REFLECT: Watching White Supremacy – On the 224th General Assembly

Posted June 28, 2020

By Rev. Ryan J. Landino | Lead Presbyter for Transformation of Great Rivers Presbytery and  member of the PC(USA) Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation    

Actions during the PC(USA) 224th General Assembly included affirmation that Black Lives Matter and pledges to work against systemic racism. But there were many moments –noticed by those involved with the Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation – during the virtual meetings that contradict those statements.

One of the committee members, the Rev. Ryan J. Landino, discusses some of these moments in his blog post. Some excerpts are included below,

I don’t even know how to start this blog other than to say I honestly wondered the other night if we were watching different General Assemblies. Because of that, I am writing this primarily to my white siblings to share my focused experience of this year’s PC(USA) General Assembly. There is a good chance I might make you upset by this blog. Please know I love you, and we are all in this together.

First, let’s start with that there is so much to celebrate.  .  .

Rev. Landino proceeds to note the celebrated things include, among other things, election of new co-moderators, logistical and technical successes during the first virtual GA, reelection of the stated clerk, and funding for Native American worshiping communities.

He also notes that he was challenged to watch the GA proceedings specifically through his lens as a member of the special committee.

. . . This blog is an evolution and culmination of social media exchanges that were inspired by her challenge, as well as long processing phone conversations with fellow white committee member and heavy metal rock star Rev. Fran Lane-Lawrence, as well as chats with other beloved members of the committee.

Now that I am at the other end of this General Assembly, I am going to be honest: I have never seen my fellow colleagues of color on the committee so tired and weary and heavy-hearted as I have seen them at the end of this assembly. This General Assembly ended in a lot of spirit-crushing heartache, and I don’t think everyone understands why. I admit freely that watching this assembly alongside my siblings in Christ on this committee absolutely colored my viewing experience (sure, pun intended), but because I have learned so much from my colleagues of color, I don’t think I could have NOT seen what I saw if I tried.

What I saw was whiteness on full display; the norms, attitudes, and assumptions that are a natural byproduct of white supremacy culture that our majority white denomination has been co-collaborating with and preserving for 250 years.

As the blog continues, Rev. Landino highlights several situations – including the Assembly’s refusal to engage the report “Disparities Experienced by Black Women and Girls Task Force” and an attempt by a commissioner to derail an intention 8 minute and 46 second period of silence to symbolically stand with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) siblings and corporately lament systemic racism – that demonstrate how white supremacy showed up during the GA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *