ACTS has launched a program called "Transformation Reading Groups." Peter Sarver, ACTS Interim Co-Executive, cites the need for white congregations and other groups to examine institutional racism and specifically white privilege as a first step toward racial healing. The expectation of the ACTS initiative is that two dozen or more small groups will convene in congregations to have a shared reading experience throughout the community this Fall. Participants will read America’s Original Sin- Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, by Jim Wallis. On November 21st, ACTS will host a prominent keynote speaker to conclude what readers discovered through their two-month journey with America’s Original Sin. The November gathering will present an opportunity for continuing growth and a platform for future social justice actions.
When it comes to addressing White Privilege, a clear and courageous voice is needed to shine through the fog of our nation’s confusion. Sarah McTyre, Parish Associate for Education at Park Central, has read America’s Original Sin in a similar reading- program. She lauds Wallis’ theological and factual discussion of America’s most neglected racial injustice.
“Jim Wallis invites us into this ongoing work of repentance for the sake of our sisters and brothers. We need to get uncomfortable as we learn about White Privilege, and allow our hearts to broken open—not just once, but over and again,” said Sarah.
The tragedies that transpired in Charlottesville demonstrated clearly that America’s wound of racism is far from healed. Less conspicuous than the outpour of white supremacy in Charlottesville, however, are the murky institutions which nourish the oppression of minorities. These racist institutions have existed for centuries, and persist today beneath the surface of American society. An especially subversive tool of institutional racism is “White Privilege.”
“White privilege is the assumption of racial entitlement and normality of whiteness, something most of those who are white still fail to recognize or resist,” writes Wallis.
“Those of us who are white are being called on a journey towards anti-racism. It is time for us to wake up and see anew,” said Sarah.
Group facilitators will meet on September 6th to collaborate on the community-wide Transformation Reading Groups. In the meantime, ACTS encourages Syracusans of all faiths and organizations to commit to this opportunity. America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis, may be the catalyst to a compassionate conversation across Syracuse.
“Talk about America’s Original Sin with other members of your congregation. It can open the way for truth telling…and the transformative work of grace in the world,” concluded Sarah.