By Tony DeSantis, CTA Anti-Racism Team & Vision Council Member
“There is chaos before a new world is born.”
A Reflection on Mark 1:12-15
Lord Jesus Christ who reached across the ethnic boundaries of Samaritan, Roman and Jew, who offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives, help us to break down the barriers in our community, enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry, and free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves, our society and our world. Amen.
-John Bucki, S.J. (from Living God’s Justice: Prayers and Reflections.)
Fasting from Racism (Reflection):
The Flood, Jesus’s struggles in the desert and our baptism into a Christian life represent a period of chaotic transformation. The Flood wiped out almost all of the human race. Jesus almost gave up during his time in the desert. And Jesus faced the chaos of human depravity when he suffered crucifixion. Yet one if the hardest examples of chaos are our own processes of dealing with racism – the racism within.
Confronting one’s own racism is like an alcoholic confronting his addiction. One recognizes the chaos in one’s life and that one is out of control. In the same sense we are out of control. Our lives – our choice of job, housing and means of commuting – are distorted by a racism we cannot even see, let alone confront.
As Fred Dabrowski said in his reflection, racism and White Supremacy permeate our society. And we are like fish swimming in it. We have no idea that we are in it. And we cannot evolve out of it until first we see it.
We must realize that seeing that racism is just the first step. It will bring chaos to ourselves and those around us, and we cannot confront this by ourselves. We need a community of supporters and we need the grace of God to even begin to overcome it.
Alcoholics Anonymous identifies 12 steps on the road to recovery. These steps must be completed in sequence to be effective. This is how we overcome racism. WE must recognize it as insanity and that it has taken over our lives.
So, our Lenten journey starts with the recognition of racism. There are other steps along the way and it will not be easy to take them. But we do have this hope. Just as the journey of Jesus ended in Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, our journey will also end in resurrection for ourselves and our society. The Flood will recede, death will be overcome, and our conscience will be clear.
Questions for Discussion:
1. How do I practice or accept racism in subtle subconscious ways?
2. How can I begin to stop doing it?
At the CTA Detroit Regional Conference in 2017, one of the presenters, Raphael Wright, has a project to start a Black-Owned Grocery Store in an area of Detroit that is a food desert. Learn more and go to the GoFundMe Page.
Tony DeSantis is a member of the CTA Anti-Racism Team, and a member of the Vision Council. He is also the president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers and is a prison minister, lector and coordinator of Saturday afternoon Dinners (Joe’s Place) at Sacred Heart Church in Camden, New Jersey.