“As we are transformed into the image of our God, we learn to love others as Jesus does. Such self-sacrificing love could really change our world.”
– Illio Delio, Claire of Assisi, p. ix
The chronic injustice and blind prejudice baked into everyday life for people of color haven’t been visible to people like me until recently. Why is that?
I have discovered that gaps in my understanding require me to read more, learn more, do more. I commit to moving toward and not away from what I do not understand about the suffering of my brothers and sisters and the BLM movement. What would happen if we each took our blind spots about race as a learning challenge to be conquered through exploration and education?
My own awareness of privilege began when I used to commute downtown. I would drive from my garage in the county to the parking garage downtown to work in financial services. Baltimore looked pretty good from my perch above the Inner Harbor. Walks to Orioles games or dinner outings revealed a reality that contrasted with my own life.
Privilege creates distance from poverty and wanting. Only when we slow down and look for it can we see the distance in our own lives. That was the gift from completing the 19th Annotation, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that I completed 3-1/2 years ago. We develop compassion only through proximity to the poor. Through my work with various Catholic, community food and education initiatives, a different Baltimore became more visible. Beyond simply contributing, I was able to become involved volunteering, serving, praying – gaining a bit more proximity to issues of race and poverty.
As a member of the only Jesuit parish in Baltimore, I valued its welcoming stance toward the marginalized among us. You do too; you exhibit an openness to learning because you are reading this reflection.
We can make a start in the little room where we go to pray. Ignatian prayer is imaginative, reflective and personal. Discernment of spirits allows us to sit with the experience of our brothers and sisters. We can move toward our discomfort and take time to see the world through the eyes of people of color. Use these tools to bring the experience of people of color to life. Linger there and let the spirit guide us on a new path toward racial equity. Then act accordingly.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement born of frustration with injustice, racial bias and police brutality. It is frustrating when people conflate BLM with violence and looting. Take time at least to understand they are two different things, and that BLM is a peaceful movement. To conflate the two calls up for me the age-old quote, “I can’t hear what you are saying until I know how much you care.”
St. Claire of Assisi (1193-1253) found her heart was filled in hearing God’s word presented through the teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. As children of God, we hear the word of God and develop a heart for love and justice through prayer and reflection.
Loving God, teach us your ways and give us eyes to see, ears to hear and courage to live faithful to your call to live and love as Jesus taught us. Amen.
Written by Gerri L.
Every issue of “Becoming Antiracist” is written by a fellow St. Ignatius parishioner.
Gerri L. is a leadership and transition coach who guides people through change and intentional disruption. She serves on the board of a Baltimore-based startup enterprise, The Chill Station, which provides jobs to formerly incarcerated people. She is a Mentor in the social enterprise, Innovation Works, and is a past board member of the Center for Poverty Solutions. A practitioner of Ignatian Spirituality, Gerri chairs the Baltimore Ignatian Business Chapter and has been a scholarship sponsor of the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore.