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Race & Ethnicity
This section includes articles with themes that include anti-racism work, xenophobia, racial discrimination, racial justice, the Civil Rights Movement, affirmative action, reparations, and related topics.

Redefining Restorative Justice

The phrase “restorative justice” is popular among advocates for criminal justice reform, but Rima Vesely-Flad finds it lacking. She argues that formerly incarcerated persons are being discriminated against, denying both their humanity and access to work. [posted 1/27/05]

The Virgin of Guadalupe in the North American Context

The story of the Virgin of Guadalupe is more than just a lens into indigenous Mexican Christianity, says Michael Phillips. It is a story of building cross-cultural alliances and subverting dominant understandings of power and relationship. [posted 1/27/05]

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Expansive Dream

Dr. King's vision of justice went far beyond racism, Irene Monroe reminds us. She describes his challenge for healing society as an inclusive one, and one that must not be intellectualized but connected deeply with our need for personal healing. [posted 1/14/05]

No Mandate from Women of Color

There was a gender gap in voting patterns in the November 2004 presidential election, but an even more marked difference when race is considered as a factor. Linda Burnham analyzes the statistics, and predicts four bleak years for women of color. [posted 1/14/05]

Africa and Homosexuality

Contrary to what some religious leaders claim, homosexuality is an integral part of African life, states Nigerian theologian Rowland ‘jide Macauley. However, gay and lesbian Africans are the subject of violent repression, and this leads to silencing and self-hatred. [posted 12/16/04]

The White Elephant in the Room: Race and Election 2004

Conventional wisdom in the month after the U.S. elections says that religious values drove the results. Bob Wing refutes that with extensive statistical analysis, citing race as a more critical factor and offering some good news to progressives. [posted 12/3/04]

Race and the Race

The buzz about the election is that “values” were the big issue on November 2nd, but Rebecca Gordon has identified another key indicator: race. She crunches data and shows how white voters re-elected Bush, while some people of color were disenfranchised. [posted 11/5/04]

Cheney, Edwards Fail the AIDS Question

This month's vice presidential debate showed both candidates unable to answer how their administration would address the epidemic of African-American women with AIDS. Irene Monroe says their pathetic responses were emblematic of a widespread silence. [posted 10/18/04]


Special Report: The United Nations World Conference Against Racism
The Witness offers a diverse selection of perspectives from international correspondents on the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

Be an Established People in the Land of Exile

African-Americans were denied the ability to vote in the 2000 presidential election by the thousands, some legally and many illegally. Citing the biblical words of the prophet Jeremiah, Rima Vesely-Flad seeks a way for blacks to reclaim their political rights. [posted 10/14/04]

No Room for Complacency

The church is woefully behind the times when it comes to providing an equitable workplace for women priests, argues Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. Behind the numbers, this “Gen X” priest sees complacency as the primary challenge. [posted 8/11/04]

Vocation and Transformation

At times, women's ordination has limited vocational choices for laywomen in the church, notes Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook. As laypeople do battle with clericalism and religious hierarchy, she imagines a new church model that draws on the priesthood of all believers. [posted 8/11/04]

Remembering Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire

Ronald Reagan labeled the USSR the “evil empire,” but Irene Monroe remembers a different regime deserving that title. A onetime fundamentalist Christian, she chooses the word “evil” carefully, yet deliberately. [posted 7/9/04]

To Be Black, Muslim, and Military

Should Muslims fight in this war? Precious Rasheeda Muhammad, a young antiwar Muslim woman whose younger brother is a member of the U.S. Marines, confronts her own inner turmoil. [posted 6/30/04]

Stealing Elections: Shame on Us

The 2000 U.S. presidential election was “stolen in Florida,” according to some observers. Terry Brauer considers Greg Palast's new book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy , and wonders about a repeat of the problem this November. [posted 6/11/04]

No Marriage Between Black Ministers and Queer Community

Boston has been “ground zero” in the fight over same-sex marriage. Irene Monroe analyzes why African-American ministers there, some of whom are veterans of the civil rights era, have been slow to embrace this modern liberation struggle. [posted 6/2/04]

Asian Americans: Where Do We Belong?

