Exploring Racial Equity Buddies
The racial equity buddies concept was introduced to Forest Hill Church (“FHC”) about four years ago, by a frequent visitor and friend of FHC, Professor Mark Joseph*. Saturday morning, September 17, via ZOOM (10:30 to noon), Mark will lead us as we meet to continue this program. Those wishing to attend can respond to email@example.com or register here: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/0a3ab6.
The Racial Equity Buddy Program Explained
I. A buddy is a trusted companion where difficult discussions on race can be had. To be successful, this must be a safe space where two people can be honest and explore their equity journey:
a) On the personal level of combatting racism, to better explore racial stereotypes and barriers that separate us, Dr. Joseph recommends partnering with someone of a different background, culture, or race. Our partner should be a person with whom we feel comfortable having a candid and frank discussion on these issues.
b) The partners should talk openly and honestly, without judgment, about one another’s experiences and views regarding race and racism. The key is to listen to each other and examine the world from your partner’s viewpoint. This shared experience, if faithfully done, should bring about greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s views and perhaps, result in a change in how each thinks and acts.
c) One’s racial equity buddy can be someone from the same race. In FHC, that is necessary due to the asymmetrical ratio of black and white members.
d) A racial equity buddy is NOT a personal trainer for his or her partner. Rather, where the buddies are of different races or cultures, the conversations should reflect the individual views of the participants. No black person should attempt to speak for or to represent all people of color and no white person should presume to speak for or to represent all white people.
e) Buddies are not assigned but choose to partner with each other. Help is available in making a match. Having multiple buddies is okay and changing buddies after a while is normal and beneficial.
II. The racial equity buddy concept is a method for enlarging and changing individual awareness and perspectives, which hopefully will lead to transforming those institutions they are a part of:
a) Our premise is that in our racialized society, we all urgently need to be on a personal journey to remove the injustice and inequity in the organizations and institutions that we have inherited, that we depend upon, that we support. That requires each of us to look with improved vision at our role and responsibility in perpetuating or deconstructing the racial injustice and inequity that is still embedded in the inherited organizations and institutions on which our way of life depends. Our goal is to get the members and participating friends of FHC on this journey and to begin it with a trusted buddy with a different background and perspective;
b) It must be appreciated that each individual is at a different point in their racial equity journey. We must be cognizant and appreciative that some of us are just beginning and are not as far along as others in this journey. However, if there is a willingness to begin such a journey, those individuals are welcome. With such a buddy, one must be even more sensitive to the principles that discussions are to be a safe place and nonjudgmental. Some of us will be walking and others running. One needs to learn about his/her buddy and act accordingly.
Other important aspects of the racial equity buddies include consistency, an open and curious mind plus a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue. Embarking on a racial equity journey requires a willingness to explore the history of non-white cultures in America. Be prepared to embark on a wonderful, colorful discovery tour and learn about hidden historical figures and events.
The impetus for resuscitating this program was Deborah Plummer’s book Some Of My Friends Are… The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships, which we read and discussed in June. That book reminded us of the importance of cross-racial friendships and discussions and motivated many – both in and outside of FHC – to reimplement the racial equity buddy program.
As implied, the book club works in tandem with the racial equity buddies. Reading and discussing the material of the book club will fuel your racial equity work. The book club introduces various topics and explores non-white culture in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere.
Our first book discussion takes place Saturday morning, October 25, where we will discuss the NY times bestseller and winner of the Christian Book Award, Be The Bridge, Pursuing God’s Heart For Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison. The book club adheres to the core principles of the equity buddies program outlined above.
PRAYING FOR CHANGE?
We must do more than pray. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer,
“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap” Join us. Together we will pray and act!
*For those of you unfamiliar with Mark Joseph, here is a brief introduction. Mark Joseph, Ph.D. is the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Professor of Community Development at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. His research focus is mixed-income development as a strategy for promoting urban equity and inclusion. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation and co-editor of What Works to Promote Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities. He is the Founding Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, which conducts research and consulting projects in cities across the US and Canada. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Cityscape, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Community Practice, and Journal of Race and Ethnicity in the City. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, and a Harlech Scholar at Oxford University.