Before reading what I have to say, you should read what Olga Segura wrote recently on “How can Catholics help lead the fight against racism?”
The American Catholic Church has a racism problem. And it’s up to Catholics to do something about it. Below I’ve listed seven things Catholics can do. Feel free to comment or reach out to me with additional resources and ideas!
1. Get off this blog and go find what black Catholics have to say themselves:
- Justina Kopp on Twitter and Instagram
- Olga Segura on Twitter
- Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D on Twitter
- Gloria Purvis on Twitter
- Tia Noelle Pratt on Twitter
- Dri Xander on Twitter
- Archbishop Wilton Gregory on Twitter
2. If your priest hasn’t preached on the issue of racism and used the word “racism” in his homily, connect with other parishioners and address this with him.
If he refuses to listen, connect with even more parishioners and address this with him. If he refuses to listen, consider attending another parish and taking those you have connected with as well; if your black friends aren’t valued in your parish, why not contribute instead to a parish where they are valued?
3. Tithe to two parishes: your parish, and a predominantly/historically black parish in your area.
Tell your fellow parishioners to do so as well.
4. Learn what both non-Catholic and Catholic writers have to say about the issue of racism and how to respond to it.
- A required reading list, published by US Catholic
- 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Anti-Racism Resources for White People
- 10 documentaries to watch about race instead of asking a person of colour to explain things for you
5. Follow Black Catholic groups on social media, and do what you can to amplify their voices:
- The National Black Catholic Congress:
- The Knights of Peter Claver
- The Slavery, History, Memory, & Reconciliation Project
- More organizations, listed at the USCCB website here
6. Leverage the Catholic understanding of sin to inform your understanding of racism.
We all do it. Overcoming it will involve a constant examination of conscience and reforming of our desires, inclinations, and actions. Confess it to a priest. Confess it privately and, if necessary, publicly. Take accountability. Make reparations.
Likewise, the Gospel, the Good News, is a Word of salvation. It casts out sin and calls all to freedom from the racism of both others and ourselves. Work and pray for the conversion of others, a turning of all our minds away from racism and all sin. Treat the development of your own anti-racism as a development of virtue, something achieved only over the course of a life through a constant struggle in the truth of charity.
As a start, you can check out this examen from the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
7. Make it known to your black friends and neighbors that you see them, are listening, and want to make a difference.
Attend a protest, carry a sign, make a donation, read a book, enter a space you haven’t before, reject racism, and vocalize your support. Do not tolerate racism in your home, on your social media pages, or in your communities. Use the term “racist.” But study so that you know what it means when you do
You might choose to stay in spaces where racism is given room to breathe and diffuse itself, so that you can be a persistent voice against it. Or you may refuse to enter spaces that your black friends would not feel safe entering. The main point is to reject and work against racism.
None of us can do everything. But all of us must do something.
More of my own writings on race here
Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops.