DignitySF statement of support for Black Lives Matter
Dignity San Francisco, the Bay Area chapter of DignityUSA, the national LGBTQ Catholic organization, heartily condemns the systemic racism that drives police brutality throughout the U.S. Additionally, the Catholic group supports all Bay Area protesters who protest for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
A nation that thrived on the slave labor of Black people for centuries can only bear wounds of institutional prejudice that are bound to reopen time and time again. As a minority community, Dignity San Francisco understands that the first step for those wounds to heal permanently is for socially privileged classes – i.e., heterosexual, cisgender, and white people – to examine the inherent advantages they have in a culture that is more likely to listen to their voices over those of people of color or LGBTQ individuals.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with being socially privileged, it is problematic to pretend that such social privileges do not exist. This willful ignorance makes it impossible to remedy institutional racism, and at the same time, makes it difficult to hear the voices of the powerless in our society.
As LGBTQ Catholic Christians, we were also appalled by the rhetoric and posturing coming from the self-identified Christians in our nation’s federal administration – including the now infamous photo of President Donald Trump holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, taken after peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were reportedly forced from the area by tear gas. We challenge the president and all self-identified Christian leaders in public office to read and hold fast to the words found in Matthew 25: 31-46, and understand that the Jesus we all worship is on the side of “the least of these.”
In the U.S. today, the “least of these” includes Black people who, since early childhood, have to learn the color of their skin is a proverbial target on their backs. The “least of these” includes Black people who cannot take mundane activities – jogging, wearing a hoodie, driving a car, birdwatching, having a barbecue – for granted, at the risk of arousing suspicions among racist white neighbors. The “least of these” includes Black transgender women who put their lives at risk as sex workers because it is legal for employers across the country to discriminate against them. The “least of these” includes Black people struggling to breathe under the unlawful restraint of poorly trained and undisciplined police officers.
We LGBTQ Catholic Christians have faith that God’s infinitely wise vision for our world includes justice for our friends and family in the Black Lives Matter movement. We also understand that, for that vision to be realized, we must humbly examine any and all of our social privileges, and amplify the voices of the disenfranchised in our society.
To that end, we urge all who support our Black friends and family to patronize Black-owned businesses, donate to Black Lives Matter, or donate to bail funds that work with Black Lives Matter protesters who have been arrested. Furthermore, we suggest reading “The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it,” an article by Fr, Bryan N. Massingale, published in National Catholic Reporter (see attached PDF file).