World Community Day
Michelle Robinson
From Church Women United

On Friday, Nov. 2, Grace Episcopal Church women joined the women of  Mt. Zion Baptist  Church to host World Community
Day, sponsored by Church Women United of Madison (CWU).  The main speaker was  Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman (of Madison’s
Shaarei Shamayim congregation). The CWU Community Leadership Award was presented by Jane Henning to Dr. Michelle
Robinson, Ph.D., co-author of the 2013 Race to Equity Report.

This CWU service had an international focus on achieving world peace through social justice and social inclusion by
women working together across race and religion. At this rather intense time of concern about peace within our city, our
state, our country and our world, it was particularly enriching to hear the words of Rabbi Zimmerman and Dr. Robinson.  

Rabbi Zimmerman had her presentation ready for the CWU service, and then Pittsburg happened.  So she changed her talk.
Here is a synopsis:  The attack on Jews was not only for who they are, but also what they did.  They offered help for refugees
and helped with resettlement.  The lesson:  we must ally ourselves with and solidify support for members of other groups,
speak up, stand with others, be willing to act with and for others. We need to learn about other people, challenge our own
prejudices, create action, and show up. Being an ally is not what we call ourselves, it is what others call us.

People want condolences. Many no longer feel safe in our country.  Violent words lead to violent actions. This is the logical
outcome to Trump’s words. The majority of Americans condemn this massacre, but the president doesn’t stand up. We must
be much more proactive.  What we need to do:  Call African-American, Moslem and refugee friends and foster real
friendships and connections.  

We don’t always recognize that what we say may be offensive when race or ethnicity are involved. Why American Jews?
Jews are integrated as white people, but there is a religious tradition of Jews being persecuted over the centuries.  The
early church stance was that the Jews killed Jesus. In the Middle Ages, blood flowed and there were riots. Aryans were  
deemed superior, the Jews inferior. Stereotypes continued and the Holocaust was the result. Next year it will be 80 years since Crystal Nacht, the “Night of Broken
Glass” which is said to be the beginning of the Holocaust.  By 1945, more than six million Jews were killed. This is what Jews carry. There’s been much since then.
We must meet Jews in their own place, and build solidarity based on respect. Our job is to build relationships.

After this powerful challenge for us, Robinson spoke about the road map to equity. Dr. Robinson is from Houston, and came to the UW-Madison in 2012 to study and to
work in the area of racial inequity.  Grace Episcopal’s Community Leadership award recognized her efforts to work for social justice and reduce racism in Madison.
There are divisions between the university and the community, between black and white.  She stressed that institutional history and memory are important. Racial
equity has been advocated for some years.

Dr. Robinson appreciates her own personal privilege. She grew up in Houston in a segregated community that was deeply connected, and belonged to Mt. Zion
Church there, where faith and politics were combined. She saw firsthand the violence when her dad’s cousin was murdered. Her aunt integrated a school in
Alabama.

What’s happening now, and why?  Fixing race equality involves all kinds of questions: How is racism constructed in the community?  It’s the ideology of nation
building. There are places for white people.  Codified whiteness excludes Italians, Jewish people, and the Irish.  Institutions of citizenship.  The north is a peculiar
place that includes racial segregation. What tools do we have? Racial disparity requires that we reconstruct our social contract, our institutions.  True equality needs
deep work.  

Church Women United  is an ecumenical group of women who meet monthly for fellowship and a forum. The December Forum takes place at Bethany United
Methodist Church, 3910 Mineral Point Road, Madison and will include a Christmas  silent auction. Faith Bauman, a member of Bethany will talk about “My Life as a
Missionary in India”. Refreshments and fellowship start at 9:00 am with speaker at 10:00 am. Men are also invited.