Jun 07

"Any American who holds to the theory of white supremacy ..."

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 06/07/2021 2:35PM | Quote of the Week | Racial Justice


Our Quote of the Week comes on the heels of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. As we mourn the lives lost and condemn the violence and injustice of this episode in our history, we must also stand up to the racist attitudes and reform the unjust systems that continue to harm our vulnerable populations, the overwhelming majority of whom are made up of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples.

In the late 1950s, Sargent Shriver was the head of the Chicago Board of Education as well as the Catholic Interracial Council, an organization that focused on desegregation in schools. It was while serving in these two organizations that Shriver spoke these words before The Sierra Club in 1956.

We have seen many advancements in civil rights since Sargent Shriver spoke these words 65 years ago. And yet, each day, our news is peppered with stories that remind us of the dangers of white supremacy. In the US, we're seeing several, organized efforts to suppress a deeper understanding of how white supremacy works within systems, such as the push to prevent the teaching of critical race theory in schools. And we're experiencing efforts to disempower communities of color, such as legislation to restrict voting in many states -- actions that amount to nothing short of voter suppression. Lest we think that white supremacy is limited to within our borders, we have reminders of its dangers from other countries, as well, such as the recent discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a former "residential school" in Canada -- proof of the violence of a barbaric practice that amounted to what has been referred to as a "cultural genocide".

The population of the United States is rich and diverse. We are descendants of people who were either indigenous to this land, or migrants, or enslaved. Some of us are immigrants ourselves. We practice many different religions; some of us do not practice at all. Our lifestyles vary greatly, but we all have a right to self-determination, regardless of our identities or the color of our skin. Denials of the injustice and violence that is rooted in white supremacy cannot be tolerated, for they destabilize us and result in trauma and atrocities such as we have seen in Tulsa and many other places.

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