Day 13: Accountability and Mercy
BY JOSIE SCHUMAN | March 1, 2021
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.
Steadfast Commitment to Dismantling racism
I’ve learned so much from the students I taught. They realize the gifts in each other and attend to those gifts with encouragement and commitment to others. I also hear my sons having that compassion and commitment to others gifts. They desire to make that transformation in society by continually reaching for the goodness and uniqueness of others. Racism is subtle but needs to be made evident and transparent in our words and actions. Racism is something I need to purge from myself and I can do so by noticing the way the generations now speak of each other. Lord, forgive me for any offenses.
I am reading White Fragility. I am white. It is an eye opener, even though I didn’t expect it to be. I realize I have not taken the time to study and learn how to be anti-racist. How white of me to think I knew, sigh. Highly recommend the book. Thank you for your work with Ignatian Solidarity Network.
The writer says “. . . my positionality as someone who benefits from white privilege will inevitably result in me perpetuating racism.” I prefer not to think in terms of perpetuity and inevitability. It is defeatist to do so. Too much self flagellation, I say, for someone who is trying their level best to learn, recognize and improve.
Life is a precious gift. All lives matter. White, black, brown and yellow are privileged to be marching together in the right direction, as good Samaritans to one another.