In preparation for our Lord’s resurrection, Lent is a time of sacrifice, reflection, and confronting our sins. In the first reading, the prophet Daniel reminds us of our sins: “We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.”
During Lent, we are called to acknowledge our wrongdoings, which is also an essential component of anti-racist work. I am a student teacher at a high school primarily composed of students of color, and I strive to be anti-racist by empowering my students to use their power, strength, and joy to interrogate oppressive systems and make change in their communities.
Though I am well-intentioned in my teaching, my positionality as someone who benefits from white privilege will inevitably result in me perpetuating racism. Put simply, I will make mistakes.
Anti-racist work is an ongoing journey. According to Ibram X. Kendi, an integral part of this journey is acknowledging our mistakes—when our thoughts or actions perpetuate racism regardless of intention—and learning from them.
I must hold myself and others accountable.
However, I must do so with love and compassion. We heard in today’s Gospel, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Though confronting my sins is painful, I am met with God’s boundless mercy, which I am called to share with others.
So, I need not shame people or condemn them as racist individuals. Rather, I must support others in our collective journey toward an anti-racist identity.
During this Lenten season, let us renew our steadfast commitment to dismantling racism. Energized by God’s love, let us take responsibility for racist behavior, be vigilant of white fragility, remain open to correction from people of color, and call out racist ideas and practices with grace and generosity.
- When have I perpetuated or witnessed racist ideas, behavior, practices, or policies? How did I react in the moment? How can I better handle these situations in the future?
- What changes can I make this Lent to be more anti-racist?
Josie Schuman is a former ISN intern and graduate of John Carroll University. She is currently a member of the Urban Catholic Teacher Corp at Boston College, pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction while teaching 5th grade English. Josie is passionate about faith-based antiracist education and hopes to inspire students of color to use reading and writing as tool for social change.