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Healing Racism

By participating in the process of creating right relationships, healing and reconciliation, we are determined to eradicate racism within ourselves, our congregations, our church and our global community.
-OSP/IHM Statement Against Racism


The public discussion of racism in the United States today has been muted by perceptions, particularly among white people, that the successes of the civil rights movement and the election of the first black president of the United States have largely eradicated racial inequalities in the United   States. The reality is that because of the deep historical roots of racism in the U.S. and because of continuing discrimination that manifests itself in subtle and pervasive ways, racism is alive and well.

Having been kept at the bottom of the economic ladder for many years in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the general population, people of color are the first and the hardest hit by cuts in welfare, health care, education, rising unemployment and by a harsh criminal justice system. Many policies, seemingly racially neutral on the surface, are harshly racist in their effects and implementation.

All people are affected by racism, including white people, who may not see themselves as racist but inherently benefit or gain privilege from a racist society. The continuation of this system harms us as individuals and deprives us of the contributions and experiences that our uniqueness and diversity provide.

Learn More

Online Resources
Bad Theology, Not Sociology
By Jim Wallis, Sojourners, Dec. 10, 2020
At a recent annual meeting, seminary presidents in the Southern Baptist Convention doubled down on their dismissal of “critical race theory,” which examines the issues of embedded racism across institutions and culture in American society.  

To My Catholic Brothers and Sisters with White Bodies
By Leslye Colvin, Aquinas Emory Thinks, Oct. 7, 2020
Leslye Colvin writes of the complicity of white Catholics and the Catholic Church in the historical and present realities of racism.

Where Do We Go from Here (Part 1)
Oprah Winfrey Network, June 9, 2020
Oprah Winfrey leads the conversation speaking directly with Black thought leaders, activists and artists about systematic racism and the current state of America. Featured guests include: Stacey Abrams, Charles M. Blow,  Keisha Lance Bottoms, Ava DuVernay, Jennifer Eberhardt, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Ibram X. Kendi, David Oyelowo, Rashad Robinson and Bishop William J. Barber II.  Click here for Part 2.

How Church Teaching Can Help Explain Why ‘Black Lives Matter’
By Archbishop William E. Lori, America Magazine, July 27, 2020
“The words ‘Black Lives Matter’ mean different things to different people. Nonetheless, those same words should resonate with us as Catholics and indeed with all those who embrace the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.”

The Difference Between Being Not Racist and Anti-Racist
Ibram X. Kendi,, June 2020
There is no such thing as being “not racist,” says author and historian Ibram X. Kendi. In this vital conversation, he defines the transformative concept of antiracism to help us more clearly recognize, take responsibility for and reject prejudices in our public policies, workplaces and personal beliefs. Learn how you can actively use this awareness to uproot injustice and inequality in the world — and replace it with love.

Fortifying Imagination
On Being, June 25, 2020
Krista Tippet interviews National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature of the Library of Congress Jason Reynolds. Reynolds’ novels and poems tell the stories of what it is be a Black young person growing up in this society. Just as books that fortify the young also have a power to help heal adults, so too does this conversation.

Being Black and Catholic: A Reflection
Ite Missa Est, June 22, 2020
Sister Nicole Trahan, FMI, shares her reflections on the challenges of being a Black woman in the Catholic Church and the challenge facing the Church to become truly integrated and anti-racist.

Fr. Bryan Massingale: How the Church Can Combat Racism and White Privilege
America Magazine, June 5, 2020
Father Bryan Massingale joins America’s National Correspondant Michael O’Loughlin for a conversation on racism, white privilege and what the Church can do to address these issues.

‘I can’t breathe’ — the words that haunt us
By Joan Brown, OSF, Global Sisters Report, June 4, 2020
“I can’t breathe” is the most desperate plea for life. “I can’t breathe” is a plea for another human to come to aid, to be compassionate, to stand with and act in a desperate moment.

