Recently, I spoke on the cardinal virtue of fortitude, the gift of courage that is given to us from the Holy Spirit.
I asked attendees at the Catholic Renewal Center’s annual Pentecost Novena to contemplate discouragement. It is a normal part of everyday life, and even when we are discouraged, we should continue to praise God. But I had not yet come to grips with the fact that Ahmaud Aubrey, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed while he was out jogging recently. I was speaking as much to myself as I was to the audience.
Then I turned on the news.
The first story I saw reported a white woman in New York’s Central Park, who called the police on an African-American man who was in Central Park watching birds. The man asked her to put a leash her dog, as required in that area of the park. The woman told the man that she would call the police and tell them that there was an African-American man threatening her life, which she eventually did.
Then there was George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a policeman kneeling on his neck. The image I saw of the policeman shows him with his hands nonchalantly in both pockets while keeping his knee on George’s neck.
I cannot remain silent.
The sin of racism is alive and thriving in our country. As Christians, we must fight this evil that is in our midst. We cannot remain silent when we see acts of violence and inhumanity continuously being raged against our brothers and sisters. We must recognize and work to dismantle the systems that are in place to perpetuate this sin of racism. We must choose life at all costs.
In order to stamp out racism, we must not change the narrative. We must speak the truth as history has revealed it. We must prepare ourselves to call out racism in all its forms when we see it by educating ourselves as to what racism is and what it looks like. We must come together by having honest conversations with people who do not look like us because the sin of racism affects us all.
Yes, I am discouraged, and yes, I will continue to praise God because my faith in Him endures all things.
I will not remain silent.
I pray that you will join me in praying for the repose of the soul of George Floyd and for the comfort and peace of his family and friends as they grieve his loss. I also ask you to use your gift of the Holy Spirit, whatever that gift is, to help your black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ who are discouraged, exhausted and weighed down by silence.
Joyce Jones is program director of racial harmony for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.