Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

The Jesuit Antiracism Sodality East

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.” – Ephesians 5:13

 

Desolation

I recently volunteered to lead a presentation and small group conversation session on modern White supremacy at an ongoing parish antiracism dialogue event. I’m not entirely sure why I did this; my best guess is that as a young[ish] White male, I felt particularly called to understand why so many young, White males are feeling particularly called to the message of hate.

Unsurprisingly, what I found in my research was dark – as I quickly fell down the rabbit hole of not just the hate groups that we all know, but the surreptitious nature of various local White nationalist groups and their advocacy efforts, and even the dark corners of self-proclaimed Catholic online White supremacist subcultures nearby.

But what I was not prepared for was the realization, given my newfound understanding, that there is a lot more to be done. It may have been hard to pull together this information and look at it head on, but the concept of figuring out how to effectively deal with it beyond an individual slideshow at my parish – and instead bring those in the shadows shrouded in hate, fear, and anger to a place of love in the light – is a far more daunting concept.

At his 1993 Senate confirmation hearing to become the Director of the CIA, R. James Woolsey said: “We have slain a large dragon. But we live now in a jungle filled with a bewildering variety of poisonous snakes. And in many ways, the dragon was easier to keep track of.” Much like the USSR, slavery and segregation may no longer exist, but White supremacy is certainly alive and well – it’s just harder to see without rolling up your sleeves.

Consolation

On the third Sunday of every month, the Black Lives Matter Interfaith Coalition gathers on a different corner, somewhere in Maryland, for an hour-long rally to wave to passersby while holding signs to highlight what we all know – that Black Lives Matter – and to gather donations for that month’s charity. 

Black and White Catholics bearing Ignatian Solidarity Network signs are usually present, but it also features substantial numbers of others from a variety of faiths – to include the Jewish co-founders of the group, along with Baháʼís, Quakers, Episcopalians, and other denominations.

My wife and I don’t make it every month, but we have been to enough to appreciate how amazing these events are.

Not only are the same folks out there, rain or shine, every month, but they continually do it with a smile on their face and readily observable love in their hearts. Those smiles continue when drivers and passengers wave, or smile in return from their cars. Those smiles continue when drivers shout expletives or gestures. Those smiles continue when there is a lull in traffic and the road is empty.

They are unshakable and steadfast, and a perfect Baltimore-based embodiment of Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s quote: “Know where you stand, and stand there.”

But I also know that this is just an example of the antiracist work they all perform every day of their lives – a single manifestation of true Christian love via roadside witness.

This month’s reflection was provided by Kevin Burdinski of St. Ignatius Parish in Baltimore.  If you would like to volunteer to provide an upcoming reflection, please contact Jason Downer, SJ: jdowner@jesuits.org.

The views and opinions expressed in this reflection do not necessarily reflect those of Jesuits USA East.

Our Work