Reparations-02.23.2022

Reparations-02.23.2022

Redlining is a discriminatory practice that started in the 1930s where the federal government “red-lined” neighborhoods that included racial & ethnic minorities, excluding these “high risk” neighborhoods from services such as bank loans, mortgages, healthcare, and even food. Some might think that such practices have stopped, but they continue to this very day. In 2019, Liberty Bank settled out of court on a $16 million lawsuit from the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, that alleged that the bank engaged in illegal redlining practices. As a result, Liberty Bank committed time, energy and resources to a wide range of programs for communities that have traditionally had difficulty accessing credit.

What are the redlining practices that are still operating in your region? Answer here.

Reparations-02.15.22

“Sundown towns” are all-white municipalities or neighborhoods who practice a form of racial segregation by excluding non-whites by some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, or violence. Entire sundown counties and suburbs were also created by the same process. The term came from signs posted that Black or Brown people had to leave town by sundown. A list of possible sundown towns in Connecticut can be found here.

Do you live in a town that practiced sundowning? What methods were used?

Reparations-02.08.22

When the federal government first developed housing for civilians working in naval shipyards and munitions plants during World War I, eighty-three projects in twenty six states housed 170,000 white workers and their families (including one in Bridgeport, CT), while African Americans were excluded.  Source: The Color of Law, p. 18

How do you think the availability of housing affected the ability of people of color to get and maintain their employment in those areas?

Reparations-01.25.22

In 1883, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the 13th and 14th Amendments do not empower Congress to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals in public accommodations. This decision would not be overturned with respect to the 13th Amendment until 1968, in Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer. See Civil Rights Cases 109 U.S. 3 (1883).

Do you think the course of American history would have changed if the 1875 law had not been overturned? How might it have been changed? What might American society look like today? Answer here.

Reparations-01.19.22

“…Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent—and often even vocal—sanction of things as they are.”

How do Dr. King’s words from his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” speak to you in 2022? How do they speak to your worshipping community? What is the Spirit is saying to God’s people?

Reparations-01.11.22

On January 9 we observed the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. Many of us renewed our baptismal vows to “persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord,” to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”

When it comes to issues of racial justice, White supremacy and anti-Black bias, where have you fallen short of our baptismal promises? What can you do in the days ahead to fulfill our promises? 

Reparations-01.04.22

The Collect for the Second Sunday of Christmas begins with these words: O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity,…

As you look back at 2021, how have you personally experienced the dignity of human nature in your own life? Can you think of people who may not have experienced human dignity as you have? As you look ahead to 2022, what might you do, personally, to promote the God-given dignity of every human being?

Reparations-12.21.21

One theme of the lessons from the Fourth Sunday of Advent is God’s kingdom in the world coming to fruition across generations. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family in 2016 was nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150). Gaps in wealth between Black and white households reveal the effects of accumulated inequality and discrimination.

As you think about your own family’s background, how have you benefited from, or been disadvantaged by, opportunities to create generational wealth?

Reparations-12.14.21

The Prophet Zephaniah, featured in this past Sunday’s readings, warns Israel that it will face destruction if the nation does not repent for its transgressions against God’s law. If they return faithfully to God’s teaching, God will turn away the nation’s enemies and God’s people will be able to “rejoice and exult” with all their heart.

In what ways have our church and our nation, turned away from God’s teachings in matters of racial justice and equity? What changes do we need to make, as a church and as a society, that would cause God to “rejoice and exult?”

Reparations-12.07.21

The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent asks God to “give us the grace to heed the warnings of the prophets to preach repentance and forsake our sins, (so) that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.” We are reminded that repentance is not a single act but an ongoing responsiveness to the will of God. During this second week of Advent, we invite you to reflect on how you have participated in the sins of racism, racial supremacy, and anti-Black bias.

What can you offer to God, and to your neighbor, on your path to reconciliation?