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10 Day Challenge



“I can’t breathe” were the dying words of a black man named George Floyd, as a police officer kept a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes, choking the life out of him, while he lay handcuffed on the ground.

Beginning this Sunday, I invite you to engage in the WPC 10 Days of Learning/Action Challenge. For African Americans and for many people of color in this country, the struggle to breathe is a daily one. Our goal is to grow in our understanding of their lived experience. We hope/intend that through our learning – by reading, listening, watching – about the injustices suffered, that we will be moved to dismantle the racism and white supremacy that is so pervasive in our nation.

In this pivotal moment, we must be courageous in doing what God requires of us. Reflecting on that wonderful text from the prophet Micah, the Jewish Talmud states, “Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Wherever you are in your journey of faith and faithfulness, whether you are new to this conversation or have been learning about racism for some time, we invite you to continue the work now. Do not abandon it. We know that these steps we are taking, while important, are not enough. Yet, this is a start.

Let us turn our learning into faithful action for a just and equitable society, helping to create the beloved community of Jesus Christ, that we all might breathe easier together.

In Christ’s peace,
Paul E. Gilmore 
[I am grateful to our friends at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, and to the Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, for the inspiration for this challenge and for help with the resource list. Special thanks to the Rev. Rodger Nishioka, the Rev. Joe Clifford, and the Rev. John Magnuson.]

Day One. Choose one:

Watch this video:​ Racism is Real. 3:08. 2019. Brave New Films. A split-screen video depicting the differences between the lived experience of White and Black persons in the United States. The next time someone doubts that systemic racism exists, show them this video.


Read this Article:
 ​Climbing the White Escalator. Article by Betsy Leondar-Wright. June/July 2004 Issue of IMPACT. Leondar-Wright is the racial wealth divide communications director for United for a Fair Economy. She writes an article explaining how difficult it is for non-White persons to achieve in the United States based on her own family experience. 


Day Two. Choose one:

Read this article:
 The 1619 Project and Chicago’s Centuries of Racism by Policy. Article from January 27, 2020. By Helene D. Gayle, President and CEO for Chicago Community Trust. Dr. Gayle points out how a history of decisions in real estate, banking, and transportation, have led to the current racial and ethnic wealth gap which threatens the prosperity of the greater Chicago region.

Listen to this podcast: NPR Story. To Be in a Rage Almost All of the Time. 
34:00. June 1, 2020. In 1961, author James Baldwin was asked by a radio host about being Black in America. He said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time…” Across the country, Black Americans are grappling with the trauma, exhaustion and rage from yet another death at the hands of police. Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of the Pulitzer-Prize winning 1619 Project, and Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown University and author of “Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” talk about the mourning, anger and protest of the past week.

Read this article:
 White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Article by Peggy McIntosh. July/August 1989. Peace and Freedom Magazine. In the 1980s, Dr. Peggy McIntosh, a professor at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, coined the term “white privilege.” In this article, she defines the term and illustrates how white persons are gifted with certain privileges because of their whiteness.  

Day Three. Choose one:

Watch this video:  Call for Change.
 8:04. May 29, 2020. The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), remembers recent victims of racial violence and tells us there is much work to be done. Nelson holds the highest elected office in the PC(USA) and is the first African American to serve as clerk.


Listen to this podcast: Cape-Up.
 Journalist Jonathan Capehart in this podcast interviews Robin DiAngleo author of “White Fragility: Why It’s So hard for White People to Talk about Racism.” 38:02. June 2, 2020. DiAngelo, a white woman, does not mince words. Even in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, she says, “I actually don’t think that most white people care about racial injustice. I really don’t.” 

Read this article: 21 Racial Microaggressions You Hear on a Daily Basis. 
Article by Heben Nigatu. A photographer at Fordham University in New York City asked persons of color to share some of the “microaggressions” they experienced on a regular basis. A microaggression is a brief verbal, behavioral or environmental indignity, intentional or unintentional, directed at a persons of lesser power.  

Day Four. Choose one:

Watch this video: 13th 
96:00. 2016. A Netflix documentary by award-winning American filmmaker Ava DuVernay about the connection between slavery in the United States and the present-day system of mass incarceration. In a compelling unfolding narrative, DuVernay clearly illustrates how a structure is created that devastates African Americans and decimates the African American community for generations. 

