Around the Web: Articles on Racial Justice and Reform

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Becoming a Parent in the Age of Black Lives Matter by Clint Smith: “My children are both respite from all the tragedy transpiring in the world, and a reminder of how high the stakes are.”

Black Catholics: Words Not Enough as Church Decries Racism by the AP: “Black Roman Catholics are hearing their church’s leaders calling for racial justice once again after the killing of George Floyd, but this time they’re demanding not just words but action.”

Black Catholic leaders say more integration in the Church is possible — if all are willing to do the work by Brian Fraga: “Figueroa and other black Catholic leaders told Our Sunday Visitor that the Church in the United States needs to step up to the challenge of bringing about greater racial reconciliation and confronting the toxic legacy of racism against black- and brown-skinned people that still manifests itself in sinful and unjust social conditions and institutions.”

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, to confront racism we must find the strength to love by Chloé Valdary: “This attempt to correct injustice is laudable, but the work of anti-racism must be rooted in the moral ethic of love and acknowledge the profound sacredness of human beings.”

These numbers show that black and white people live in two different Americas by Sergio Peçanha: “Numbers can help put American racism in perspective. And here is what the numbers say: The United States is a vastly different country, depending on the color of your skin. For African Americans, hardship begins before birth. The infant mortality rate for blacks, for example, is more than twice that of white Americans.”

You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument by Caroline Randall Williams: “I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South. If there are those who want to remember the legacy of the Confederacy, if they want monuments, well, then, my body is a monument. My skin is a monument.”

Read Up on the Links Between Racism and the Environment by Somini Sengupta: “This week, amid a surge of protests over police violence against black Americans, there’s been renewed scrutiny on the links between racism and environmental degradation in the United States. To help readers understand those links, I put together a quick reading list about climate change and social inequities. These suggestions are meant to be starters, laying out a few entry points.”

Black Families Were Hit Hard by the Pandemic. The Effects on Children May Be Lasting. by Kelly Glass : “Eileen Condon, Ph.D., a nurse practitioner and postdoctoral associate at Yale University School of Nursing, and her colleagues examined the stressors related to the coronavirus pandemic, and how they disproportionately harm disadvantaged and marginalized families.Poverty, food insecurity and housing insecurity are major sources of pervasive stress, Condon said. When a child experiences toxic stress, their stress response is “essentially always activated.””

Elijah McClain’s final words haunt me as the parent of a child who is ‘different’ by Jackie Spinner: “I only knew that being different and black in America means that my son is vulnerable if stopped by police. A 2016 report, analyzing incidents from 2013 to 2015, found that nearly half the people killed by police had some sort of disability. A 2019 study of police-involved deaths found that 1 in every 1,000 black men is at risk of being killed by law enforcement.”



Forced Sterilization, Birth Control, and Abortion Part of China’s Eugenic Discrimination against Uighurs

via the AP:

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.

The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children….

Outside experts say the birth control campaign is part of a state-orchestrated assault on the Uighurs to purge them of their faith and identity and forcibly assimilate them. They’re subjected to political and religious re-education in camps and forced labor in factories, while their children are indoctrinated in orphanages. Uighurs, who are often but not always Muslim, are also tracked by a vast digital surveillance apparatus.

“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uighurs at the University of Colorado. “It will make them easier to assimilate into the mainstream Chinese population.”

Some go a step further.

“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”


NCR on ‘The Ethics of Encounter’

Kelly Stewart writes:

It is a truism, perhaps especially in left-leaning Catholic circles, that Catholic social teaching is the church’s best-kept secret. Marcus Mescher’s The Ethics of Encounter: Christian Neighbor Love as a Practice of Solidarity seeks to bring this best-kept secret to the fore and make it accessible to U.S. Catholics. Mescher argues that Catholic social teaching offers invaluable resources for navigating contemporary social problems and building what he calls a “culture of encounter” in a country beset by individualism, social division and unjust hierarchy….

He argues that moral relativism and social separation make us unable to see one another, to communicate with one another, to be in solidarity with another, across lines of difference. Genuine encounter, guided by an expansive view of neighbor love and informed by Catholic social teaching, provides a way out of this impasse and toward a more just and connected society.

Yet Mescher argues that Catholic social teaching is too abstract for most people to know how to live what it teaches. While abstract principles — he names human rights, environmental stewardship, the preferential option for the poor and the notion of the common good — are strong, there is too little guidance as to how these principles can be applied in particular situations….

This is where an ethic of encounter comes in. The major purpose and the strength of The Ethics of Encounter is as a guidebook for Catholics to apply Catholic social teaching to their everyday lives. Mescher emphasizes the importance not simply of rules and principles, but of moral formation. Taking up virtue theory, he argues that we make ourselves into the sorts of people we want to be by behaving like the people we want to be: we become courageous, for example, by repeatedly performing acts of courage. The point is not just self-improvement for its own sake. The process of self-transformation shapes us to be the sorts of people who can also shape society.


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “If you are looking for meaning in life but, not finding one, you throw yourself away with “imitations of love”, such as wealth, career, pleasure, or an addiction, let Jesus look at you, and you will discover you have always been loved.”


