Monday, August 17, 2009
A Glimpse of a “Post-Racial” America
On November 4, 2008 our nation elected its first African American president and on
November 5, we were talking about a “post-racial” America as if this one historic moment had the power to erase three-hundred years of racial discrimination and
It did not take long for us in the aftermath of the election to realize that for the majority
of people of color in this nation nothing had changed, in fact, the election of a black
man to the highest office in the land spurred an increase in hate crimes from the east coast to the west coast, on college campuses and in second grade classrooms.
Racism continues to raise its ugly head of fear and hatred regardless of how much progress we have made as a nation.
Thirty years ago this November the bishops of the United States issued their pastoral letter on racism, Brothers and Sisters to Us. In it they write, “Mindful of its duty to be the advocate for those who hunger and thirst for justice’s
sake, the church cannot remain silent about the racial injustices in society and its own structure. We would betray our commitment to evangelize...were we not to strongly voice our condemnation of attitudes and practices so contrary to the Gospel.”
In his 2001 pastoral letter on racism, Dwell in My Love, Cardinal George writes, “People who assume, consciously or unconsciously, that white people are superior create and sustain institutions that privilege people like themselves and habitually ignore the contributions of other peoples and cultures.”
Several weeks ago, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, those, who have been “habitually
ignored,” black and Latino Catholics, came together to share their stories and common struggle to overcome racism and anti-immigrant sentiments in this country. Too often their voices are not heard or drowned out. Too often they are invisible and treated as second-class citizens. On that day they would not be ignored nor their voices silenced.
On that day they stood linked arm-in-arm along with many of their white sisters and brothers as they marched from St. Eulalia Church in Maywood to the Broadview Detention Center to stand in solidarity with those who are illegal immigrants and their families.
It was truly an evangelizing, transformative moment, with black, white and brown, united together by a faith that is greater than its human failings. A faith that calls us to be one
as the Trinity is One. A faith that compels us to work to transform our church and its
institutions. A faith rooted in the Eucharist, which is at the heart of racial justice.
It was a glimpse of what a “post-racial” America could and should look like.
To learn more about the Archdiocese of Chicago’s commitment to the work of anti-racism, or the upcoming “Catholics Praying for Racial Justice” pilgrimages, visit the
Office for Racial Justice’s website www.dwellinmylove.org