PDF Diversity vs. Racism: A Challenge To Mankind

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Research shows although positive experiences are more common, negative experiences influence our attitudes more strongly. Even as we work in increasingly diverse workplaces, our social circles tend to be fairly homogenous. This also insulates us from hearing differing perspectives because minorities often fear that they will be seen as complainers if they share negative experiences in casual settings.

Instead, establishing relationships with people who are different from ourselves promotes positive intergroup contact , which is one of the most well-established approaches to reducing prejudice. Similarly, promoting social environments that encourage dialogue and cooperation , establishing common goals and providing opportunities for multicultural experiences offer some starting points for how to move forward.

At a time when the UN estimates more than million people live outside of their country of birth , cultural diversity is an inevitable reality. It means we must learn to live and work together, and at the very least tolerate our differences. If each of us works to remove everyday bigotry within our immediate environment, we make it that much harder for extremist ideologies to take hold. A contemporary Robinsonade β€” York, York. The polar oceans and global climate β€” Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Establishing relationships with people who are different from ourselves is one of the best approaches to reducing prejudice. Kumar Yogeeswaran , Chris G.

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Read more: How to challenge racism by listening to those who experience it Everyday racism links to extremism In some ways, both of these narratives ring true. As acclaimed French theorist Jean Baudrillard observed in The Spirit of Terrorism : terrorism merely crystallizes all the ingredients in suspension. Social norms shape attitudes This does not imply that communities themselves are responsible for acts of terrorism, but rather that terrorism reflects what circulates in geopolitics, national politics, normative beliefs of those around us, the media and the influence of other ideological and social forces.

We have allowed conformity to social pressures to replace compliance with social justice. But past mistakes must not hinder the Church's response to the challenges of the present. It is western, eastern, northern, and southern, black and also brown, white and also red and yellow. In our country, one quarter of the Catholics are Spanish speaking. A million blacks make Catholicism one of the largest denominations among black Americans today. Among our nation's original inhabitants, the Native Americans, the Church's presence is increasingly becoming developed and expressed within the cultures of the various Native American tribes.

It is a fact that Catholic dioceses and religious communities across the country for years have committed selected personnel and substantial funds to relieve oppression and to correct injustices and have striven to bring the Gospel to the diverse racial groups in our land. The Church has sought to aid the poor and downtrodden, who for the most part are also the victims of racial oppression.

But this relationship has been and remains two-sided and reciprocal; for the initiative of racial minorities, clinging to their Catholic faith, has helped the Church to grow, adapt, and become truly Catholic and remarkably diverse. Today in our own land the face of Catholicism is the face of all humanity--a face of many colors, a countenance of many cultural forms. Yet more is needed. The prophetic voice of the Church, which is to be heard in every generation and even to the ends of the earth, must not be muted -- especially not by the counter witness of some of its own people.

Let the Church speak out, not only in the assemblies of the bishops, but in every diocese and parish in the land, in every chapel and religious house, in every school, in every social service agency, and in every institution that bears the name Catholic. As Pope John Paul II has proclaimed, the Church must be aware of the threats to humanity and of all that opposes the endeavor to make life itself more human. The Church must strive to make every element of human life correspond to the true dignity of the human person.

This tradition must be honored also today. The freedom that was gained must be ratified each day by the firm rejection of whatever wounds, weakens or dishonors human life. And so I appeal to all who love freedom and justice to give a chance to all in need, to the poor and the powerless. Break open the hopeless cycles poverty and ignorance that are still the lot of too many of our brothers and sisters; the hopeless cycles of prejudices that linger on despite enormous progress toward effective equality in education and employment; the cycles of despair in which are imprisoned all those that lack decent food, shelter or employment.

Let all know that it is a terrible sin that mocks the cross of Christ and ridicules the Incarnation. For the brother and sister of our Brother Jesus Christ are brother and sister to us. We find God's will for us not only in the word of Scripture and in the teaching of his Church but also in the issues and events of secular society. That same Council urged the Church, especially the laity, to work in the temporal sphere on behalf of justice and the unity of human kind. Nor do we overlook the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights which still speaks to the conscience of the entire world and the several international covenants which demand the elimination of discrimination based on race.

