Sacramento faces race: thousands expected to join conversation

This weekend, several thousand Sacramentans across race, faith and ethnicity are expected to talk about race.

Sacramento Faces Race – the first mass community event of its kind – will feature eight public teach-ins across the region focusing on racism from the perspective of black Americans. Participating locations will include six libraries, Folsom College and the Oak Park Community Center, said organizer Lynn Berkley, a community organizer from Folsom. “This will be the largest teach-in of its kind in the country.”

In addition, about 30 area congregations and organizations also plan to address the issue of racism at their worship services over the weekend, Berkley said. The event has been endorsed by the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento, Sacramento Area Congregations Together, The AME Church, Placer County Baha’i, and four area colleges and universities.

“Anybody can drop in,” Berkley said. “We are in a crisis in our country, and when you educate a community about what injustice is and what needs to change, people come up with solutions.”

Some of the tough questions that could be raised at community centers and congregations include:

▪ What is racism and who gets to claim it?

▪ How do people across race and ethnicity come together and whose responsibility is it to uplift those in need?

▪ How does self-entitlement, self-protection or self-hatred perpetuate our country’s climate of racial inequality?

Berkley, who is Jewish, said she forged Sacramento Faces Race from a grass-roots coalition of clergy, students, activists and educators in response to the recent incidents around the country in which unarmed black people were shot by police.

Joy Johnson, president of Sacramento Area Congregations Together and pastor of High Hope Christian Church, said the communitywide teach-in, which begins at noon Friday and runs until Sunday night, can help “guide our city into courageous conversations to discuss hidden wounds and lingering barriers along racial and ethnic lines.”

For a complete schedule of venues and teach-ins, go to www.sacramentofacesrace.com

Stephen Magagnini: (916) 321-1072, @StephenMagagnini