Dealing with Everyday Racism
Originally Published in the Reclaiming Quarterly #79, Summer 2000
Starting in 1992, the year I joined the Sojourner Truth Congregation of Unitarian Universalists, till 1999 when it ceased to meet as a congregation, I gave a series of lectures and sermons on the topics of racism, sexism, homophobia, and diversity. This particular talk started as an hour long lecture as part of our 1994 seminar series on African Americans and race relations. It was later shortened to a sermon and delivered to a suburban congregation the following year.
Mine was the last lecture in the series and the topic was chosen as a provocative ending to a hugely succesful six month run. When I sat down to write this talk, I realized that there was nothing about racism that wasn't everyday and every waking moment from my perspective. And that realization poignantly set the tone and tenor of my talk.
What audience should I address with this talk? Well, there is not much I can tell other African Americans or Native Americans about racism or how to deal with it. And I cannot speak for the experience of Asian, Latino, and other oppressed groups. We all, in some sense, deal with oppression every day of our lives and all of us have developed complicated strategies just to live out our everyday life. Each and every one of us is an expert on our oppression. No there is not much I can tell victims of racism about how to deal with it. I can only share my personal strategies in dialogue.