Congregational Conversation on Race and VirginiaBy Emily Hummel
Just before Shabbat, February 1, the news broke about Governor Northam’s medical school yearbook page. Over that weekend we witnessed the roller-coaster of responses, the calls for resignation, and the counter accusations of creating an intolerant political ecosystem. Just today, February 6, we learned that Attorney General Herring admitted to wearing blackface in college.
These incidents highlight yet again that we live in a state with unfinished business on the subject of race. This is the 400th anniversary of the first African slave to arrive in this land. We live in the capital of the former Confederacy. Just 18 months ago we saw the marches in Charlottesville, sparked by a controversy about removing a Civil War statue. Fairfax County Public Schools just wrestled with renaming JEB Stuart High School. And now the controversy surrounding the Governor and Attorney General.
Our country and our Commonwealth have never had a formal public conversation about race. Incidents pop up and demand attention from time to time and then recede for most of us (most people not directly oppressed by racism) into the background. What we lack is a vocabulary, a shared language, a shared story about race. We do not even know how to talk about it.
If our Commonwealth and Country should be able to talk about race, why not begin with our Congregation. Next Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m., we invite you to join us for a Congregational Conversation on Race and Virginia. Surely, with the covenant we share as members of this community, we can find a way to air this difficult topic, to hear each other’s stories, and to find a way to address racial intolerance in our history and world today. The brokenness and political combat around us burden our souls and NVHC exists to help us bear that burden and then find ways to respond.
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