Racial Justice

Middle Church understands that the so-called American Dream has been a nightmare for racial-ethnic minorities. America was built on stolen land by people stolen from their land. From Jim Crow to Japanese Internment to the Trail of Tears, we know America has behaved poorly toward groups who are not White and Anglo-Saxon.

We think healing racism is an act of faith. Our racially diverse congregation wore hoodies to church after Trayvon Martin was murdered, and sent Skittles and iced tea to Sanford, Florida. We prayed with our hands up after Mike Brown was killed and kneeled in prayer in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick We participated in die-ins throughout New York City after Eric Garner was murdered. Our faith is political because Jesus was political. Just as people of faith stood at the center of the Civil Rights movement, we know it is our call to be on the front lines of racial/ethnic justice in America.

Join us for our national Revolutionary Love: Toward a More Perfect Union Conference, April 24-26, 2020 at Middle Church for activists, artists, and congregations committed to the intersectional issues of racial justice. We also offer educational opportunities on race at Middle Church throughout the year.

Racial Justice at Middle Church

Articles on Race

Reckoning With Violence
Michelle Alexander at The New York Times, March 3, 2019 — We must face violent crime honestly and courageously if we are ever to end mass incarceration and provide survivors what they truly want and need to heal.

Black Women’s Faith, Black Women’s Flourishing
Eboni Marshall Turman at The Christian Century, February 28, 2019 — Womanist theology proclaims a future beyond the strongholds of racism, sexism, and injustice.

E Pluribus Unum: Why Visible Diversity Is Many, Not Just One
Karmen M. Smith at Blavity, February 21, 2019 — “... if culture is a mirror, it’s time we removed the blindspots that are keeping SGL Black and brown men from being seen in leadership.”

Blackface Is Just One Part of the Problem
Jamil Smith at Rolling Stone, February 4, 2019 — The furor over Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook photo has America once again asking the wrong questions about racism.

Power & Heart: Black and Buddhist in America
Ruth King, Gina Sharpe, Myokei Caine-Barrett, Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Kamilah Majied, Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Konda Mason, Gretchen Rohr, Venerable Pannavati, Lama Rod Owens, Ralph Steele, Jozen Tamori Gibson, and Chimyo Atkinson at Lion’s Roar, January 30, 2019

How the Poor People’s Campaign Is Building a ‘New Electorate’
Greg Kaufmann at The Nation, January 21, 2019 — A conversation with Reverend Liz Theoharis on the campaign’s broad agenda for 2019.

The Heresy of White Christianity
Chris Hedges at Truthdig, December 10, 2018  — “Christianity is essentially a religion of liberation,” Cone writes. “The function of theology is that of analyzing the meaning of that liberation for the oppressed community so they can know that their struggle for political, social, and economic justice is consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We Know the Love of God/Conocemos el amor de Dios: A Reflection On the Trans Day of Remembrance
Davíd E. Patiño and the Transgender Seminarian Cohort, November 19, 2018  — As trans people, we know the love of God. We feel it in our bones, in the very skin that lines our bodies, in the very nature of who we are. God is that voice within us that shows us the way to authenticity, to self-love, and to community.

Liberative Inculturation: Making Christianity Relevant in Urban Contexts
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at Sacrum Testamentum, Vol. 1: Black Reflections on Christian Studies, October 2018 — As a womanist theologian, I rarely write without locating myself in context. I’m a Universalist Christian, a babyboomer born in 1959, an African-American clergy who is the senior minister in charge of a revolutionary congregation in the East Village of Manhattan. We are Black, White, Asian, and Latinx.

Why Jews Should Support Reparations for Slavery
Rabbi Sharon Brous at Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2018  — There is 2,000-year-old rabbinic dispute over what ought to be done if a palace is built on the foundation of a stolen beam. One rabbi, Shammai, argues that the whole structure must be torn down, the beam retrieved …

What Will We Do? A Faithful Response To Poverty In Advent
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, November 27, 2017  — Did you ever have one of those bracelets that said “What Would Jesus Do?” Maybe a bumper sticker? Did you get the T-shirt ― WWJD? This was all the rage in the 1990s. In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, a novel written by Charles Sheldon in 1896, grew out of sermons he preached about imitating Christ.

