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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

413 Let us actively work & speak out against racial injustice and for true healing in all our homes

Day 413 Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Let us wake up, actively work and speak out against racial injustice and for true healing in all our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities and in our country.

It is still difficult to think about the death of George Floyd. I was struck by reading he addressed the police politely as "Mister Officer" while he was being forced to the ground after officers tried to force him into their police car. Once on the ground and gasping for air, officer Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd and began to pick bits of stone from the tread of the tire of his patrol vehicle. But there was no listening, no care for the humanity of George Floyd. The images and the sounds of his voice and the voices of the witnesses will haunt me for a long time.

Last night on 60 Minutes spoke with Judeah Reynolds, the little 9-year-old girl who witnessed George Floyd's death. The girl, who will be 10 next week, identified herself as the young child wearing a green shirt that read "love" who was photographed among the bystanders.

"I saw the officer put a knee on the neck of George Floyd," Judeah testified when prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked what she had witnessed.

Blackwell asked the girl if she ever saw the officer remove his knee from Floyd's neck.

"The ambulance [people] had to push him off of him," she said.

"They asked him nicely to get off of him," she added. "He still stayed on him."

Nine-year old Judeah Reynolds isn’t old enough to watch a PG-13 movie, but she watched a real-life murder that will be with her for life.

I've been trying to come to terms with the aftermath of the murder conviction - especially in light of other police actions that have led to the death of more Black people.

This is a reflection from Franciscan sister Margaret Magee who grew up in Elizabeth City North Carolina, home of another victim Andrew Brown. Her conclusion:

Perhaps the real lesson here is to not allow our difficult and unsettling memories to be lulled into a forgetfulness and a passive acceptance that believes on the surface all is well.

When Racial Tension Comes Close to Home

Like many people I had felt disheartened and sickened as I watched the media play and replay the scene of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds. This act, while George Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe,” was so brutal and inhumane.

I felt drawn to watch the trial of Derek Chauvin wondering whether the often prevailing powers that dominate our justice system would win out or if the voices and eye witnesses would be heard and true justice would prevail? It was on Tuesday, April 20 that the guilty verdict was announced.

I must admit on hearing the jury’s decision I felt that justice had won the day. However, deep down I knew that true and restorative justice must not just win the day, it must become the daily motivation and desire that brings an end to the racism, bias and prejudice that often lays hidden and dormant until the next situation erupts. And erupt it will!

Not twenty-four hours after Chauvin’s guilty verdict was handed down and many were celebrating a victory for justice and the black community, the news of yet another violent incident against a black man occurred. This time, for me, the news was a little too close to home.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 21, Andrew Brown Jr. of Elizabeth City, N.C. was fatally shot as sheriff deputies of Pasquotank County attempted to serve an arrest warrant. The Office of the County Sheriff has yet to release the full bodycam footage or any further information. Like many other communities that have experienced police shootings, the tension and unrest is growing within the community of Elizabeth City North Carolina because of the lack of transparency and accountability.

I feel compelled to write because Elizabeth City, N.C. is not just any small, generally peaceful southern town. It has been home to members of my family since the late 1970s. I’ve visited and vacationed there for close to forty years after my sister and her husband were stationed there with the Coast Guard and my parents retired and moved from New York City. As happens with many families, other family members also moved to Elizabeth City.

Many of my nieces and nephews have been born, raised and schooled within this community and it has been a good, healthy and safe environment for all.

I recall one early recollection, while on vacation with my parents, after they had moved. In a conversation with my mother she told me about the local Catholic churches in Elizabeth City, St. Elizabeth’s founded in 1915 and St. Catherine’s later founded in 1941 to serve the local black community. To my mother, members of my family and myself, experiencing two separate and somewhat still segregated churches was an eye-opening experience. It was not something we had experienced while living in the New York City area.

Both churches, St. Elizabeth and St. Catherine, at that time, were staffed by the Conventual Franciscan Friars who were diligently working to bring together the two communities into one parish family. Finally in 1978, the parish councils of both churches voted to merge into one combined parish of St. Elizabeth/St. Catherine's.

Years later in 1989, both church buildings were closed and the Catholic community of Elizabeth City came together as one parish family in the appropriately named Holy Family Parish. Unity, true communion, justice and equity takes time, presence and attentiveness to grow and to achieve sustainability.

It’s a goal that we can aspire to but should never blindly assume that it has been attained. True racial justice and equality must become a daily, conscious choice and a journey entered into together with people of all nationalities.

I had long ago forgotten that conversation with my mother and her sense of unrest with the history of racial segregation in the churches in Elizabeth City. The recent killing and unrest have reawakened that memory for me.

Perhaps the real lesson here is to not allow our difficult and unsettling memories to be lulled into a forgetfulness and a passive acceptance that believes on the surface all is well.

Let us wake up, actively work and speak out against racial injustice and for true healing in all our homes, our neighborhoods, our cities and in our country.

by Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF is a Franciscan Sister of Allegany based in upstate New York and a member of the Franciscan Action Network Board of Directors.

speak out

by Amelia Dubin

i am going to speak out.

i am going to fight.

i will not stay silent.

you think that just because i am frightened

i will shut my mouth?

my fear makes me burn brighter

my entire being has been doused

in the very gasoline that you sell my future out for

you think that this anger

that is fuelling my screams

could be quietened by you?

i am one of millions

who will confront you, the authority

that is taking our beautiful earth away

it took so long but now

we will make sure we are what haunt your dreams.

the destruction of the amazon

and the precious grass and flowers i want to see flourish

animals having no home and starving

so thin you can see their spines

sea turtles with straws so far up their noses that they bleed

koala bears alone in forests that have been burnt to the ground.

i am using very simple words

to explain that the things that haunt me,

the nightmares when i shut my eyes,

are still there when i open them

and they are as real as you or i.

and you think that because i am young

i have no voice

we will outlive you.

you think that the words i emit are not powerful,

that they cannot move people.

my words come from me

bright and new to the world

and i am one of millions

all of us running headlong into your nightmares

do you know why what i have to say trumps you any day?

my words come from

a pounding heart

and a burning soul.

i have passion.

what do you have?






Young and Latino Leaders on Immigration: Continuing Challenges, New Urgency, Time for Action

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. EASTERN TIME RSVP Required: Please RSVP using this link

On May 4, the day of the discussion, all who have RSVP’d will receive an email with a link and step-by-step instructions on how to join the livestream. This urgent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Georgetown University gathering will bring together young, diverse leaders from the border, on policy, in the Church, and from the immigrant community at a time of conflict and crises on U.S. policies toward immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. The country and Congress are divided. The Biden administration is challenged by growing numbers of families and young people coming to the U.S. southern border and has been slow to raise the historically low cap of 15,000 refugee admissions set by the Trump administration. This is despite his pledge to raise refugee admissions to 62,500 for this fiscal year. This gathering of young Catholic and Latino leaders will explore questions such as:

  • Why can’t the United States develop, enact, and implement just, compassionate, and effective immigration policies?

  • What are the human, moral, and policy costs of this failure?

  • How can Gospel values and Catholic social teaching shape a different path forward?

  • Can young Catholic and Latino leaders help change this tragic situation?

  • How can younger leaders challenge old partisan narratives, overcome polarization and paralysis, and seek to protect human dignity and advance the common good?

Anna Misleh, project manager of the Initiative, will moderate the conversation. This Salt and Light and Latino Leader Gathering for young Catholics under 40 is co-sponsored by the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and the following departments at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

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