Commentary by Tony Gallagher
In light of our country’s current events, we Catholics hope that all candidates, up and down the ballot, have adequately and respectfully listened to the soul-wrenching experience of people regarded as “of color”. We want evidence that candidates are able to understand their grief, anger, helplessness, fury, outrage, confusion, pain, and despondency. We want candidates to understand, also, the centuries-long accumulation of the benefits of whiteness, benefits which have burdened people of color during those centuries.
We ask whether candidates have indicated that they know the historical facts attending racism. Has a candidate identified and spoken about any greed or miseducation which resulted in racism? We think that so-called white people have had the unseen, but very real support of a collective white culture, white thought, white fears and white history.
We acknowledge that there are strong forces that prevent white people from attaining the racial knowledge necessary to engage productively. We ask of all candidates, in what public efforts have you been part of so that it may be easier for white people to talk about racism?
We realize that white people are able to close their books, other readings, TV and various meetings and then return to their daily routines but fellow American citizens who are Jewish, Muslim, Hispanic, Black, Asian and Native are not able to withdraw from their ongoing cycle of many whites’ racism. Thus, we ask all candidates to be public about any ways they have offered a larger sense of comfort and healing for those all too commonly referred to as “others”.
We acknowledge that honest talk about racism may result in some white people’s discomfort and so we offer these three questions which all candidates should honestly ask of themselves and ask of their audiences in public events:
- How do you personally see “others” in relation to yourself?
- What possible inaccuracies do you believe about “others”?
- What possible inaccuracies do you believe about yourself?
We Catholics are convinced that intentional justice-seeking is truly a spiritual practice, a practice which should not be drowned in a pool of misinformation, individualism, or one–issue conversations. For us racism is a being-human together issue, not a diversity issue, an issue of who-ness not what-ness.