Did you know that only 50 years ago Asians finally became eligible to be naturalized as U.S. citizens? James Kodera traces two centuries of discrimination against the “model minority” community which “represents” 3 billion people, and poses hard questions to U.S. Christians. [posted 5/26/04]

Ethnic Churches and the Intercultural Vision

The Episcopal Church's new Asian American missioner, Winfred Vergara, has a bold vision. The traditional “ethnic groupings,” often pitted against one another, he calls the “four aces,” prepared to transform together a tired, colonial church. [posted 5/20/04]

Christianity and Cultural Conflict in China

In Chinese traditional culture, the birth of a stillborn baby requires a month-long rest for the mother. This ritual conflicts with modern business practices, notes Dorothy Lau. Using a case study from her work in Hong Kong, we learn how to create win-win scenarios. [posted 5/20/04]

Reflecting on a Life Dedicated to Inclusion

Born in China of Japanese and Russian parents, married to an African American, and a member of a predominately white U.S. church, the tense intersections of race, class, gender and religion have dictated Hisako Beasley's life. Through it all, “inclusion” remains her primary commitment. [posted 5/20/04]

A Japanese Diaspora Still Seeking Peace

The experience of Japanese people in North America during World War II should be a sobering reminder to us of the power of oppression, says Timothy Nakayama. Yet their cultural trait of rarely challenging authority may prevent us from making these connections. [posted 5/20/04]

Christian Outcasts: Dalit Theology

Early British Christian missionaries in India were dismayed that the country's elite were uninterested in their religion. Instead, those deemed “untouchable” joined the church. Winnie Varghese outlines what this means today for a church that still prefers to avoid the powerless. [posted 5/19/04]

The Color of Abu Ghraib

The tortures at the now-infamous Iraqi prison must be understood in racialized terms, according to Bob Wing. And, he says, we cannot point our fingers at a few people: we all are complicit in this tragedy. [posted 5/19/04]

Gay Activism in Asian and Asian-American Churches

Media reports have created the impression that non-Western Christians are conservative and uniformly against gay rights. But according to Kwok Pui-lan, there is a quickly growing gay movement in Asian communities, including churches. [posted 5/19/04]

Toxic Land

Like many former industrial communities, Long Branch, New Jersey, has fallen on hard times. Public housing projects sit next to abandoned plants, and kids play in bleak, bare lots. Fletcher Harper tells the story of local citizens who came together to face the health threats in their front yard. [posted 5/6/04]

A Bloodshed Theology

Many have criticized Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ , for its relentless images of violence. Irene Monroe directly correlates the “redemptive suffering” depicted in the film with actual present-day violence against blacks, women, and LGBT peoples. [posted 4/8/04]

Dr. King and the Irresistibility of the Gospel

In the Palm Sunday gospel reading from Luke (April 4), Jesus rides into Jerusalem to the praise of a multitude of voices. This year, this date also marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s martyrdom. Mark Andrus contrasts two themes from these historic events: life as pilgrimage, and the irresistibility of the good. [posted 3/31/04]

Eurocentric Anglican Progressives?

Mark Harris's recent essay, “Contending with Anglican Realignment,” has drawn heated response from conservative churchmembers. Evangelical writer Ernesto Obregon says Harris' critique of “fascism in practice” is an example of a Eurocentric U.S. church. Harris responds and debates Obregon's analysis of “post-modernism.” [posted 3/25/04]

Unholy Matrimony: The Black Church & the Christian Right

During the past month, African American ministers and conservative white Christians have proclaimed a united opposition to gay marriage. Irene Monroe analyzes this unusual alliance, and calls it the result of a lack of leadership in the Black Church. [posted 3/24/04]

The Other Struggle in the Episcopal Church

Great strides forward have been made in recent months toward the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church. But have blacks become the forgotten minority? Irene Monroe researches the plight of the last African-American Episcopal congregation on Chicago’s West Side. [posted 2/11/04]

A Different Kind of "Coming Out" Story

Essie Mae Washington-Williams shocked the U.S. in late 2003 by announcing that former Senator Strom Thurmond was her father. Irene Monroe writes that the story of this white segregationist/ black daughter calls us to reconsider our nation's history of sexual exploitation and sexual violence. [posted 1/21/04]

The Wilderness Can Heal Both Oppressed and Oppressor

In this coming Sunday's gospel from Luke (for Dec. 7th), John the Baptist proclaims the prophet Isaiah's words as the "voice of one crying out in the wilderness." Irene Monroe recalls Martin Luther King's legacy in the U.S. civil rights movement as a modern-day prophet, giving hope that liberation awaits us all. [posted 12/4/03]

A Tibetan Monk Escapes . . . to Brooklyn

Amchok Thubten spent three years in prison in China, jailed and tortured as a supporter of the Dalai Lama. An arduous path around the world landed him homeless and destitute in New York City, reports Robert Hirschfield, struggling with his pain and anger but finding hope in helping others. [posted 11/25/03]

Black Clerics Hold Myopic View on Marriage and Family

Many African-American pastors have stated opposition to same-sex unions. Irene Monroe calls this short-sighted, especially considering the U.S.' long and sad history of excluding blacks from civil marriage.

