Courageous Conversations is a monthly series of dialogue-centered programs on racism and privilege designed to address racial healing and justice in our town. Each month the Courageous Conversations leadership team in partnership with the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association brings together a diverse group of people representing a wide array of life experiences, circumstances, and choices. All events are open to the public—anyone can attend a meeting whether or not they have attended in the past.
- Tuesday, June 19th, 7-9pm, St. Michael’s Church, 112 Randolph Ave., Milton. This month we will consider the story we tell about race by screening a portion of the PBS Documentary, “Race: the Power of an Illusion,” followed by small group discussion of the film and large group conversation about next steps.
- Thursday, July 26th, 6-8:30pm, Milton Public Library, 476 Canton Ave., Milton. Join us for a screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary I am Not Your Negro. Directed by Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the award-winning documentary is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin and recounts the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Medgar Evers.
- Thursday, June 28th, 7-9pm, Foley Senior Residences, 249 River Street, Mattapan. Two Communities and a River: The Story of the Neponset Greenway Extension. An interactive community storytelling event with True Story Theater. All are welcome.
We believe that racism impacts all of us and operates in our community, country, and world on a personal and systemic level. Through a monthly series of dialogues on race and privilege we hope to build a movement in which we hold ourselves and one another accountable to understanding, interrupting, and ending systems of white supremacy and racism. We believe this movement will be fostered through the hard work of personal transformation in an individual, interpersonal, and communal context.
Theory of Change:
Deep, authentic community is formed when we recognize our shared humanity through a commitment to dismantling systems of power in which some lives are systematically valued and protected above others. We believe that within such a community we can build mutually respectful, trusting relationships through which we will work together to take moral action toward dismantling racism in our lives, families, homes, and communities.
The Courageous Conversations toward Racial Justice program was created on the principle that racism impacts all of us. We recognize that understanding, interrupting, and dismantling internal and external racism is lifelong work and cannot just be achieved by a series of seminars.
Individual: This work must begin on an individual level with personal reflection and growth. We must develop an awareness about what racism is and how it impacts us personally, interpersonally, and communally. We must educate ourselves in order to recognize how implicit bias and racism works within us before we can understand how it works within the world, and how we can engage the world in a different way.
Interpersonal: Engagement with and relationships with people across various lines of difference is an essential element of this work. As we come to know one another we will recognize the inherent dignity within each of us, find common ground, and learn from one another in trusting, authentic community.
Communal: We have a duty to understand how racism operates in our own communities and how we can leverage our skills, talents and vision to address inequality on the communal level. The more we become aware of the systems that oppress people, the more we are able to cooperatively dismantle them.
Courageous Conversations Leadership Team
Rev. Rachael Pettengill-Rasure – Church of Our Saviour, Milton
Karen Groce-Horan – Church of Our Saviour, Milton
Rev. Hall Kirkham – St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Milton
Rev. Jennifer McCracken– St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Milton
Rev. Maurice Davis – Church of Christ, Milton
Robert Maxwell – Church of Christ, Milton
Rev. Lisa Ward – First Parish Milton
Debbie Alsebai – First Parish Milton
Betsy Disharoon – First Congregational Church, Milton
Rev. Zenetta Armstrong – Church of the Holy Spirit, Mattapan
Reflection from Rev. Rachael Pettengill-Rasure about why she is a part of Courageous Conversations toward Racial Justice.
I have always considered myself to be a good person. I would never intentionally do anything to hurt anyone. So, when it came to the issue of racism, I did not consider it an issue I personally had to deal with. I am not a racist…or so I thought. As a white person it can be difficult to fully understand the impact of racism on all of us.
Our society has done a great job hiding the ugly parts of our country’s history and convincing us that what we have in life is due to our individual merit alone. This idea, combined with a belief in my inherent goodness, made me blind to the reality of racism in the world we live in and the reality of racism within me.
The truth is, racism is more than the politically incorrect comments said by people of a certain generation or the hate crimes committed by white supremacists. Racism is a system we were all born into. It lives within us in our unchecked biases passed down through the generations. As diversity advocate Verna Myers so powerful said in a TED Talk on overcoming bias, “We were all outside when the contamination came down.” We are all complicit in perpetuating this broken and racist system we live in. In order to truly liberate ourselves we have to understand how it operates within our society and within ourselves. Or as Verna Myers said “We gotta get out of denial. Stop trying to be good people. We need real people.”
Liberating Ourselves from racism is a lifelong process. This is why I am a part of a local group called Courageous Conversations Towards Racial Justice. We believe that racism impacts all of us and operates in our community, country, and world on a personal and systemic level. Through a monthly series of dialogues on race and privilege we hope to build a movement in which we hold ourselves and one another accountable to understanding, interrupting, and ending systems of white supremacy and racism. We believe this movement will be fostered through the hard work of personal transformation in an individual, interpersonal, and communal context. The work of dismantling racism begins with our own personal transformations. It is a lifelong process that cannot be solved in one training. The more we examine and repent of the racism within us the more our eyes are open and we live differently in the world. It is in coming together to form diverse interpersonal relationships where we can challenge one another in love, breaking down biases and assumptions to form deep meaningful relationships. Together we are able to take action and address racism within our community.