Conversations about race and racism: ‘It starts with the dominant culture,’ local pastor says

Arkansas News

EL DORADO, Ark. (06/2/2020) — As the nation continues to gather against racial injustice and inequality, many are wondering how to come together at a time like this.

Millions have taken to the streets their distress about the generational oppression the black community has faced for centuries. The death of George Floyd, a man killed by a former Minnesota Police Officer, is the most recent incident to spark outrage among communities across the country.

“I think the nation had to realize that enough is enough and something has to be done,” President of the Union County-El Dorado Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Color People, Janice Bush said.

Residents in El Dorado gathered for two days for rallies against systemic racism. Bush, 72, vividly remembers having “the talk” with her parents about she was supposed to act whenever she came in contact with police officers.

“Black parents have to have ‘the talk.’ I don’t know if white parents have to do that,” Bush said. “I was taught that when you encounter a police man, don’t look them in the eye. Keep your head down. Keep your hands where they can see them. Don’t make sudden moves. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t disagree.”

African Americans have always had to act a certain way to be accepted by other races because some view them as “aggressive” which David Reuhr, pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, couldn’t understand why there were those that had that perception of blacks.

“That’s not how we treat people,” he said. “No matter what.”

In order for there to be racial healing, Bush says it’s going to take an honest conversation to break those barriers. That understanding is vital to true equality and Pastor Reuhr and other say that it starts with the white race.

“It’s the responsibility of the dominant culture to stop it,” he said. “The most important thing is to try and listen to what happening and look through what’s happening and see what’s really going on.”

Katie Carruth, 20, has joined the rallies in hopes of seeing a more unified nation. It took so much for her to have strong emotions towards the injustices of black people but it’s something she says she now fully understands.

“As a white person we have so much privilege and I’m just ashamed that I now realize the privileges that I have,” she said. “It’s time to break any uncomfortableness because people are dying. It’s our job to have these conversations.”

Pastor Reuhr says that’s also the responsibility of the church as a whole, showing love and grace to everyone God has created.

“It’s our duty as Christians to listen to people that are marginalized and pay attention to people that are suffering,” he said.

As a father of four children under the age of 11, he has had to have conversations with his kids about race and racism.

It’s something Bush believes should be a topic parents from all backgrounds should address especially in the school systems.

“We are awfully uneducated about other cultures and races,” she said.

“When you have black history month and it’s the same black people that you’re celebrating each year, that’s not educating anybody and that’s certainly not increasing the knowledge base and making people feel like they were contributors to your community that don’t look like you.”

The rallies in El Dorado have been largely diverse although there have been some driving by that have expressed their disdain to the supporters.

This sentiment is felt across the world from many who don’t see the larger picture but Bush prays for a day that everyone can treated equal.

“Everybody is valuable whether you can see it or not,” Bush said. “As long as you don’t see the issue from my perspective as if I’m not a part of this community then to me that’s hurtful. It has to stop or we as a nation are going to crumble.”

The local NAACP chapter is working to host a community forum this weekend. Details about the event will be announced.

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