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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: Experiencing and Witnessing Racism

    Final Experiencing and Witnessing Racism Blog

    November 16, 2017 / By Multiple Authors

    Editor’s Notes: In this final entry of the UNY Conference’s Experiencing and Witnessing Racism blog series, some remaining submissions from members across the UNY Conference have been compiled. The hope is that this series has offered insight on the very important topic of racism. The conversation will continue across the Upper New York Conference under the guidance of the Bishop’s Task force on Ending Racism.


    Racism in the hiring process

    By John Burlew

    I had just started working on the West Coast, and was hiring a new employee.  I interviewed about five people, and the one who was head and shoulders better than the rest was a man from India.

    A woman from the Personnel Department stopped in my office, closed the door, and asked me this question:  "Are you considering recommending the hiring of the man from India?" I said, "Yes, I am."  She said, "About a year ago, we hired an engineer from India as a part of a push by the corporation on diversity.  The Vice-President of Personnel was very proud of the hire and went out of his way to make sure he got credit for it.  About six months later, the engineer resigned.  The Vice-President was very angry and I'm sure he will block your recommendation.  Be very ready to withstand his onslaught."

    I thanked her profusely and set out to plot my strategy.  I reviewed my strategy with the prior Manager who I replaced, and was able to convince my Vice-President that my candidate was a solid choice.

    Long story short- the man from India was an excellent employee who adapted well and lived a great life with his family in California, and I found a great friend and ally with the woman in Personnel!

    To God be the Glory!


    Acknowledging that I am racist

    By Merle Showers

    The question is: How has experiencing or witnessing racism impacted you, and how did you respond? I first witnessed it in college when college administrators treated my very dear friends as second-class citizens or sub-humans. I was greatly hurt for my friends. I thought at the time that it was “them,” the administrators who were the racist, and they were. It was only at Seminary when I learned that I was a white racist, both by my privilege and my lack of action. I have always known I am a sinner, but this was a painful learning experience.

    I realize now that I will always be a racist. It hurts at my very core. And, because of this knowledge I have always tried to be proactive and speak out when I witness racism. I have participated in planning and being involved in events to raise my consciousness and the consciousness of others to racism in all its forms. I am ashamed of the sinful world we have created. And, I confess my part in that. Racism will not go away, but I will do all in my power to own up to my sin and speak out when I see it.


    No matter the skin color, kids are boisterous when school lets out

    By Blenda Smith, Chair of CORR

    I've lived in the country most of my life.  I moved to the city of Binghamton about seven years ago and have enjoyed finally living in an integrated neighborhood.  While away for a trip, a dear friend volunteered to care for my two cats. When I returned, she said to me, "One day, when I drove over to care for the cats, kids were just getting out of school. They were walking down the center of the road and making lots of noise. They scared me!  It's not because they were mostly black but ......................"  She paused and finally said "I'm just glad I live in my safe suburban neighborhood." 

    I clarified that all kids are likely to be boisterous when they get out of school.  She totally missed the unconscious intent in her words "it's not because they are black.”

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    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 867 local churches and 65 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."