Position Statement on BLACK LIVES MATTER and the organizational commitment of HCC to do the anti-racism work our reality and our faith demand.
Hope CommUnity Center shares the mission of Black Lives Matter which states,
“Black Lives Matter is working for a world where black lives are no longer systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. We affirm our contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for Dignity, Justice and Respect. Black activists have raised a call for an end to violence not an escalation of it. These are values and actions that Hope CommUnity Center supports.
The 45 year history of the work of Hope CommUnity Center in farmworker and immigrant communities of color has taught us in a very real way how deeply embedded racism is in the history, culture and systems of this country and how pervasive, yet mostly unacknowledged, white privilege is. There are many ways in which the lives and experience of black people are devalued in this country and many ways in which violence against Black people is perpetuated. This is an issue much broader and deeper than the relationship of law enforcement with the black community. Mass incarceration of black people, racial profiling, violence in and against the black community stemming from hopelessness, poverty and internalized oppression are all part of the conditions causing death to black people. It is not, in our view, a disregard for all life to say Black Lives Matter, because in these times and in particular black people are being killed in unheard of numbers. Neither is this analysis a disregard for nor a blanket condemnation of law enforcement.
The struggle against racism has its roots in our faith. Jim Wallis, an Evangelical Christian, says that Racism and White Privilege are “America’s Original Sin”. He calls us to live the Gospel Text where Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” The Catholic Bishops in the United States wrote a Pastoral 25 years ago about racism called, “Brothers and Sisters to Us”, calling on the Catholic Church at every level to confront the evils of racism and to work toward the full inclusion of racial and ethnic minorities. Some 25 years later, a recent study indicated that only 36% of Catholics had ever heard a sermon on racism much less be engaged in any sort of antiracism work in the last three years. That is a scandal. Hope believes strongly that white people must learn the real stories of black people as well as acknowledge and take responsibility for our privilege. There are narratives and life experiences in black communities which are radically different from those in communities of privilege. Hope advocates having real conversations about racism and commits to work to dismantle the systems which perpetuate this racial divide.
Hope Community Center stands with the Black Lives Matter Movement in staying with the challenging, difficult work of dismantling racism, taking responsibility for acknowledging white privilege and working for an antiracist society.