Rooting out racism with the Dominican Sisters

“We could get rid of all the overt bigots who really do harbor racial hatred,” Dias said, “and we would still have a problem.”

If the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and countless other black men at the hands of police have collectively had any positive outcome, it has been that America is talking about race at what appears to be a deeper level than I’ve ever seen in my 30 short years. (Thanks in major part to the growth of prominent African-American voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates in the media.) If nothing else, it has made a lot more white people aware that the system we have doesn’t work for black people, and that’s a problem.

People like the (mostly white) Dominican Sisters of Springfield recognized the problem awhile ago and are working to fix it within their institution, with the help of African-American allies whose trust they have earned. I wrote about the Dominican Sisters’ effort for this week’s cover story here. I’m proud of how it turned out – both the writing and the photos I took.

SDART co-coordinators Leroy Jordan (front) and Sister Marcelline Koch (back).

“…[H]ow people have been treated and still are treated is totally against what God made us to be and what God calls us to be,” she said. “I think Jesus came to really show us how God wants his love to be operative in our world, and racism is the antithesis of that love. If I embrace racism and racist practices, I can in no way square that with who I am called to be.”

This is the kind of work that will need to happen all over the nation if we ever want to definitively deal with the divide between black and white people in America. Until that intentional, genuine effort happens, we can expect more of the same tension, tragedy and fear.

SCODR co-chairman Kenley Wade
SCODR co-chairman Kenley Wade

These folks are doing groundbreaking work with the help of Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, and it makes me proud of Springfield to know there is an appetite for this work here, not just in the black community, but among white leadership, as well.


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