Searching for Peace & Healing in Burundi

The Central African nation of Burundi has been enveloped in civil strife for years. South African priest Michael Lapsley visited the country recently to discuss methods of addressing personal trauma and communal reconciliation. He found Christianity complicit in its violent past. [posted 11/12/03]

From Amistad to New Hampshire

In 1839, the slave ship La Amistad sailed from Cuba to the U.S. An insurrection on board was overthrown, and a slave named Cinque was put on trial. His haunting testimony frames for Elizabeth Kaeton the incarnational power of Gene Robinson's consecration as bishop of New Hampshire. [posted 11/12/03]

South Africa's Lessons to Zimbabwe

In 1990, Apartheid agents sent a letter bomb Michael Lapsley in Zimbabwe. He barely survived, and began a transformative journey that has taken him from victim to victor. Now he challenges Zimbabwe to learn from South Africa's own history. [posted 10/1/03]


Building a Strategy for the Solomons
The Solomon Islands are once again enveloped in political chaos and violence. Terry Brown, Anglican Bishop of Malaita, provides a less tabloid-like perspective of the situation than the Western media’s, while calling on Australia & New Zealand to intervene. [posted 7/22/03]

Justice Begins in the Bedroom
The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Texas’ sodomy law. Irene Monroe considers the Sodom & Gomorrah story, the alleged biblical mandate against homosexual sex. She finds that the misreading of this text has also encouraged sexual violence toward women. [posted 7/21/03]

I Am the Vine, You Are the Branches
In mid-May, a teenage girl was beaten to death on the streets of Newark, New Jersey. According to Elizabath Kaeton, Sakia Gunn was killed because she had three strikes against her: she was female, she was black and she was gay. [posted 5/29/03]

The Vision of Audre Lorde
A new film, "The Edge of Each Other's Battles," provides a glimpse at the legacy of legendary poet and feminist Audre Lorde. Reviewer Rima Vesely says the documentary reveals the resistance of women of color to the middle-class mainstream women's movement. [posted 4/3/03]

The Real War America Needs to Fight
In a time of war, a nation needs every soldier who is willing to serve. Irene Monroe says that the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy adopted by the U.S. military — and the discrimination that it encourages — is militarily dangerous. [posted 4/2/03]

A New Hero for Black History Month
A university undergraduate was brutally beaten in the skull with a baseball bat in November 2002 by a fellow student. Why? Irene Monroe attributes it to virulent homophobia in the African-American male community. [posted 3/13/03]

Queens and Their Crowns
A new book, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, is called a "stunning documentary work" by reviewer Jennifer Phillips. The photos and interviews highlight the piety and pride of black churchwomen and the heritage they embody. [posted 2/21/03]

Racial Profiling Will Not Create Peace
In the Second World War, Timothy Nakayama was taken from his Canadian home and put in an "internment camp" by his government. His wrongful war-time treatment has made him determined to resist current security measures that are targeted at specific ethnic groups. [posted 01/23/03]

The Dangerous Life of the "Other"
"Islamophobia" is a growing "disease" in the U.S., according to Irene Monroe. A society that has considered itself white and straight — and therefore has named blacks and LBGT people as the "other" — now encourages suspicion of Muslims too. [posted 11/14/02]

John Wesley and the Global Economy
John Wesley, the founder of Christian Methodism, was ahead of his time in understanding the power of globalization. According to Bill Wylie-Kellermann, Wesley’s strong stance against alcohol grew out of his recognition of its connections to the international slave trade. [posted 10/28/02]

For Black Gays, Writing is Power
There is a distinctive literary canon offered by LGBT people of African descent, posits Irene Monroe. This "counter voice," evidenced in the Harlem Renaissance, is also an expressly spiritual one, and is a way of reclaiming power in an exclusionary culture. [posted 10/08/02]

Cardinal Sends Kids Message of Hate
Children are impressionable, especially when taking advice from key leaders in their communities. Irene Monroe says that clerics have a special responsibility to recognize the power of their words, and she condemns an anti-gay statement made by Roman Catholic Cardinal Law on World Youth Day. [posted 8/12/02]

How Many Immigrants Must You Imprison to Turn a Profit?
The private prison industry has grown exponentially in the past two decades, but recently their growth has stalled. May Va Lor reports that these politically opportunistic corporations have seized onto anti-immigrant sentiments as a way to sustain their profit margins. [posted 8/8/02]

We, Too, Are Patriots
The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to celebrate their nation’s independence with patriotic zeal. Irene Monroe worries that the heroism of some members of the population will be overlooked, or even viewed as un-American. [posted 7/15/02]

Pray, Organize and Get Politically Active: An Interview with Barbara Lee
On September 14, 2001, U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee drew national attention when she cast the lone vote against a bill intended to give the president a "blank check" to pursue the "War on Terrorism." Episcopal priest Earl Neil, a long-time friend of Lee’s, spoke with her about her peace & justice values and activism. [posted 5/8/02]

What’s in a Name? Plenty, That’s What!
Some derogatory words like "queer" have achieved broad-based cultural acceptance, but the increasingly popular use of the "N-word" is different, opines Irene Monroe. She says society has become anesthetized to the damaging and destructive use of epithets, which shows our ignorance of their historical origins. [posted 4/9/02]

Divine Centrifugality vs. Imperial Centripetality
Using his hometown of Los Angeles as his primary example, noted theologian and activist Ched Myers argues that America has always been defined by the struggle between two realities: dominant culture ideologies and structures from above, and multicultural populations and practices from below.

