The annual MLK Interfaith Prayer Breakfast hosted by MLK Dayton, Inc. was held Friday January 18 as part of the Dayton-area's MLK Jr. Holiday Celebration. The keynote speaker was Pastor Rodney Wallace Kennedy (pictured here) of First Bapt. Church in Dayton.
Photo: Jim Witmer
Photo: Jim Witmer

Racism better disguised but still present, preacher says

“Racism is with us still. But in America, it has learned to dress better. It talks better. It has a new language. And it is still an expert at denying its existence,” said Pastor Rodney Kennedy of First Baptist Church in Dayton. “We can claim we’re not, but we’re all smeared with it.”

A crowd of close to 100 people at the Mandalay Banquet Center listened to prayers from representatives of various local religious groups and heard a selection of gospel songs at the annual event. The prayer breakfast was part of several events leading up to Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Members of the clergy are called to be prophets and should confront racism, Kennedy said.

“If we will be prophets, we will irritate people. But there are some folks in this country who need to be irritated,” Kennedy said. “If we are prophets we will make some folks mad. But maybe they will have to face the truth.”

Kennedy said religion was used to usher in racism in America.

“Christianity took a ship to America and racism hitched a ride as a stowaway,” he said.

The word race was a word that white people made up to make other people feel bad, according to Kennedy, who grew up in Louisiana. “It’s a metaphorical construct that allows white Europeans to put all non-Europeans into a category of difference that is then labeled as less than,” he said.

Kennedy also challenged the idea of being colorblind, which he called a silly notion by evangelicals.

“You can’t be color blind in a world full of colorful people,” he said.

Kennedy told the crowd he is aware society sees him as a person of privilege because he is a white man.

“What happened in America is that somehow whiteness became the standard and that’s what’s wrong” Kennedy said. “We are not a standard. We are like everybody else.”

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