June 2021: GROW Newsletter
Educational opportunities to promote anti-racism literacy brought to you by the G.R.O.W. Team
(Gather, Reflect, & Offer Wisdom), a subcommittee of the Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force
This month we are featuring:
  • A podcast recommendation from Rob Heinrich
  • A movie recommendation from Debra Alexander
  • A book recommendation from Kristin Marsden
  • Juneteenth Weekend of Learning -- Saturday, June 19 Click for more details and to sign up!
Podcast: Code Switch - NPR
Code Switch is a fascinating podcast that talks directly about race in America. It covers a diverse array of topics Including poetry, sports, history, business, romance, friendship, personalities, politics, and much more. It's an NPR production that was awarded Apple's first ever "Show of the Year" award for 2020. The hosts are knowledgeable, funny, and laid back. A recent episode that I really enjoyed was "Do the Golden Arches Bend Towards Justice?" which looked at the history of McDonalds courting of black ownership. Check out this podcast. You'll learn and enjoy at the same time!
Reviewed by Rob Heinrich, Member of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force
Movie: The 24th
One night my husband and I were looking around the TV networks, trying to find something to watch, and the movie The 24th caught our eye. He is always interested in military history stories, and we both have been searching for media that open our eyes to racial conditions in our country. It checked a lot of boxes for us, and turned out to be a very informative and emotional experience. It is based on a true story, and the events were heartbreaking and relevant to today.

The 24th was an Army Infantry regiment composed of African American soldiers who were stationed in Texas in 1917, shortly after America entered World War I. Their job was to guard the construction of a training camp on the outskirts of Houston. At this point in American history, officially sanctioned racial discrimination throughout the South was enforced through the "Jim Crow laws." The presence of this all Black unit stationed so close to a segregated city made many white citizens resentful, and tensions grew over the summer, as the members of the 24th were subject to harassment, discrimination and provocation by the citizens and local law enforcement. This tension culminated in a riot in the city of Houston, and many people were killed. It led to the largest murder trial in US military history in which 19 soldiers were sentenced to death.

This movie was a painful reminder of a period of history when Black Lives, in the eyes of many white people, did not really matter. Although the bigotry displayed in this movie is much more vicious and prevalent than it is today, it remains a major problem in America. The main character was Sorbonne educated and joined the Army because he was hoping African Americans could win the sympathies of more white people by demonstrating their patriotism. He was being encouraged to go to a training school for black officers which would have opened doors for him and other young Black men. The loss of this individual to racial violence is just one unfortunate example of the loss of someone who may have helped make this country greater. I recommend this movie because it portrays the history of our nation in terms of racial injustice, and helps white people understand the depths of pain and sorrow that are experienced by our Black brothers and sisters.
Reviewed by Debra Alexander, Chair of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force
Book: The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism 

As a life-long Presbyterian I am used to things being orderly and predictable. To say that The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby shook up that view is an understatement.
It is significant to note that the copyright on this book is 2019- which predates all the turmoil that was the year 2020: the racial disparity of the global pandemic as well as the police involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbry just to highlight a few events. 
2020 was a significant year in race relations, but it is just one year of many. Jemar Tisby seeks to use the history of the American Protestant Church to highlight how race relations have reached the pinnacle of contention that they have. From the very earliest times, European settlers came to this country and attempted to erase people of color not only from their land but from their very identity. Their customs and spiritual lives were dismissed in favor of a life that was deemed better by those same European settlers
This book brought me to a perspective I had not previously considered. From the very beginning of the American Protestant Church, the Church was actively involved in establishing systems that created systemic racism. The Church failed, over and over, to stand up to acts of racism and in fact advocated for laws that actively discriminated against people of color  And, that failure to stand up is a result of a fear of offending someone, in fact, a fear of things not being orderly and predictable.

That fear is justified. The road to social justice is not a smooth one and real conflict is inevitable. However, as Tisby reminds us, God commands us to move forward without fear “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Tisby calls on us to practice “Courageous Christianity”

Reading this this book has caused me to examine every single experience in my life through a different lens. Upon completion of this book, the question in my mind was “if not me, then who?”
Reviewed by Kristin Marsden, Member of the FPC Anti-Racism & Equity Task Force