Like many Twin Cities residents, I responded to the killing of George Floyd with a flurry of activity. Over seventeen days, I wrote nineteen posts on racism, exploring issues such as defunding the police, reparations, rioting, reforms and Conservatism, and Catholic reporting on these issues. During this time, I received support from some, critique from others, and, at times, attack. I faced fatigue at times, something also experienced by many of my readers. Some devoted readers have needed to step away at times to process. For those of you who are engaging in this process, this post is for you. I’ll summarize and categorize those three weeks of writings so that you can come back, review, and explore in a manner that is most helpful to you. I also highly encourage you to explore resources beyond this blog. I’ve linked a few at the bottom.
Living in the Chaos
Just after the killing of George Floyd, I began to consider the relationship between trauma, rioting, looting, racism, and protesting. I also started sharing accounts of my experiences as a Twin Cities resident. In Trauma and Setting Fires I explored a possible analogy between fires set by clergy abuse survivors and fires set by those living under racist conditions. Reflections on a Second Night of Fires examined the ways in which the protests in my city were being misreported on, and how we need to recenter the conversation on racism to make sense of the situation. Last Night was Different outlined the fears my neighbors and I were experiencing at reports of tens of thousands of agitators traveling to the Twin Cities, along with reports of police escalating and initiating violence.
As I started writing, some criticized me for supporting looting and failing to condemn rioters. In response, I wrote Do I Support Looting? I then sought to turn the question back on critics, arguing that If You Blame Protesters, You Likely Would Have Blamed George Floyd (as I would have done in the past).
Over the past few months, I have been studying Russell Kirk’s 1953 text The Conservative Mind. This study provoked two posts considering Kirk’s world and ideas in relation to Black Lives Matter and revolution. I examined Black Lives Matter in relation to The Conservative Mind in A Conservative Consideration of #BlackLivesMatter. And I examined the ways in which the French Revolution might caution us in our response to racism and protest in American Rioters and the French Revolution.
Because I’m Catholic, I’ve taken a special interest in addressing the issue within my Church. I’ve drawn on Catholic theology to help us consider what racism means from a Catholic perspective, and also pushed for accountability in the Catholic community. My blog’s first guest post, On Material Racism: A Primer for Catholics, features canon lawyer Daniel Quinan exploring what the Catholic understanding of sin can teach us about racism and culpability. Theological considerations are further explored in A Catholic Case for Reparations.
A few posts focus on local analysis and accountability. Cementing Systemic Racism in a Local Catholic Parish analyzes a local parish bulletin to identify issues of race and then reviews responses from other Catholics to examine how racism becomes systemic. (The next week, that same parish addressed the issue of racism in their bulletin, which I shared in an update.) Much of this culminated in a review of nearly 70 Twin Cities homilies after the killing of George Floyd. In that review, I examined the extent to which racism was addressed by local parishes. You can find the results in Racism in Review.
Within days of George Floyd’s killing, Pope Francis addressed Minneapolis directly, condemning both racism and violence. In Catholic Misrepresentation of Pope Francis Today Shows the Subtle Silencing of Black Voices, I explore how misreporting on the pope’s address can uncover racist tendencies.
Finally, I want to leave Catholics with some concrete ideas for change, with 7 Things Catholics Can Do to Combat the #CatholicRacismProblem.
Cops and Defunding the Police
I dwell in a number of communities that want to remind everyone that “there are good cops” and who insist that we need the police. In order to contextualize the former claim, I asked: Who Are the “Good Cops”? And without addressing directly the merits of defunding the police, I also explored Why Objections to Defunding the Police are Racist.
Exposure and Taking Action
A week into protests, I wanted to warn parents of the cost of their silence in Your Kids will Aid Bullies. Bullies exist. They’ve been coming out of the woodwork with this issue. So have racists. I shared one encounter in My Racist Exchange Today, so that people would know that racism dwells in their communities. I also wanted to address racism in my community as a lawyer, so I shared a letter I wrote to my former boss in Why I Left the Law Firm Life. In an addendum, I also explore why the legal profession lacks diversity.
Many Catholics did not like what I had to say. If you’d like a summary of my two weeks writing on racism:
Much more could be said. Much more should be said. I intend to continue writing on issues related to race. You can find a list of those writings here. Please also share your thoughts, good resources, and questions worth exploring. Racism is something we’ll all need to address together. It will be messy. We’ll make missteps along the way. But it’s something we must do.
Some resources on race, racism, and defunding the police:
- 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
- 10 non-fiction books on why we need to defund the police
- Defunding of police in Camden, New Jersey
- 7 things Catholics can do to combat the #CatholicRacismProblem
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.