Division of Mission and Ministry Statement on the Dignity of Black Lives

Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder, unsplash.com

Throughout history, prophets across many faith traditions shook their fists at God and people in positions of power, angry at injustice in the world. It is with devastation, heartache, and outrage, that we in the Division of Mission and Ministry share their lament.

It is an indisputable truth that Black lives matter. The generations-long oppression of the Black community in the United States is an affront to the human dignity our Vincentian mission demands that we uphold. As a Division, we stand firm in opposition to white supremacy, anti-blackness, and the inequitable status quo.

To our Black students and colleagues, we mourn with you. The brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery,Tony McDade, and far too many others tear open deep wounds inflicted by police brutality and systemic racism; wounds that have been opened too many times before. We hear the dirges and see your stress, fear, and anxiety as COVID-19 continues to unveil the systemic racial violence in our healthcare and economic systems, disproportionately marginalizing communities of color. We see you torn between the urgency to join protests and the fear of leaving your homes. We hear you when you say that you are tired, you are aching, you are empty in the midst of a world on fire.

We also see your strength. Your power.

In times such as these, our instinct is to be out in the world, responding to the needs of our communities. We welcome our students, faculty, and staff to pray with us, to grieve together, to be together, to use our shared pain as a catalyst for change. Although we cannot be together in physical space, we stand in solidarity with you in prayer and in action. We understand with clarity and conviction that the struggle for racial justice is lifelong, and we are committed to standing with you.

The Division of Mission and Ministry deepens our commitment to:

  1. Root ourselves in faith and prayer that drive us to action
  2. Defend the inherent dignity of every human person
  3. Educate ourselves and each other regularly in theories that shed light on systemic racism and the forces of power, privilege, and oppression
  4. Prioritize this same education in our work with students
  5. Facilitate restorative justice training with our staff and student leaders
  6. Foster mutual, long-standing relationships with community partners whose work promotes the wellness of Black lives and dismantles systems of oppression
  7. Create direct service opportunities that allow students, faculty, and staff to build community, grow in awareness, engage in meaningful dialogue, and strive toward systemic change and solidarity

The Division of Mission and Ministry is here with you. We are here to mourn, to listen, to pray, and to act.

The way of solidarity is vast. It ranges from education to dialogue that centers Black voices to direct action that brings about structural change. We call the DePaul community to action. If you are unsure where to begin, we have included with this statement a non-exhaustive list of resources, community partner organizations, and avenues for systemic change.

Action Resources

As an educational institution, a Vincentian institution, dialogue during a time of crisis is essential. There is an incredible wealth of resources and expertise within our institution. Now is the time to be sharing those resources and engaging in dialogue about the underlying causes of what we are witnessing right now. This is a non-exhaustive list compiled from suggestions by DMM staff and student leaders.

Education

Suggested Media

Website

Black Lives Matter: Herstory

Films

Documentary: 13th
Documentary: Agents of Change
Historical Drama: Just Mercy
Historical Drama: The Hate U Give
Historical Drama: Fruitvale Station
Historical Drama: I Am Not Your Negro
Historical Drama Mini Series: When They See Us
Digital Mini-film Series: 26 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias, and Identity with Students, The New York Times

Podcasts

The 1619 Project: New York Times 6 part podcast
RadioCode Switch: NPR news viewed through the lens of race and identity

Suggested Reading

Non-Fiction: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Non-Fiction: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Non-Fiction: How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Non-Fiction: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Non-Fiction: Racial Justice and the Catholic Church by Fr. Bryan N. Massingale
Non-Fiction: Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman
Letter/Essay: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Fiction: Kindred by Octavia Butler
Poetry: Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith
Essay: “The Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Recent Articles

George Floyd & Patels: A Story in Generations by Eboo Patel, Founder & President Interfaith Youth Corps
The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it by Bryan Massingale

Theological Resources

Cone, James H. The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2013.
Douglas, Kelly Brown. Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2015.
Massingale, Bryan N. Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 2010.

Action

The following organizations and nonprofits are long-standing community partners of the Division of Mission and Ministry who dedicate their work to service, racial justice, and equality. Visit their websites to learn more about their work and how you can get involved. If you are able, consider making a donation.

Mission and Ministry Community Partners

Marillac St. Vincent Family Services, Chicago: https://marillacstvincent.org
Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, Chicago: https://www.pbmr.org
Refugee One, Chicago: www.refugeeone.org
Kelly Hall YMCA, Chicago: https://www.ymcachicago.org/pages/kelly-hall-ymca
Resurrection Catholic Missions, Montgomery: www.rcmsouth.org
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Cincinnati: https://www.svdpcincinnati.org/
Interfaith Youth Core: https://www.ifyc.org
St. Sabina Faith Community: https://saintsabina.org

Systemic Change

Make your voice heard in these times by writing to your political representatives. We have included the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice step-by-step email advocacy guide at this link.

Write, sign and share petitions that resonate with your values and beliefs. You can start by visiting https://www.change.org/.

Register to vote at https://vote.gov/, and cast your ballot in local and federal elections. Get involved with your local city counsel office. If you are dissatisfied with their leadership, run for office and make the change you want to see.

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