August 2017 and its aftermath have awoken me to the systemic racism in my community. I have engaged in the ongoing community and religious work through the Charlottesville Clergy Collective and the Women’s Clergy Circle in Charlottesville.
Despite a history of peace and justice initiatives in the Mennonite tradition, I have encountered white privilege and the silence that creates when addressing this issue based on my experience as clergy addressing white supremacy rallies in Charlottesville. Thus I want to engage in reflection and conversation with three leaders in Peace & Justice studies in the Mennonite denomination.
Because systemic racism is a communal issue I want to approach it with a communal eye by tapping into the Charlottesville Clergy Collective and the Women’s Clergy Circle through conversations with twelve faith leaders in Charlottesville and their stories.
My experience is calling me to explore the question from different perspectives and modalities, such as Nonviolent Communication, collective narrative and watercolor painting, in order to gain an understanding about how each might inform my future work within the Mennonite Church. To engage the issue of racism by building the capacity to break silence and engage the issues of power and privilege, we need to find new creative ways to open up spaces for conversations.