We Need To Talk: The Link Between Sexual Violence And Gun Violence
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Rabbi Sharon Brous, and Valarie Kaur at HuffPost Religion, November 6, 2017 — As we mourn the loss of the twenty-six souls murdered in cold blood; as we pray for the 20 recovering from gun-shot wounds, 10 in critical condition, we are outraged at the circumstances. A man dishonorably discharged from the military for abusing his wife and child; …

In Case Of Emergency: Revolutionary Love
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, September 12, 2017 — “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I am OK.” This is the calm voicemail that Welles Remy Crowther, an equity trader, left for his mother Alison after the South Tower of the World Trade Center was struck …

DACA, Harvey, and Charlottesville: This Is An Emergency
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, September 8, 2017 — I was just up on a mountaintop in New Mexico for a few days at an event called WIDEN. With five dozen young adults and five elders—my husband and I among them—we listened as Father Richard Rohr helped us imagine …

Confronting #WhiteSupremacy With #RevolutionaryLove
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, August 13, 2017 — I am horrified at the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. And I pray for the families of the two police officers who died on their way to help. I also pray for the family of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old paralegal who was killed by a 20-year-old white supremacist, a terrorist whose name I will not speak, …

Deep Solidarity: Beyond Charity and Advocacy
Joerg Rieger at HuffPost Religion, February 19, 2017 — While charitable giving is widely appreciated, it is neither the only nor the most faithful response to the problems of the world. To put it bluntly: Jesus preached good news to the poor and freedom to the oppressed rather than charity.

An Open Letter to Christians
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, March 9, 2017 — Dear Christians Who Voted for Trump, I was on strike March 8, participating in #ADayWithoutAWoman. Yet I am tired today, because this is what keeps me up at night: Does this administration seem Christian to you?

Being Church in the Trump Era
Brian McLaren on YouTube, February 21, 2017
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfMtENFtHxk
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnKXnFqCHsk

A Spirituality for Hot Mess Times
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, February 15, 2017 — I’m not a yoga, sit-on-a-mat cross-legged kind of gal. I want to be; I’m just not. And because I am not, I tell myself that I am not a mystic. I like mystics, some of my best friends are mystics. I admire them! Me?

Race, Money and Politics: Connecting Some Dots
Rev. John Janka at MiddleProject.org, April 6, 2016 — Race-based bigotry and violence has been a festering wound now exposed to the light of day by a series of deaths resulting from police action against people of color. One may understandably wonder, did the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s really change anything?

Where Are the White Churches?
Rev. John Janka at MiddleProject.org, March 5, 2016 — During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s numerous Black clergy, including Martin Luther King, Jr. appealed to the white church for support and active engagement. The movement hoped for financial, political and moral support from the white church. Much of the white church responded with either silence or outright disdain that King and other leaders were threatening the status quo.

Hope in the Unexpected Common Ground: Moving Past Hatred
Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson at Patheos, October 13, 2015 — Last week, when my colleagues and I learned of the shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, there was an emotion that none of us expressed. Yes, we expressed our grief, outrage, sadness, and frustration over yet another mass shooting that is one of nearly 300 that have occurred across our country since January …

Being Brown While Black Lives Matter
Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre at Our Lucha, August 29, 2015 — Yes – black lives matter. But for centuries they haven’t. Killing black folk was considered sport, as documented by early twentieth century souvenir postcards of lynchings, where good Christians looked into the camera as that “strange fruit” swung from the trees behind them. The police, with a history to “protect and serve” …

Profiling Act
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, August 10, 2015 — When Mike Brown was killed one year ago, in the midst of tears and grief we prayed with our hands up, as tempers flared and fires burned. When we saw Eric Garner die on camera, it took our breath away. When Sandy Bland died in custody, we saw the lethal consequences of racism behind bars.

I Am Black, and Black Lives Matter
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis at HuffPost Religion, August 10, 2015 — There was a sense of urgency in this call. I was on the phone with a multiracial group of faith leaders—Christians, Muslims, Jews, Unitarian Universalists—strategizing about what to do about the Black churches burning in the south.

I Am Muslim and I Am Black Lives Matter
Linda Sarsour at HuffPost Religion, July 16, 2015 — Black lives don’t matter. We need to own that as the current reality for millions of Black Americans. Every 28 hours a police officer, security guard, or Zimmerman-type vigilante kills a Black person, most of who are unarmed. Black children can be kicked out of pools and physically harassed by police while their white counterparts watch.

Additional Resources

  • An Essay on Howard Thurman by Matlin Gilman
  • Check out Race: The Power of an Illusion, an informative website by PBS.
  • America's Original Sin, Jim Wallis
  • Beloved, Toni Morrison
  • Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Can We Talk About Race, Beverly Tatum
  • Citizen, Claudia Rankine
  • Coming Together in the 21st Century, Curtiss DeYoung
  • Dismantling Racism, Joseph Barnett
  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
  • Race Matters, Cornel West
  • Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Kelly Brown Douglas
  • The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson
  • White Rage, Carol Anderson
  • Where is Black Lives Matter Headed?, The New Yorker, March 14, 2016