My Culture

Taking Steps Toward Anti-Racism

“Racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts. The persistence of the evil of racism is why we are writing this letter now.” (Open Wide Our Hearts, p. 6-7)

The United States Conference of Catholic bishops wrote that letter to the faithful in 2018 and it’s disheartening and challenging to confront the reality that our culture was still affected by racism then and continues to still be affected by it today. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have made it tremendously clear that the evil of racism persists, not only due to corrupt systems of power but also because of the silence of people who would rather not have the race conversation — people who would say that they’re not racist but aren’t actively anti-racist. There is a difference and the faithful have a duty to do the work to be the latter.

Racism is an institutional and systemic reality, particularly in the Western world, that persists despite efforts such as the Civil Rights movement and other struggles for justice. Anti-racism is defined as the policy or practice of opposing racism and promoting racial tolerance. If this sounds like something that should have always been happening, that’s because it should have. But it hasn’t. And the Church and her members have failed to be the prominent voice in this work. Our lives have to conform themselves to the will of the Father in such a way that we will become the prominent voice in this work if we want the Kingdom of God to be made manifest here on Earth.

In order to actively oppose the evil of racism, the Body of Christ has to actively engage in the work at hand. This starts with taking an intentional look at the voices that inform our lives and the voices that we trust. Look at your friends, mentors, the books you read, the accounts you follow; are the voices you hear there primarily white? A step in becoming a listening Church is to actually listen to the voices of People of Color. Here is a list of resources that can help you center these voices:

Editor’s note: These recommendations speak to Catholic teaching on this particular subject matter and also present a variety of important perspectives that form our conscience. Not all the works of these authors or all pieces of content outside these recommendations may do the same.

Resources from the Church

Open Wide Our Hearts — a letter written by the US Catholic Bishops
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by Fr. Bryan Massingale
Sr. Thea Bowman’s speech to US Catholic Bishops, 1989

Web Resources

Jesus, MLK, and the Ongoing Cry for Justice — a blog on LifeTeen.com
Getting Honest and Uncomfortable About Race and Discrimination — a blog on LifeTeen.com
Black and Catholic — a blog on LifeTeen.com
The Lie — a video by Untitled Productions
The Danger of a Single Story — TED Talk by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

Pop Culture Resources

Genesis Begins Again — a novel by Alicia D. Williams
The Hate U Give — a novel by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give — the film adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas
*This story (book and movie) contains explicit language and mature content, so it is not appropriate for all teens. Ask a parent before reading or watching.
Just Mercy — a film based on the autobiographical book of the same title by Bryan Stevenson, a Black lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative to fight against systemic racism
13th — a thought-provoking documentary in which scholars, activists, and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom
*This documentary contains explicit and mature content, so it is not appropriate for all teens. Ask a parent before watching.

Instagram Accounts

@vanesa_goldberg
@ckyourprivilege
@tokenconfessions
@ikendolo
@frjoshjohnson
@mhunterkilmer
@sistatheology
@theandrehenry
@commonhymnal
@blackcoffeewithwhitefriends
@coreyevanleak
@speakingofracism
@beabridgebuilder
@blackprolifewoman
@ibramxk
@lilnativeboy

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

About the Author

Life Teen
Want to write for Life Teen? Click Here to learn more.