Racism: A Conversation and Commitment that must Continue

Blog by Rosie Blackburn, OPA and Marybeth Irvine, OPA
Blog by Marybeth Irvine, OPA and Rosie Blackburn, OPA

Recently, I was listening to an interview on the radio. One guest commented he was tired of everything being about race.

I immediately thought – that is simply a white privilege statement.  I ask myself where a statement of that nature might originate, especially, in light of the very visible and troubling events of this past year.

A few ideas come to mind: fear of losing the power and many privileges that are bestowed to white folks; lack of awareness of or indifference to the enormous prejudices and challenges to which people of color have been subjected since our country’s formation; wanting peace at all costs; being swept up by extremist ideologies; “racism fatigue”… the list could go on.

Everyone in this country, as well as around the world, is aware of the vicious attack on our Capitol on January 6, 2021. It was a glaring example of the deep-seated racial bias in our country. Yes, as reported all over our country, had those rioters and intruders been black or brown-skinned, we would have witnessed a massacre on our Capitol steps.  In the year 2021.  A massacre.  In the land of the free.

The young man in the interview said he just wanted us all to be Americans and not focus on white or black or brown.  It’s really not that simple.  How do we live with our persecuted brothers and sisters as equal Americans, as members of one family of God?    Racial injustice is a systemic problem, but addressing its roots begins with each individual.  Positive changes are possible when we place our energies into reading and listening and engaging in honest conversations, into educating ourselves, into challenging ourselves. It will take much “unlearning,” much soul-searching, a deep openness and commitment, and a willingness to stay in the uncomfortableness that will arise from our explorations and work.

This is our work to do.  It is hard work, but it is necessary work for the survival of us all, our country, our world.  To shift our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters of color is to step right back into our houses of white privilege.

There are so many important questions to take on this journey of enlightenment:

Will we stay focused?

Will we look at our own bias, privilege, and judgements through the lens of truth?

What might I be able to see, now that I know?

Will we show up, go deeper, and choose peace and equality for all life?

Honestly, I also tire of the focus on racism. I want to put on my rose-colored glasses and hope for a miracle.

I am tired of being uncomfortable.  I want to sing Kumbaya, numb my senses, and pretend.

And then I hear that Divine voice that says, ‘Take care of what is yours to do, take care of your small part of Mother Earth, keep listening, keep studying, keep your eyes open, keep looking into your heart and soul, keep having hard conversations, keep working for peace and justice.’

We are called to live love, to be peace, for every human being.  Our commitment must continue.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

We Celebrate our Black Sisters and Brothers in History – #BlackHistoryMonth

“We should emphasize not Negro History, but the Negro in history. What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.”
– Carter Woodson, 1926, historian

 

As we mark Black History Month in 2021, we stand in love and solidarity with our black sisters and brothers. We also mourn the loss of one of our Congregation’s most passionate voices for racial justice, Director of Associates Colette Parker.

A former journalist and Juvenile Probation Officer in Akron, OH, Colette came to the Dominican Sisters of Peace as our Co-Director of Associates in 2016, and was named the Congregation’s first Director of Associates in 2019. Under her direction, our Associate group grew to more than 750. She was also instrumental in the creation of our North East Ohio Racial Justice Committee, and an important voice in the creation of our Congregation’s statements on social and racial justice.

Colette passed away on Saturday, November 28, 2020, following a brief illness.

As we honor the contributions of our black sisters and brothers to the history of our nation, we also honor our dear friend Colette Parker and her contributions to our Congregation by re-sharing some of her most moving writings as a representative of our Associate’s group. These essays and blogs will be published as part of a special electronic book that will be made available later this month.

We hope that you value these beautiful writings as much as we do and that by reading them, you will come to know this woman of humble heart, giving spirit, and great, God-given talent.

Please click here to give to the Colette Parker Memorial Associates’ Fund.

To download an electronic copy of “A Voice for Justice,” click here.


 

February 25, 2021

We Have the Power to Redeem the Soul of America

Posted on August 3, 2020

COVID-19 has laid bare the systemic oppression that is at the root of inequality in America.

Civil unrest has highlighted what Black and brown people have known (since forever): that we have been historically denied constitutionally guaranteed rights, on the basis of the racial construct.

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself trying to figure out how you can move the needle toward (what seems to be the ever-elusive “thing” called) racial justice. Some are still searching for a way to make a positive difference. Some are still wondering if they CAN make a difference.

I say to you: Yes. You CAN!  As a source of motivation, I offer these words from the late Congressman John Lewis (written shortly before his death and published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral, July 30, 2020):

“Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble.”

The question now is: Are we willing to do the work?

Are we willing to admit that the declaration of our country as a beacon of freedom (a nation where there is equal justice for all) is a lie?

Are we willing to admit that the forced removal of indigenous peoples and the institution of slavery marked the beginnings of a system of racial injustice from which our country has yet to break free?

Are we willing to admit that deep-seated systemic inequities that disadvantage people of color are still woven into the fabric of our institutions?

Acknowledging these truths is necessary, IF we are serious about dismantling systemic racism and working to repair centuries of harm inflicted on an oppressed people.

As more Americans are awakening to how systemic racism has cheated generations of Black and brown children and as our nation experiences this racial justice reckoning, it is up to us – ordinary people with extraordinary vision —  to create the “more perfect union” that ALL Americans deserve. It is up to us to create a future of harmony where everyone can benefit.

We can start by heeding Lewis’ instructions: vote and participate in the democratic process; study and learn the lessons of history and accept that the truth does not change; continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe; put aside hatred; stand up, speak up and speak out, when you see something that is not right.

Together, we “can redeem the soul of America by getting in … good trouble, necessary trouble.”


Please click below to read the previous posts from Colette Parker.

February 23, 2021

Real Talk

 

February 18, 2021

Change is Coming – I Hope

 

February 16, 2021

Unapologetically Black

 

February 10, 2021

Holding Up The Light of Truth

 

February 8, 2021

The Pandemic Can Empower Us to Demand Change

 

February 4, 2021

What Manner of Love Does your God Prescribe?

 

February 2, 2021

Change and Faith


 

Posted in News

The National Day of Racial Healing

“What do I see around me in today’s world?”
I see infection and turbulence—the pandemic of the coronavirus, the pandemic of racism and of climate degradation, and more…
What response do infection and turbulence invite?–healing and peace.”

These words from Dominican Sisters of Peace Prioress Pat Twohill set the theme for our Congregation on this National Day of Racial Healing … how do we, as vowed religious, and as preachers of peace… instigate racial healing in our nation?

Three of our five Congregational Commitments speak to the importance of welcoming the stranger and the marginalized. The Dominican Sisters of Peace have been studying and contemplating systemic racism and how we might come together to end this social epidemic. Today, we are featuring a series of videos from our Sister Suzanne Brauer, who ministers at the New Orleans Peace Center, discussing her own path to personal racial healing.

Click here to view the entire series.

We are also sharing videos from several of our Sisters discussing their own thoughts on the need for and the path to racial healing. Please feel free to share any of these videos on your own social media using the hashtag #HowWeHeal.

Sr. Cathy Arnold, Co-Director, The Collaborative Dominican Initiative
Sr. Annie Killian, Novice, The Collaborative Dominican Initiative
Sr. Bea Tiboldi, Vocation Outreach Minister
Sr. Ellen Coates, Second Year Novice, Contact Tracer at Ohio State University
Sr. Robin Richard, ESL Program Coordinator, Dominican Learning Center
Sr. Margie Davis, Mission Group Coordinator, Dominican Sisters of Peace

If you would like to share ideas about racial healing in your own community, click here for a discussion guide.

Posted in News