Listen to this podcast: NPR Story. The Trauma of Being Black in America.
 48:00. June 2, 2020. For a week now, there have been demonstrations across the United States. The events of the past week are taking a huge emotional toll particularly on Black people. How do we cope with the collective trauma and the sorrow, and the exhaustion that comes from yet another senseless death of a Black man at the hands of law enforcement? The story includes interviews with Jeff Pegues, CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent, Rev. Patrick “P.T.” Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston Church who knew George Floyd well, and psychiatrist Dr. Alisha Moreland-Capuia about the trauma and pain many are feeling right now.

Explore this website: 1619 Project. 
In 1619, a ship docked at Pt. Comfort in the Virginia colony. On board were 20 Africans who were sold as slaves to landholders. The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of our national narrative. See the website and explore all that the Pulitzer Prize-winning project has to offer. 

Day Five. Choose one:

Watch this video: The Danger of a Single Story. 
TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie. 18:00. May 2009. Nigerian author Adichie tells how our lives and our cultures are composed of many overlapping stories. She shares how she came to find her authentic cultural voice and warns that if we only hear a single story about another person or race or culture, we risk critical misunderstanding. Over 22 million views. 

Watch this movie: Just Mercy.
 137:00. 2019. Based on the book by the same name, the movie follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) who, after graduating from Harvard Law School, heads to Alabama to defend those who have been wrongly convicted. There he takes on the case of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) and becomes embroiled in legal and political maneuverings and overt and covert racism as he fights for Walter’s life. For the month of June, the movie is available for free.

Read this article: 10 Myths White People Believe About Racism.
 Article by Carolyn B. Helsel. Dec. 27, 2018. Christiancentury.org. Dr. Helsel teaches preaching at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and was one of the Meneilly Visiting Scholars in February. She has published a number of books and resources on racism especially for predominantly White churches. In this article, she debunks 10 popular myths about racism. 


Day Six. Choose one:


Watch this video: How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time. 
TED Talk by Baratunde Thurston. 16:43. May 2019. Thurston is an educator who helps the viewer examine recent events of racism in the society. In a thoughtful and engaging way, he challenges us to see the power of words as he deconstructs news headlines and events and invites us to strive for justice and change. 

Read this article: How You Can be an Ally in the Fight for Racial Justice.
 Article by Deray Mckesson. January 2018. IDEAS.TED.COM. Civil Rights activist, organizer and educator Deray Mckesson discusses eight practical ways white people can be allies of people of color.



Listen to this NPR Fresh Air Program - 38 minutes; Eve Ewing is a sociologist, poet, and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Dr. Ewing reads poems based on a 1922 report written by six black men and six white men on the 1919 Chicago race riots. One sentence in the report reads, "The report contains recommendations which, if acted upon, will make impossible...a repetition of the appalling tragedy which brought disgrace to Chicago in July of 1919." 

Day Seven. Choose one:

Read this article: “For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies”

Watch this video: Systemic Racism, 4 minutes.

Watch this video: Privilege, Class, Social Inequalities Explained in a $100 Race. 4 minutes.

Day Eight. Choose one:


Read this article: “Racial Injustice has Benefitted Me – A Confession. 
June 3, 2020. Phil Vischer, the videographer/developer of the children’s Sunday School videos, Veggie Tales, tells and retells and retells his family history till he gets it right.

Read this book: Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race,
 by Debbie Irving, then join in the WPC Book Club discussion on Monday, June 22, at 7:00 p.m.

Day Nine. Choose one:


Watch this video: How to Overcome our Biases? Walk Boldly Toward Them. 
TED Talk by Verna Myers. 19:00. December 2014. Myers looks closely at some of the subconscious attitudes we hold toward other groups of people. Then she makes a plea to all of us: acknowledge our biases then move toward, not away from them. Inviting and practical, she helps the viewer to gather the courage to move beyond our biases.

Read this article: How Much Do We Need the Police? 
June 3, 2020 interview of Alex S. Vitale, author of The End of Policing, 2017, by Leah Donnella.

Day Ten. Choose one:

Explore this website: The Sarasota Statement.
 NEXT Church. March 2017. As part of the emerging leadership of the NEXT Church movement, a diverse group of eight persons met in Sarasota, Florida, to draft a confessional statement to speak to the Church calling for justice for all persons. Rev. Dr. Brandon Frick was one of the convenors of the group and authors of the statement.

Read this article: 75 Things White People can do for Racial Justice




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