A Word from Laura: Waking Up White

“We [white people] need to get comfortable being uncomfortable,” remarked my friend and current co-moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rev. Jan Edmiston. I’ve been trying to give up some of that comfort this Lent – even as the release of the new federal budget makes me so morally uncomfortable I almost feel ill!

I share Jan’s remarks knowing and celebrating that not all of us at Western “wake up white,” and committing to continue our church’s faithful work on systemic racism. Following up on Jessica Vazquez Torres’ recommendation at the Crossroads antiracism training that we read Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving, I invite you to join me. We’ll meet for the next three Wednesday evenings for dinner at 6:30 p.m. and a conversation led by some of the weekend’s participants, using the study guide prepared by Jan and her co-moderator and National Capital Presbytery pastor, Rev. Denise Anderson.

Regardless of how you identify racially or how many of these conversations you’ve had previously, I hope you will read the book and come join us. On March 22, you’ll want to read the first two sections (through page 60) and consider these questions:

  • What is your racial heritage?
  • Growing up, what kind of experiences did you have with people of different backgrounds?
  • What are your first memories of realizing people were treated differently because of race?
  • How did important adults, people in your community, and aspects of your faith help interpret your experiences – or not?

Even if you can’t be with us on March 22, take the time to check out the book. As someone who has been having these conversations for years, I still found helpful in considering how I have been shaped by racism and how white privilege has affected my own thinking, doing, and being. As we consider our church’s next steps, don’t miss this opportunity to consider your own life and faith! Additionally, we have a few extra copies for you to check out in the church office; please let us know if you would like to borrow one.