The complexity of race relations in America will not be resolved easily, but a step toward understanding in Enid was taken Sunday by a group of Enid area residents at University Place Christian Church.

About 35 mostly white people gathered together to discuss racial issues. Only one black person, one Asian woman and one Hispanic were present, although the Rev. Jerry Galbreath said he sent personal invitations to the leaders of a number of minority organizations in Enid.

After discussions about progress made in Enid by groups like the Inter-racial Women’s Club and NAACP, the Rev. J.F. Wickey, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Enid, said his church has asked the question across the country and come to disappointing conclusions. Wickey said black people do not feel whites are truly ready to discuss race because they still come to the table from a supremacy point of view.

“We have come far, but we still have far to go,” Wickey said.

He said a sacred conversation cannot just occur, it must be continued. The sacred conversations were begun from a call by the National United Church of Christ, which was taken up by the National Council of Churches. Galbreath, pastor of University Place Christian Church, was emcee for the discussion.

Galbreath said he has brought up a time change for the Enid Ministerial Alliance several times. Pastors of black churches usually have other jobs and do not have time to take a lunch meeting. He has suggested the group change its meeting time to include them, but it has not been addressed, he said.

During the discussion Galbreath referred to examples of “systemic racism,” which is included in societal norms. He placed a school desk in the center of the room with a sign indicating it is a right-handed desk for “normal” people. That way students at one time were made to feel abnormal if they were left-handed.

Some people in the group felt there was a lack of attendance by minorities because no one likes explosive confrontation and were afraid the “sacred” part of the conversation would not occur.

A pastoral letter on race by the United Church of Christ stated there has been so much violence perpetrated against people of color throughout the nation’s history and so little acknowledgment or remorse that trust to have such a conversation must be nurtured. Wickey said that may be the reason there were few minorities present at the meeting.

“They aren’t here because they don’t think you are ready to talk. Race was never just a black-white issue, but a white- supremacy issue and white’s are not ready to come to the table,” he said.

Another viewpoint was expressed by Choicey Boyd of Enid.

“You have to be black to really know what’s going on,” he said.

Boyd said he always tried to respect everyone and was shown respect in return. He said blacks hurt each other worse than whites hurt them, but he said there still is a lot of segregation in Enid.

The group pointed out the success created by a number of groups in Enid, including the Enid education community, which is desegregated, the Martin Luther King Holiday Commission and the Inter-Racial Women’s Club, among others.

Another conversation is scheduled June 22. The location will be announced later.

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