Mennonite Central Committee in the U.S.
statement on white supremacy and racism
in light of the events of August 12, 2017,
in Charlottesville, Virginia
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches that shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. In light of recent events, we are again compelled to denounce and condemn the racist ideologies of white supremacy as sin and as “cosmic powers” and “spiritual forces of evil” at work against the purposes of God in creation.
For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12 NRSV)
On August 12, 2017, hundreds of white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, carrying torches, chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and advocating for the preservation of monuments memorializing the U.S.’ racist history. That history includes the mass killing and uprooting of Indigenous peoples; the theft and enslavement of Africans; the social and legal practice of Jim Crow; the racial disparities in the criminal justice system; the murder of nine followers of Jesus at a Charleston, South Carolina, church; and current policies, practices and procedures of the state that result in the disproportionate killing of black and brown people. It now includes the loss of counter-protester Heather Heyer, whose death we mourn and whose courage we admire.
While we Anabaptist Christians have been willing to join other movements for justice, we have too often been slow or unwilling to join the struggle for racial justice, failing to see white supremacy as the violence that it is. As MCC, we confess and repent such hesitancy and even blindness, which exacts an ongoing physical and spiritual toll on our sisters and brothers of color and leads to spiritual and moral decay for white people.
MCC rejects white supremacy and its violence in all forms—including white racism, white silence, white fragility and white privilege—as a scourge that continues the legacy of trauma inflicted on people of color. White supremacy and racism deny the dignity of each person.
As Anabaptist Christians we are called to follow the example of Jesus in community. To this end:
- MCC rejects all white supremacy movements as contradictory to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including the so-called “alt-right” movement, white nationalism and neo-Nazism; and anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Semite and anti-Muslim rhetoric.
- Though in our peace witness we sometimes may be called to “see a middle way,” MCC also recognizes that in the context of white supremacy, our peace stance requires us to work alongside and with those striving for racial justice, while remaining committed to nonviolent means.
- We acknowledge that U.S. history is animated by violence against people of color. MCC confesses that our understanding of and response to that violence has not been adequate.
- MCC proclaims that the call to discipleship explicitly includes a call to the work of dismantling racism in all its forms. In other words, to follow Jesus in the U.S. means to confront white supremacy, white privilege and white silence as a matter of faith.
Therefore MCC commits in our work to reject white supremacy, and to respond to it as a form of violence. We interpret this to mean that our peace work in the U.S. consists of efforts toward:
- Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery and the social, economic and racial consequences of settler expansion and land seizure that Indigenous communities in the U.S. continue to bear.
- Confronting the racial disparities in mass incarceration that have had a devastating and disproportionate impact on communities of African descent and other people of color.
- Resisting immigration policies that have fragmented Latina/o families and communities and fanned a hatred of immigrants and refugees, while advocating for humane responses to the root causes of migration.
- Deepening the work of anti-oppression among our staff, boards and constituencies by providing anti-racism training and committing to establishing structures and practices of accountability.
Furthermore, we invite and call on our constituency to reject white supremacy, and to join us alongside other communities in forming creative and prophetic responses to racism as an expression of Anabaptist Christian convictions.
—Written by Andrew Wright with consultation with some MCC Central States and U.S. staff and board members
August 18, 2017