30 Days of Anti-Racism: #10 The Shell Game

The shell game is a confidence scam often presented as a game of skill. A pea or small coin is placed under one of three walnut shells or cups. The shells are then moved around quickly. Those watching are challenged to follow and determine which shell has the pea. As a tactic of structural racism, […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #9 Paternalism

When I entered seminary at age 22, the average age of a seminary student was 42. That generation gap followed me into conference relationship. After 30 years later, I am just now approaching the “average age” of a UMC clergy member. Many of the relationships formed in this journey were with people closer to the […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #7 Bait and Switch

Like the Big Sell, Bait and Switch seeks to elicit a transaction, but what is given is not what was originally offered. Instead of dressing up a structurally racist proposal in glowing promises, Bait and Switch offers one thing, and then replaces it with something harmful or inferior. While most think of tricks used to […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #6 The Big Sell

Marketing is a form of propaganda that elicits a transaction by provoking a desire for products and services. With churches, marketing can help broaden engagement and connect the church to its mission field. Church marketing takes many forms. Before starting an appointment as a new-church pastor in 1999, I attended a seminar at Duke University […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #5 Revisionism

As we continue this survey of the tactics deployed by structural racism in resistance to institutional change, we now look at the practice of revisionism. Societies are built around common narratives. These narratives simplify, reduce, and communicate shared history in ways that provide the public with role models and an etiology for the structures of […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #4 Normalization

In 2001, I conducted a study of the membership, worship, growth, and demographic statistics of over 300 churches within the Southwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To enhance the effectiveness of this study, I combined internal data gathered annually from each church with demographic information in the context of each local church […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #3 Spotlighting

Spotlighting is the practice of focusing attention on an individual, event, or action. Every organization will have a means to concentrate attention in this manner. Anti-racists must learn to develop their own means of spotlighting. Attention is influence. Influence is power. As a concentrator of attention, the spotlight can convey the currency of favor, privilege […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #2 Personalization

If there is one thing we know about racism – it’s that racism is deeply personal. Racism arises from within human personalities even as it dehumanizes others. Those subjected to its trauma feel the sting of being constantly defamed, excluded, and oppressed. Those indoctrinated and brainwashed into racism either accept its false-narratives and participate in […]

30 days of Anti-racism: #1 Externalization

The General Commission on Religion and Race has challenged United Methodists to spend the month of September “dismantling” racism. In response to this challenge, I will be sharing experiences from over 25 years of United Methodist Ministry that involve structural racism. I joined the UMC in 1990 as a student at the University of Texas, […]