Too often, people dismiss the daily discrimination faced by people of color — the disparaging looks, the apartments that are suddenly no longer available, the lower-quality educational opportunities, the disproportionate police stops, the discriminatory sentencing rates.
We would rather think that our society is color blind and that everyone has an equal chance. We would rather think that discrimination is merely an occasional aberration rather than a daily reality. The truth, however, is that racism is an endemic part of life in our culture.
These points were made in The Way of the Cross: Overcoming Racism, a prayerful pilgrimage March 27 sponsored by the archdiocese’s Peace and Justice Commission and Office of Racial Harmony. The pilgrims asked God to help them acknowledge the truth with honesty and courage, since the injustices caused by racism are far too common and impose heavy crosses on our brothers and sisters.
The Way of the Cross: Overcoming Racism was originally written by Tom Faletti and prepared for St. Peter Parish in Washington, D.C., then adapted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in March 2020.
In referring to the station where Jesus is condemned to death, the Way of the Cross points out that “racism leads to many forms of injustice: sometimes death, sometimes imprisonment, sometimes closed doors and lost opportunities. We may not be in a crowd cheering the evil deed, but are we indifferent? It is easy to remain silent even though we may have an opportunity to speak up. Do we object to an inappropriate ‘joke?’ Do we advocate for justice when we have access to people in power? Do we work to open doors in the workplace? Will we be like Pilate and the crowd, or will we use our opportunities to create opportunities for others?”
The goal of the prayerful pilgrimage sponsored by the archdiocesan entities is spelled out in its title — overcoming racism. It focused on asking for God’s help in eliminating it. The cross of injustice is heavy, as the pilgrims acknowledged. But they were there to find ways to accompany people in their journey.
That’s something we all can do. Find a new way forward in areas of education, health care access, housing, employment and criminal justice. As Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski said, tearing down racism deepens our faith. Forming new relationships, transforming social structure and reforming public policies establishes justice for all.