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Opinion >  Letters

Get specific about racism

I am becoming convinced that the more we talk about race, the more it’s becoming babble. I thought Catholic Charities Rob McCann’s mea culpa was well-meaning but empty of any ideas that would be helpful. Even less meaningful was Christi Ortiz’s recent Faith and Values column on “institutional racism.” What was she talking about?

I clearly understand the issues of historic systemic racism and white privilege. What makes my head hurt is how current writers such as Ortiz talk about these things in totally abstract terms. What is systemic racism and white privilege now? Ortiz talks about “seeing such pervasive and systemic racial injustice” around her. All right, where? What? When? I think few of us would not stand up to injustice when we see it happening. But we have to see real incidences, real policies, not abstract blather.

When it comes to my personal responsibility, my job in terms of race is to do what my life circumstances have given me to do. I spent almost my entire teaching career in inner-city schools. I had the marvelous privilege of pouring my life out to my students of color, doing for them what I understood I was called to do. All of us have places where we can shape lives. That is what we are to do, not mouth platitudes that change nothing.

If we want change, let’s get specific. When we do, I’m on board.

Jim Becker



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