Repairing Community: Faith-Based Responses to Racial Disparities and Conflict

2015 CONFERENCE

Repairing Community:
Faith-Based Responses to Racial Disparities and Conflict

African-descended communities across the globe are suffering effects of political, economic and social inequities whose consequences include alarming levels of disease, unemployment, incarceration, and systemic violence. What institutional, cultural, public policy, and faith-centered responses can be mobilized in response to this state of affairs?  The 2015 Transatlantic Roundtable on religion and race aims to focus on the role of faith based organisations, leaders, community activists and others in confronting key issues impacting groups where racial disparities and/ or racial/religious conflict are a key feature of community life.

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EBOLA AND THE PROBLEM OF (OUR) ISOLATION

We are isolating persons infected and affected by the Ebola crisis, but not along the lines the medical and public health sectors are promoting as a strategic response to the outbreak. Rather, Downloads4001America’s response to the recent Ebola outbreak throughout much of its deadly march across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone has been largely one of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Though fairly visible to Americans through media sources, the Ebola crisis had not been seen or acknowledged by many of us in ways resulting in large-scale, systematic action.  Perhaps this can be traced to compassion fatigue or a general sense of helplessness in the face of so many tragedies occurring around the globe.

But American inattention to this crisis also stems from a long-standing isolationist emphasis within U.S. foreign policy and frequently within American culture in general, where too often we view problems beyond our borders as largely outside our realm of responsibility—unless of course those problems happen to jeopardize our political and economic interests abroad or our security here at home.  With the announcement on September 30 of a confirmed case of Ebola in Texas and with the death of that patient, Oct. 8, and the announcement of the infection of a nurse involved in the treatment of that patient, the crisis has now been brought dramatically closer to home. President Obama referred to Ebola in a September 25 U.N. speech as a regional security threat, but it grows clearer with each day that Ebola’s reach is decidedly more than regional.

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