FROM 13 JUNE 2020
A Conversation on Racism & Solidarity
Racism is an offense against solidarity, the fundamental social virtue. How then, are we to adequately respond to the evil of racism in our society? Solidarity is key!
Our presenters shared stories and insights that led to fruitful discussion on what how we can effectively foster solidarity in our communities and in our nation.
SOLIDARITY & RACISM: SETTING THE STAGE FOR DISCUSSION
FR. MICHAEL SWEENEY, OP
& SEAN BRYAN
Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP & Sean Bryan (the Papal Ninja) – Co-Founders of the Lay Mission Project – began the conversation by proposing that what people truly seek is solidarity, the desire for and the love of communion with others. They considered prejudice, ideology, polarization, and refusing to engage with others as “ordinary” behaviors that oppose solidarity and, intentionally or not, foster racism. Finally, they then invited the group to discuss how we can together overcome these impediments.
DR. BENNET OMALU
Medical doctor, forensic pathologist, professor, Author, Musician – most widely known as the man played by Will Smith in the movie "Concussion," Dr. Omalu is no stranger to hate, racism, prejudice, and even death threats. Dr. Omalu talked about the significance of his name, and how it has helped him be prophetic in the midst of persecution. His words offered us encouragement to be confident in who we are and true to our own experience, while remaining open-hearted in encounter with others.
The disproportionality of the "success" of black children who are placed in foster care is disheartening. However, as a former NFL player and motivational speaker, Anthony will shared a bit of his success story and explained his own manner of approach to overcoming instances of racism and prejudice. He offered testimony to the priority of fostering relationships and exercising patience in order to be heard and to affect change.
As an American Ninja Warrior All-Star, Najee knows how to overcome obstacles. As a public figure and influencer on social media, he has recently experienced deep seated hate and persecution for exercising his first amendment right. As a person on the front lines of the peaceful protest, he offered a first hand look at the complexity of the racism issue as it continues to manifest itself in the response to the protests, how it has affected him, and how he hopes to move forward.
Because this is a "fishbowl" style conversation, it will be interactive. The invited guests will offer their voices (listen), and there will also be a chance for others to hear your story, your perspective, your thoughts. This is essential in fostering solidarity. The flow of the meeting will be:
Introduction | Sean Bryan will welcome the participants.
Fishbowl 1 | Sean will invite Michael Sweeney, OP to share the fruit of his contemplation on Racism and Solidarity, and he will ask questions to help situate the discussion.
Discussion 1 | Participants will be placed in small virtual discussion rooms, and will have the opportunity to both listen to others and be heard. Discussion guidelines have been provided in order to make the conversation most effective. These guidelines cover both conduct as well as questions related to the topics discussed in the fishbowl. We ask that the groups hold each other accountable to the conduct guidelines.
Fishbowl 2 | Participants will be brought back into the virtual conference room, to hear from our invited presenters: Dr. Bennet Omalu, Anthony Trucks, and Najee Richardson.
Discussion 2 | The conversation will continue in small virtual discussion rooms.
Conclusion | Group will come together as a whole one last time to conclude the meeting.
After-Hours Chat | The hosts will leave the meeting room open for some time afterwards for the folks who would like to stay for a whole-group discussion and Q&A.
Total time: 2 hrs (not including "after-hours" chat)
The purpose of our conversations is to engage with each other. We are not attempting to analyze the political or legal system in the country or in our communities, unless to propose ways in which we can personally foster solidarity. Prioritizing analysis over engagement leads to disengagement and division. Because we seek to understand, rather than polarize, we are setting out the guidelines for discussion that will help make the conversation more fruitful.
You can view the DISCUSSION GUIDELINES here, or download them by clicking on the "Download" button.
PREPARE BY PRAYER
Confident that God hears us, let us together pray:
- That the sources of division dry up; that the division we're experiencing be transformed by God into stronger unity within our country, among one another as humans, among the People of God. That the unity be genuine, accommodating and valuing differences where they contribute to the beauty of the whole; discerning where differences are deleterious to the whole; adopting holy means to address those sources of difference that threaten the beauty of the whole. That each of us be given the humility to subject our own opinions and habits to this examination.
That we, as friends, be made able to withstand temptations to division among ourselves. That we may be given the gift of right judgment in order to discern where we ought to confront divisive issues and where we ought to let them be; for the gift of courage in order that, in the former instance, we may confront them in the most constructive way rather than sweeping them under the rug, cutting people off, or talking behind others' backs.
- That the will of God be carried out in all the chaos and suffering. That his face be made known to all who are desperately crying out for him. That those who are not crying out at present catch a glimpse of his glory and at least fall to a knee in wonder and awe. That all of us come more and more to revere our maker and to recognize what our mutual bond to Him implies for our bond to one another.
For healing . . .
For humility . . .
For hope . . . throughout the world.