By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Racism is still a highly debated topic in America. Vicki Washington-Nance, a member of the North Texas Anti-Racism Team, said a faith-based approach is her organization’s way of fighting racism.
“We are exploring a faith-based understanding of anti-racism,” she said. “We believe that racism is not a part of God’s design for creation.”
During the Anti-Racism conference conducted at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Greenville on Thursday, Washington-Nance said the room would serve as a safe place to talk about racism.
“We recognize that racism is not that easy to discuss,” she said. “This room is a safe place to listen to and respect one another without judging one another.”
Bill Bryan, also a member of the North Texas Anti-Racism Team, brought up the long history of church organizations working to end slavery and racism.
“The last letter John Wesley wrote was to a young man in British Parliament named William Wilberforce urging him in his fight against slavery,” he said. “The roots of church and ending slavery has very deep roots.”
Bryan said the best way to work together is to come into a general understanding of racism.
“We believe that on the way weneed to have a fellow definition of racism,” he said.
According to the Anti-Racism Team, racism is defined as race prejudice plus the power of systems and institutions.
“For many of us who are white we see racism as an individual prejudice,” Bryan said. “But after talking with many people of color, they see it as a systemic power aimed against them.”
Some people questioned that normal individuals did not have the power to fight racism, but according to Bert Green, a coach for Greenville High School, the power to fight rests in everyone.
“Every individual has the power inside them,” Green said. “The power lies with all of us. If we become apathetic then we’ve lost that power.”
Washington-Nance agreed with Green, and added where the power to fight comes from.
“We gain power from the Bible that racism is not God’s design,” she said. “Faith is directly tied to our work of dismantling racism.”
When a family member falls ill, the entire family suffers together. According to Washington-Nance, racism is an illness that is affecting the church family and is encouraged the church is fighting it together.
“Just like in our family if one person is broken, then the entire family suffers,” she said. “Each time we come to Greenville we are encouraged by the Corporation for Cultural Diversity for the progress they’ve shown in this community.”
Bryan said the reception to the topic from the community gives him hope.
“I am inspired and delighted with the community in the room,” he said. “The attention and conversations make me hopeful. I am proud of Dan Perkins of CCD for bringing this to Greenville.”