I am a middle-aged white male, endowed with white privilege in a world dominated by color and wrought with oppressive inequalities among a mass of marginalized, who is seeking ordination in the Church. Understanding this, how does one, come to address this privilege, examine his "isms," develop cultural competence, and prepare for the ministry of pastoral care? In her chapter, Love and Power: Antiracist Pastoral Care (1), Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook argues that Dr. King's vision of the "beloved community" is still elusive in most faith communities where racism and other forms of oppression prevail. The dominant culture fails in many ways to recognize and correct the imbalance of power that keeps so many marginalized. Thus, Kujawa-Holbrook argues that faith communities must become sources of healing and reconciliation in human society by developing a "beyond-racism," multi-strategic approach to pastoral care. This, she calls "antiracist pastoral care," an approach that must be undertaken by pastors and laypersons alike in an opportunity to provide a sign of hope in a culture of oppression. Such pastoral care focuses both on the transformative love of God and power that is equally distributed. Love and power that allows voices to speak, offers freedom of choice, encourages all to reach their full potential, and fosters human dignity. In order to be effective in this, it is necessary for both whites and those of color to gain deeper cultural competence and an understanding of how racism has influenced pastoral care in this country. "Antiracist pastoral care demands nothing less than reenvisioning our faith communities through the eyes of God." It calls me to ask tough questions: "what impact do my attitudes and behaviors regarding racism have on my call as a pastor? How do the models of pastoral care within my faith community or religious organization perpetuate racism? Who are the marginalized in my midst and how am I called to care for them? How do I begin to turn aside from my ingrained racist vision of pastoral care and begin to live into a vision where one group is not dominant over other groups? What will pastoral care rooted in love and power look like in my faith community?" Antiracist pastoral care challenges me to let go of (Is this even possible?) white privilege and develop the skills that make up cultural competence, where myths and prejudices are confronted, a language of inclusion is developed, objective truth is rejected, and respect for diversity is cultivated and practiced.
1. Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl and Montagno, Karen, Editors, Injustice and the Care of Souls (Fortress Press, 2009)