Southampton church looks to expand anti-racism course

  • Josie Alderman, left, and Susan Teece of the First Congregational Church of Southampton give away face masks in May. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/8/2020 3:35:13 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — An anti-racism course launched at the First Congregational Church of Southampton over the summer may soon be offered to the general public, should there be enough demand.

“We’re definitely interested in doing it again for the wider public,” the Rev. Quentin Chin said. “I kind of looked at this course as release one.”

Chin, the interim pastor at the church, facilitated the six-session course that drew nearly 20 people who met every other week. The curriculum was provided by the United Church of Christ.

Chin, who is Asian American and of Chinese descent, said that those who took the course were white and ranged from participants in their 80s to a girl in middle school.

“It was a good cross section of the congregation,” Chin said.

The group discussed white bias in the church, racism in public policy, and how to be an ally. Members of the course were divided into five groups, with the groups preparing presentations on chapters of the course in-between sessions.

“There was a lot of conversation … within each of the small groups,” Chin said.

One of the people who took the course was Robert Floyd, who attends services but is not a member of the congregation.

“There were a lot of aha moments with people,” he said.

For Floyd, that moment occurred when he realized that it isn’t enough just to respect people of all races, and that it’s also necessary to be anti-racist as well.

“We’re carrying the torch of our forebearers,” Floyd said. “We’re responsible.”

Carolyn Goepfert, a retired nurse who grew up in Pennsylvania and has lived in Southampton since 1977, described the course as an “eye-opening experience.”

She said that while she had treated many Black patients over the course of her career, she hadn’t thought their lives were any different from her own. Goepfert said that the biggest surprise for her in the course was learning that she was privileged.

She also said that the course made her think about how Native Americans have been treated, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II by the United States, and how Black people might feel walking by Confederate monuments she’d seen in Virginia.

“I just can’t get over how we have behaved as a country,” Goepfert said.

Chin said that although he thought the course was good, he wished there had been material in it that covered racial perspectives other than Black and white, such as those of Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians.

“I don’t necessarily feel … the conversations around race are as broad as they could be,” he said.

Still, Chin said that he plans to offer the course to the general public largely unchanged, although he did say that he thinks the general public may be less interested in the parts centered around the church.

In order to hold the course again, Chin said that he’s looking to have at least 18 people interested. Those interested in taking the course can email the church at shcong.org/contact.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com




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