R.A.R.E. – Racial Awareness, Reconciliation, and Engagement
R.A.R.E. (Racial Awareness, Reconciliation, and Engagement) is a committee of the Nebraska Synod ELCA dedicated to energizing the church to combat the sin of racism. By increasing awareness about the history and nature of racism, creating opportunities for reconciliation, and promoting engagement among diverse people, we can better live out the command to love God and love our neighbors. Through grace we commit to the task of shedding our prejudices and participating in the rich blessing of human difference.
For questions or more information about R.A.R.E, the Time for Burning film study or the Racism Awareness Resources List, please contact R.A.R.E. committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Racism Awareness Resources
Each of the following resources can serve as a bridge into deeper dialogue as we continue to navigate the racism awareness and anti-racism conversation in our churches and in our communities.
Several of the sections (books, films, websites, articles and podcasts) include resources for both getting started and in-depth study.
R.A.R.E. also offers a shorter “Pick One” downloadable anti-racism resource list HERE.
Let’s Talk about Racism Series
In June 2020, R.A.R.E. launched a monthly Let’s Talk about Racism series. Here are the recorded presentations (check back for newly added sessions each month):
A Time for Burning Film Study
The following film study was created by the R.A.R.E. committee for the purpose of encouraging dialogue within congregations about the sin of racism and the role of the church in combatting racism. It includes a Discussion Guide and a Leader’s Guide.
One: Unity in a Divided World
We are driven away from each other by race, by religion, by sex and by politics -- to name just a few of the topics and issues that divide us. But this is not God’s vision for us. God desires us to be one in Christ, one in faith and one in community, even though we are different from one another. In One, Riggs asks us to put our focus on self-preservation aside and, like Jesus, make the first move toward reconciliation.
In 2018 Southwood Lutheran Church and Deidra Riggs created a small-group study for One, which is available free of charge to churches in the Nebraska ELCA Synod. The five-session video series and accompanying study guide is available at the One website.
Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the US
Part manifesto, part confession, Dear Church rejects the narrative of church decline and calls everyone--leaders and laity alike--to the front lines of the church's renewal through racial equality and justice. Includes chapter-by-chapter discussion guide.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism
Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice. Free, downloadable, chapter-by-chapter study guide.
America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America
Biblically rooted yet highly practical, this book shows people of faith how they can work together to overcome the embedded racism in America. Free, six-week downloadable study guide.
Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness, and Justice
Brenda Salter McNeil
Based on her extensive consulting experience with churches, colleges and organizations, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil has created a roadmap to reconciliation. Reflection questions and exercises at the end of each chapter are conducive to group study.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
The Color of Compromise details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and charts a path forward to replace established patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, immediate action.
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity
Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians—from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast—have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story. Jones delivers an analysis of the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and white supremacy and demonstrates how deeply racist attitudes have become embedded in the DNA of white Christian identity over time.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness
“We have not ended racial caste in America,” says Michelle Alexander, “we have merely redesigned it.”Alexander demonstrates that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. Several study/discussion guides for purchase as well as available for free download available.
The Cross and the Lynching Tree
In this book, James Cone recognizes this profound paradox of the cross and argues that the cross ought to serve as the paradigmatic symbol through which one can talk about being both black and Christian in America. In The Cross and the Lynching Tree, Cone does this systematically and reflectively, simultaneously looking backwards and forwards, offering a resting place for black America to leave its burdens and providing a path for a better, more united America.
Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God
Kelly Brown Douglas
The 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of his killer brought public attention to controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws. The verdict, as much as the killing, sent shock waves through the African-American community, recalling a history of similar deaths, and the long struggle for justice. On the Sunday morning following the verdict, black preachers around the country addressed the question, "Where is the justice of God? What are we to hope for?" This book is an attempt to take seriously social and theological questions raised by this and similar stories, and to answer black church people's questions of justice and faith in response to the call of God.
Films & Videos
13th is a 2016 American documentary film that explores the "intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.
A documentary about the 2015 murders by a white supremacist of nine African-Americans attending a Bible study at Emanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church in Charleston.
25 Mini Films for Exploring Race Bias and Identity with Students
25 short New York Times documentaries ranging in length from one to seven minutes tackle issues of race, bias, and identity. Also includes questions, teaching ideas, related readings, and suggested activities.
A Time for Burning (documentary)
The 1966 documentary film which explores the attempts of the minister of Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, to persuade his all-white congregation to reach out to "negro" Lutherans in the city's north side.
Films & Videos
Race: The Power of An Illusion (three-part PBS documentary)
By asking, What is this thing called 'race'?, a question so basic it is rarely asked, Race - The Power of an Illusion helps set the terms that any further discussion of race must first take into account. Ideal for human biology, anthropology, sociology, American history, American studies, and cultural studies. Rent the entire three-part series for a one-week streaming period via VIMEO for $4.99 (or rent each episode for $2.99 per episode): https://vimeo.com/ondemand/race.
Resources, including background reading and discussion guide.
I am Not Your Negro (documentary)
Based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book, this visual essay explores racism through the stories of Medgar Evans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Just Mercy (feature film)
The true story of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson’s battle for justice as he defends an innocent black man on death row (based on the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson).
101 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
If you're wondering how and where to get started in anti-racism work, this list of action-oriented ideas will give you some great places to begin. The most important part of starting is...starting!
Take an online test developed by scientists at Harvard University, University of Washington and University of Virginia to discover your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics.
“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh
Peggy McIntosh is a researcher and college educator who first began to think about the issue of white privilege back in the late 80s, when she was researching male privilege. As a result of thinking deeply about and researching white privilege, McIntosh put together a list of conditions of daily experience that she took for granted, which in turn helped her realize the ways she enjoys “skin privilege” and has been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.
“What is White Privilege?” by Christine Emba, for the Washington Post
Good general overview article about white privilege.
“The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for The Atlantic
Comprehensive overview of the various iterations of institutionalized oppression of African-Americans from slavery through present time.
“Ta-Nehisi Coates Revisits ‘The Case for Reparations’”
Interview with The New Yorker
“How Do We Change America?” Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor for The New Yorker
Police brutality, politics and the historical roots of racism in America.
Code Switch– NPR
This weekly podcast hosted by a team of journalists looks at overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, how they play out in our lives and communities, and how all of this is shifting.
On Being – NPR
While this series is not explicitly about race, many episodes explore the topics of race and racism in its many iterations and manifestations. Here are a few episodes to explore:
Unlocking Us – Brene Brown
Interview with author Ibram X. Kendi on How to be an Antiracist
The Liturgists Podcast
Episode 34: “Black and White: Racism in America”
ELCA National Resources
Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent
“Declaration of the ELCA to People of African Descent” was presented to representatives of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA) during the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The declaration is a confession, repentance and repudiation for the times when the church has been silent in the face of racial injustice. The full text of the Declaration can be found here.