Monthly Archives: May 2019

Spatial/Structural Racism

Sr. Mary Ellen Howard & Dr. Peter Hammer

Faith In Detroit is a group of Detroit-area women religious who meet to discuss and pray over social justice issues.  Fifteen women from various Detroit-area Catholic orders met in the great room of the SHVM convent on May 4, 2019.

They were gifted with an outstanding in-person presentation on “spatial/structural” racism by Dr. Peter Hammer, Professor of Law and Director of the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University.

Dr. Hammer is a leading voice on economic and social issues. He is co-author of Judge Damon J. Keith’s biography, Crusader for Justice: Federal Judge Damon J. Keith.

“Spatial/structural” racism refers to the inter-connected dynamics between our institutions that produce or reproduce the evil of racism.  Our present is formed by our past.  Our neighborhoods, our opportunities, our transportation, our jobs, our knowledge & attitudes, our monetary wealth, our entire physical reality is indelibly shaped by the governments, schools, churches, banks, businesses and other institutions in our lives (and in the lives of our parents and grand parents!).

Unfortunately, those institutions often cause and perpetuate racism.  Racist impacts are built in from the start.  It is part of their DNA.  Every life-long Detroiter knows this intuitively.  It was our world.  It was our 8 Mile Road.  Professor Hammer masterfully articulates the scholarly details.  See for example his 2016 essay on the racial underpinning of Michigan’s emergency city manager program.

But there is hope!  Indeed, Sisters Home Visitors of Mary were founded on that hope.  Institutions can be changed.   Churches, schools and political structures at all levels can and will respond to calls for social justice and peace if enough voices are heard.  Persons of faith should lead the way …

Lord, we praise you for creating all humans, rich and poor, in your holy image.  Teach us to heal the structural injustices which rob your children of dignity and life.

For more on this important topic click below …

YouTube:  John A. Powell

Video Link 1

Video Link 2


The Origins of the Urban Crisis

When Affirmative Action Was White

The Color of Law