So in the last few months we’ve talked to you about the First Amendment and ISIS, and the First Amendment and CNN touching on the crises in Ferguson,Missouri, among other issues de jour popping up 24/7 across your t.v. screens. Today, we’re going to talk a little about how far we’ve come and how far we have stayed the same.
You see 200 years ago our Forefathers and the original leaders of our country Owned People! Pieces of paper like deeds for houses and titles for cars existed that evidenced the trading of ownership of actual human beings! Just 200 years ago! In some ways we have come so far. In some ways, when I see tanks, armored personnel carriers, machine guns and other rifles used in our wars across the world, pointed at protesters in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, I don’t think we have come so far.
Around 50 years ago governors of southern states fought the Federal government in the fight to integrate our schools. Those state leaders vowed to fight to the death to stop black people from being educated in the same schools as white people.
Fast forward over 50 years later and we have a suburb called Ferguson, Missouri, where over two-thirds of the population are African American descent and ALL of the police force are white. There has been decades of allegations of racial bias and discrimination against those African American folks in that town by the all white police force. There has been tension in that community between black and white for decades. It is just a microcosm of all of American.
This has got to stop.
We see signs today that in our coming generations this may not be the terrible, horrific problem it is today. I look around county fairs and other places where young children scramble about, having fun and being together. I look at the demographic makeup of those kids and I see something different now than I saw when I was very young. You see, black and white kids are running around together, getting educated in the same schools, growing up in the same neighborhoods and having fun together. When children of a very young age start associating together from all races and creeds and become friends when they are so young, we finally have a situation where this nation can change from the divided, divisive, tension-filled place that it is in some places, to one of a place where people coexist and really have a chance to truly become one people as citizens of the United States.
So when racism lifts its ugly head in places like Ferguson, Missouri and even in your local poker game or conversation at your bar, I want you to remember a quote from the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s letter that was written over 35 years ago that sums up what each and every one of you should do, whether you like it or not:
“The structures of our society are subtly racist, for these
structures reflect the values which society upholds. They
are geared to the success of the majority and the failure of
the minority. Members of both groups give unwitting
approval by accepting things as they are. Perhaps no single
individual is to blame. The sinfulness is often anonymous
but nonetheless real. The sin is social in nature in that each
of us, in varying degrees, is responsible. All of us in some
measure are accomplices. As our recent Pastoral Letter on
moral value states: ‘The absence of personal fault for an
evil does not absolve one of all responsibility. We must
seek to resist and undo injustices we have not caused, lest
we become bystanders who tacitly endorse evil and so
share in guilt in it.’”