Assumption Catholic Church

White Church Apologizes for reaching out to African-Americans

I couldn't believe what I was seeing as I watched the news yesterday. Outrage erupted over ‘Caucasian Privilege for Good’ article in church flier. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Parish in O’Fallon, Missouri published an article in their Sunday bulletin titled, "7 Ways to Be a Better Ally", reportedly from a Care2.com post, that acknowledged an undisputable fact; that black people suffer police disrespect and brutality disproportionately.

However, that gesture of brotherly love, understanding, and compassion as commendable as it was, was done without the pastor's knowledge. Once the article was brought to the attention of the pastor, Father Mitch Doyen, for whatever reason, felt an overwhelming need to apologize, in person, to the O'Fallon Police Department and the police chief graciously accepted his apology. A letter of apology was also issued to the congregation.

What exactly was Father Doyen apologizing for? 

The article didn't tell people to disrespect police or challenge their authority. It didn't say all police were guilty or bad. The article certainly didn't tell people to dislike, hate or retaliate against police. The article simply encouraged white people to speak out against injustice, engage in conversation, join black neighbors in protest, use white privilege for good, demand accountability from authorities and to not give up on the struggle for equal justice. 

How many videos of excessive force by police beating or killing people does it take for some to at least acknowledged there is a problem? Unarmed Black Americans are five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer. Maybe since it's not your father, brother, nephew or niece; it doesn't matter to you. But that's exactly what the "Black Lives Matter" movement is all about. It should MATTER! In 1624, John Donne stated it this way:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main." …  "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."

In the spirit of John Donne, I would like to offer Father Doyen an opportunity to view the film, "AmeriCAN". 

AmeriCAN is a short film and public service announcement that comes in response to events that have divided the country over racial lines. With the influx of violence against black males in America over the past few years, the piece strives to offer a unique perspective in examining the value of lives of the country’s citizens. The intention of the message, “all lives matter,” is to pull people together from both sides of the disparity and inspire the kind of empathy and mutual understanding necessary to promote meaningful discourse and domestic reconciliation. The goal is to bring all people together, without exception to race, religion, gender or age, and send the message that all blood flows red. 

To Our White Friends

To those who stand in solidarity with us and support the cause of equal treatment, freedom, and justice, we thank you.

Although the legal and historical information on this site is written to address issues from a black perspective, we are all in this thing together, and everyone is welcome on this site. However, we don't attempt to sugar coat facts or hide the truth and some of the material may make some people uncomfortable. 

Albert Einstein, whose intellectual achievements and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with "genius", called racism “A Disease of White People”. While it is true that systemic and institutional racism as we know it today, was created by white men, not all white people were active or willing participants.

There have been white folks who suffered and died helping to secure freedom and rights for black folks. Charles Sumner was severely beaten and Elijah Lovejoy was killed in Alton, IL simply for speaking out against slavery. John Brown and his Harpers Ferry raid were among the sparks that lit the fuse leading to the civil war. White protesters Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner died along James Earl Chaney attempting to register African-Americans in Mississippi to vote. It has often been argued that the presence of our white neighbors at the Ferguson and various "Black Lives Matter" protests, possibly prevented a harsher response from law enforcement. The unfortunate reality is that many people who might otherwise stand with us are afraid of the repercussions. 

Taking a stand against police brutality is not a stand against police, that's a false narrative. Inserting that article, as some might suggest wasn't hate speech, it was love speech, of the love thy neighbor variety.  As I have stated before, I am pro police and wouldn't want to live in a city with no police, but I don't want my friends and family to fear encounters with them. 

To the unnamed white person that inserted the article into that Sunday church bulletin, thank you for trying to make a positive difference. I'm sorry you lost your staff position. The reaction to your article insertion reminded me of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", were he states,"You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations."  

I urged any Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Parish members to speak up for your fellow parishioner to be reinstated. It was unfortunate that the timing of the article coincided with the Baton Rouge Police Ambush, however, no one can argue that was intentional.

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