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The Author


By Sr. Brenda Walsh , Racine Dominican

In a recent communication from IDI, Dominicans were asked to address racism at a personal and institutional level. Some progress has been made in recent times, but there is still a growing need to address the issue at a deeper level.


We need a common definition of racism in order to shape our goals and to put them into practice. In the past, racism was defined as bigotry and prejudice. Today. our understanding goes well beyond that definition. It includes individual, communal and institutional attitudes and actions. It implies prejudice and power based on the belief that one race or group of people is superior to another group. Judgments made by the dominant group will often lead to discrimination and conflict, and even violence and wars. Racism not only dehumanizes the oppressed, but also the oppressors and hinders full growth and development. Now is the time for us to go deeper in addressing racism in its many forms.

Institutional racism can be found in many of the organizations where our members are involved – in our schools, among faculty and staff and on boards. It can also be found in health care institutions, in social service agencies and law enforcement groups. People are not often aware of the set of shared beliefs and assumptions that undergird the economic, social and professional disparities that often result in White power and privilege.  Some church leaders have called racism the major sin of the 21st. century. Racism is very evident today, and the suffering resulting from it is experienced not only in the African American community but also among the Latino population , especially among the large number of immigrants coming to this country to make a living for their families and to get away from all the domination and violence in their native environments. The UN recently said that preference based on race, color or national origin cannot be perpetuated and must be eradicated as soon as possible. We can no longer avoid this responsibility. The changing demographics in the U.S. and other places is very evident. By 2050, minorities will make up more than 50% of the population. They are African American, Hispanic Americans and many other cultures. As a Christian people, we are called to look at the facts and work to create a world according to God’s design and to put our faith beliefs into practice.

Fr. Richard Rohr and many other scholars emphasize the need to study Scripture and to make the Word of God the foundation of our social justice work. We all belong to the same human race and all are made in the image and likeness of God. We are all loved by God and we are called to love one another as Jesus loves us. (John 13:L34) We are called to live this belief in all aspects of our lives. To deny this fact is a denial of God’s hope for all humanity. In the words of Scripture, there is neither Jew not Greek, slave or free, male or female. All are one in Christ. (Gal. 3:28)

How would we describe a community free of racism? It would be a place  of forgiveness, love, respect and appreciation for all residents and white power and privilege would no longer be misused.  People would be learning to live together in care and compassion, in justice and peace. Children would attend the school of their choice and have no fear of prejudice or racial practices. Teachers would be trained to be sensitive and understanding of people of other cultures. Adults would speak out courageously against racist attitudes or actions  wherever they are found. Children would be well prepared for school because their basic human needs have been met through community agencies and in their homes. From a faith perspective , they would be taught and learn from experience the need for love, compassion and respect for each other. Then they could celebrate each other’s goodness and giftedness given to all by a loving good, and to be used for the common good.

In our Racine Dominican Community , we purchased a film called “Cracking the Code – a system of racial inequality.”  It gives a comprehensive coverage of racism. It addresses bias and white power and privilege in economics, institutional and structural racism and shares ways to transform our lives and institutions to be fair and just in our practices and to eliminate all forms of racism. The film can be used with many different groups such as educators, health care providers, law enforcement agencies and business groups.  You can download the Conversation Guide at world-trust.org – 2012 World Trust Educational Service, Inc. Another film is Skin Deep.

Other suggestions are:

1.      To take a strong stand against racial injustice wherever we find it. More listening and sharing is needed with people of color and other cultures and to invite their response. We can incorporate their suggestions for addressing racism at various levels. Help them share their experiences of racism and help them articulate what they see as a solution. 

2.      To pray together as groups. Think of the Jesus prayer: “I pray that all may be one, as I am in you and you in me.” Look at the perceptions that keep us apart and dismantle them. Try to understand the struggles of people who are isolated and alienated. Listen to their pain and frustration and anger.

3.      To help people who are disadvantaged to prepare and be available for leadership roles, either in public or private life. No effort we make is too small to make a difference and bring hope to those who need it the most.

  • Some questions to consider for group discussion are these:

  • Are there groups we can convene to address racism?

  • Is  there a group in your area that you can join to address racism?

  • Can cultural events be created to celebrate diversity?

  • Can we join people of other cultures for a worship service or invite them to your faith community on occasion?

  • Name the ways to address institutional racism in the organizations under your jurisdiction.

  • Does the workforce and board of directors in your organization reflect diversity?

Let us continue our efforts to address racism with courage, conviction, and hope.


Dominican Preaching Archive

Preaching is at the heart of the Dominican vocation. The Dominican Leadership Conference claims for all members of the Dominican Family the right to preach, and commits itself to the struggle this claim entails. The injustices of our day compel us to place the charism of preaching at the service of the poor and powerless. The Dominican prophetic message, rooted in experience, study and prayer, will move both preachers and hearers of the word to act for the transformation of oppressive structures. The Conference on its part will act corporately, confronting evil with the Gospel and working for the construction of a just world order.

We embrace the mission of preaching for justice with a commitment to act in collaboration with one another and all those with and among whom we minister

------Dominican Leadership Conference

(The latest additions are shown first.  Click on an article title below to view it.)

• A Call to Light the World With Truth •
• A Harvest of Thanksgiving •
• Blessed Are the Peacemakers •
• Dominic's Daring Dream •
• Dominic, Preacher of Grace •
• Inside Darkness - The Film •
• Acquiring Legal Status Under Fedral Immigration Law •
• Living With Integrity •
• Preaching Participation •
• Reclaiming the Gift of Prophetic Preaching •
• The Call And the Challenge To Address Racism •
• United Nations •