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The Daily Tar Heel

United Church tackles white privilege

The church will host a series on racial inequality starting Sunday.

“The sale of slaves and the use of slave labor built our town and built our University,” said Wanda Hunter, a member of the church’s Sacred Conversation on Race group. “This is the history of our town that we have never really grappled with.”

The United Church of Chapel Hill will be hosting a weekly series called “White Race and its Meaning for Americans.” The series is open to the public and will begin Sunday at 10 a.m.

This Sunday’s topic is “How and Why White Race Came To Be,” presented by Suzanne Plihcik of the Racial Equity Institute, a group devoted to transforming racist sentiment.

Deena Hayes-Greene, managing director for the Racial Equity Institute, said the church can play an incredibly emphatic role in solving the race issue.

“People come to church for spiritual guidance, for faith, and for support. I think that white privilege is a component of racism that is not necessarily intentional or malicious, but it is unjust, and injustice affects who we are as spiritual beings,” Hayes-Greene said.

Hunter said the Sacred Conversations on Race group focuses on how the issues of race relate to faith and religion.

“Allowing the construction of race and racism really belies who we say we are,” Hunter said. “We don’t think God created people in a hierarchy with some people being better than others. We have worked together to study issues and see how we can become an anti-racist church.”

Hunter admits that the difficult history of race within the church has made race relations difficult.

“We have a history in the Christian church of supporting racism and slavery,” she said.

“We suffer from this past where we had enforced segregation, and we don’t always understand how much our white history makes our church still basically a white church.”

The series will last for four weeks and will conclude with a talk about unconscious bias on May 3.

Hunter said she and the church understand that accepting the issue is not enough — comprehending the issue of race is the only way our town and country will see positive change.

“The fight against racism has really been harmed by a philosophy that we should be color blind,” Hunter said.

“If we don’t see race, we are never going to be able to dismantle it.”

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