Jul 22

How Do We Confront Our Racism?

07/22/2019 11:32AM | Quote of the Week

How Do We Confront Our Racism?

How Do We Confront Our Racism?

Our Quote of the Week gives us an example of how to confront the racism and xenophobia that have been in our culture for centuries, and that are increasingly visible and virulent today in our communities and institutions.

This week's quote is from Sargent Shriver's Address to the Knights of Columbus in 1963. This is a fiery and at times confrontational speech that forces those listening to deal with their prejudices. Sarge challenges his audience to confront the bigotry and xenophobia towards the diverse populations of Latin America. He does this for a very specific reason: to engage his audience in supporting his peacebuilding and development efforts with the Peace Corps.

Sargent Shriver was known to be a positive and optimistic leader. But we must remember that he also actively confronted the difficulties and dark side of our society. Today, we need to come to terms with the fact that our tendency to marginalize is not new. Our Quote of the Week, spoken over 56 years ago, reminds us that we are fighting some of the same battles Sargent Shriver was fighting. From our inhumane policies towards migrants and refugees, to the president's indefensible statement that four elected members of Congress, all American citizens, all women of color, should go back to the countries they came from, our hostility towards those we characterize as "other" will do nothing but sow division, hostility, and violence.

Let us have the courage to speak out against hatred, no matter where we experience it. And let us find strength in the fact that more and more of us are waking up to the injustices that occurring around us.  As Sargent Shriver said to the Knights of Columbus: "We must uncover the vitality, energy and strength necessary to shape this hemisphere’s destiny." Indeed, we must do it for the destiny of our world.

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