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UNITY Lutheran Church

Racism Resources

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A Note from Melanie Varin
UNITY Council, President
September 2020

Aversive Racism

As a member of a Milwaukee business leadership group that is ~86% white, we have been reading the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo. The book has received mixed reviews, but I have found it quite eye-opening.

One notion DiAngelo describes is Aversive Racism. She writes:

Aversive racism is a manifestation of racism that well-intentioned people who see themselves as educated and progressive are more likely to exhibit. It exists under the surface of consciousness because it conflicts with consciously held beliefs of racial equality and justice. Aversive racism is a subtle but insidious form, as aversive racists enact racism in ways that allow them to maintain a positive self-image.

DiAngelo then goes on to give an example of aversive racism she encountered in an academic interviewing process. She was warned not to buy a home in a couple of specific neighborhoods, especially if she had children. While no one openly named race, the racial coding was not lost on her. When she looked up the demographics on those neighborhoods, she learned that both had ~50% populations of black and brown people. So even during the interviewing process, her fellow whites had communicated racial boundaries to her.

In concluding her section on aversive racism, she wrote:

When you consider the moral judgement we make about people we deem as racist in our society, the need to deny our own racism – even to ourselves – makes sense. We believe we are superior at a deeply internalized level and act on this belief in the practice of our lives, but we must deny this belief to fit into society and maintain our self-identify as good, moral people. Unfortunately, aversive racism only protects racism, because we can’t challenge our racial filters if we can’t consider the possibility that we have them. Of course, some whites explicitly avow racism. We might consider these whites actually more aware of, and honest about, their biases than those of us who consider ourselves open-minded yet who have rarely thought critically about the biases we inevitably hold or how we may be expressing them.

As I read these words, I have to admit I need to think more critically about the biases I hold, so that I can more proactively work toward being anti-racist. As I look to Jesus as my ultimate example, I am reminded of a song I learned as a child:

Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his site. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Perhaps, in light of the fact that we are really on a skin color spectrumcof ivory to dark brown, we should change the lyrics to:

Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world. Brown and olive, dark and light, they are precious in his site. Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Oh God, help me follow your example, and work so that ALL may be seen as in Your image and enjoy the benefits of that great and holy heritage!

Stay tuned for more opportunities to learn and make a difference. Let’s embrace this journey together! We are in it for the long haul!

Our Ministry Partners

As opportunities to work with and be present with our partners present themselves, do not put it off or assume others will do it. We have long-standing relationships with two congregations that would love to go deeper with us. Let’s reciprocate the love!



For Individuals and Congregation Teams

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This is a wonderful short (~12 minute) video between Emmanuel Acho, former linebacker from the Cleveland Brown and Philadelphia Eagles, and academy award winner, Matthew McConaughey.  They share a brief dialog in a YouTube video called “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – Episode 2”.  Watch and be enlightened!


An interview with the Black, Catholic priest, Bryan Massingale. Thoughtful, honest and faith-based in talking about topics that don’t have to be “political” when they are more “spiritual” in nature anyway.


Short video clip just taken from a conference where Neil Degrasse Tyson answers a question from he floor about the obstacles that hold women and people of color back from study and careers in science.


Movie about a free Black man’s kidnapped turn into slavery. Available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and other media.
The following is a trailer for the movie.


It’s About Access, Not Personal Motivation: Health Care and Race

This episode of Black Nouveau aired originally on Channel 10 in Milwaukee on July 9.  It features four stories including that of the patients of one of our partners, the Bread of Healing Free Clinic.  Barbara Horner-Ibler is among those interviewed.  Her observation on how access reduces health care risk is especially important in a time when the Black community is at 3 times the risk of contracting COVID as the population at large. The twenty year history of the clinic (and many like it) demonstrate that access leads to demonstrably better outcomes, even as our society lags in finding ways to make access a reality for so many people of color.

Black Nouveau


The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson

The history of the migration of Black citizens fleeing the South for better lives in northern and western cities.

Order this book from a black-owned bookstore.


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

A detailed look at the variety of legal mechanisms (arrest, sentencing, incarceration) that result in disproportionate numbers of Black people in prison for disproportionately long times.

Order this book from a black-owned bookstore.


Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Written as a father talking to his son about what it’s like to be a Black man in our world.

Order this book from a black-owned bookstore.


Thirteen books about race and diversity from PBS Kids to add to family libraries


Jabari Jumps


Jabari Jumps