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Owning Our Racial Bias: A Multicultural Interfaith Dialogue Seeking Reconciliation and Healing

By  Engage Minnesota

Church of the Epiphany Episcopal Church in partnership with St.Paul Interfaith Network, and the Islamic Center of Minnesota invited those eager to understand racial bias in new ways to both a panel of west metro youth for their experiences with racial bias AND a panel of experienced voices, followed by dialogue among all participants. This event examined realities about racial bias, with the goal of challenging participants to move toward racial reconciliation and healing.

The evening included a meal and small group discussion of the topic.

The event was held on Sunday, September 27, 2015 from 4:00-7:00 PM at the Church of the Epiphany, 4900 Nathan Lane N, Plymouth, MN 55442.

Special thanks for all those who participated in planning for this event.

The Event Convenor – Kim Olstad and taped by John Risken.

There were two panels: youth and adult.

Participants of the Youth Panel:
o Ifeyinwa Ikegwuani, senior, Osseo High School
o Maryam Wazwaz, sophomore, Spring Lake Park High School
o Tyler Story, senior, Wayzata High School
o Alex Sigmundik, creator of RezCycle, graduate of Blake School

o Moderator, Brooke Story, Senior Director, Integration, Medtronic


Adult Panel
o Mike Hotz, associate pastor of care and outreach, Sanctuary Covenant Church in North Minneapolis
o Austin Ihiekwe, recently retired engineer with 3M who came to the US from Nigeria in 1964
o Dorthey Ikeguani, hospice nurse and nursing instructor at North Hennepin Community College, born and raised in Arkansas.
o Christine McCleave, enrolled member from Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe in North Dakota and currently working in the non-profit sector at Indian Land Tenure Foundation
o Fedwa Wazwaz, speaker and writer on interfaith relations, Islam, and Palestine.

o Moderator, Chuma Ikeguani, Vision Realty


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Listening to God – Toward Healing and Reconciliation

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

The first duty of love is to listen.
–Paul Tillich

fedwaThere is a narration on the Prophet’s cousin, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, who was fighting an enemy with his sword ready to deal the final blow, then the enemy spit in his face. Ali refused to continue the battle as the fight became personally motivated.

We learn from this incident – that whether in battle or in discussion, when conflicts or a fight becomes poisoned with personal angst – the wisest thing to do is to ground oneself and remove the personal angst. Until the personal angst is removed, then the discussion can continue.

There are many roads in the valley of impotence in the face of adversity, and many lead to loss and perpetual suffering. At times, we find ourselves at a junction where many voices are giving us advice, however, all these voices lead us astray. There is the road of guidance which is a steep road, but first we must acknowledge that we do not know and seek guidance.

At times, voices that validate our pain and suffering seek to manipulate one in their most vulnerable state when a person is hurting and unaware. Whereas voices of guidance seek to center and ground you so you can see the roads ahead and choose the road to travel with wisdom and reflection. It is for this reason that God guides us to show patience in times of adversity, so we can reflect and follow the road of guidance and not one of the seductive roads of validation or conformity.

I like to emphasize listening, but not to validate the one speaking but if our aim is to guide another or receive guidance, then we must find where we are emotionally, mentally, spiritually on the map before we can guide each other appropriately. Giving people advice based on conjecture, false assumptions or projections of our own internal issues can lead to many misunderstandings and name-calling.

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