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Faith in a Time of Crisis: Racism

Salt + Light Media

Thursday, June 25, 2020

It’s hard to ignore the events that were unleashed by the death of George Floyd. We’ve seen protests, riots, calls to defund the police, and experts speaking about racism and white privilege, reminding us that Black lives matter. Some would say that we are in crisis. But what does it all mean for Catholics?
In order to put this into context, Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann speaks with Most Rev. Shelton Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux and chair of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Most Rev. Terry Steib, SVB, Bishop Emeritus of Memphis.
Learn More About this Issue:
Combating Racism Resources from the USCCB
Pastoral Letter: Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love
Open Wide Our Hearts: Study Guide
Glossary of Terms:*
Racism: Racism arises when—either consciously or unconsciously—a person holds that his or her own race or ethnicity is superior, and therefore judges persons of other races or ethnicities as inferior and unworthy of equal regard. When this conviction or attitude leads individuals or groups to exclude, ridicule, mistreat, or unjustly discriminate against persons on the basis of their race or ethnicity, it is sinful.
Bigotry: Intolerant prejudice that glorifies one's own group and denigrates members of other groups.
Discrimination: The unequal treatment of members of various groups based on race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, stage of development, religion, age and other categories.
Prejudice: A pre-judgment or unjustifiable, and usually negative, attitude of one type of individual or groups toward another group and its members. Such negative attitudes are typically based on unsupported generalizations (or stereotypes) that deny the right of individual members of certain groups to be recognized and treated as individuals with individual characteristics.
Privilege: Unearned social power accorded by the formal and informal institutions of society to all members of a dominant group that puts them at an advantage over those who do not have it.
Systemic Racism: Includes the policies and practices entrenched in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary.
Institutional Racism: Racial discrimination that derives from individuals carrying out the dictates of others who are prejudiced or of a prejudiced society.
Structural Racism: Inequalities rooted in the system-wide operation of a society that excludes substantial numbers of members of particular groups from significant participation in major social institutions.
Chattel Slavery: The owning of human beings as property able to be bought, sold, given, and inherited. Slaves in this context have no personal freedom or recognized rights to decide the direction of their own lives. The ancient Hebrew people were enslaved by Egypt for generations. Ancient Greece and Rome both relied on slavery as a means of forced labor for agriculture, household maintenance, and manufacturing of goods. In medieval Europe, slavery was practiced in Italy, Russia, France, Spain, and North Africa.
*Definitions in this glossary are drawn from various sources, including Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, the Racial Equality Tools website,'s lesson on chattel slavery, and the website of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre.

Watch other episodes of Faith in a Time of Crisis.


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