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Racial Justice Team

Updated: Apr 22

What is the Racial Justice Team?

It is the aim of the FCC Racial Justice Team to broaden engagement within our church community in matters related to white privilege, implicit bias and the impact of systemic racism, not just on people of color but on all of us. This can take the form of frank facilitated conversations, book studies, hosting speakers and getting involved with church and/or community groups with similar goals.


We will offer ways to put racial justice into action. In the longer term, we envision FCC, in partnership with the UCC with its long history of commitment to racial justice, to be seen as allies to people of color and a leading voice for racial justice in our community and beyond.

Who We Are

First Church’s Racial Justice Team is made up of:

  • Stanley Battle

  • Jessica Bean

  • Sally Brown

  • Melissa Clair

  • Sharon Conway

  • Emily Daigle

  • Bob Inderbitzen

  • Lois Kulas

  • John McNab

  • Jim O’Brien

  • Sally Riddell

  • Diana Ruddick (co-chair)

  • Gracelyn Vose (co-chair).

The team is committed to working for racial justice.


What We’re Doing Now and Have Done

  • Meeting with leaders from the Southern New England Conference of the UCC to discern next steps for our group and church.

  • Monitoring the Glastonbury Board of Education, by attending meetings (virtually or in person) to stay current on their commitment to diversity and inclusion in our schools.

  • Following developments from the Commission on Racial Justice and Equity formed last summer. At this point, we’re actively urging the Commission to issue its promised report from the survey conducted last year.

  • Determining what other churches are doing in this arena, and looking for opportunities to partner to broaden our influence.

  • Seeking and evaluating training resources we could use to expand awareness and engagement of our own congregation.

  • Trying to understand the perspective of minority youth in Glastonbury.

  • Monitoring the UCC initiative Join the Movement, which will launch soon.

  • Created a resource tool open to others in the congregation.

  • Took a deep dive into the views of candidates up for election in November 2021 to assess their openness to diversity and inclusion, especially in our schools.


Resources for All

The list of resources available is almost overwhelming. Our goal is to create a curated resource center consisting of materials recommended by team members or others we know who are committed to broadening their understanding of what racial justice means. Here are some of our favorites, some of which can be found in the Lehman Library:

Nonfiction

  • Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The audiobook is an incredible way to enjoy this book.

  • The Hate U Give (2018) by Angie Thomas. The Hate U Give is a fast-moving, searing story about what it means to grow up poor and black in a ghetto community where innocent young people have to contend with gangs, drugs and police who confront them for their color. Starr is a 16-year-old whose parents place her in a safe, nearly all white school to help her succeed. She lives in two worlds and tries to keep her lives separate, but it all starts to unravel when she witnesses her childhood friend being killed by a white cop. The people in her life aren’t perfect, but they are loving and try to make the right decisions.

  • The Sum of Us (2021) by Heather McGhee. The Sum of Us is a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.

  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson examines “the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.”

  • The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

  • How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi

  • His Truth is Marching On by Jon Meacham. This is a portrait of John Lewis’ quest for racial justice during the 1950s.

  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude, Jr. An exploration of America today, with Black Lives Matter, George Floyd, the election of Barack Obama, Charlottesville and Donald Trump and the parallels to Baldwin’s America before and during the civil rights movement and his evolution to more openly political writing.

  • Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs to Talk About Racism―and How to Do It by Celeste Headlee.

Fiction/Memoir

  • Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford. Ashley grew up with an absent father, who she eventually learned was incarcerated, and had a fraught relationship with her mother. This memoir explores those complex relationships and what it meant to grow up poor and black.

  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. Gifty is a brilliant neuroscience student at Stanford; her athletically talented brother, Nana, died of a heroin overdose after a career-ending knee injury left him addicted to OxyContin; and her suicidal mother won’t leave her bed. This family of Ghanian immigrants struggle with depression, grief and addiction as Gifty tries to use her science to find answers.

  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Twin sisters run away from their small southern black community at sixteen, and from there their lives diverge, as one passes for white and the other returns to her hometown to live in the black town where she was born.

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. The popular host of The Daily Show reflects on his childhood growing up in South Africa during apartheid.

Recent Additions

  • The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander (Children)

  • Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor (Children)

  • Change Sings by Amanda Gorman (Children)

  • I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott (Children)

  • You Matter by Christian Robinson (Children)

  • Near: Psalm 139 by Sally Lloyd-Jones (Children)

  • Love’s Long Line (21st Century Essays) by Sophfronia Scott (Adult)

  • Across that Bridge by John Lewis (Adult)


Website/Online Reading


Podcasts

  • Southlake (NBC News)

  • Into America, Trymaine Lee

  • 1619


Videos

Great for families (and everyone!):

UCC Resources


Get Involved

Please contact Chair Diana Ruddick for more information at dianakate525@gmail.com.



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