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says by NY Times: “American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter.”

There’s No Going Back to ‘Normal’ by Ekemini Uwan: “We are not going back to normal; we are pushing toward a new normal—one that is more sustainable and equitable than the one we left behind, one in which everyone might flourish.”

Failure Is a Contagion by George Packer: “Trump’s aspiration to rank among the world’s strongmen has always been hindered by his own weaknesses of character—laziness, ignorance, lack of self-control—and the ineptitude of his henchmen. For a year, Barr seemed to be the most competent of them. Spinning the Mueller report as an exoneration of Trump with some success was a masterpiece of propaganda disguised as legal reasoning. But in the past two months, Barr has made mistake after mistake.”

How a Raise for Workers Can Be a Win for Everybody by Seema Jayachandran: “Supporters of raising the minimum wage usually make their case based on fairness and equity. That rationale is important, but the central finding of these studies — that a higher minimum wage can boost work force productivity and save lives — is a powerful one, too.”

Romano Guardini: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Pope Francis by Daniel Amiri: “Like Guardini, Francis understands the human person in terms of “I-Thou.” As he writes in Laudato Si’, if we get relationships right, then, and only then, can we get the world right (cf. LS, 119).”

Trump asked China’s Xi to help him win reelection, according to Bolton book by Josh Dawsey: “At the same meeting, Xi also defended China’s construction of camps housing as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang — and Trump signaled his approval. “According to our interpreter,” Bolton writes, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.””

Stop Firing the Innocent by Yascha Mounk: “These cases do not negate the good that can, and hopefully will, come from America’s newfound determination to root out racial injustice. Given the gravity of police misconduct in this country, there is little doubt in my mind that the overall thrust of the changes set in motion by the protests over the murder of George Floyd is highly positive. Nevertheless, it would be a big mistake—especially for those who deeply care about social justice—to dismiss the fate of people such as Cafferty, Shor, and Wadi as a minor detail or a necessary price for progress.

30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact Here’s what’s become of them. by Melissa Fay Greene: “Glimmering through the data was a sensitive period of 24 months during which it was crucial for a child to establish an attachment relationship with a caregiver, Zeanah says. Children taken out of orphanages before their second birthday were benefiting from being with families far more than those who stayed longer.”

A three-step plan to become a contemplative-in-action by Elise Italiano Ureneck: “I am confident that creating the space and silence for God to speak is a crucial first step in discovering what’s mine to do. Maybe you’ll join me. There is certainly no shortage of rough and difficult corners that need his grace and healing touch.”

Slowing the Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Diseases by Jan Hoffman and Ruth Maclean: “As the pandemic lingers, the W.H.O. and other international public health groups are now urging countries to carefully resume vaccination while contending with the coronavirus.”

New St. Louis archbishop connects with a pope who ‘connects the dots’ by Don Clemmer: “I oftentimes say that Pope Francis is the pope who connects all the dots. I remember as a kid, and you probably remember this too, there were different puzzle books that had numbers, and you connected the dots. And when you connected the dots, you got a picture. That’s how I feel Pope Francis preaches the Gospel. He connects the dots. He relates issues together with the Gospel. And then he points the way how to effectively deal with those issues.”

Trump has raised the white flag in the fight against covid-19 by Michael Gerson: “Being pro-life means placing additional moral and legal emphasis on the lives of the weak and voiceless. It means speaking up for human beings who are often regarded as expendable in utilitarian calculations — particularly human beings at the very beginning of life, human beings with intellectual and physical disabilities, and human beings near the end of life.”

The sycophancy of Raymond Arroyo by MSW: “To be sure, many American Catholics, on both right and left, place their partisan loyalties ahead of Catholic moral and social teaching when they enter the voting booth. But those many American Catholics are not lead anchors on a television network that claims to present “trusted Catholic news.” Here is where the bishops must recognize in Arroyo no mere man with a poorly formed conscience, but a direct threat to the integrity of the teachings of the church.”


Freedom is Not License. Wear a Mask.

At NCR, Mike Jordan Laskey  writes:

Many people who have resisted restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus object to what they see as government overreach, causing an unjust curtailing of essential freedoms….

As a Catholic committed to the common good, these arguments drive me crazy. To me, it’s pretty straightforward: stay home as much as possible, wear a mask and practice social distancing to protect the lives of those who are most vulnerable to the virus….

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a lovely section on human freedom, believe it or not.

“The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes,” reads paragraph 1733. “There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just.”

That word “just” at the end of the passage catches my eye. Justice is all about strong, positive relationships between individual people and communities. Or, as philosopher and theologian Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Choices that show love for others — especially those who are most vulnerable — are instances of real freedom. On the other hand, choices rooted in a desire to do what I want, when I want it, without regard for how my decisions might impact others are not what freedom looks like….

The Catholic vision of freedom is countercultural in our individualistic, consumerist society. And it often feels like we cede the concept to those who argue that freedom is the liberty to do what you want. I think we should be proud of our own vision and proclaim it more boldly. It’s a compelling invitation to faith: God gave us this beautiful gift of free will and we have the privilege to use it to make the world better. It’s demanding of people, yes, but the sort of demand makes life meaningful.