It Starts with a Conversation

Speaker talks in front of school about racial justice

It Starts with a Conversation

I would like to think that being raised in the Catholic faith since birth, having earned a BA in Theology, a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership, and after over 30 years’ experience as a professional in Catholic education, 20 of which have been spent as an administrator, I would have it all figured out. The truth is, I don’t.

There are still times when I am faced with situations or interactions where I get uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. There are times in both my professional and personal life where I want to say something that shows support and love for those who are hurting, but the words are clunky and I’m not sure my response is helpful. Lately, I have noticed these moments sometimes happen when faced with situations or interactions that are about race or racial justice. It’s a simple but very powerful question: How do we respond to issues of race and racial justice? More importantly, how we talk about these issues in the context of our Catholic faith and the values that we hold dear, especially when those issues are complex and often nuanced?

This past Monday, October 23, BSM hosted a gathering of faculty and staff from the other Lasallian Catholic high schools in the Twin Cities. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Marcia Chatelain, a professor from Georgetown University. She spoke to our group of over 450 educators about the importance of our willingness to talk with our students, and each other, about issues of race and racism in our country, in our cities and in our schools.

She reminded us that as Catholics we understand that racism is a sin and that we are called to respond in a way that promotes mutual understanding and love. Our faith gives us the strength, courage and foundation through which we can engage in conversations and actions that reflect our willingness to value the diversity found in our unity. It is in starting these conversations and recognizing the uncomfortability of such a heavy topic that we can work toward a future that unites instead of divides us.    

The United States Catholic Bishops have also provided us with helpful resources that can be found on their website.  As recently as August of 2017, the Bishops established an Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Initiated by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the USCCB, the committee will focus on addressing the sin of racism in our society, even in our Church, and the urgent need to come together as a society to find solutions.

Making a fundamental decision to acknowledge that racism exists, the pain is real, and how we respond matters, is part of what makes our BSM community strong. Addressing real world and relevant issues, especially in the context of our Catholic faith, is a joyful and hope-filled endeavor. While I don’t have all the answers, I do know that BSM aspires to be a community where all feel welcomed and valued.