structural racism manifests in their issue organizing.

We believe these powerful conversations show us a way forward that we believe illustrates what must happen next for St. Louis to address the crisis in Ferguson.

We mourn Michael Brown's killing. We must and we will hold law enforcement accountable for what happened. But we have an even greater responsibility as community organizers: to focus in like a laser on racial inequities of which Ferguson is really a symptom and act to make the region fairer for all.

It's not just about policing. Unemployment in St. Louis City stood at 26 percent for African Americans and 6.2 percent for whites in 2012, according to the Census Department's latest available stats. In May, area researchers revealed residents of St. Louis zip codes separated by only a few miles have up to an 18-year difference in life expectancy. The racial disparities in education for St. Louis-area children are widely known as well.

Today, our St. Louis affiliate Metropolitan Congregations United will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. at the County Justice Center to call for the county prosecutor to step aside so that the U.S. Department of Justice can lead the investigation into Michael Brown's killing and everyone in the region can have confidence in the process.

On Saturday, Aug. 23, they plan a community canvas with clergy and leaders from across the region including the Metro East in Illinois, Kansas City, and beyond hearing from and speaking with people of Ferguson. Also this weekend, they plan to ask faith leaders in St. Louis County to preach on racial justice.

Next week they will put all the issues raised the past two weeks front and center on the agenda for their upcoming public meeting Thursday, Aug. 28, where they will employ the strategies of fire of faith to rekindle their economy and generate opportunities and jobs in St. Louis, rekindle democracy by mobilizing votes, and rekindle their congregations.

Of course, our thoughts and prayers go with them and the people of Ferguson and the St. Louis region. But for those of us who cannot be there, this incident on top of so many others in recent years creates an opening all of us can seize to talk about the impact of structural racism on our economy, our democracy and our congregations.
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