Anne Haraughty, Ministries Coordinator

If you were fortunate enough to attend Pathways to Learning last Sunday morning, you may still be digesting the information that was presented. Pakou Ker, Principal and Lead Organizer of the Tseng Development Group, led the first of two sessions concerning racial equity. She challenged us to name the subgroups that have the most power and access to opportunities in the United States. We named whites, men, wealthy, nuclear families, citizens, English speakers, and on and on. PaKou explained that one reason the unbalanced power system remains intact is that it is designed so that those in the preferred groups do not realize that they are preferentially treated. It’s impossible to address and fix a problem that isn’t recognized as a problem to those holding the most power. By recognizing our own privilege, we begin to see the inequities in the power structure of the United States.

PaKou also shared personal experiences from her childhood. Her refuge family was “adopted” by a church in her new community when they first came to the United States. She recalled that the church seemed to have very good intensions, but many of their actions, comments and expectations of Pakou’s family were insensitive and unkind. Pakou recounted that some of the encounters with the adoptive church were the worst discrimination her family has ever suffered. Hearing that made my heart hurt. The church was well intentioned, but misguided in how to serve and support PaKou’s family, causing the family great pain.

While PaKou’s session was powerful, it only scratched the surface of a tough topic. This conversation requires diligence, honesty and candor. We have to face unpleasant truths about ourselves, our community, and our world in our quest for positive changes.

Whether or not you were able to attend Pathways to Learning last Sunday, you will not want to miss session two, led by Nick Pickrell with the Open Table, when we continue the conversation in the Social Hall at 10:00 a.m. on Sun., Feb. 17.

Also, if you’d like to hear more from PaKou, she will be speaking at the next session for the Mayor’s KC Race Initiative at the Gem Theater on Feb. 26 from 6:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.