Awareness & Transformation: Conversations about Life, Race, & Faith

Awareness & Transformation: Conversations about Life, Race, & Faith

In response to the killing of George Floyd, staff members Ralph Lowe (Director of Justice Ministries) and Brian Wallace (Associate Minister) started a series of conversations entitled Awareness and Transformation: Conversations about Life, Race, and Faith.  You can view the episodes on YouTube and copies of the videos are available for download for use and inclusion in online worship and other church programs.  For supplemental information on racial justice, visit the PC(USA) site. 

Disclaimer from Ralph and Brian: “The views expressed in these episodes are our personal views and should not be understood, in any way, to constitute an official position or view of Pittsburgh Presbytery”

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Season 1:

Episode 1: Let’s Talk (June 2020)

Short Introduction

This five-minute piece is designed for Pastors to include as part of their online/virtual worship.  Ralph and Brian talk about one step people can take in light of what has happened in relation to George Floyd’s death to seek reconciliation.

Extended Conversation

This is the follow-up piece to the introduction above.  In it, Ralph and Brian cover a variety of race-related conversations including growing up in Pittsburgh as a black man, growing up in the suburbs as a white man, encounters with law enforcement, playing the “race card”, interracial marriage, choosing where you shop based on race, and more.

Episode 2: Defining Racist and Racism (June 2020)

Short Introduction

In this excerpt of Episode 2, Brian and Ralph talk about the Christian response to racism.  Drawing on the example of Peter, they talk about racism as a “matter of the heart” and the importance of dealing with race and racism as it relates to Christian discipleship.  Note: This excerpt is from the end of the episode.  If terms like “racist” and “anti-racist” are unfamiliar to your congregation (and may cause people to tune out), you may find it more beneficial to use the complete episode rather than this excerpt.

Extended Conversation

In this episode, Ralph and Brian dive deep into definitions.  Notably, how do we define two words: Racist and Racism.  They end up talking about “racist” as an identity”, “racism” like it’s a disease, terms like racist, nonracist, anti-racist, and more – and what is the Christian response?

Episode 3: What is implicit bias? (July 2020)

Remember the state representative from Ohio who asked if African-Americans are contracting coronavirus at higher rates because they don’t wash their hands as well?  In this episode, Ralph and Brian point to this as an example of what is called implicit bias.  Implicit bias refers to beliefs (conscious or unconscious), attitudes, and stereotypes that we all have that shape how we think, act, and feel about the world around us – and it’s very relevant to any conversation about race or racism.  They also talk about the importance of assuming the best in others when we talk about race and racism.

Episode 4: What about reverse racism?  (August 2020)

In conversations about race, it’s not unusual for someone to ask “What about reverse racism?”  They point to affirmative action, “minorities encouraged to apply” statements, and other examples of situations where being something other than a white male seems to give you an advantage.  So, is there such a thing as reverse racism?  In this episode, Ralph and Brian talk about this question specifically and touch on a number of other topics including bias, power, access to systems, and more.

Episode 5: Black lives matter, de-funding the police, and all THE things (August 2020)

In a conversation that has been long in coming, Ralph and Brian tackle difficult topics including the biblical concept of social justice as it relates to black lives matter, educating our children, and investing in our communities.  This conversation may stretch the limits of your emotional stamina (because it sure stretched theirs!).  Episode 5’s conversation is a glimpse into how being a disciple of Jesus Christ can push us headfirst into the most challenging subjects of today.

Episode 6: Kneeling During the National Anthem (September 2020)

Now that got your attention…Colin Kaepernick in 2016 knelt during the national anthem at the start of NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. Since that time many have expressed outrage and support of Kaepernick’s actions. Recently the NHL, NBA, WNBA, NFL, and MLB players have knelt during the National Anthem in support of racial equality in this country. How do we respond as Christians to this seemingly divisive act of protest?