Anti-racism

CORPORATE STANCE FOR ANTI-RACISM

Leaders of our Church in the United States of America have proclaimed racism as a sin that blots out the image of God among specific members of the human family (Brothers and Sisters to Us). Twenty years ago, building on previous efforts, Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa formally committed themselves to become an Anti-Racist congregation. Today, standing with Communities of Color across the United States, we join with all those dedicated to eradicating institutional racism and the belief system of White supremacy.

We will live this by:

  1. Challenging ourselves:
  • to encourage and bring about the Anti-Racist transformation of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa
to remove language, attitudes, assumptions and behaviors within ourselves that offend the dignity of others
to create positive, informed conversations with a strong bias toward action that introduce and sustain Anti-Racist ways of living
to stand up and speak the truth in the presence of racism
to recognize and change structures that support institutional racism and White supremacy
to pray intentionally for justice and healing among all people

  1. Advocating for legislation which:
  • Affirms civil rights for all and eliminates discrimination based on race
    Promotes just and fair access to housing, education, health care, employment, financial services, and voting rights


Contributing to dialogue on the local, regional, and national level to create energy toward positive change.

Brief History—Corporate Stance on Anti-Racism
by the Dominicans of Sinsinawa

At our General Chapter (self-governing body) in the year 2000 we, the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa voted “yes” to a mandate to become an Anti-Racist community. At the General Chapter of 2009, we expanded the mandate to become an Anti-Racist Multicultural Community.

Now at this time we are ready to make a Corporate Stance on Anti-Racism. We “believe that all members share the responsibility to live out our commitment to become Anti-Racist."

Since the word “racism” has become an all-consuming destroyer and dehumanizer, we need to know the working solutions and best practices to dismantle it, collectively. We will do it by consciously studying Anti-Racism and all the systems within our institutions that harbor the pillars of racism. . . This is one of the many definitions of racism: “Race prejudice + misuse of power by systems and institutions=RACISM.”

In the United States racism came under full attack during the Civil Rights and American Indian Movement from the 1940’s through the 1960's. This intentionally cruel and oppressive legacy of White supremacy led to a racist system which dehumanized the lives of all People of Color. Laws and social policies were set in place that enforced racial segregation against African/Black Americans, Arab Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx persons, Native American/Indigenous persons and many others. . .

Through the early years of America's development as a country, White supremacy gradually established a system of capitalism which was based on forced labor, stolen land, and a hierarchy initially of White men who formulated the Laws of the Land and structured these laws within the foundation of its institutions. Racism and White supremacy are embedded in the economic and social fabric of our nation.

During Reconstruction, Black people were able to make great gains in leadership and empowerment. However, White supremacy was able to dismantle some of these gains.

Then White supremacy and racism brought about an era of lynching, segregation and Jim Crow Laws. At the same time, Native Americans were being forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands, during a journey of ethnic cleansing/genocide enroute to their forced locations in order to open land that was apparently unoccupied but was soon settled by White people.

Civil Rights leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. John Lewis, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy and a host of many more who had decided that they had to be intentional. Civil Rights leaders created movements all over the country trying to raise the consciousness of our Nation. Black people have always fought for freedom which brought about legislation for voting rights, fair housing, and equal education under the law. The struggle for justice and equality continues today with the organization Black Lives Matter, formed to confront racism and White supremacy. And raising the consciousness that. . .

All lives matter because Black Lives Matter.
    What are our next steps as we become Anti-Racist? 

1. To frequently renew our personal & institutional commitment to Anti-Racism,
2. To live collectively as persons with an Anti-Racist identity,
3. To continually encourage Anti-Racist practices in all areas of our life together,
4. To often initiate conversations on Anti-Racist topics with all voices around the table,
5. To find new ways to live creatively our Corporate Stance for Anti-Racism from the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa.
  1.  
  2. We can often invite each other to lift our voices in this prayer joining our Black Bishops, who created it in For the Love of One Another, written on the 10th Anniversary of Brothers and Sisters to Us:
       
    ”Wake us up Lord, so that the evil of racism finds no home within us. Keep watch over our hearts Lord, and remove from us any barriers to your grace that may oppress and offend our brothers and sisters. Fill our voice Lord, with the strength to cry freedom. Free our spirits Lord, so we may give services of justice and peace. Clear our minds Lord, and use them for your glory. And finally, remind us, Lord that you said "blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."   

    The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth on them.”
    --Ida B Wells Barnett

COMMON STUDY
You are invited to gather in your favorite configuration, a Circle, a Study Group, a Region, a Discussion group or invent a new group to come together to savor the poem below, followed by some reflection questions and a closing prayer. 
Share your insights with others, or on Sinsinop.

The Magnifiers
by Poet Elizabeth Laura Yomantas,
From Understanding and Dismantling Privilege Vol.X, Issue 1, April 2020

I spent all my days looking proudly at myself in the mirror. I stood there – arrogant, entitled, uncontested. Conquest, domination, and superiority pumped through my veins. As I looked in the mirror, I saw no flaw in these colonized eyes. My distorted view of reality ruled and reigned in my heart and mind. I stood there—frozen, detached, exhausted. Who taught me to see the world this way who taught me that I am blessed, right, and deserve to be first?

