2002-03-10 Holland Sentinel Recongnize sin of racism in Holland

Recognize sin of racism in Holland
Holland Sentinel

To the Editor:

Mike Lozon’s “An Exercise in Futility” (Sentinel, Feb. 26) provided a good example of why we need programs like the Ottawa Area Summit on Racism and The Institute for the Healing of Racism here in Holland. His was a wake-up call for anyone who would like to believe that the healing is complete or unneeded in this area.

While there was much to respond to in his words, and other letters to the editor have highlighted many of them, I’d like to touch three pints. First, Lozon comments negatively on the “utopian” nature of The Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance which I have actually found to be an inspiring quality of the t group. As people of faith (many faiths), holding up a vision of peace and wholeness is a vital aspect of our calling and that vision should always be pushing us to dream of places and ways that appear beyond our current reach.

There is a “utopian” aspect at the heart of hope, and hope lies at the heart of desire to change our world for the better. I thank LEDA for doing the work of dreaming on a community that is not yet fully here and now, and for holding up and working towards that vision of unity in our midst.

Second, I appreciate that LEDA seems grounded in reality while they lead us in the project of vision. And while our reality shows signs of progress (as noted by Summit speaker), there is still a long way to go. Measuring things like equal opportunity goes beyond noticing diversity in the people who shop at Meijer, as Lozon stated. Such experiences only show that people of every culture need to buy food. Questions like: “who has access to what kinds of housing?’ “Who holds positions of power and leadership in our churches, cities, schools and places of business?”’ and “How do we receive neighbors of various races into our neighborhoods?” will get more to the core of honestly assessing whether we can claim to be a community of equal access.

When we walk into board rooms, trustee meetings, restaurants, neighborhoods, gatherings of religious leaders, and city council events and see that diversity has made it into those kinds of places, then we can celebrate that equality of opportunity has truly taken hold.

Finally, Lozon cites our “Christian foundation” as the reason for what he sees as the current expression of diversity. My experience is that claiming our Christian heritage (which is not shared by all the people of Holland) does not save us from sins of division. Instead, it calls us to name them and to seek and offer forgiveness that will ultimately lead us more fully into loving God, our neighbors and ourselves. Studies and stories both tell us that the sin of racism is alive here in Holland and that there is energy around seeking a new way of being with one another.

My hope is that faith will play a role in that healing, a faith expressed through the willingness to speak the truth in love and to see one another as children of God, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, gender or creed.

Thank you LEDA and others who stir among us a vision that inspires, who remind us that we haven’t arrived there yet, and who encourage us to continue to work for justice and peace for all.