Racism, no more not ever again

This story on racism is the second story in an occasional series of articles focusing on social justice issues that the National Advocacy Center addresses as part of its ongoing mission.

How can we confront racial injustice? We intentionally do what we can – individually, as community and as the National Advocacy Center. With all the discussion on racism, I have to ask what can I contribute to the discussion?

Not that free of racism

At best, I can relate my story as an 80-year old white man in America. The first memory that comes to mind was when I was working for the Office of Economic Opportunity in Chicago. A colleague, Bennett Stewart, the son of an alderman by the same name, was active in the Black Power movement. In a conversation with him, he said in an exasperated tone, “Larry, if everyone was like you we wouldn’t have a problem.”

It’s a remark I have always cherished. Unfortunately it’s not entirely true. I am not that free of racism. Even if I were, hundreds of years of racism has left its mark on our society and our world.

Addressing institutional racism

What I have learned recently is the importance of addressing institutional racism intentionally.  I have come to realize the importance of consciously seeking diversity in my place of work and in the organizations with which I am affiliated.

Before I would have shied away from such an approach, as it would have seemed artificial and manipulative.  It’s as though people of color have no inherent value in themselves but is simply a way of announcing, “Now we have diversity. We have satisfied all legal responsibilities.”

Today, I have a greater awareness of the need to free ourselves of personal racism and institutional racism. We have need of both.  If I am a racist and staff my office with people of color, in the long run it is not going to work. I may have met legal requirements, but I am still not able to relate to people on an equal basis.

On the other hand, if somehow I was totally free of racism but ignorant of institutional racism then I am only contributing to the problem.

So where do I go from here?  Certainly as an advocate, I will continue to advocate for social and economic justice for all people. I will continue to seek diversity in situations where I have influence.  Personally I will continue to enjoy the company and friendship of people of color.

NAC Actions

At the National Advocacy Center, we address racism and are intentionally seeking to diversify our board of advisors. We continue to strengthen our good relationships with other advocacy groups of color. And we seek out issues and legislation that will lighten or loosen the chains of injustice.

Please help us by joining the NAC action alert network and responding to our alerts. If you wish to join our network, please send me an email to let me know at [email protected]

You can read the first article in the Road to Justice series, which addresses President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, on the PMNA website at https://bit.ly/39j6fbu\

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Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly

Patricia Kelly is a Good Shepherd Volunteer for the National Advocacy Center of Sisters of the Good Shepherd. She graduated from Columbia University in New York City in 2019 with a degree in Human Rights. She is from West Palm Beach, Florida, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.