SACRED GROUND…..WHAT A GREAT EXPERIENCE!
As the summer of 2020 began, there was much to focus on: the death of George Floyd, riots and protests in the streets, and the ongoing corona virus. When the opportunity arose to take a 10-session course on racial issues and systemic racism in America, I was reluctant to sign up. Did I really need to focus on these issues at this time? My friend, Joan VanGunten, convinced me otherwise. As it turned out, it was exactly the right time.
Our group was small but we quickly bonded. Our group leader was Lutheran Pastor Julie Beitelschees. She did a remarkable job making us feel comfortable; and we easily shared our feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I had spent much of my career working with minority groups first as a teacher at an inner city high school in Columbus, and later as a chemical dependency counselor for 20 years at Toledo Hospital. I felt I had a good understanding of racial issues. There is always more to learn, and this course provided new information and insights beyond my experience, especially the pervasive nature of cultural and systemic racism. The videos were especially valuable and gave a historical perspective of the journeys and stories of African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. Their experiences in the United States are compelling. While it is a painful process to absorb the unfair practices and behaviors minority groups have experienced, it is crucial to understand their journeys and how we have formed our own beliefs and feelings toward minorities.
I strongly recommend the Sacred Ground course to anyone trying to understand racial issues from different perspectives. It is well worth your time.
Linda Michael Lehman