The following is the second in a series of reflections on our Parish Statement on Racism:
“We understand that racism has surrounded us our whole lives. It has sunk so deeply into some areas of our lives and into our hearts that for many of us it has become invisible. And so we feel called to name it, frame it, and fight it.” (from St. Margaret of Scotland Parish Statement on Racism)
What does it mean to “understand that racism has surrounded us our whole lives?” Some of our living elders have been victims and perhaps perpetrators of overt racism in their lifetimes. As a child, I witnessed the lunch counter sit-ins, bank boycotts, separate water fountains and restrooms, Klan initiated cross burnings. Those spectacles are easy to name, frame, and condemn.
What about the racism that surrounds us now? Do we notice that children in our city are attending inferior, segregated, and underfunded schools? Do we understand that many parents are unable to find affordable daycare in spite of their being employed? What about the fact that Black residents of St. Louis are nearly four times as likely to be homeless as white residents? As Christians, if we truly see each other as brothers and sisters yet these disparities persist, then we are setting ourselves up for a family feud! How do we justify such inequity within the Body of Christ?
The truth is, as a member of the dominant, white culture, it is easy for me to not see the injustices. Most people in my neighborhood are seemingly doing well. We have a great school here at SMOS. With the rising property values in this and surrounding neighborhoods, there are fewer people in poverty living in our neighborhood.
The inequities that we are called to name, frame, and fight have become normalized. To see them, we need to begin with self-reflection. How did my family of origin address the issue of race? If we are white, chances are it wasn’t discussed. How aware was I of the diversity, or lack thereof, of my community, school, and church? What about our parish and neighborhood now? Are there stories that need to be added to those we already know about our history? Might God be calling us to see the inequities that have been invisible? Let us ask our God of Mercy to walk with us on this journey of discovery.
Gerry Rauch is a member of the Racial Equity Team of Living Justice Ministries. She and her husband Kloud have been parishioners for 38 years.
Over the course of nine weeks, the SMOS Living Justice Ministry – Racial Equity Team will present reflections from various parishioners on the Parish Statement on Racism. To read more about the Statement, please go to the front page of the Parish website at stmargaretstl.org.