Who taught me my way is the ‘true’ way? The answers are vast and deep and incomplete. Textbooks, teachers, religion, and school are just the beginning of this tangled web of the colonized mind. Would I always be standing at this mirror?

Then one day, a majestic sage swoops down and drops me a key. She whispers that the time has come to walk away from the mirror and free myself. I look down at my hands, and for the first time, I notice the heavy brass shackles I’ve always worn. I use the key to remove the cuffs. I stand there – perplexed, afraid, timid.

The sages smiles. Before she takes flight, she urges me to walk away from the mirror and into the vastness of the unknown. The pursuit of beauty and new truth awaits. I spot a magnifying glass buried in the sand. I place it in my trembling hand and start walking. Many have used a magnifying glass before and become free like my sage. It’s time for me to join them.

I walk to the shoreline and meet an army of magnifiers who use their glass tool to seek and question and liberate rather than to simply stare back at themselves. I stand there—overwhelmed, humbled, hopeful. The magnifiers welcome me—their arms are open despite my mirror gazing history. They tell me it’s time to begin again. They promise that my days at the mirror will inform my work as a magnifier. Slowly, day by day, they show me how to use my magnifying glass as a tool to unlearn and learn in order to transform myself and the world around me. I stand there—nervous, grateful, surprised. As I start to see the world through the magnifying glass, I am awoken to see a different reality than the one from the mirror. In this story, I am not the hero—I am the villain. I stand there—shocked, horrified, and yet determined. Can I, the unaware oppressor, become new now that I have walked away from the mirror and found my magnifying glass? Can I retrain my heart to cut down jungles of lies and deserts of faulty thinking and oceans of deception? Can I join this army of magnifiers? They tell me yes, I can. It will take time and continual praxis, but I can join in their collective work. They continue to show me how to use my tool to make the world more just and fair and equal. They teach me to think about a better tomorrow by engaging in liberatory justice work today. I stand there—overwhelmed, humbled, hopeful.

There is great work to do. I remember back to the mirror and how I stood there—serving myself, believing lies, wearing shackles. My mirror has a new purpose. Now, I stand there—critical, examining, researching. I stand there—relearning, restoring, restorying, magnifying glass in hand standing amongst a sea of radiant, hopeful magnifiers.

When the group is ready to share, consider these questions:

1.
  1. How does the poem speak to our challenge to be transformed?
2. What does the key represent to you?
3. Do you feel our congregation has begun to use a “magnifier”? How is that evident?
4. Can you recognize how your religious and educational experiences may have contributed to your colonized mind?


Closing Prayer to Overcome Racism

Mary, friend and mother to all, through your Son, God has found a way to unite himself to every human being, called to be one people, sisters and brothers to each other. We ask for your help in calling on your Son, seeking forgiveness for the times when we have failed to love and respect one another. We ask for your help in obtaining from your Son the grace we need to overcome the evil of racism and to build a just society. We ask for your help in following your Son, so that prejudice and animosity will no longer infect our minds or hearts but will be replaced with a love that respects the dignity of each person. Mother of the Church, the Spirit of your Son Jesus warms our hearts: pray for us. Amen.
(USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, 2020)

ANTI-RACISM Vision

We have embraced the vision of becoming Anti-racist and Multicultural by intentionally dismantling our racist structures, practices, and procedures. We want to collaborate and work together as a collective with others who challenge racism in the world. Together, we will transform our world into a holy and just society for all.

The Anti-racism Transformation Team (ARTT) facilitates the Sinsinawa Dominican commitment to examine and redefine all aspects of our life and mission so that we may embody our identity as an Anti-racist, Multicultural institution.

Every month, ARTT meets in Racial Iidentity caucus groups to answer a common specific question. Answers are solidified in each caucus by both People of Color and White people to share in an all call held the following month. This all call gives ARTT a time to communicate and conversate collectively. This rotation, separate caucuses followed by an all call, continues regularly.

Both Anti-racist practices, caucusing and all calls, blend together to create a foundation on which to build concrete organizing to
1) change attitudes and behaviors of oppression and build authentic partnerships between People of Color and White people;
2) transform the culture of our institution;
3) give each other permission to identify and re-direct destructive behaviors; and
4) identify ourselves as part of an antiracist collective.

Anti-racism Resources
Combating Racism by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (includes statement from Pope Francis and provides other practical resources under the heading “Brothers and Sisters to Us”): http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm
Ho Chunk Nation (current news stories about American Indians): indianz.com
Reclaiming Native Truth: A Project to Dispel Myths and Misconceptions (provides current info about happenings in Native American communities): rnt.firstnations.org
Talking about Race by the National Museum of African American History and Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race
White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide by Carol Anderson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBYUET24K1c

Resources with Daily or Weekly Updates
ColorLines: https://www.colorlines.com/
Crossroads: www.crossroadsantiracism.org
National Native News (includes option to subscribe to daily e-newsletter from Indian Country): http://www.nativenews.net/

Doctrine of Discovery Resources
Doctrine of Discovery: https://youtu.be/JvM4SJN76Yg 
Race, Trauma, and the Doctrine of Discovery https://youtu.be/JgyHFapwxes

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