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  • Writer's pictureJohn Stackhouse

Race and Racism: Waking Up, Again, to the Obvious

The convulsions over race and racism continue south of the border. Accusations accumulate, fingers point, victims and their families grieve, and apologies are offered by white leaders in politics, industry, and the church.

A Tennessee pastor, however, wants to move beyond apologies. “Decrying white nationalists,” writes Noel Schoonmaker for the Religious News Service, “is an ethical lay-up for which no white person should feel the slightest hint of self-congratulatory pride.”

Schoonmaker isn’t wrong. It’s a very sad day when a white American gets noticed merely for saying that racism is bad.

We have had, however, a long string of very sad days in America—and in Canada. A long string of very sad Sundays in particular.

I lived in the United States throughout the 1980s, attending church regularly. I heard precisely zero sermons on race and racism.

Since returning to Canada in 1990, I have continued to attend church regularly. I have heard precisely two sermons on race and racism in almost thirty years.

Visiting New Zealand a couple of years ago, I made sure to tour Waitangi, the historic meeting place of Maori natives and Pakeha settlers. In my short time on both the North and South Islands, in rural areas as well as on university campuses, I was impressed at the constant public acknowledgement of the two founding peoples—at least as obvious, even in bilingual signage, as the French-English duality I experience living in New Brunswick today.

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