WCC Afro-descendent conference calls for churches to use education against racism
Judith Hilton from Costa Rica speaks to the conference on racism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC
30 June 2011
A call to churches worldwide to educate people about racism was made by church leaders from across the Americas and the Caribbean at the end of a conference held last week in Managua, Nicaragua.
The conference, which was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Latin America Council of Churches (CLAI), focused on the violence of racism against people of African descent in the region.
It was the first ever conference to bring together church leaders of Afro-descendent communities in the Americas and the Caribbean.
Across the region, churches run educational institutions including universities, colleges, schools and Sunday schools, and they are encouraged by the conference declaration to review their curricula to make sure they include education on the racism and racist discrimination that is so common in Latin America.
“Part of the prophetic role of the churches is to speak out against injustice in all its forms, and in Latin America racism is a huge, and largely unattended, area of injustice” said Dr Jorge Ramirez Reyna, a conference participant from Peru. “In Latin America and the Caribbean, according to CEPAL [the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean] around 150 million Afro-descendents live in situations of exclusion, marginalization and poverty.”
“We know that right across Latin America discrimination is practiced on the basis of skin colour,” he said. “Black people are more likely to suffer violence, more likely to be poor, and less likely to reach positions of responsibility or power. Education can help with this problem”.
In their declaration the conference participants urge churches associated with the WCC and CLAI to use the resources and facilities at their disposal to educate people, and to create opportunities for dialogue to strengthen the struggles against racism across the region.