this week’s conversation with local pastors continuing the dialogue on anti-racism


Reverend Michael Perez, left, from Crosspoint Church and Dr Paul Hoffman from Evangelical Friends Church. (Photo by Lynne Tungett)

As pastors of two local churches with a diverse membership, Dr Paul Hoffman of Evangelical Friends Church and Reverend Michael Perez of Crosspoint Church have seen racism manifest locally. As religious leaders, they wanted to address this by sharing stories and thoughts, and exploring the root causes from their perspective.

The following is an edited conversation between Hoffman and Perez.

At racism, cause Where origins:

Hoffmann: Basically, racism is a form of discrimination or prejudice. It’s the proverbial that judges a book by its cover. In general terms, racism is judging a person’s worth or character based on their actual or perceived skin color, culture or ethnicity. Racism confers both advantages (insiders or those in power) and disadvantages (outsiders or those lacking in power).

Perez: We can see evidence of racism in many ways, but racism is essentially a sin. The basis of an understanding of the healthy relationship between mankind is a correct understanding of mankind’s relationship with God. Genesis says humans are created by God [image]. One of the implications… is that each person within the beautiful diversity of humanity has equal worth and dignity. To treat people as less race-based is to deny [that humans are created in God’s image], which is nothing less than sin.

Hoffmann: I am okay. All sin arises from the fall of mankind, which is described in Genesis 3. The first humans, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God by disobeying his protective command and brought sin, alienation and death into the world. the world. This event is called original sin, and its consequences have been significant. We believe that every human being is made in the image of God, but since the Fall this image has become distorted. [The result is that] the natural tendency of human beings is to protect themselves, to be wary of others, to separate themselves from them for various reasons, and even to compose our identity in contrast to them.

Regarding evidence of racism and whether it’s a running problem:

Perez: I doubt any of us have to think very seriously about a time when we have seen, experienced or heard of some form of racism. Is racism a problem? Sure. But is this a current problem? Is this a problem that deserves commitment? First, if we understand racism as a sin, then it is not something we can ignore. We have to face it. Second, some would say racism is bad, but its impact is overstated. This kind of thinking leads to explaining the history of each one, and if we are

honestly, every story has several factors at play. Based on the assumptions we make, we’ll come to different conclusions as to why a story went the way it did. Until we decide that racism is a big enough problem to address it, we will be interacting with another’s story as a judge, rather than a listener and craftsman. the peace.

I grew up in New England, about 90 minutes from Newport, and there have been places and situations throughout my life where I thought being Latino was going to work against me. I know you were talking about a story, but although I admit I felt this, I can’t think of a specific case that caused it. However, I think about the impact of my race awareness on the way I navigate my life.

Take, for example, writing a resume. When I considered pursuing a non-ministerial career, I felt Perez was something I had to overcome on paper. A feeling that all things being equal, my Latino last name put me at a disadvantage compared to my Anglo-sounding last name counterparts. Perez needed more education or more experience than others to be a viable choice.

Granted, this could be an unfair assessment. No particular case told me that was true. Guess it was because I was one of a handful of Latinos in AP classes in high school or in seminary, also later in high school, there weren’t a lot of Latino last names. that I have met. Perhaps this thinking comes from the fact that we are not surprised that a recent Investopedia article revealed that while Latinos make up 18.4% of the American population, only 3.4% of Latinos are CEOs. of the S&P 500. [companies] … All of these things have probably led me to believe that “Perez, Lopez, Rivera” has a downside on paper.

Hoffmann: Wow, it’s hard for me to digest and understand as a white man. I don’t remember ever worrying about what my last name might convey to others or how it might impact my education or career prospects. It is sobering for me and motivates me to think more about myself, my possible biases and how racism affects all of our lives. I can say that I am aware of racist incidents in Rhode Island. For example, I know of a black pastor in Providence who worked with the Providence Police Department to educate law enforcement regarding racial profiling. During this season, he has been stopped several times by traffic officers because of his luxury car. His experience is one example.

Hoffman and Perez welcome the stories and contributions on this issue, asking the following questions: Is racism in Newport a problem, and if so, how can the community of Newport work together to resolve their issues of racism or discrimination. ? You can email Hoffman at [email protected] or Perez at [email protected]

Next month, Hoffman and Perez will continue the conversation by suggesting ways in which people of faith and goodwill can tackle racism in the community.


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