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By Tim Dewane, Director, Shalom - Justice, Peace, & Integrity of Creation
The first slide of the powerpoint used during Summer of Solidarity. The slide contains photos of all the speakers.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) Central Pacific (CP) Province recognize that racial bias and systemic racism continue to plague society and hurt all of us, particularly our sisters and brothers of color. In 2017, sisters formalized this concern into a commitment to take action, “To challenge local policies and practices that promote or perpetuate racial bias; while also learning about and confronting our issues of racial bias and our complicity in supporting/maintaining racially discriminating practices.”

This commitment to action derives from the SSND dedication to helping people reach their fullest potential. As stated in their constitution, You Are Sent, “A particular concern in all ministries is the establishment of a just society.” (GD 33) “In accord with church teaching and directives, we work actively, especially in our local situations, to eliminate the root causes of injustice in order to realize a world of peace, justice and love.” (C 17)

A recent expression of SSND efforts to unravel racism is their Solidarity Summer initiative, a seven-week all-province racial justice education and engagement initiative featuring weekly webinars, faith-sharing sessions and related resources. More than 500 sisters, associates and ministry partners participated in the SSND racial justice education and engagement initiative.

SSND collaborated with the University of St. Thomas (UST), St. Paul, Minnesota, for the first six seminar sessions centered on presentations from UST’s “Becoming Human: Dismantling Racism” initiative. In the seventh and final session, participants addressed the question, “Where do we go from here?” They reflected on the series in light of who we are and SSND priorities. In order to promote deeper reflection and meaningful action, three paths for sustained engagement and accountability were identified and are currently being pursued:

Path 1: Self-Reflection and Interpersonal Engagements – The Embracing Diversity Struggling Unity Work Group is taking the lead in providing participants resources and ongoing opportunities to support deeper self-reflection and interpersonal engagements. The focus is on better understanding our individual and collective story as it relates to race, bias and privilege.

Path 2: Province Structures, Practices and Ministries – The provincial council, working in partnership with lay leaders, is taking the lead on reflecting anti-racism efforts more robustly in province structures, policies, practices and ministries.

Path 3: Systemic Racism – The Shalom Racial Justice Committee is taking the lead identifying and responding to policies and practices that promote or perpetuate racial bias, such as - elections, local/state reforms, federal legislation, etc.

In addition to these three paths for sustained engagement, monthly sharing sessions provide a forum for people to dialogue and provide each other with feedback about steps they have taken, progress made, and challenges encountered in their efforts to address racial bias and systemic racism.

In this divided and wounded world, recognizing and addressing systemic racism and racial bias is essential, if we are to witness and reveal the oneness for which Jesus Christ was sent.

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