There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galations 3:28
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 to the highest office in our country and in fact to the distinction of being the most powerful person in the world as President of the United States was a monumental, historically significant event. Some news outlets described it as “sweeping away racial barriers”, an “unthinkable breakthrough that could not have been imagined even two years earlier” ushering in a “post-racial” America. Blacks and whites alike heralded it as profound and remarkable. Some talked about it as almost unbelievable; how their long passed ancestors must be turning over in their graves. Still others, as a mark of true progress toward the end of racism in America, which of course it was. Or was it?
While Barack Obama’s election and then re-election were indeed profound and remarkable events, certainly representing true progress, racism in our country is still very much alive and wreaking havoc on people of color in countless ways every day. Perhaps not in the way that most people think about racism however.
The common understanding of a racist act is an intentional and mean offence done by an individual who consciously does not like people based on their race and thinks himself or herself superior. Using this definition alone, racism is probably rare, just a few “bad apples”. But as 20 St. Francis parishioners engaged in a Faith and Racial Equity workshop over the past few weeks have come to understand, this definition of racism is highly inadequate and does not reflect the realities of racism in our country.
In fact, the United States of America is actually a racially structured society with white people at the top, holding most positions of power and decision making, and black people at the bottom most of whom are struggling to survive. Racism exists in our societal systems such that in almost every measurable way, people of color fair worse than white people, be it in housing, healthcare, wealth, education, jobs, etc. This is called systemic racism. More than a just few bad apples … the whole apple tree is infected.
So profound is the problem of systemic racism in our country, that in 2018 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church here in the US, published a new pastoral letter against racism called Open Wide Our Hearts the enduring call to love. In this historic document our Bishops state: “… we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue. Accordingly we will not cease to speak forcefully against and work toward ending racism.”
Racism is a life issue!
People are dying as a result of racism!
How can this be? Follow this link to sign up and learn more. https://bit.ly/SFA-FRH2020
Also, please refer to the USCCB.org website to learn more about the complexities of systemic racism and how it adversely affects people of color in our country. Contact Becky Cawley at email@example.com or 314-409-5034 with questions.
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