Do I Know What I Don’t Know?

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Tired of all that talk about racism? Pretty understandable since we’ve been talking and fighting about it for maybe 400 years. Some things you never get tired of talking and hearing about like your best friend’s wedding; the day you met your future husband; your Final Profession day; the worst day of your life; the storm that destroyed your house; the death of a son or daughter, a parent, a best friend, a sibling; and always when the folks get together someone will say “Remember when?”.

Unfortunately the stories of racism in our country, in our neighborhoods, in our Congregation and among our Associates are ever ancient, ever new. We hear the stories and shake our heads and ask ourselves, how can this be? When will we get over this, past this?

I have no answer except to look in the mirror. I am full of questions. Do I know what white privilege really means yet? Is it the same as white supremacy? What do I really believe about men and women and children of other races? I grew up learning about the good guys in the white hats versus those heathen Indians and the slaves revolting against the people who gave them work and shelter, who helped our country to thrive.

So what has happened to me? I learned more, and it wasn’t all good. Now when I try to retell the stories with more information and a different perspective, I risk being told I hate my country and I am rewriting its grand history. Really? What’s so grand about the Trail of Tears or the Tulsa Massacre or Eminent Domain? I will apologize for events like those and so many others, but I can’t change that they happened. So, what can I do?

All the information was out there, but some people hoped we wouldn’t find it.I’ve googled lots of books and out of print tomes on the subject, so I know now that they existed, but they just were not available to all of us, nor did some of us want to read them. But it is time. Read some James Baldwin from the 60s and 70s. Check out W.E.B. DuBois. Reflect more deeply on the writings of Martin Luther King, JR. There are many more titles and authors that I am sure you could all name. But the most fascinating aspect of it all is that if you hold up the books from those days next to the books from these days—–we might have some serious cases for plagiarism or déjà vu or “didn’t I just read that?”. The never ending story continues to unfold and we are at some pretty critical places in our country’s history. Seek the truth or follow in ignorance are just a couple of the choices we can make. I hope I can make the right one.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

13 responses to “Do I Know What I Don’t Know?

  1. Yes Sistuh!!
    Racism is unfortunately alive and well. My father and I had many fights about this when I was in high school and college. When he retired he began watching talk shows. One day he began sharing past memories about his years at the Corps of Engineers. He said “the men that worked in the shop (none of whom were white) were not treated fairly. The rest of us (white) got cost of living salary increases but they did not and that was not fair.” It cite this story as ‘proof’ that change can happen in small ways one person at a time.

  2. Pat, I truly believe you would benefit a lot if you would follow up and have a good discussion with Sr Corina Padilla who responded to your blog. She founded/Director of the Spanish Speaking Apostolate at the diocese of Tucson and is very knowledgeable in this subject.

  3. Thanks, Pat! I do need these reminders… that I, too, still have work to do, even if I don’t always realize it!

    Peace & Blessings,
    Pat Mood, OP

  4. Thank you for your thoughts on this extremely important issue. I agree, we must keep questioning.

  5. Thanks Pat for these insights. I am encouraged by your words to work to become more knowledgeable and act with more compassion.

  6. Pat,
    I think we might have the same God who is tugging at our white hearts with questions and more questions and helping us realize it is our work to do and individuals first.

  7. As a person that had to attend the “Mexican school” I am fully aware of the pain of Racism. We were also punished if we spoke Spanish, but of course, we did not know English. It is interesting that when we were in the 8th grade, we were all together and we had no problems getting along. Although every once in a while you would hear someone say. Go back to where you came from.
    That is interesting because in working on my genealogy I found out that my Father’s family was here before the pilgrims arrived. I am a 15th generation American. Since I was a child my dad especially fought for integration. Some wounds never heal, believe me.

  8. Dear Sister Pat,
    I agree with you. It is time to be educated about racism and its effect on our society. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in our community would organize a group that would assist us in our struggle to understand, someone who has been there and done that? Is there a way we can do this?
    Thank you for bringing this topic up.

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