Replay the webcast of Living in My Skin: A Faithful Conversation on Anti-racism, presented by San Antonio Faith-Based Initiative at Whitley Theological Center, 284 Oblate Drive.
This webcast ws sponsored in part by the peaceCENTER, enabling anyone to replay the video for free, right here on this page.
Watch the complete video, or scroll down to read comments from the participants.
Living in my Skin is an exhibit by local artist Lionel Sosa featuring 33 oil-on-linen portraits of San Antonio Black men, ages 10 to 90, as well as a two-part film documentary that premiered on PBS station KLRN (click here to watch the documentary). According to the Living in My Skin website, the purpose of this project is to shine a light on today’s reality, what it’s like to be a Black man or boy in San Antonio, and to help bring about a better understanding of each other as a community.
The purpose of the Oct. 5 gathering was to have an important community conversation, especially among leaders within San Antonio's faith community. The event was open to the public and all faith traditions, religions and expressions of spirituality were invited to attend.
What does anti-racism mean to you?
As we transcribe them, we are adding the comments from Sosa and the panelists on Oct. 5 in response to that question:
Janine Cornelius, Mother:
“It’s easy to say I’m anti-racist...it’s harder to say I’m racist. It’s harder to say, ‘am I a racist’ and to think about maybe some of the things we do that could be racist.
“To be anti-racist you have to care about the subject of racism.
“To be anti-racist we have to have the ‘we’ mentality versus the ‘them’ mentality.
“We have to see color, because we have to be able to celebrate the similarities and the differences...but we can’t be negative towards someone. We can’t judge them. We have to be able to respect each individual, see their worth, see their equality, see their kindness…
“All of us here at one point were not affected by racism... when we were really little.
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. It doesn’t just apply to loving God, it applies to us as individuals. Love thy neighbor as thyself is love each of us with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. If we can do that then we can be anti-racist.”
Clarence “Reggie” Williams, Community Leader:
"I see too many people who say they are Christians and they are carrying the flag of racism...how can you talk about love as the basis for Christianity and still not love your neighbor?
Williams quoted the Rev. Russel Fox: “I know you can stand failure, but can you handle success? I know you can stand to fail and keep on trying, but can you stand success and still stay sober? I know you can stand to put on (sly/sigh?) cloth and still be prayerful, but can you put on broad cloth and still not lose the common touch? I know you can stand poverty and still be diligent, but can you stand prosperity and still be kind? I know you can stand to be educated and have common sense, but can you stand to be highly educated and still be humble and useful? I know you can stand to live in a shack and still be clean, but can you stand to live in a mansion and still thank God everyday? I know you can stand to live in the ghetto and still keep your head held high, but can you stand to live in the suburbs and not forget where you come from or how you got there?”
Williams continued: “I see too many people that say they’re Christians, and they’re carrying the flag of racism. Too many. That it’s the biggest puzzle to me of how that can be.
“How can you talk about love as the basis of Christianity, and still not love your neighbor?
“Find those people who are what they say they are, Christians, gather them up and get them to speak up when they know wrong… you must speak up.
“We need people with goodwill and courage to speak up.
“I had all of these hopes that my grandchildren would not have to face the same thing I had to face. Recently that hope has been dimmed.
“Just because you’re successful as a black person, as an Hispanic, as a Native American, as somebody, people will use that as an excuse to say ‘you weren’t prejudiced against, you didn’t experience racism’... If you look at the bios of the people on these...portraits... they’re successful people and every one of them has experienced racism.
“Anti-racism is just speaking up with courage."
Brother Harold Williams, Church Leader, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church:
“You’ve got to understand that we belong to a certain race… It’s how we look at other races. The question is, do we look at them in a negative way or a positive way?”
“God created variety. He didn’t say one, one race. That’s the beauty of our world and our communities. That we have variety”
“How do I look at the other person? Can I step in their shoes and feel comfortable?”
“At a certain point, in terms of success, you pull yourself up by your bootstraps...you hear that line a lot...how you got where you are. You’ve got to work hard, do this and do that… For people of color, that’s a heavy boot.”
“As a people, as a community, as a world...we need to be able to look at the other person as God created. In a loving way.”
“As a black man I often...think to myself...what is it that I want from others, no matter what particular race you belong to, is that allow me to be me. You don’t have to give me anything. Just allow me to be me.”
Gordon Rogers, Church Volunteer on #antiracism
“Anti-racism [is]...you have to acknowledge and check your own unconscious biases”
“Looking beyond the person, seeing what they have to bring to the table, offering what you have to bring to the table, and eliminating any hate in the process.”
“Lead with love and let’s change the world together one mind at a time.”
“I see different people of different faiths, different colors and together you all just make a beautiful tapestry of what humankind is about.”
Bishop David Copeland, Founding Bishop, New Creation Christian Fellowship
Bishop Copeland retold a parable that he said he used from the pulpit of his own church and then concluded:
“What you do unto the least of these, you do also unto me.
“Repeat after me, I am, because we are. We are, because God is.”
SaWana Ballou, community volunteer and mother:
“Antiracism is to love unconditionally, to love thy neighbor, not just the neighbor next door, that's the neighbor in other countries and in other cultures...The way that I can stop racism... is to teach the children not to have those biases, to teach them to love unconditionally no matter the color of their skin, no matter their religion, no matter their culture.
“In the bible it says that we have a command from God, and after every command is a promise...to love thy neighbor. That’s not just the neighbor who lives next door, but that’s the neighbor in other countries. That’s the neighbor in other cultures. That’s all of our neighbors.
“Extend ourselves, and love unconditionally.”
Lionel Sosa, who developed the exhibit: San Antonio Artist, San Antonio Peace Laureate
“After George Floyd's death, all of us were at home...and we saw this Black man being killed and it affected all of us ... Black men were feeling that knee on their neck in a way that I could not experience as a Latino…
“The stories that I started hearing were stories that needed to be told... a lot of these men spoke, and...as they were speaking...so much emotion came out. Some men told stories that they had never told a white person, but they knew that white people were going to hear the story for the first time. These were stories that were kept in their hearts, in their souls, in their memories”
“Sharing stories is one of the ways to fight racism.
“[In] a city like San Antonio that's supposed to be culturally aware, that’s two thirds latino, that has had a black woman mayor that has the largest MLK march in the country, you would think that we would be more knowledgeable about race. You would think that we would be more encompassing of everyone, but that's not always the case.”
“I'm going to listen to this again so I can hear all of your stories again and make notes of things that all of us need to remember and keep in our hearts and our minds...
“While all of us think we are anti-racist, we nee to sometimes step back and say are we really, and what are the things that we do unconsciously and unknowingly that might hurt somebody else.”