by Rev. Barry Cammer
I was listening to an NPR story yesterday afternoon and the reporter used the term “racial reckoning moment”. Yes, after the murder of George Floyd we had quite an interesting period in our country, coming to terms with the deeply embedded racism that existed and still exists in our country. Many of us took the issue seriously. We did a lot of introspection, learned about the need to proactively become anti-racists, and collectively devoted a lot of time and energy to the issue of ongoing racial inequity. We faced head-on the lingering legacy of slavery in the United States and its long-lasting negative effect on Black wealth-building from one generation to the next.
Many of you know that Arlington Community Church in Kensington, along with a number of other UCC churches in the Bay Association, gathered offerings during this past Lent to support the Black Homeownership Reparations Fund. Our initial goal was $50,000. When the offerings were totaled after Easter, we were delighted that we had raised just over $101,000. Yet as delighted as we are to have surpassed our first goal, this amount of money is relatively small compared to the enormity of the need to assist Black first-time homebuyers in purchasing a home (our program offers grants up to $15,000 to bridge the amount needed for a down payment).
While the urgency of this issue in the news has subsided, the urgency and depth of the need continues, growing more important as home prices soar in the Bay Area. After 34 years of pastoral ministry and ministry in affordable housing, I remember the lesson of what work needs to be done. Certainly the “urgent and important” issues we readily recognize. What often gets left behind are the “important but not urgent” issues.
Please, let us not wait until another major catastrophe occurs to wake up again to the need for personal, organizational, and national reparations for all the harm we have caused, or from which we have benefitted.
As churches begin to look at next year’s programs and budgets, and as each of us reflects on what we have and what we can do, I am asking that you prayerfully consider making financial reparations a part of your faith journey, a part of your monthly spending, a part of your church’s annual missions budget, and a project within the life of your church. This issue will not disappear in our lifetime, but we can have a positive impact on Black individuals and families right now, right here in the wider Bay Area.
As of Easter, the Black Homeownership Reparations Fund has a new name: the Black Wealth Builders Fund. You can learn more about the fund and/or contribute HERE.