RCC hears from Rev. Michael Waters, Wilbur Award winning author

Rev. Dr. Michael Waters (r) is pictured with Gusto! host Myron Knudson (l) prior to the Wilbur Award winner giving a presentation for the speakers program and Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of RCC.

Half a hundred, including members of the Dallas-Ft. Worth Chapter of RCC, gathered recently to hear 2018 Wilbur Award winner, Rev. Dr. Michael Waters, speak on topic of Social Justice, Hope and Empowerment. Dr. Waters presentation was sponsored by the Gusto! program at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Dallas. He won the Wilbur award for his non-fiction book titled, Stakes is High: Race, Faith, and Hope for America.

Dr. Waters opened with the honest comment that in the morning’s presentation his responsibility “was not to make you comfortable.” He went on to tell attendees that, “If I disturb, then perhaps that will motivate to action.”

He noted the reality of racism is America is fed by, at least in part, by state-sanctioned terror and intentional acts of policy. He spoke about the cycle of poverty in the black community and addressed several topics that he said contributed to and extended that cycle:

This is a map from the 1930s showing areas that are “red-lined,” meaning financial institutions would not underwrite home and business loans in those areas. The same areas experience intense poverty today.

  • “Red-lining” – a practice that severely limits the ability of African-Americans and other people of color to get loans for home or business ownership. He showed red-line area maps from the 1930s that even in the present day pretty accurately define the neighborhoods of greatest poverty in Dallas.

  • Black employment – Dr. Waters cited statistics that show a qualified black man or woman with a college degree and no criminal record are less likely to be offered a job (after an interview) than a white person with only high school and a criminal record. His point was to say the adage that education will break the poverty cycle is not entirely correct because of racism.

  • Mass incarceration – again citing reliable sources and statistics, he shared the troubling connection in some states between private companies operating prisons and frequency with which young black men are fed into a disciplinary “pipeline” from our schools that often results in jail or prison. One in three men who are sent to prison are black even though black persons only represent about 12% of the overall population.

Speaking further on activities and topics that feed into and sustain racism in our nation, Dr. Waters gave information about the concentration of childhood poverty in the greater Dallas area and a very telling statistic about a survey of 274 cities rating them on how they were moving forward toward racial equality. Dallas was number 274.

In question and answer session, he answered a query as to how and why these things continue to happen saying, “Racism is profitable. Follow the money.” Following it with a question for the audience to consider, “What will a racially equal society cost?” He also spoke with some optimism even after these sobering statements. “Hope for America is when we show up for each other...”

Dr. Waters is pastor of the Joy Tabernacle A.M.E. Church in Dallas, an adjunct professor at SMU, an award-winning author, community leader and social commentator. His book is available from Amazon.

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