The Mystery of Evil in the Racial Divide

by Thomas F. Clark, S.J. JustSouth Quarterly Fall 2017

The 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit governance body) in 2016 issued a decree entitled, Companions in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice. In this decree, the Congregation identified reconciliation as a primary ministry for Jesuits and a particular way in which they experience the call of the Eternal King:

All our ministries should seek to build bridges, to foster peace. To do this, we must enter into a deeper understanding of the mystery of evil in the world and the transforming power of the merciful gaze of God who labors to create of humanity one reconciled, peaceful family.1

As an American Jesuit, I experience this call to reconciliation as an urgent appeal to focus on this country’s racial divide. As a white pastor of an historically black Catholic parish in Baton Rouge, I am led to enter into an "examen," that distinctly Ignatian review of one's life and world under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to seek clarity about the consolations and desolations we encounter as we serve the Lord and his people. In 2016, Baton Rouge was the scene of the police-involved killing of Alton Sterling, the ambush shooting of law enforcement officers, and a flood that damaged approximately 90,000 homes and businesses. In my examen, I seek to do what the Congregation invited—enter into a deeper understanding of the mystery of evil and seek hope in the transforming power of the merciful gaze of God.



An Introduction to Race, Racism, and Whiteness

By Dr. Alex Mikulich

Over 100 years ago, in his introduction to The Souls of Black Folk, W.E. B. Du Bois wrote: “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Despite claims that we live in a “post-racial” society after the historic election of Barack Obama, the fact remains that the color line and racial hierarchy endures in the 21st century.  At issue for the Jesuit Social Research Institute, from the perspective of Roman Catholic social teaching and thought, is the persistence of disproportionate advantage for white Americans in relationship to pervasive and persistent disproportionate disadvantage for people of color in every sphere of life including health, wealth, income, education, housing, and the criminal justice system.  More than one issue among others, the contradiction between Gospel values and practices of racial inequality is scandalous. The contradiction between Roman Catholic and American claims for universal human dignity and equality, and the reality of social, political, and economic advantage that white Americans consciously and unconsciously accept and assume, betrays this scandal.  This article continues here

ARCHIVED Articles on Racism:

Confederate Ghosts: The Clash of Civilizations-- Mitchell

The Public Space: Confrontations and Controls-- Mitchell 

In Defiance of Hidden Deaths: Black Lives Matter as a Living Philosophy-- Mitchell 

Stop Locking Up Our Future: End the School-to-Prison Pipeline-- Mikulich 

Get Smart Louisiana: Reforms open way for smarter, comprehensive sentencing in the future-- Mikulich 

Honoring Our Sacred Obligations -- Mikulich

Smart Criminal Justice Reform: Mississippi and Texas Leading Gulf South States -- Mikulich

A Last Will and Testament: The Freedom Riders' enduring legacy -- Mikulich

The Monstrous Elegance of White Supremacy -- Mikulich

Six Myths of Payday Lending -- Mikulich

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Becoming Maladjusted for the Beloved Community-- Mikulich 

Marching for Racial Justice in Contemplation and Protest-- Mikulich

The Gift of W.E.B. Du Bois and Double-Consciousness--Mikulich

Thomas Merton’s “Letters to a White Liberal”--Mikulich

A Victory for Democracy: Americans repudiate voter suppression, racism--Mikulich

Race and the 2012 Presidential Election--Mikulich

The Real Fraud in “Voter Fraud”: How so-called reform laws aim to disenfranchise voters -- Mikulich

The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich

Changing the Script: A Starting Point for Reducing Gun Violence--Mikulich

Stop Casting Stones: The Failure of Punitive Crime Policy--Mikulich

No Relief in Sight: Persistent High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos in Gulf South States -- Mikulich

View all Racism articles »