Let Us Cross Over into 2002
Many black churches celebrate Watch Night services on New Year’s Eve, maintaining a 150 year-old tradition that looks ahead toward the coming year. Irene Monroe celebrates this tradition, which is also reflected in Kwanzaa, in the midst of current conflicts in the African American community. [posted 01/16/02]

9/11 and Race: One Christian Perspective
One of the most popular exercises in religious anti-racism training events over the past decade has been a hypothetical terrorist attack. In the wake of September 11th, Ed Rodman considers our racist history and says the sad reality is that we are all now living out the profound truth of that exercise. [posted 12/13/01]

Targeting Islam, the New Bigotry
Christian Fundamentalists have called Islam a religion of violence. Irene Monroe says that just the opposite is true — the word Islam means peace — and it is hypocritical for the Christian Right to be pointing fingers. [posted 11/13/01]

The War Fever in the Superpower U.S.
As the U.S. military commences an invasion of Afghanistan, a Japanese American Nisei (second generation U.S. resident) remembers living in both Japan and the U.S. during World War II. Mike Yasutake reflects on nationalism while he prays for peace. [posted 10/31/01]

Special Report: Human Rights Versus Oil
by Julie Wortman Few non-Native people accept that fighting oil drilling in ANWR is a human rights battle.

High Holy Days Amid the Ruins
Are America and Israel innocent? At the time of the most holy days of the Jewish calendar, a time of awe and repentence, Jewish scholar Marc Ellis examines the dichotomies of innocence and guilt, of good and evil. [posted 10/12/01]

Justice on Trial in South Africa
South Africa’s "People’s Poet," the award-winning Mzwakhe Mbuli, is in prison on a bank robbery conviction. In an era of "truth and reconciliation," Tom Anthony sharply questions the state’s case against Mbuli.

Anatomy of Racism
"The most basic form of deception is in fabricating a false symmetry between occupier and occupied, between oppressor and victim." So says Hanan Ashrawi, in discussing the Palestinian — Israeli conflict.

The Zionist Ideology of Domination Versus the Reign of God
In a high-profile speech to an ecumenical audience, Palestinian liberation theologian Naim Ateek calls for a new radical nonviolence, using Walter Wink’s model of challenging the Powers & Principalities.

Globalization from Below
The World Trade Organization: fix it or nix it? International political economist Patrick Bond highly recommends a new book on globalization — but also takes issue with some of its central theses.

Timothy McVeigh: Capital Punishment and the Horror of Oklahoma City
The execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has created a media circus, but who is addressing the moral & ethical issues involved? John Chane argues that theologically, we, too, have become murderers.

‘Through Prayer and Action’: The Seeds of a New Anglicanism?
In a post-colonial Anglican Communion, threats of schism abound. Ian Douglas finds hope for true communion, however, in recent efforts by Anglicans from the political left & right to come together and seek common ground.

Episcopal Urban Caucus Seeks Global Justice
A report from a gathering of two hundred urban church activists shows how the "think globally, act locally" motto is an imperative in an era of globalization.

Reorganizing the "Choir" of Religious Progressives
A new coalition is being created of politically liberal religious activists, partly in response to the conservative Bush administration. Ethan Flad attended the first gathering of the "Progressive Religious Partnership," and reports on their plans for re-energizing the religious left.

Soup, Shakespeare, and a Sermon
Grant Gallup, the host of Episcopal-based ministry "Casa Ave Maria," in Managua, Nicaragua, send a Sunday siesta reflection on life in el Barrio.

The Opposite of Love
Shelters for battered women serve as stark reminders to our society’s failure to end domestic violence. Elizabeth Kaeton shares the story of meeting a survivor of a quarter-century of abuse who managed to break the cycle of violence.

The Church Up to Its Ears in Chicken
Having chicken for dinner? Think twice. Outspoken labor activist and Episcopal priest Jim Lewis reports on labor, environment, and social problems in the poultry industry.

From Cosmic Silence to Dancing Trinity: The Church of Sweden in a Time of Challenges
Mikael Mogren, reporting on the social and cultural challenges in his nation of Sweden, says that no one regularly goes to church. Even without parishioners, the relationship between church & state in his society won’t let the churches close.

We Are Foreigners and Strangers Among Ourselves
LGBT Pride events include a troubling paucity of people of color. Challenging the racism and politics of exclusion in the LGBT community, Irene Monroe cites the Apostle Paul’s efforts to create community between warring Jews & gentiles.