“What does it mean to be Black and Catholic? It means that I come to my church fully functioning. That doesn’t frighten you, does it? I come to my church fully functioning. I bring myself, my Black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become. I bring my whole history, my tradition, my experience, my culture ” -Sr. Thea Bowman of Canton, Mississippi (1990)
“Bear one another’s burdens and in doing so you will fulfill the law of Jesus Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
At St. Vincent’s Parish, our support for Black Lives Matter is rooted in our deep Catholic understanding of the fundamental dignity of ail life and our understanding that God is always on the side of justice for the oppressed in the human story (Matthew 25:35-40). A multi-racial group led by some of our black parishioners has been meeting for months to study Black Lives Matter and discern a way forward for discussion and the possible creation and display of a parish banner as a communal demonstration of support. The origins of Black Lives Matter is described in the following excerpt found on the Black Lives Matter website:
“#BlackLivesMatter was created In 2012 by three women of African descent, two of whom are queer identified. After the murder of Trayvon Martin, Trayvon’s killer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and the dead 17-year old was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Rooted in the experiences of Black people In this country who actively resist our dehumanization, #BlackLivesMatter Is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-black racism that permeates our society. Block Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.”
(Paraphrased from the blacklivesmatter.com/herstory/)
#BlackLivesMatter is working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. Black Lives Matter affirms the humanity, resilience in the face of deadly oppression, and innumerable contributions of black folks to this society. It recognizes and celebrates the sweat equity and love for Black people now put into creating a political project-“taking the hashtag off of social media and into the streets. The call for Block lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.”
Black Lives Matter is committed to:
- Collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people.
- Intentionally building and nurturing a beloved community that Is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that Is restorative, not depleting.
- Acknowledging, respecting and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.
- Embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace In engagements with one another.
- Practicing empathy
While we at St. Vincent’s recognize the intersection of multiple forms of oppression, the statement “Black Lives Matter” follows the long legacy of Black liberation movements that has always ultimately supported and benefitted the liberation movements of all oppressed people.
“Black Lives Matter at St. Vincent’s”, therefore, is a statement of love for Black folks. It is a challenge to us all to live the love we proclaim as we build relationships across race and heal America’s historical narrative. As Catholics of all ethnicities, “Black Live Matters at St. Vincent” also calls us to recognize the historic role of our Catholic Church in creating and maintaining systems of racial injustice-even as we have continued to work against oppression. This work will require us to struggle together across a difficult terrain but to do so trusting God and holding on to one another in hope.
During this Resurrection season, we are challenged to make closer connections across race, gender and age and sexual orientation. We are mindful that we have all been affected, particularly white folks, by the participation in unjust systems since the beginning of our nation, which have made us all blind to the ways we help sustain them. St. Vincent’s Black Lives Matter study group invites you to our upcoming reflections and community conversations to be announced this Easter and Pentecost season, is God calling you to help move the stone of racism in our church and world, this Easter season? For more information please see below