“I can’t breathe.”
These final words uttered by George Floyd before losing his life at the hands of Minneapolis police officers have awakened a national consciousness to the systemic and persistent problems of racism and white supremacy that plague our country. Notably, these final words have opened the door to much-needed conversations about the dynamics of race and privilege in our families, our schools, and our communities.
At the Center for FaithJustice, we seek to elevate the voices of those who are experts in the field of racial justice. We want to be a resource without drowning out black voices and other voices of color that desperately need to be heard. We want to advance anti-racism strategies that align with our Catholic faith and organizational values.
This is not a political issue or a partisan argument. As Catholics, our faith compels us to respond to the issue of racism. As Pope Francis said last week “Catholics cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism while also claiming to defend the sacredness of every human life.” This is a moment for our Church to take an important stand in stating, unequivocally, that black lives matter.
This page is designed to offer resources on the journey of understanding. It includes films, podcasts, books, speeches, artistic depictions, and actions you can take. Many of these have helped our organization to learn more about and confront unconscious bias in our work and daily lives. Pick one or two that strike a chord with you and then start a conversation. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful.
With these resources, we hope to ignite conversations, to deepen understanding, and to open hearts to acknowledgement and reconciliation. Know that this is the first of many actions that we plan to take in the coming months to advance dialogue in support of our brothers and sisters of color. This list is in no way exhaustive. Please share other resources with us that you have come across and found helpful. We are all together in this sacred work of building a beloved community.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by Bryan Massingale
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Knowing Christ Crucified: The Witness of African American Religious Experience by M. Shawn Copeland
Becoming an Anti-Racist Church by Joseph Barndt
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
Just Mercy (Prime Video) and use this: Just Mercy Reflection Guide
13th (Netflix) and use this:13th Reflection Questions
When They See Us (Netflix)
Talk about it
Having conversations about racism is crucial. Speak with family, friends, and other people you know. Discuss what you are learning or know about racism – its history in the U.S. and in the church – discuss what makes you uncomfortable, and challenge each other to see things in a more just and equitable way.
Various communities are offering conversations and reflections over Zoom. Join, listen, think, and converse. Learning from new perspectives is important.
Use social media as a tool for conversation with your peers. Look up authors, teachers, speakers, and other influencers that have been doing this work. If you are white, be sure to find Black, Indigenous, People of Color and elevate their voices and the anti-racist work they have done.
As a family or within your work community, look into Living Room Conversations for conversation guides. Important anti-racist work can happen around the dining room table or in work meetings. Challenge those around you who make racist jokes or comments – ask them why they said it and ask them to think about what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.
Many towns are having peaceful protests, look to see what your town is doing and how you can get involved. Speak out on social media, reshare from other organizations and show that you are active and vocal.
Additionally, vote and research the policies currently in place in your local areas.
Within your faith community, see what your parish and diocese are doing. Demand that they sponsor a whole series on race and not just one session. Write to your bishop and ask what anti-racism segments are part of your church leaders’ formation.
Catholic social teaching teaches us about the importance of community and participation. We have a responsibility to support local businesses to seek together the common good. See what black-owned businesses are around you or how you can support one from afar to allow the community to come together.
Research organizations that are doing anti-racist work in our country. We have put together a few but encourage you to look at either local community bail funds or other organizations that are looking to educate people around and end racial injustices.
Local Community Bail Funds
Look in your community for ways to be active and lend a hand. We have compiled a list with service opportunities in New Jersey. We encourage you to volunteer with an open heart, a desire to build community, and encounter our neighbors.
And if you’re white, look at things you can do: 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
If you are looking for somewhere to start, check out this easy to follow yet thought provoking guide from Mercy Volunteers.
This is list of resources is not at all exhaustive. We encourage you to explore some other organization’s pages such as NFCYM, Pax Christi USA, Ignatian Solidarity Network, and Catholic Mobilizing Network. Some of these resources are shared between us, but there are many more you can explore with them. We are all together in this sacred work of dismantling racist structure and building a beloved community.