By Thehil Russelliah Singh
I recently moved back to the US after spending several years in India. The last time I was here, I was single and had just graduated from college. Six years later, I am married and have two children. This is the first time my husband and children have ever been to the United States. Before our departure from India, I tried to prepare them for the cultural shock that I was sure they would experience.
I remember trying to explain racism to my husband. Even though he knew what it was, to experience it and see it in everyday life is quite different. So for him to understand, I compared it to casteism, a systemic prejudice prevalent in Indian society. I told him that instead of caste tension and discrimination, America has racial tension and discrimination. He then asked me if things were as bad as they were in India where a marriage uniting a Dalit man and an upper caste woman is still frowned upon and honor killings are not uncommon. I assured him that that was not the case and that things had really improved over the decades.
A few weeks after our arrival, after my husband had had enough time to get around the neighborhood and explore Chicago, he came to me and told me something I will never forget. He told me that racism and racial tension are still very live and present in American society. If an international person was able to detect that after just a couple of weeks in “the land of freedom and opportunity” I shudder just thinking about how bad things really are.
There is no question that racial tension is high in these United States of America. There is a need for all of us to understand how systemic racism works through our families, our communities and our institutions and thereby work towards racial justice. One way that McCormick is doing that is with the help of the generous donors to the “Do Justice Fund” who have enabled ten McCormick Students to register for free for the upcoming Analyzing Systemic Racism 2.5 day training offered by Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism at Fourth Presbyterian Church on January 26-28, 2017. This is a great time to gain knowledge and vocabulary for talking about and facing racism in our contexts.
The first ten students to register at the below link will attend for free. When registering indicate “McCormick Theological Seminary” as your organization and choose the “Pay at the Door” option.