The Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary hosted a supper and discussion on August 24, 2017, fifty years after 1967 events in Detroit. Racism: Yesterday and Today – and Tomorrow. A Dialogue of Racism in Our Lives and Society in Light of Our Call to be the Body of Christ. 148 lay people, religious and priests from Archdiocese Detroit gathered at Sacred Heart parish to share their personal experiences along with their hopes of being disciples to bring the light of healing to the sin of racism – the central evil of our society.
Extra tables and chairs needed to be brought in for the overflow of participants. Tables planned for seating 7 people became tables for 10 and 11.
Linda Franklin, Home Visitor of Mary associate, opened and closed the evening with prayer. “In many ways, the face of racism looks different today than it did in the past. Overt racism is easily condemned, but the sin of racism is often with us in subtle forms. We gathered in the love of God and neighbor to examine racism in our hearts, and in our world systems. We ask for forgiveness, conversion and greater capacity to recognize your divine image in our neighbor. Enable us to challenge and uproot racism from our society and ourselves. Amen.”
John Thorne, director of Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, moderated the discussion and thoughtful sharing at the tables: How to raise awareness? Build bridges? How to initiate conversation about white privilege? Make a difference – today, tomorrow, next week?
Here are some of the suggestions made around the tables. We invite all to consider supporting and implementing these actions, both individually and collectively.
- Parish-based discussions on racism and white privilege, perhaps using a book or movie or Bishop Dale Malczyk’s excellent reflection guide: Created in God’s Image.
- A parish night of healing on racism.
- Inclusion of racism and social reality in homilies.
- Support for the courage to speak about racism with neighbors and on the job.
- Reach out to expand your circle. Establish ways to meet someone from a different race, ethnic group – not your own. Begin talking so to know one another. Talk from own experiences. Highlight common interests. Build friendship.
- Field trips: African-American Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, DIA exhibits, Holocaust Museum, Arab American National Museum.
- Engage persons under age 30 in discussions of racism: college campuses, Sacred Heart Seminary, youth group workshop; ask the youth to come back and share with the adult community.
- Raise awareness of the racism’s affect in all social issues such as education, criminal justice, divisions in the church and society. Racism permeates our institutions.
- Stay informed of books, movies, literature on racism. Read and watch. Spread the word.
- Live and be Christ. Let our lights shine out to others.