Beliefs RNS Press Release Service

Theologians & activists tackle spiritual & social crisis of racism in America

Dr. Catherine Meeks, a longtime leader in the struggle for racial justice, brings together a range of powerful voices—theologians, pastors, and activists—to grapple with the spiritual and social crisis of racism in a new collection of essays: Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America (Morehouse Publishing). The book is “timely and urgently needed,” says Jim Wallis in the foreword, in the aftermath of the contentious and troubling national election that showed how far we are from being a “postracial” country.

The contributors are “clear about the need for a different conversation on race in the 21st century than the one held in the 20th,” says Dr. Meeks. “Colorblindness” is not the answer. “The rush to racial reconciliation is rooted deeply in the notion of colorblindness, a philosophy highly held in the religious communities of America. It is not, however a notion that is rooted in truly trying to hear what Blacks are saying about their state of affairs when it comes to race,” Dr. Meeks writes. “There will be no racial reconciliation without justice, no justice without racial healing.”

The eight writers featured in Living into God’s Dream have spent years working to heal the wounds of racism. The essays weave together psychological, sociological, and theological threads, creating a body of work that will help readers reflect on their own journey as a White person or as a person of color. Among the contributors are:

  •  The Right Rev. Robert C. Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and the first African American to become an Episcopal bishop in Georgia, explores the ways in which the South is the Holy Land for America.
  • Dr. Luther Smith, Jr., professor emeritus of Church and Community at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University, explores the idea that God has a dream for us to be a community, what hinders it and ways we can embrace it.
  • Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown, professor of psychology emerita at Agnes Scott College, discusses how healing the minds of Blacks and Whites alike can lead to the possibility of cultivating the spirit—work that needs to be done if there is to be true healing.
  • Dr. Meeks writes two chapters about the reasons to continue the conversation on race and the pain felt by Black parents when their children experience this country as a hard place in which to live because their skin happens not to be white.
  • Don Mosley, cofounder of Jubilee Partners Christian service community in Georgia, who helped launch Habitat for Humanity, analyzes White privilege and recounts its dogged determination to hold him hostage from an early age.
  • Beth King, a Dismantling Racism Trainer for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, joins Dr. Meeks to describe the work of the diocese’s Beloved Community Commission for Dismantling Racism.

The book is a testament to Dr. Meeks’ commitment to dialogue. “I keep talking about race because dialogue has to continue,” she says. “The efforts we make each day to connect with one another may lead to a day when the system of oppression will be destroyed. Each authentic daily struggle can lead to a weakening of the overall system and one day it will collapse. It will…be replaced by the foundation built from the slow, consistent, and persistent relationship building that occurs between Blacks and Whites who are faithful to this call. That’s why I keep talking.”

Dr. Catherine Meeks is the retired Clara Carter Acree Distinguished Professor of Socio-Cultural Studies at Wesleyan College and serves the Diocese of Atlanta as the chair of the Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism. She is author of several other books, including Standing on Their Shoulders: A Celebration of the Wisdom of African American Women.

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