By: Rachel Lyons
Sunday, January 28, 2018
MLK Day Recap and Next Steps
“We have to, together as a society, say, ‘We are prejudiced.’ We have to acknowledge that existence within us.”
-Troy LaRaviere, Keynote Speaker at MLK Day
Full church, challenging speakers, transformed hearts – this was the experience hosted in our holy sanctuary for the Martin Luther King Faith in Action Assembly this month on January 15th. Old St. Pat’s was honored to host this memorable day getting rooted in prayer, in justice, and in undoing racism with hard work and faithful spirits. OSP has been a member of Community Renewal Society for three years, and our work with CRS continues to grow and flourish in our community. On the morning of MLK Day, the music moved folks to clap, sing, and bring their full bodies, minds, and souls into the events of the day. We kicked off the morning of MLK Day with a rousing, piercing, and inspiring keynote from Troy LaRaviere, the President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. His analysis of systemic racism set the tone for a dynamic and moving assembly. Mr. LaRaviere said, “What we have to understand is that you can’t enslave people for 250 years and then segregate them for another hundred years without the buy-in of a critical mass of the population. People won’t accept something if they believe they’re being immoral and unethical, so you have to convince a critical mass of the population that this is OK to do to ‘them.’ You have to tell a story about ‘them’, you have to tell a lie about ‘them.’ You have to…impugn the integrity of Black character, question the truth of Black voices in the minds of the masses, malign the intentions of Black hearts, disregard the worth of Black lives, and scoff at the mere mention or suggestion of holiness in a Black soul in the minds of the masses.”
He leaned on the words of Dr. King and reminded us that if our society is “saturating people’s thinking with the lie of white supremacy, you must saturate people’s thinking with the lie of Black inferiority. They’re two sides of the same coin.” He continued to give examples of racism against Black people, against Arab people and Muslims, and against immigrants. These deep, deep wounds in our society and in our culture create generational trauma for Black and Brown people in our country, whether it is in schools, in religious institutions, in interactions with police officers, in retail stores, or in everyday encounters on the bus or train. And so we are called – especially as people of faith who follow the example of Jesus – to acknowledge the biases within us and the biases within our larger systems, and to dismantle racism.
Next up we hosted a public accountability session with seven alderman to discuss commitments around reforms to the police union contracts. These reforms include eliminating the requirement of sworn affidavit for investigating civilian complaints of misconduct, allowing past disciplinary records to be used in investigating and resolving present complaints, and requiring officers to disclose secondary employment and other pertinent information that may cause a conflict of interest in performing their duties as a sworn officer (full list of reforms at cpcachicago.org). We also welcomed six candidates running for governor of IL to answer yes or no to critical policy questions and also share thoughts and policy plans on housing and jobs, restoring opportunities and rights for people returning from prison, and gun dealer licensing and requirements.
Throughout the whole event, we also hosted a youth and kids area in the FXW cafeteria with justice-centered songs, crafts, and games. Kids and adults alike left ready to get out of our comfort zones and trust God in strengthening us not just for a moment but for a MOVEMENT. A huge thank you to all the volunteers, staff (especially maintenance team who shoveled all morning), Fr. Hurley, and all OSP friends who helped us host. Here’s to the work ahead!
Where do we go from here?
- Missed the event? Watch it on our website: https://livestream.com/oldstpats/events/8015164
- Read the full CRS platform for 2018 here: http://www.communityrenewalsociety.org/platform-renewal
- Join our next Social Justice meeting on Sunday, Feb 11, 9:30am – 11:00pm (RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Attend the CRS Advocacy 101 workshop – Saturday, Jan 27, 10:00am (details on CRS website)
- Follow @OSPSocialJustice on Facebook and @OSPSocJustice on Twitter for action alerts