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Time for ‘Radical Reconciliation’

Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 3:29 pm

Last month, I wrote a column expressing my disappointment in the lack of stated commitment by leaders in the region at the release of the Ferguson Commission report. I wondered out loud why these leaders weren’t prepared to talk about how their respective offices would implement specific recommendations.

They have been offered an opportunity to do so this weekend. Under the banner of “Radical Reconciliation,” organizations and individuals will convene at the Beloved Community Conference for what I believe is a most important gathering for the region.

Sylvester Brown Jr. published a blog post that shared a similar lack of optimism in the political will to fundamentally transform the entrenched racist system that impacts all facets of life in this region. He writes that our dirty, racist laundry was “laid bare on the international stage” and the tried solution to invest in “rich white men with the hope that trickle-down economics will benefit everyone else” has never worked.

Both are true. So what are we going to do now?   

Thousands of people participated in the Ferguson uprising, and thousands engaged in the public process facilitated by the Ferguson Commission. To me, this is an indicator that there are people who understand the current situation must change. However, there is a difference between those who are enlightened about injustices and those who are willing to fight to end those injustices.

“Radical Reconciliation” is for those who are willing to fight. Now it’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time for accountability on all levels.

Several organizations that already have been doing the hard work of organizing and transformation over the years have been meeting to lift up the core areas outlined in the Ferguson Commission report and put some legs on them. The report’s priority areas are “Justice for All,” “Youth at the Center,” “Opportunities to Thrive” and “Racial Equity.” We’ll be rallying people to choose an area that they feel passionate about to put some work in.

What is going to be very different about this conference is that key leaders in each of the above areas will be asked to come and make a public commitment – people like mayors, police chiefs, judges. These people are major players in the quest for racial equity. If they can’t commit to being partners in this journey for transformation with us, our work has just been made more difficult and we’ll have no choice but to include them as part of the problem.

Radical Reconciliation is being hosted by St. John’s United Church of Christ (4136 N. Grand Blvd.), which is pastored by Rev. Starsky Wilson, one of the Ferguson Commission’s co-chairs. St. John’s has held Beloved Community conferences for the last five years, and this year made the strategic decision to focus on implementation of specific recommendations within the Ferguson Commission report.

The region has gone through painful turmoil since the police killing of Mike Brown. This will be the time to declare which side you’re on – the side of racial progress or racist domination. Yes, I think it’s that simple.

 

For more information on Radical Reconciliation, visit www.sjuccstl.org. 

 

 

 

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