Saturday, June 20, 2020

What the Catholic Church says about Racism

Dear Reader,

Yesterday was Juneteenth - an anniversary celebration of the end of slavery in America [ LINK ].  I am humbled to admit that I was not aware of this important date, and like many, many other people in our country right now, am becoming more educated by the day.  I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the struggles of our black sisters and brothers, because though I can empathize,
being white I can never fully understand what it must be like to live in a country where you can face a literal threat to life for the color of your skin.
I'd like to start this post about some of my own experiences, and some of the things I've been learning about lately - and then dive into what as Catholics we are supposed to do, and then some resources for those continuing to be educated and called to action.

But first, feel free to pin this image for future reference:

bohemian catholic church racism

I am an immigrant, half American, and half German who moved to this country permanently just before I turned 13.  I remember being told to "go home".  As a Catholic in the Bible belt of the deep South, I was told I was going to "burn in Hell" for "worshiping Mary".  And as a woman I have faced violence first hand because of my gender.  I do not say this as a defense, or as some sort of comparison tool.  Nor to downplay my own experiences - but still, I will never be pulled over the same amount of times as a black person in this country.  I will never face discrimination when it comes to education or housing, because of the color of my skin.
So again, it is not about downplaying anyone's experiences - we want to honor these traumas so they do not resurface in unhealthy ways - BUT it would be tone deaf to imply that I face the same issues as a black person in this country.
We cannot change the system to treat each person with equal civil rights, until we are able to acknowledge that we are in a broken system.  And not just with police issues (though it's a great place to start!  Check out Campaign Zero to see what kind of police reform we can help implement to keep everyone safe - like I personally didn't know that choke holds were legal in most states!) - but here are some other concerns that need to be addressed as well:

- As most people are aware, women on average make 77 cents per men's wage of a dollar.  But that is white women.  Black women make even less [ LINK ]

- There are education issues that we need to address [ LINK & LINK ], as well as housing [ LINK ], and medical concerns [ LINK & LINK ]

- There are currently thousands of ACTIVE KKK members in our country (I myself did not know this until I was sixteen years old - I literally thought this was an "old extinct hate group" and had to look it up after a friend warned me about it being in the next town over (since they don't like immigrants either) [ LINK ]

- Black people have created virtual Green Book groups, because sadly they need to know which cities in America are safe to travel in [ LINK ]

And I'm sure there are many, many other issues that I'm just not even aware of (but ignorance is not bliss!!)

. . . Now what does the Catholic Church say about all of this?  Here's a great article about that, but the Catechism of the Church says this,
"The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: ‘Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design’ (CCC 1935)"
Our Catechism calls for the dignity of every person to be protected, and treated with respect.  In fact, I spoke on the matter a few months ago in my blog post here, about being made in the image of God, and thus deserve to be treated as such (irregardless of shared beliefs or not).  And though of course no human institution is perfect, and the Catholic Church's failures should NOT be swept under the rug - there is also many ways the Church has helped trail blaze racial equality in the past [ LINK ], and is doing so today as well [ LINK ].

But here's the thing - we are the Body of Christ.  We are the Hands and Feet of Jesus, and WE have to do the work and use the gifts we've been given to change the system so we can all live equally in this country.  Keep reading, keep educating yourself, keep speaking up, keep being supportive, and be open to hearing what people that are suffering are saying.  Sure, you might never harm someone based on the color of their skin - but that does not mean that they aren't in danger.  Silence is compliance, and we can do better.  Lives depend on it.

To read a bit more on the subject, please check out the following links:

21 Ways to Support Black Lives Matter (when you can't protest) via Bustle [ LINK ]

The book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy which helps us better understand the generational inherited trauma of slavery, and its effects on minorities today [ LINK ]

Movies and Documentaries to watch about Racism via shine and hustle [ LINK ]

Much love

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