None of these, unfortunately, have been ratified by our country, whereas we in America should have been the first to do so.

Annotated sources

All have a duty to heed the voice of God speaking in these documents. Racism is not merely one sin among many; it is a radical evil that divides the human family and denies the new creation of a redeemed world. To struggle against it demands an equally radical transformation, in our own minds and hearts as well as in the structure of our society. Conversion is the ever present task of each Christian. In offering certain guidelines for this change of heart as it pertains to racism, we note that these are only first steps in what ought to be a continuing dialogue throughout the Catholic community and the nation at large.

In this context we would urge that existing programs and plans, such as those dealing with family ministry, parish renewal, and evangelization, be used as vehicles for implementing the measures addressed here. To the extent that racial bias affects our personal attitudes and judgments, to the extent that we allow another's race to influence our relationship and limit our openness, to the extent that we see yet close our hearts to our brothers and sisters in need, 22 - to that extent we are called to conversion and renewal in love and justice.

As individuals we should try to influence the attitudes of others by expressly rejecting racial stereotypes, racial slurs and racial jokes. We should influence the members of our families, especially our children, to be sensitive to the authentic human values and cultural contributions of each racial grouping in our country. We should become more sensitive ourselves and thereby sensitize our acquaintances by learning more about how social structures inhibit the economic, educational, and social advancement of the poor.

We should make a personal commitment to join with others in political efforts to bring about justice for the victims of such deprivation. The church must be constantly attentive to the Lord's voice as He calls on His people daily not to harden their hearts.


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We urge consideration of the evil of racism as it exists in the local Church and reflection upon the means of combating it. We urge scrupulous attention at every level to insure that minority representation goes beyond mere tokenism and involves authentic sharing in responsibility and decision making. We encourage Catholics to join hands with members of other religious groups in the spirit of ecumenism to achieve the common objectives of justice and peace.

During the struggle for legal recognition of racial justice, an important chapter in American history was written as religious groups, Jewish, Protestants, and Catholic, joined in support of civil rights movement which found much of it's initiative and inspiration within the black Protestant Churches.

This cooperation should continue to serve as a model for our times. All too often in the very places where blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians are numerous, the Church's officials and representatives, both clerical and lay, are predominantly white. Efforts to achieve racial balance in government, the media, the armed services, and other crucial areas of secular life should not only be supported but surpassed in the institutions and the programs of the Catholic Church. Particular care should be taken to foster vocations among minority groups.

Special attention is required whenever it is necessary to correct racist attitudes or behaviors among seminary staff and seminarians. Seminary education ought to include an awareness of the history and the contributions of minorities as well as an appreciation of the enrichment of the liturgical expression, especially at the local parish level, which can be found in their respective cultures.

We affirm the teachings of Vatican II on the liturgy by noting that "the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed. We see the value of fostering greater diversity of racial and minority group representation in the hierarchy. Furthermore, we call for the adoption of an effective affirmative action program in every diocese and religious institution. We strongly urge that special attention be directed to the plight of undocumented workers and that every effort be made to remove the fear and prejudice of which they are victims. We ask in particular that Catholic institutions such as schools, universities, social service agencies, and hospitals, where members of racial minorities are often employed in large numbers, review their policies to see that they faithfully conform to the Church's teaching on justice for workers and respect for their rights.

We recommend that investment portfolios be examined in order to determine whether racist institutions and policies are inadvertently being supported; and that, wherever possible, the capital of religious groups be made available for new forms of alternative investment, such as cooperatives, land trusts, and housing for the poor. We further recommend that Catholic institutions avoid the services of agencies and industries which refuse to take affirmative action to achieve equal opportunity and that the Church itself always be a model as an equal opportunity employer.


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We recommend that leadership training programs be established on the local level in order to encourage effective leadership among racial minorities on all levels of the Church, local as well as national. In particular, we recommend the active spiritual and financial support of associations and institutions organized by Catholic blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians within the Church for the promotion of ministry to and by their respective communities.

