“We are absolutely amateurs at this matter of building a democratic nation made up of many, many peoples of many kinds from many connections and convictions and from many experiences. And to know how, after all the pain that we have caused each other, to carry on democratic conversation, that in a sense invites us to hear each other’s best arguments and best contributions so that we can then figure out how do we put these things together to create a more perfect union.” — Vincent Harding, On Being Interview with Krista Tippett, August. 2015.
Racial justice cafes model the essence of Black folk theology.
They blend the aspirations of democracy with the Christian call to build a racially just community. Our socio-spiritual building blocks include these six steps toward community formation which are recapitulation, reparation, reconciliation, redemption, restoration, and resurrection.
The theme of the racial justice cafes is “what do we say to each other and how do we say it.” Funded by the Duke Endowment, it is a pilot project that brings southern Christians of all colors in two rural and urban areas in North and South Carolina together to strengthen their language and wherewithal to break through the walls of segregation and racial injustice. The United Methodist Church community will be primary companions and facilitators of racial justice cafes which are sites of hospitality and community formation. They will engage the following question: what does it mean to be church today in a deeply segregated world and Church community?
“What do we say to each other…” is innovative because it fertilizes and waters the hope zones that a new South coalition is hollowing out. This new South coalition includes: (a) Black descendants of southern exiled migrants who fled from terrorism and economic and social oppression returning home; (b) the descendants and remnants of southern Blacks who stayed home and who imagined and successfully carried out one of the most the powerful nonviolent movements in modern times; (c) the descendants of enslavers and guardians of racism (d) newly arrived Latinx fleeing from their homelands of oppression; (e) White remnants who bore witness with African Americans during the modern Southern Freedom Movement; and (f) LGBTQ Christians.
This new South coalition places the South in a process of reconciliation and redemption. It provides a rendezvous with destiny and a season of grace and atonement where the sons and daughters of enslavers and those enslaved will join together to upbuild brick by brick a dynamic new world that frees churches and society at last from the death grip of socio-spiritual malformation of a culture of Whiteness with all of its systemic tributaries.