Presbyterians Today

OCT-NOV 2017

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I n a few weeks, many of us will make our way to a place we call home in observance of Thanksgiving, our most religiously secular and secularly religious holiday. Gathered around a table of plenty, we will partake and share, acknowledging God's gracious bounty to all and giving thanks for it. However, Thanksgiving tables are notorious for bringing together generations with different points of view, each person speaking their mind. Some people will speak with delicacy, some with tentativeness, some with courage and still others with privilege — and don't forget the outrageous conversationalist for whom the hashtag #nofilter seems to have been invented. Politics, economics and religion often make their way into our Thanksgiving conversations, testing the familial and social glue that binds us together. Frequently at the center of these traditionally taboo subjects is race in America. Conversations about race are inher- ently challenging. Setting aside the confusion, defensiveness and wounds that such conversations inevitably surface, few of us can speak without visceral passion on subjects like privi- lege and disenfranchisement, bias and discrimination, terror and rage. The concept of race holds us hostage as a people. It is at best an entirely fungible fiction, a socio-polit- ical construct rather than a biological fact. There is no gene that determines our race. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, a genetic code of astonishing complexity. Instead, racial identity is some- thing that expresses itself with singular power in our family ties, places of residence, educational achievements, music choices, fashion statements, and — most tellingly — our church affiliations. Since the addition of the Confession of Belhar to the Book of Confessions in 2016, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has put antiracism at the center of the table as part of 16 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2017 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay Facing Racism Having the hard conversations about race BY TONY DE LA ROSA GETTY IMAGES

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