In these past few months, the world has descended into chaos with the arrival of a global pandemic, the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression, the continued struggle of our Black brothers and sisters for their lives, and the burning of cities across the nation. Tensions have been high, and people have reached their boiling point—and rightfully so.
The murder of George Floyd is yet another devastating, senseless loss of Black life at the hands of a White police officer. As I read countless news stories and posts on social media, I thought to myself, I can’t believe this is still happening. But the reality is, racism has never ceased to exist.
Although we have tragically lost 100,000 people to COVID-19 in just the past few months, racism has been killing Black people since the beginning of our country’s history, and White America does not seem to care. COVID-19 warranted an entire global shutdown while White privilege persists unchecked. Even now, many people are using their White privilege to condemn the violent actions of protesters without considering what provoked them.
In the struggle for racial justice, we ought to be fueled by righteous anger. “Even as Jesus turned over tables in the Temple, he did not hurt one single person or animal being sold,” said Ian Peoples, S.J., in a Jesuit Post article. “Destruction of property is not the destruction of life. We must not cite broken windows as equal to the broken body of George Floyd.”
Nobody wants to loot, burn, riot, or destroy cities. People have been forced to. Our brothers and sisters are hurt. They are outraged. They are desperate.
The very foundation of this country has created the conditions that allow this violence to occur. For centuries, Black people have resiliently fought for every one of their rights: to go to school, to work, to vote, to jog, to play, to breathe, to live. Yet, they continue to be silenced, oppressed, and murdered by the White majority. So what can we expect in response?
Amidst this chaos, I have struggled to find God. However, in this week’s readings, he seems to address us directly: “Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11-13).
God calls us to live in peace. But first, our nation must mend our historically-entrenched ways of perpetuating racism to benefit White citizens and oppress Black citizens. We must mend a system in which our Black brothers and sisters are killed at the very hands of those who are sworn to protect them. We must encourage one another to have difficult conversations about race, power, and White privilege that lead to radical anti-racist action.
We must agree with one another that Black Lives DO Matter.
Only then can we escape the pit of despair that our country seems to fall further into every day to begin to encounter what God truly desires for us:
Josie Schuman is a member of the class of 2021 at John Carroll University, majoring in education and English with a minor in Spanish. On campus, she is involved with the honors program, writes for the Carroll News, and does weekly service at the Thomas Jefferson International School for Newcomers. She wants to become an ESL teacher in the future with the hopes of creating an environment that is welcoming to all people. Josie is a former intern for the Ignatian Solidarity Network.