How white people can heal by doing anti-racism work

Contemplative Prayer for Reconciliation and Healing of Racism

Fridays, 12:15 – 12:45 PM

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist – 812 N. Jackson St.

April 13, 2018

Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

Introduction

In the United States, most positions of power – whether in business, religious institutions, or politics – are held by white people. Thus, it is easy to ignore the issue of racism.

Most of what is seen on television, in movies and in other media is filled with white people so it’s easy for white people to see themselves as the norm, as what is expected, as what is right. Thus, it’s easy not to see the issue of racism because their race is prominently featured.

“Most white people live, grow, play, learn, love, work and die primarily in social and geographic racial segregation.” Because of this (and other reasons), white people often see the issue of racism a problem for people of color.

In Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s article, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism,” these and other fundamental issues of racism are discussed. Throughout the month of April, we are going to unpack this article. Found here: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/white-fragility-why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism-twlm/

First off, it’s important to realize why white people can so easily ignore the issue of racism. Rather than seeing racism as the structural problem it is, it’s often seen as individual acts of evil, and those acts aren’t inherently connected to each other to limit the power of those affected: “While individual whites may be against racism, they still benefit from the distribution of resources controlled by their group. Yes, an individual person of color can sit at the tables of power, but the overwhelming majority of decision-makers will be white. Yes, white people can have problems and face barriers, but systematic racism won’t be one of them. This distinction—between individual prejudice and a system of unequal institutionalized racial power—is fundamental. One cannot understand how racism functions in the U.S. today if one ignores group power relations.”

Second, and touching back on Fr. Bryan Massingale’s article from January, white people aren’t comfortable talking about racism as it exists in reality, that is as a systematic reality: “Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we are either not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We experience a challenge to our racial worldview as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges our sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense.”

Prayer for Centering

Lord, our American society is seen as melting pot, and it has been said that all are welcome. In fact, these words –

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” 

– have welcomed millions and millions of people for over 100 years. And despite this message of welcome, so many of us fail to see that many of our brothers and sisters continue to suffer from prejudice, oppression and fear. We pray that you guide our hearts and minds to recognize this violent and repressive reality that affects us ALL and that you lead us to awareness, compassion and action. As your servant Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so wisely taught –

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

In Christ’s name we pray,
Amen. 

Invitation to Silence
Humility

Closing Prayer
The Coventry Litany of Reconciliation
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
Father, forgive.
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
Father, forgive.
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Father, forgive.
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Father, forgive.
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
Father, forgive.
The lust which dishonors the bodies of men, women and children,
Father, forgive.
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Father, forgive.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
Amen.

Weekly Reflection Questions

(from Robin DiAngelo’s article – https://tinyurl.com/talkingtowhitepeople)
1.    “Mainstream dictionary definitions reduce racism to individual racial prejudice and the intentional actions that result.” How might we talk about changing this perception, and in what situations might we have the chance to correct this misperception?

2.    How can we reframe our perception of reality to recognize that even if we aren’t the perpetrators of racial violence we have a responsibility address and end this violence?

3.    What changes might we make in our day-to-day lives to come into closer, more intimate contact with those who look different than us yet share our same human, God-given dignity?

UPCOMING EVENTS
ACTION ALERT from Justice for Immigrants:
https://justiceforimmigrants.org/take-action/action-alerts/

The Legacy of Archbishop Oscar Romero: Teach & Learn to Inspire – Apr 12, 2018 at 6:00pm – 7:30pm
A social justice advocate of and for our times. Who was Oscar Romero? Why is he still relevant years later?
Join Casa Romero and Alverno College as we:
TEACH each other about the issues of our day.
LEARN which issues were important to Romero and how he spread his message.
INSPIRE each other to do something about the injustices we see around us.
Alverno College – La Verna Commons, 3400 S 43rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53234, USA
Register here: https://tinyurl.com/casaromero2018

SPRING MAKERS MARKET – Sunday, April 29 10 AM – 2:00 PM
Join Cathedral Squared Enterprise artisans in welcoming people of color and women- owned businesses selling homemade wares at our Spring Maker’s Market! Perfect place to shop for Mother’s Day, graduations, First Communions or other spring-time celebrations! To participate as a vendor, contact Sarah at guestservices@stjohncathedral.org for an application!

Film Screening: MILWAUKEE 53206, Monday, April 30th – 6 PM  – Come learn about the way incarceration affects Milwaukee’s poorest zip code, 53206, by watching this powerful documentary by Keith McQuirter with a conversation following about how our faith community can work toward transformational change in our City as it relates to incarceration.  Come to learn specifically about Transitional Jobs!  RSVP to ShellyRoder@stjohncathedral.org and check

New Resources for Racial Healing

Several new USCCB resources can assist Catholics to pray and act for racial healing. Perfect for Lent, A Prayer Service for Racial Healing in Our Land (also in Spanish) includes Scripture, reflection, and an examination of conscience to help Catholics call on the Divine Physician, Christ the Lord, to heal the wounds of racism throughout our land.  Two new prayers are also available: Prayer to Address the Sin of Racism (also in Spanish) and Prayer to Heal Racial Division (also in Spanish).  Find other resources at usccb.org/racism.

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