Racism is a sin. It is immoral and the Church has an obligation to lead the People of God in opposing it. Our bishops have been very clear on this topic: racism is a life issue.
This is a human problem — you don’t have to be a person of faith to know that racism is wrong. In our pre-evangelization efforts, people who are not in the fold need to see that our faith community is not only actively involved in opposing racial injustice, it is also committed to equal representation and inclusion.
For as simple as it seems, speaking about issues of race is complex. It is easy to feel timid about wading into this area for fear of offending or saying the wrong thing, even though our intentions are in the right place. As a Grotto team, we share that struggle, too — the only way through is to open up the conversation together as honestly as we can, and to accept that it’s a difficult task. But it’s a necessary one.
If you have limited capacity and can only use one or two things, this video and this story are the top-level content we’d recommend:
- Artist’s Black Pieta a Call for Justice: Tylonn J. Sawyer’s art portrays the lives and experiences of black people in America. Through works like his Pietà, he calls on our shared humanity, and urges us to pay attention to what’s happening around us and work for change.
- You are Not Powerless — 4 Ways to Respond to Racial Injustice: How can we move from being an observer and bystander to being active in bringing about a more just society that respects human life in all its forms and conditions? Here’s a place to start.
Other links below gather stories about people explicitly confronting racism, and there are also resources here for viewers to take up that fight, themselves.
Arthur Ashe Statue Sets Precedent for Monument Avenue: When Paul Dipasquale built a statue in honor of Arthur Ashe, he didn’t know that it would be one of the last still standing on Richmond’s Monument Avenue 24 years later. The street lined with looming monuments has become a subject of controversy because most of the statues honor the “lost cause” of the Confederacy. As others are taken down, Paul reflects on the legacy of the monument he created that continues to stand.
Nonprofit Combats Racial Disparity in the Bail System: The Bail Project is a nonprofit organization that pays bail for people in need, allowing many to return to and continue supporting their families. For Kyra Harvey, it’s about giving people the resources they need to make a better life.
This Young Student is Standing Up for Black Lives: When Faith Harris saw yet another Black life was taken by an act of racist violence, she knew she had to do something. So she invited friends, family, and anyone who wanted to join to come stand on the corner of a busy street with her to raise awareness and spread the message that Black lives matter.
This Poet is Fighting Injustice with Creativity: Micah Bournes believes one of the most powerful tools we can use to fight hate is creativity. Through poetry and music, Micah crafts messages of hope and healing that push back on the racial injustice in our society and pave the way for a more loving world.
Marine Restorer Educates and Inspires Children: Since she was young, Tanasia Swift has been interested in marine life. After entering a career in the environmental field, however, she noticed she was one of a few women of color. As a result, she’s committed to becoming an example for others, particularly in teaching young students in her city about environmental work.
Lifting up Black Stories: 3 Artists Fighting Racism: Here are three artists who have been using their craft to explicitly confront racism. Witnessing their work will allow us to imagine it for ourselves — and by imagining it, start to do it.
Lifting up Black Stories: 3 Change-Makers Working for Inclusion: Here are three stories from black difference-makers who are removing barriers to what young people can imagine for their future.
Lifting up Black Stories: 3 Neighbors Transforming their Communities: Here are three stories of black community members who are transforming their communities in both grand and small ways.
Tattoo Artists Cover Up Racist Tattoos: These tattoo artists are turning hate into beauty — offering free cover-ups on racist tattoos after seeing what went down in Charlottesville, VA in 2017.
Telling the Stories of Richmond, Virginia: Richmond, Virginia, has a long and complicated history. Catherine Illian is sharing the city’s honest and sometimes difficult-to-tell stories in a way that invites a communal response.
Community Thrives at Historically Black Catholic Parish: St. Augustine Parish in Washington, D.C., has been called the “mother church of black Catholics.” But what really makes this parish special is the community that gathers here.
Being ‘Woke’ is Not Enough to Fight Racism: When Vanesa was in the fourth grade, she was called a racial slur. That moment marked her for life, and she’s been reflecting on it in light of the national conversation about racism unfolding this year. Her conclusion: if we are to abolish racism, it’s work we all must take up — and it’s not enough to just grow in awareness.
