You’re not racist.
I always thought that was enough. Oh, I knew that I had my biases and prejudices, like everyone. But because I was conscious of them and did not treat others unfairly because of them, I wasn’t racist.
I was certain that racism was not endorsed by the Bible. Sure enough, in James 2:8-9, we read, “However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
I was also pretty sure that church leaders must have condemned racism. In 2020’s “Open Wide Our Hearts,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops proclaimed, “Racism is evil because it attacks the inherent dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.”
So, I thought I knew what racism was, that it was inconsistent with my faith, and that I wasn’t part of the problem.
But that’s no longer enough. I have to take the next step; I have to be an anti-racist. All Catholics have to be anti-racists. Each of us must be part of the solution.
If we are to end the scourge of racism in our land, we must now stand up to all words, actions, traditions, and policies that prevent people from realizing their full potential, enjoying life to its fullest, and fulfilling the “more perfect union” the Constitution calls for.
It is time to take a side, and as Catholics that must be the side of anti-racism.
Elie Wiesel knew something about racism. Millions of his Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis because of their ethnic backgrounds. Wiesel himself was a survivor of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe” Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
We can become the center of the universe when it comes to combatting racism. The alternative is to do nothing, to say nothing, and allow the center of the universe to remain as it was. As a black hole.
For more information, videos, and a Prayer to Overcome Racism, go online to www.usccb.org, the Issues and Actions tab, Racism drop-down box.