• Tom Goffe

The Missing Voices in Minneapolis

Communities of color have had enough, again. Suffering the continual debasement of subtle racism, enduing the unwarranted second looks, all too often seeing police not as protectors but potential oppressors. Screens around the world are full of images of violence, of arson and rioting. For many in the European American community (PC for white folks) it isn't easy to understand how the basic fears of daily life for people of color explode this way.

The conversation of race in America is a strange one, a discussion that is dysfunctional. The voices of people of color are loud, powerful and anguished. But if they were truly heard and taken to heart, we wouldn't be in this mess. White people are even more messed up--much of that mess attributable to upbringing and political outlook. But what baffles me (a pragmatic, Catholic, white conservative male) is how white people who profess to be people of faith aren't. They'll go to church on Sunday. They'll give thanks before a meal and often react to social media posts with 'praying' or some other public expression of faith.

Without getting 'preachy' there are a couple of places where white people of faith must do better. We need to quit saying that we follow "The Golden Rule" and actually live it. It isn't enough to say "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" but we must do it in a visible and meaningful way. In other words, people of faith must remember that faith without works is dead. It isn't enough to proclaim being 'pro-life' when it comes to abortion or euthanasia but that also applies to every moment of life in between. Being pro-life is predicated (in Catholic theology) on the dignity of the human person. What we are seeing today with the protests and rioting is an anguished cry for help by people of color demanding to be treated with dignity and respect that white people take for granted.

How can white people fix this? Let's face it: racism (whether subtle and unconscious or otherwise) is something where talk is cheap and only a change of heart will result in change. We must stand with our brothers and sisters not just in their moment of need, but continually. It isn't enough for a token contingent of progressive whites to show up at a protest, but the evangelicals, the conservative Republican 'pro-life' suburbanites and rural folks across the heartland have to join arms and say, "By God, enough!" We have to join the march, to raise our hearts and voices against injustice. It isn't enough to pray for people of color, but we must put our faith into action. We need to listen to their stories, to walk a mile in their shoes and to convert our 'thoughts and prayers' into action.

It is high time for us to join the march and stick with it until the day arrives when we are all equally God's children not just in His eyes, but in the eyes of our fellow man. Injustice against one is an insult to us all. Where one is hurting because of intolerance or hatred all of us are diminished. We must recognize their suffering and endurance, then turn their strength as inspiration to add our voices to theirs. We must stand together: we can do no less and our brothers and sisters deserve that and much, much more.

Join the fight.