The Anti-Racist Path

Installment 4
  1. Whiteness is a race. In the recent book After Whiteness: an Education in Belonging (Eerdmans, 2020) by Willie Jennings — a friend and colleague who happens to be a genius — readers are introduced to certain classically White predispositions that White people like me have been trained to think of as “normal.” Only in understanding that the White race has its own tendencies can we begin to see the ways in which those tendencies have been venerated as a means of declaring superiority.
  2. We must be anti-racist if we are going to make a difference as leaders. Ibraham X. Kendi writes in How to Be an Antiracist (Penguin RandomHouse Books, 2019) that our nation has been so profoundly shaped by anti-Black racism that all of us have to consciously work against racism. Those who do nothing will drift toward racist actions and attitudes due to the flow of the established cultural tides. Anti-racism includes both stark examination of our own attitudes and taking actions that change ingrained racist patterns.
  3. We are going to mess up. In My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Central Recovery Press, 2017), Resmaa Menakem writes about the neuroscience of racism. He describes how both racist attitudes in the White, dominant culture; and trauma inflicted upon Black persons’ minds, bodies, and communities; shape us down to our very genes. Obviously, unawareness and poor formation are no excuse. Coming back to Prof. Jennings: he writes that one attribute of Whiteness is an obsession with feeling comfortable. Anti-racism and comfort do not go hand-in-hand. White people who work to become anti-racist and further anti-racism in their communities aren’t always going to get it right. When we make mistakes, we both inflict and experience pain.

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Sarah B. Drummond

Sarah B. Drummond

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Sarah Birmingham Drummond is Founding Dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School and teaches and writes on the topic of ministerial leadership.