I can’t breathe! -- George Floyd
We Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids are horrified at the murder of Mr. George Floyd. We grieve with his family and those who loved him. We hold in prayer the people of Minneapolis – its citizens, elected officials, and those who are called to serve and protect the community. We stand with all who are harmed by racist words and actions anywhere. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones, with all who live in fear, and with all whose self-determination is threatened by hate and violence.
The video demonstrating the treatment by police of yet another unarmed African American man is just one more concrete example of the injustice inflicted upon our African American sisters and brothers. Coming on the heels of the recent death of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Mr. Floyd’s cry, “I can’t breathe!” is a cry echoing across the centuries of our nation’s historical treatment of African Americans through slavery, countless lynchings, and now through police brutality as evidenced by the video. Like the COVID-19 coronavirus that hinders the breathing of many of those infected, racism in all its forms infects the fabric of our being as a nation, hindering our very life-breath. It is a virus that threatens the values we hold high – life, liberty, and the pursuit of justice. As a nation that desires to be a beacon for human rights, we urge our fellow citizens and elected officials to cry out, “Enough! Enough of this injustice! Enough of this brutality! No more!”
As members of the Catholic Church rooted in the Dominican Family, we Dominican Sisters are called to preach the truth of the Gospel. At the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the truth that each and every person, in this nation and around this globe, is made in the image and likeness of God and is deserving of dignity and respect – no matter one’s race, creed, economics, sexual orientation or gender, or whatever else tempts us into either/or thinking. Each person is a child of God. Racism is a sin; its bitter fruit is hate, prejudice, discrimination, and oftentimes, death. We can do better than this! We are better than this! We must gather the courage and fortitude to face what we have become in order to become who we are intended to be.
The Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids stand against harmful rhetoric and actions that result in fear and evoke hatred in our cities and neighborhoods. Any conversation or activity that contributes to division, hatred, violence, or disrespect of another human being hurts all of us as a human family. We pray that people relate to each other with dignity and respect.
We acknowledge our own complicity in individual and institutional racism. We recognize that some of us are beneficiaries of white privilege. We are committed and continue to work on our Marywood Campus and in all our ministries and our Congregational life to treat all people with dignity and respect and eliminate institutional barriers to a racism-free world.
We, as Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids, see first the common ground of our humanity, and allow our differences only to enrich, and not to disparage. In all of our undertakings, we will notice first and foremost the human person before us.