I am a Black Climate Activist. Racism Derails Our Efforts to Save the Planet.
By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Washington Post, June 3, 2020
Stopping climate change is hard enough, but racism only makes it harder.

What a Forgotten Black Nun can Teach Us About Racism and COVID-19
By Shannen Dee Williams, America Magazine, April 23, 2020
Sister Mary Anthony Duchemin was the mother of Sister Theresa Maxis Duchemin, one of the four original members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence and the long unacknowledged African-American foundress of the IHM Sisters. But 13 years before her daughter made history as an early American Catholic foundress, Sister Anthony Duchemin became a legend in her own right for her valiant service to Baltimore’s Black and white communities during the 1832 epidemic.

A Vigil for Racial Justice After the Murder of George Floyd
Benedictines for Peace, 2020
In the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, the Benedictines Sisters of Erie join in prayer with the Erie NAACP, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas NYPPAW, Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pa., Erie NETWORK Grassroots Advocates, the Social Justice and Life Office of the Diocese of Erie, and Inter-Church Ministries. Together we pray for an end to the systemic racism in our region, in this country and around the world.

Thinking for Ourselves: From Reform to Abolition
By Shea Howell, Boggs Center, June 9, 2020
As protests continue globally to express outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, the conversation is shifting from reform to abolition. Oakland University Professor Shea Howell, explains what this means and how this raises the possibility of creating real community safety, provided by community members who care for one another.

The Movement for Black Lives
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) formed in December 2014, was created as a space for Black organizations across the country to debate and discuss the current political conditions; develop shared assessments of what political interventions were necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins; and convene organizational leadership in order to debate and co-create a shared movement wide strategy.

NPR’s History Podcast ‘Throughline’ Explores Policing In America
National Public Radio, June 5, 2020
Protests were sparked across the nation after George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Tensions between African American communities and the police have existed for centuries.

The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We can Do About It
By Fr. Brian Massingale, National Catholic Reporter, June 1, 2020
Amy Cooper knew exactly what she was doing. We all do. And that’s the problem.

‘The Ink has Run Dry on Writing Statements.’
By by Michael J. O’Loughlin, America Magazine, June 1, 2020
Black Catholics Call for Action in Wake of George Floyd’s Killing

“I Can’t Breathe”
Passionist Media, May 30, 2020
Father Edward Beck’s five-minute commentary on healing the “sin-sick” soul of our nation

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
By Corinne Shutack, Medium, 2017
This article, originally written in 2017, is continually updated to ensure each item is accurate and needed today. Achieving racial justice is a marathon, not a sprint. Our work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done.

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies
By Courtney Ariel, Sojourners, 2017
“I’m writing this in hopes that it can be used to lighten the load of marginalized folks, keeping in mind that not all marginalized people want to engage in the ally conversation, and that is perfect as well. For those who do, my prayer is that when someone asks you the question, ‘How can I be a stronger ally?’ you might choose to save your breath/energy and send this in its place.”

Racial Wealth and Income Gap Experience
NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby
An interactive, educational experience best done in groups, to learn about the origins and perpetuation of the racial wealth and income gap in the U.S.

Recommit to Racial Justice
NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby
An eight-part examination of racism in our nation’s history and its contemporary manifestations, with additional resources listed throughout to learn more

Becoming Human: Dismantling Racism
The University of St. Thomas, 2020
During the season of Lent 2020, the University of St. Thomas and The Basilica of Saint Mary collaborated on an educational series toward dismantling racism that was called “Becoming Human.” The outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States made online delivery necessary. This “online portal” provides access to the series as well as some additional tools that will help to engage in the work of transforming our communities.

VIDEO: Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAnglo
General Commission on Religion and Race at The UMC, Feb. 21, 2017|
Dr. DiAngelo has heard justifications of racism by white people in her workshops for more than two decades. This justification, which she calls “white fragility,” is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive responses.

Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism
By the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 2018
This pastoral letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Because we all bear the image of God, racism is above all a moral and theological problem that manifests institutionally and systematically. Check out the educational resources and parish resources that were created to accompany the pastoral letter against racism.

Let’s Be a Church Where Black Lives Matter
By Fr. Bryan Massingale, U.S. Catholic, Dec. 2, 2016
Let us pray for the strength to confront racism in the United States.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
By Dr. Peggy McIntosh, 1989
As associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, Dr. McIntosh was struck by “men’s unwillingness to grant that they are privileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged.” It was only a short step to connect the issue to race.  “I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege,” she wrote, ”as males are taught not to recognize male privilege.

Collected Interfaith Prayers for Racial Healing
Network Catholic Social Justice Lobby, December 2014

Videos/Interactive Resources
VIDEO: The Underground Railroad Was One of America’s First Co-Ops: A Black History Tour of Cooperative Economics
Laura Flanders, Yes! Magazine, April 20, 2014
From slavery to Jim Crow to cities today, African Americans have been leading the cooperative movement. Author Jessica Gordon Nembhard talks to Laura Flanders about why cooperative economics and civil rights should appear together in history books.

VIDEO: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
Teacher Tube
View the video of this famous civil rights speech in its entirety.

Web Links
Southern Poverty Law Center
The Southern Poverty Law Center fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society’s most vulnerable members though tolerance education programs, legal cases against white supremacists and tracking of hate groups.

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
By Isabel Wilkerson
The book describes racism in the United States as an aspect of a caste system – a society-wide system of social stratification characterized by notions such as hierarchy, inclusion and exclusion, and purity. Wilkerson does so by comparing aspects of the experience of American people of color to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany and she explores the impact of caste on societies shaped by them and their people.

Racial Justice and the Catholic Church By Bryan M. Massingale
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church
 examines the presence of racism in America from its early history through the Civil Rights Movement and the election of Barack Obama. It also explores how Catholic social teaching has been used – and not used – to promote reconciliation and justice. Massingale writes from an abiding conviction that the Catholic faith and the Black experience make essential contributions in the continuing struggle against racial injustice that is the work of all people.

Small, Great Things By Judy Picoult
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates
Presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son, the author shares with his son—and readers—the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race.

Just Mercy By Bryan Stevenson
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

When Race Becomes Real Ed. Bernestine Singley
In this deeply moving book, 30 of America’s best-known writers on race step from behind the curtain of objectivity to turn the spotlight on themselves and bear witness to the racial divide.

The Invention of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd
Inspired by actual historical figures like Sarah and Angelina Grimké and Denmark Vesey and enlivened by original creations like Charlotte and Handful, The Invention of Wings is the story of two struggles for freedom: the battle of Handful to find the wings her mother promised and the equally intense quest of Sarah to liberate her mind and spirit.

 Persons of Color and Religious at the Same Time: The Oblate Sisters of Providence 1828-1860 By Diane Bates Morrow
Founded in Baltimore in 1828 by a French Sulpician priest and a mixed-race Caribbean immigrant, the Oblate Sisters of Providence formed the first permanent African American Roman Catholic sisterhood in the United States. By their very existence, the Oblate Sisters challenged prevailing social, political and cultural attitudes on many levels.

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age By Kevin Boyle
Boyle, a history professor, brings immediacy and drama to the social and economic factors that ignited racial violence, provoked a compelling court case and set in motion the civil rights struggle.

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking By Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell translates neuroscience and psychology research into compelling storytelling to persuade readers to think small and focus on the meaning of “thin slices” of behavior, relying on our “adaptive unconscious” for instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, “read” a stranger or react to a new idea.

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: U.S. Catholic Bishops Speak Against Racism –U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
This collection of articles written by bishops on racism includes articles on Catholic social teaching, Catholic expressions/activities, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, hate crimes, healing and ecumenical/interfaith issues.

A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present By Howard Zinn

America’s story from the point of view of America’s women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor and immigrant laborers. The book features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.