There is also a need for more attention to finding ways in which minorities can work together across racial and cultural lines to avoid duplication and competition among themselves. There is also a need for cooperative efforts between racial minorities and other social action groups, such as labor and the women's movement. Finally, we urgently recommend the continuation and expansion of Catholic schools in the inner cities and other disadvantaged areas.

No other form of Christian ministry has been more widely acclaimed or desperately sought by leaders of various racial communities. For a century and a half the Church in the United States has been distinguished by its efforts to educate the poor and disadvantaged, many of whom are not of the Catholic faith. That tradition continues today in - among other places - Catholic schools, where so many blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asians receive a form of education and formation which constitutes a key to greater freedom and dignity.

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It would be tragic if today, in the face of acute need and even near despair, the Church, for centuries the teacher and the guardian of civilization, should withdraw from this work in our own society. No sacrifice can be so great, no price can be so high, no short-range goals can be so important as to warrant the lessening of our commitment to Catholic education in minority neighborhoods. More affluent parishes should be made aware of this need and of their opportunity to share resources with the poor and needy in a way that recognizes the dignity of both giver and receiver.

Individuals move on many levels in our complex society: each of us is called to speak and act in many different settings. In each case may we speak and act according to our competence and as the Gospel bids us. With this as our prayer, we refrain from giving detailed answers to complex questions on which we ourselves have no special competence. Instead, we propose several guidelines of a general nature.

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The difficulties of these new times demand a new vision and a renewed courage to transform our society and achieve justice for all. We must fight for the dual goals of racial and economic justice with determination and creativity. Domestically, justice demands that we strive for authentic full employment, recognizing the special need for employment of those who, whether men or women, carry the principal responsibility for support of a family.

Justice also demands that we strive for decent working conditions, adequate income, housing, education, and health care for all. Government at the national and local levels must be held accountable by all citizens for the essential services which all are entitled to receive. The private sector should work with various racial communities to insure that they receive a just share of the profits they have helped to create.

Brothers and Sisters to Us

Globally, we live in an interdependent community of nations, some rich, some poor. Some are high consumers of the world's resources; some eke out an existence on a near starvation level. As it happens, most of the rich, consuming nations are white and Christian; most of the world's poor are of other races and religions. Concerning our relationship to other nations, our Christian faith suggests several principles.

Sandy Bernabei, a social worker in practice for almost 25 years in New York, is deeply committed to combatting racism in the field. That experience changed Bernabei permanently. These workshops give us a common language and understanding. Its executive vice president and chief executive officer, Alan B. The workshop was transformational and moving. Educating social work students before they enter the field is achieved in various ways.

But part of the mission of social work is social justice. Social workers should have clarity. This will be part of their core training. One of the core courses of the MSW program is cultural competency. We try to monitor tough issues, in part through role-playing and experiential learning. Social work schools are increasingly incorporating courses on racism into the curriculum or revising existing ones.

What about when racism is coming from the clients, rather than from the social worker or the society at large toward the client? You have to validate their experiences as part of a system that creates that and help them move to healing on a micro level. The need to be sensitive to the language one uses is also an important micro consideration. Social workers are obligated to understand clients.

We are a race-conscious society. The course addresses the construction of racial and ethnic categories, the impact of racism and the discrimination of individuals and social institutions, and the influence of oppressive policies and practices on social welfare systems and clients. Penn was the first school of social work in the country to make such a course mandatory, back in , says Lassiter, who graduated in and this year is teaching it for the first time.

In , some then-current students began an effort to reengage alumni to strengthen the course. All social workers should have a mindset of eradicating racism. Lassiter illustrates the intersection of structural inequality and personal responsibility in his professional career.

But where are there healthy eating places in black neighborhoods? When social workers are already in the field, there are conferences and other educational programs aside from the Undoing Racism workshops they can take advantage of to try to understand racism and their own responses better. We can educate ourselves about the inequities.

Social workers can play a primary role and look at the structural inequalities. The purpose of social work is to enhance social functioning, remediate social ills, and alleviate oppression.

Special persons do this. The battle against racism has to go beyond the classroom, these experts agreed, whether through workshops, discussion groups, or political action. Social workers need a commitment and a passion for social justice and equality for all people.