What To Read, Watch, and Listen to This Month: We’re in Black History Month, so we asked our Grotto community what books they are reading, movies they are watching, and podcasts they are listening to that highlight the experience of Black people in America. Here are our recommendations.
A World Not My Own: Growing up, Kayla rarely encountered protagonists in her history classes who were Black, like her. Here, she shares what it’s like to see the world as a person of color — and what it means for her to feel at home.
Why We are Trying to Remember a Painful Past: This summer, Stephen joined a group of people who set out on a day-long walking tour of Manhattan to encounter places that witnessed inflection points of racial injustice. Here, he explains why they felt the need to experience the painful history of these places, and how he hopes that these memories can actually make a better future possible.
How to Be an Ally in the Fight for Racial Justice: Many people want to be allies for racial justice, but they don’t know where to start. Here’s how to take action & join the fight.
This Saint Leapt into the Fight for Racial Justice: St. Peter Claver was just a college kid from Spain studying in Colombia in the 1600s, so how did he become the patron saint of African-Americans and racial justice? Read his story here.
5 Ways You Can Practice Nonviolence: Building a more nonviolent world isn’t a task reserved for only saints and activists — it’s work that belongs to each of us. And just because your life may lack visible forms of violence doesn’t mean it is free from structures that sow discord and strife. Here are five ways to cultivate nonviolent habits.
How Solidarity Heals Divisions — And 3 Ways to Practice It: We all see bitter fights on the news and in social media — social scientists confirm that America has become increasingly polarized over the past several decades. One antidote to this division is solidarity — here’s how to put it into action.
The Long Journey of Confronting My Ignorance: Matt grew up in a privileged, white household. His journey to grow toward greater self-awareness around social injustice was a long and fitful process.
Catholics Uncover Slaveholding History to Seek Healing: The Slavery, History, Memory and Reconciliation Project is uncovering stories of the people whom the Jesuits held in slavery across the nation. Most of these stories had been left untold for years — until now.
What ‘Just Mercy’ Teaches Us About Healing Wrongs: Just Mercy forces us to confront racial injustice — it’s a lucid representation of the ways in which our social systems and patterns of life disadvantage people of color. Beyond this, the movie leads us to question how we might channel the force of mercy in our own lives to create a more just society.
Educate Yourself On Racial Injustice with These Movies (use this graphic for promotion)
Letters from the Past Orient Our Fight for Justice: Remembering the late John Lewis calls to mind the nonviolence he championed as a young leader in the Civil Rights movement — it was a tactic that drew upon the dynamics of redemptive suffering. Read more about what can learn from nonviolence here.
‘Black Lives Matter’ Affirms the Dignity of Human Life: Our culture defines human lives according to race, culture, and class, but that’s “segregational thinking” and fails to value every human life as inherently sacred, no matter our status. This author makes the case that racism is a pro-life issue, and needs to be addressed now.
What is Privilege and Why Should You Care?: The concept of privilege tries to get at the complex correlations between a person’s interconnected social identities (race, class, gender, age, physical ability, etc.) and the degree to which individuals and groups experience advantages or disadvantages relative to other people. But it’s tricky business to talk about privilege — this approach can help.
How Can We Learn from Privilege?: Privilege isn’t just a matter of individual perception or bias; it is embedded into the fabric of our social structures with very real mental, physical, financial, and cultural consequences. So, how can individuals and groups with privilege begin to respond?
How to Talk Politics with Family and Friends: Starting conversations about politics and racial oppression can be awkward and difficult. But the good news is that we can get better at it.
How to Navigate Some of Today’s Most Pressing Issues: Catholic Social Teaching poses a single question to people of every nationality, race, creed, and social standing: How ought we live our daily lives in a way that moves the world as it is closer to the world as God in His love meant it to be?
How Thea Bowman Set and Example for a Divided World: As a Franciscan nun, Thea Bowman considered one of her primary callings from God to be the facilitation of interracial dialogue within the Catholic Church.
Amy Biehl’s Work for Justice in South Africa: Amy Biehl didn’t live a long life, but she gave everything she had to promote racial justice. The connections she made have transformed into something deeper than justice: reconciliation.
How Integrity can Triumph over Injustice: Are our efforts at justice more about checking something off a list, or actually recognizing that each person we meet is deserving of a real, reciprocal relationship?