June 28, 2020

No to Racism, Yes to Inclusion and Diversity

On the 21 March 1960, in Sharpeville, South Africa, 69 black South African people were killed when police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration against apartheid laws.  Six years after this horrific event, the United Nations called for an International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Now held on 21st March each year, this was an attempt to increase efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination in our world and to generate solidarity with all those affected by racism.  

Sixty years later, despite the growing awareness of racial discrimination and the work of the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), racism remains a pandemic due to fear, ignorance, suspicion and even hatred towards individuals or groups for their ethnic or religious identity.   It comes in many forms, including language, behaviour and viewpoints.  It is built on a false classification of people and is a political construct.  It is based on a system of power, legitimising the power of white people over black people, over Indigenous people and over people of colour.   Racism can be the sin of omission, when individuals, communities, and religious people remain silent and fail to speak out against racial injustice when it is encountered, or try to justify or minimise the impact it has on the person, their community and indeed on all of us.

Today we are seeing new forms of racism developing out of older manifestations, leading to extreme nationalist ideologies which are filtering into the public discourse.  This xenophobic rhetoric causes fear of black people, foreigners, immigrants, and refugees and eventually leads certain ethnic and cultural groups to be regarded as ‘out of place’ in the dominant culture.

Fear can deprive us of the desire and the ability to encounter the other, the person different from myself.  Therefore, we need to educate ourselves.  Each country and context is different.   As a first step perhaps we can ask ourselves, how many theology books have I read recently that were written by black, Indigenous or people of colour?  How many novels have I read in the past year that have been written by authors who were black, Indigenous or people of colour?  Whose music to do I listen to?  I could go on.  This can be an initial introduction to the world of the other...

Download the complete article (A4) Download the complete article (US Letter) Descargar la imagen y la explicación (Tamaño de papel A4) Descargar la imagen y la explicación (Tamaño carta, EE. UU.)

Spanish translation using DeepL Translator. Traducción al español con DeepL Translator

Recently Published Resources Worth Following Up:

In Addition:

  • See this anti-racism reading list compiled from National Catholic Reporter's articles, commentary and book reviews, and that of its sister publications, Global Sisters Report and EarthBeat.

Messages to: Sheila Curran rsm

Sheila Curran rsm is the Coordinator of Mercy Global Presence for the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy and a member of the Northern Province. She is a practical theologian and works in areas of the of  feminist theology, migration and refugees.

Sheila's ministry and research has been shaped by her experience of living and working in Peru, particularly her involvement with the Institute Bartolome de las Casa, a non-governmental social justice and human rights organisation founded by the liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez.

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