Monday, February 18, 2008

Poverty and Racism

Catholic Charities, USA recently issued a convicting report entitled, Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good. If you care about poverty, its causes and faithful responses, you will defintely want to read it.

Here's a brief excerpt:

Part of what makes racism such a difficult issue to address in our nation’s public discourse is that most Americans lack an adequate understanding of how “persistent and destructive” this evil continues to be in contemporary society. Many believe that racism is a matter of the past, conveyed on the grainy images of black and white films. No one disputes that acts of blatant insensitivity still stain our social fabric. Most grant that occasional acts of callous bigotry still occur. But Americans tend to believe that these are isolated incidents and tragic exceptions to the climate of racial decency which now prevails among the majority of Americans in general,and white Americans in particular. At best, this thinking is naive. At worst, it is a delusion and an evasion of reality.

We do not dispute that much has changed in race relations since the abolition of slavery and the legal exclusion of persons of color, but we believe that in America we have too often confused the symptoms for the disease and focused on appearances rather than substance. We are convinced that what has happened all too often has been only a covering over, and not a fundamental change in, the racial dynamics of our society. Racism has never been solely or principally about insults, slurs, or exclusion, as demeaning and harmful as these are.

These are but the symptoms of a deeper malady. We believe that the United States, despite the undeniable changes in racism’s manifestations,still remains a “racialized society,” that is, “a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships.” We are a nation “that allocates differential economic, political, social, and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines; lines that are socially constructed.” At its core, racism is a system of racially conferred – and denied – privilege, advantage, benefits, and status. This inequality of status and benefit endures today. Thus, “racism today remains what it has always been: a defense of racial privilege.”

Racism entails more than conscious ill-will, more than deliberate acts of avoidance, exclusion,malice, and violence perpetrated by individuals. We acknowledge that members of any racial group can – and, in fact, do – act unjustly toward those they consider racially “different.” But such individual acts cannot alter the fact that in the United States, one racial group is socially advantaged, and the others endure social stigma. Racism describes the reality of unearned advantage, conferred dominance, and invisible privilege enjoyed by white Americans, to the detriment, burden, and disadvantage of people of color. This network of racially conferred advantages and benefits has been termed “white privilege.”

For the entire report go to:



preacherman said...

I want to thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront. It is very important for us as ministers to addresss and to be real about in our Churches and communities. Thank you. God bless your work brother.
In Him,
Kinney Mabry

Anonymous said...

I have yet to live in a community where racial/ethnic discrimination does not occur. Something I learned from a book by Eugene Peterson and Marva Dawn is that we need to view everyone through 2 images: The image of God that all people have been created in and the baptism that God desires to give all people. How different our world would be if we Christians could all learn to do that -- and yet that is a life time struggle.

Great Post!

Ithaca Church of Christ
Ithaca, NY