The following blog was contributed by Vincent Hale, music and theater teacher at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in New York, NY. For a more complete and in-depth understanding of Who, What, When, Where, and Why to respond to Racial and Social Injustice, check out his piece on the Partnership Schools blog.
As a Black male Catholic school educator and leader, ancora imparo—I am still learning. I am challenged to expand my knowledge, the capacity of my influence and the impact of my instruction, especially in the current state of our country, laced with violence, hate and systemic oppression. I have been wondering how I should respond to these heinous acts of police brutality against people of color and the requests of my white colleagues and friends for suggestions on how they support the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Start with Why, Simon Sinek prompts the reader asking, “Why did we start doing what we’re doing in the first place?” As educators we should ask, what policies, curriculum, systems, structures and routines implemented in my school advance or hinder racial justice? Scripture animates my educational philosophy. I get out of bed every morning to have a transformational impact on the lives of children and families through the power of music and theatre infused with love and joy. I encourage all Catholic school educators and leaders to return to their “Why?”
Through personal connections to scripture and individual relationships with God in prayer, He imparts infinite wisdom. The fruits of the spirit are the keys to overcoming the racism that devalues the image of God in others. We must access our faith to see people how Christ sees them. This process will require self-reflection, mindfulness, and being open to addressing all the thoughts and feelings that arise. Below you will find six scriptures with a probing question that support my version of “Why” to respond to racial and social injustice as it stands now, while ancora imparo.
- I Corinthians 12:15-26 NABRE
“But as it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
If I am in a position to hire, what practices do I employ to ensure diversity within my staff?
- Proverbs 22:6 NABRE
“Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” Am I helping students learn from an early age that their voices, lived experiences and opinions are valuable?
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NABRE
“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” How have I fed into the idea and perpetuated the effects of white privilege?
- Matthew 28:19-20 NABRE
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” How are my thoughts, words, actions, and character shaped by my environment?
- Colossians 3:13-14
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” How can I listen with the intention to understand without judgment?
I have been the victim and inflictor of racially charged biases on several occasions. White people, probably with good hearts, have unconsciously asserted microaggressions against me and I have done the exact same. The key is to acknowledge those missed opportunities for human connection and ensure we are prepared for an alternative response in the future. My hope is that this post points you in a clear direction of “Why” to commit to this work.