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"The more you know"

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By Associate Chris Ingrassia - Mississippi
Associate Chris Ingrassia feeding her two donkeys, Augie and Timo. Photo by Glenn Ingrassia.

Does anyone remember the public service announcement that began with, “The more you know…” Meaning, the more you know, the more you will understand. Almost five years ago, Colin Kaepernick, NFL quarterback, “took a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem. He was protesting racial injustice and institutional brutality. I remember feeling that this was “unpatriotic” in one sense, but I sided with his courage to make a public statement against racism. I also felt like there was more for me to understand.

The past two years have been wrought with riots, political unrest, violence and much sorrow. This is when I seriously began to realize that I needed to know more. What are the roots of racism in America? What can I do to make our country a more just and peaceful place to live? As an associate of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), I am really attracted to the charism of education. For me, this is the SSND charism “par excellence!” The more I know, the more I will understand.

A friend of mine told me about the Just Faith program. I researched the website and saw that Just Faith had added a new module, Faith and Racial Healing. A group of eight of us began the session, which runs about four months. The program began with the capture of Africans that were trafficked to the United States in the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage. I learned that slaves were the actual economy of early America. From there, racism continues with Black Codes, Jim Crow, lynching and redlining.

I really did not know about any of this. I was brought up in a white community with a “white-washed” school curriculum. I love my nation. I usually tear up when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner. I visited the Smithsonian of American history and was so deeply moved by the exhibit of the first American flag. But there is more for me to know, more for me to own as a white person with privilege in the United States.

So, a group of us have started another Just Faith program, Exploring Power and Privilege. Our group consists of SSND sisters and lay persons. It’s a start toward greater understanding. Afterall, “The more you know… the more you understand.”

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