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A sickness of the soul

Individual Racism Vs Racial Inequity in Our Region

As part of the St. Louis Archdiocese’s commitment to improve efforts at racial reconciliation and justice, our current focus area is racial inequity.

Racism is a sin; a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father. Brothers and Sisters to Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1979.


Most of us recoil at the thought of white supremacy, hatred of others based solely on race or ethnicity, and overt acts of discrimination. But have you ever considered how this individual racism differs from racial inequity? The law says all citizens are equal. But the data says not everyone is treated that way. Data from the Forward through Ferguson Report shows that our regional institutions and existing systems are not equal…and this has profound racial repercussions. Black people across our region feel those repercussions when it comes to comes to law enforcement, the justice system, housing, health, education and income. For example in mostly White, suburban Wildwood, Missouri, the life expectancy is 91.4 years. In the mostly Black, inner-ring suburb of Kinloch, Missouri, life expectancy is just 55.9 years. This is a difference of 35 years just because of the zip code where they live!

Why should this matter to us as Catholics? And how is God calling us to respond?

Fr. Bryan Massingale,  a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University in New York, answers these questions (way better than we ever could!) in a recent speech about how “racism is a sickness of the soul.”

You can watch Fr. Massingale’s talk from the Ignatian Family Teach-in for Justice below.

You can also read the companion article published in America Magazine.

Other Articles of Interest:

Read about Sr. Mary Antona Ebo and her longtime fight for racial equality and justice in the United States.


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