I am not writing this to make a political statement.
Before you continue reading, know that this isn’t my purpose here. Not today.
Today, I am writing this because our black brothers and sisters keep getting murdered in this country and this is a human rights issue.
Today, I am writing this because I am convicted by my Catholic faith to stand for righteous justice and to live out a Gospel that promotes all humans as made in the image and likeness of God.
Today, I am writing this because my anger, my frustration, my pain, my hurt, my experience as a person of color can no longer be ignored or placed on the sidelines. I will amplify my voice to empower the voices of the unheard, of the oppressed, or my black brothers and sisters. Today I stand with them and with pain in my own throat cry out “Black Lives Matter”.
I do not need to give a breakdown about what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, or George Floyd. We know the narrative. In fact, our black brothers and sisters know the narrative all too well - the lives of their own people being lost to police brutality. To the horrific sin of racism.
Before I move forward I want to make it clear that the past of these three victims does not warrant or justify their death. I want to clarify that while I am seeing people across our world attempt to mourn for their lives some still attempt to justify their deaths by saying “ well, they did have a past”. Brothers and sisters, we all have a past. That does not warrant a wrongful death at the hands of an oppressor.
The reality at hand is that Ahmaud, Breonna, and George were murdered because of white supremacy, white privilege, white fragility, and at the core racism itself. At the core, they were murdered by our willful neglect of facts that persons of color have told us for years - that racism in America still exists and it is still a problem because hearts not just institutions have yet to change.
These destructive narratives have continued to harm the experiences of our black brothers and sisters in this country, and as a Catholic I cannot stand by and simply mourn with no action. As Catholics, social justice is a cornerstone of the Gospel message and our own faith calls racism a severe social sin; Christ encountered and engaged with those deemed the oppressed and the unheard in his reality and if we believe that we are called to be Christ-like then we are called to exhibit the same nature of unity with our black brothers and sisters that Christ lives out in the Gospel. We are called to embody a proactive nature that empowers the voice of the unheard that demands justice, to flow out like a river as the prophet Amos reminds us. The nature of our faith calls us to rally our voices with the cries of our black brothers and sisters, as we demand for their basic personal rights to be empowered as part of God’s great design as stated in the writings of our own Catholic faith.
Today I write this letter specifically to my white brothers and sisters. Whether they are lay, religious, single, or married; this letter is to you today. I implore you to wrestle with your own privilege, to step back and become self aware of your own bias that plays into these narratives of privilege and supremacy even in our own Catholic Church. I ask you to talk about it with your families and your peers, to speak about this injustice from the pulpit, to create lesson plans that truly highlight the nature of the history of this country and how it was created on the foundation of racism. If you are to be an ally for the parts of the Body of Christ that are bleeding, dying from pain, mourning day and night, then you must pray for the humility to engage with these realities that have adversely impacted the people of color in your own lives - big or small. And most importantly now is the time for you to listen. Not to react or even share an opinion. But to simply listen to the hurting parts of the Body of Christ. It is in listening that you create the space for reconciliation within your own lives and the lives of those around you. It is in listening that you create the space for continual education on these unheard narratives of our Black brothers and sisters. It is in listening that you become a true ally and allow for the Holy Spirit to guide your heart to a place that not only is aware of these harmful realities within our nation and our own Church but works actively to amplify, support, and empower the true realities of our brothers and sisters of color.
This letter might be uncomfortable to read, and in all honesty I hope it is. I hope that we continue to become uncomfortable because that is what is necessary. It will stir our hearts and spirits to wrestle with our own thoughts and how they impact the world around them. The intention here is not to write a letter laced in “niceties” as being nice will not solve the sin of racism. My voice here today is rooted in a deep pain and deep conviction. The conviction that calls me to pray and act in ways that will bring an end to racism - both blatant and systematic - in my own Church communities, my workplace, my home, with my friends and family, and in the other social spheres I live in.
I am not writing this to make a political statement.
I am writing this because enough is enough. Because the lives of our Black brothers and sisters is on the line, because we live in a country that still allows itself to be influenced by racism, because our own Catholic Church enables systematic racism on several levels, because I refuse to stand on the sidelines and let any part of the Body of Christ suffer while I chose to stay quiet because its too “uncomfortable” to become vocal.
Today I write this letter to you imploring you to stand with the Body of Christ, to raise your voice, to empower the narratives of the unheard, to listen to your black brothers and sisters, and to live out a Gospel that uplifts all as sons and daughters of God.
To God be the Glory.