Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

Combating Racism in Religious Traditions and Communities

Seminar Complete!

Congratulations, you've completed this seminar. Let your friends and coworkers know!


In this interfaith panel, speakers discuss encounters with racism and white supremacy in their religion and communities. The panelists also share how some communities are taking inventory of their roles in teaching and sustaining discriminating views and behaviors — and are now seeking equitable pathways forward. While Christian, Hindu, Humanist and Sikh traditions are represented on the panel, examples from other traditions are also explored.

Panelists include Vanessa Gomez Brake, associate dean of USC Office of Religious and Spiritual Life; Sable Manson, assistant director for Student Leadership and Development at the USC Joint Educational Project; Sabrina Dent, senior faith adviser from Americans United for Separation of Church and State; and Tahil Sharma, regional coordinator from United Religions Initiative.

Who Will Benefit

– Those questioning what steps religious organizations are taking to address white supremacy
– Religious leaders looking to enact systemic change within their communities
– Those seeking advice on how to begin dismantling long-held racists beliefs and practices

About Our Featured Faculty

Vanessa Gomez Brake is the associate dean of Religious Life at USC. She is the first humanist chaplain to serve in this capacity at any American university. In her role, she works to support and promote university religious and spiritual life broadly conceived, and helps oversee more than 90 student religious groups and 50 religious directors on campus. She also serves as an advisor to the USC Interfaith Council and the Secular Student Fellowship.

Previously, Gomez Brake worked at Stanford University’s Office for Religious Life, where she led campus programming and worked closely with student-led religious groups. At Stanford, she organized ceremonies, events, programs, and worship services at the historic Stanford Memorial Church and CIRCLE: Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning, and Experiences. Additionally, she played a supporting role at the Windhover Contemplative Center, and the campus-wide series Contemplation-by-Design.

As an accomplished Filipino folk dancer and multi-instrumentalist, Gomez Brake has performed at the White House and Carnegie Hall for Filipino American History Month celebrations. Her folk artistry is an extension of her interfaith work, as her performances showcase the diverse traditions, rituals, and beliefs of Muslim, Christian, and indigenous peoples of the Philippines.

Gomez Brake received her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Psychology from Arizona State University. She received her Master of Science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, with an emphasis in religion and peacemaking from George Mason University. She also earned a Master of Divinity at the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), where she received the 2018 Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman Interreligious Leadership Award.

Sable Manson is a program director at the USC Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and assistant director for Student Leadership and Development at the USC Joint Education Project. Born and raised in Southern California, Manson attended Loyola Marymount University (LMU) where she earned her bachelor’s in television production. While at LMU, Manson discovered her true passion for education and went on to complete a Master of Education in Post-Secondary Administration and Student Affairs (PASA) from USC. In 2014, she was identified as one of the Future50 Faith leaders in Los Angeles by USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture and the Interreligious Council of Southern California (IRC). Manson received her PhD from the USC Rossier School of Education in 2015; her dissertation focused on an interfaith service-learning program called Souljourners. Manson was most recently appointed assistant director for Student Leadership and Development at the USC Dornsife Joint Educational Project. In this role, she supports JEP program assistants, coordinates with faculty and provides professional development experiences for student leaders.