Why does dialogue around equality and inclusion make a difference in how we respond to racism today? Steve Park, our Executive Director and Race Literacy 101 instructor shares three reasons why this is an issue we should care about.

Race relations is an issue most of us would rather avoid, but at Little Lights we believe there is something to be gained by leaning into discomfort. That is why a few years ago Little Lights began hosting Race Literacy 101, a study and discussion group purposely focused on exploring the topic of race and racism. This September, Steve Park, Executive Director and Founder of Little Lights, will lead a new set of students on an 11-week journey that will examine the history and the “science” of race.

Here are a few reasons why Steve believes race literacy should matter to this generation.

1. People see it as a problem that is not getting better.

According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, seventy percent of Americans think race relations in the United States are poor.1 Although Americans feel there is a problem, most do not know how to even talk about it with their closest friends. The Race Literacy 101 course aims to equip people with the tools they need to pursue unity and reconciliation. A student who was enrolled in last semester’s class shared that “The class helped me to continue to speak out more about the subject matter to other people.” That is our goal.

We have hope that our vision for a community of racial and class reconciliation where mutual respect and authentic fellowship exists is possible, and that such a community will provide healing and joy.

2. God calls the Body of Christ to be united in our diversity. (John 17:21)

As a ministry, one of our core beliefs is that all people, regardless of skin color, physical appearance, or ethnicity, are made in the image of God and are of equal worth to God (Genesis 1:27). Every person is valuable & has tremendous potential for good in the world. If the collective church is united and connected, pursuing a reconciled kingdom of God on earth, we can show the world the healing power of the Gospel. One way to overcome discrimination is to increase contact between people from different circles and experiences so mutual understanding can take place. The Race Literacy 101 course provides an honest yet grace-filled environment for unlike people to come together and get the chance to see the world through the eyes of those who have walked a different path.

After going through the course, another participant shared, “I am now able to really listen when others are speaking. It has made me value others’ experiences and opinions.”

3. The wealth gap between white and black families continues to increase due to past and current discrimination.

Numbers do not lie. The wealth gap between white families and their black and Hispanic counterparts is widening at an alarming rate. “The median net worth of white families — $171,000 — is now 10 times that of black families and eight times that of Hispanic families.”2

But why is the gap so big and should we even care?

The gap is due to a host of factors like racist housing policies which prevented blacks from owning land, acquiring loans, or gaining access to certain neighborhoods through red-lining and discriminatory practices that limited opportunities for upward mobility. The legacies of these unjust systems carry forward into the present. Equity has not yet been achieved, and as such we believe we have a responsibility (and the privilege) of working together to bring it about.

Progress happens when we acknowledge injustice and begin trying to figure out steps forward. Sign up for the Race Literacy class today and learn how you can be part of the solution as we strive for unity together.

1 Race Relations Poll: 70% Of Americans Think It’s Bad
Mahita Gajanan – http://time.com/4952612/race-relations-poll-charlottesville-donald-trump/

2 Analysis | Here’s Why the Wealth Gap Is Widening Between White Families and Everyone Else
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/10/05/heres-why-the-wealth-gap-is-widening-between-white-families-and-everyone-else/?utm_term=.bec2cbb6d9d1