by Johnny Zokovitch
Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
In the approach to the annual holiday remembering and celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps there has never been a moment more vital for us to reflect on, remember, and practice the example he gave us. Is it possible, in these times of division and violence, to still be hopeful for the “beloved community” that he called us to? I know that I’ll be wrestling with his words and drawing strength from his legacy as we celebrate his life this weekend.
In this Pray-Study-Act e-bulletin we sent out today, you’ll find several resources for prayer, study and action curated from members of the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team — Pearlette Springer, Vicki Lott, Francis DeBernardo, Jacques Detiege and Mary Yelenick, as well as some recommendations from alumni of the team. We hope that especially during this time, these resources might help you to observe the holiday, whether on your own or with your family, or with members of your community, church or school.
I’d like to offer a special word of thanks to all of our members and friends who have served on the Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team over the past 20+ years. Especially over this past year, I have been so grateful for the work that Pax Christi USA set out to do in the mid-nineties in terms of anti-racism and accountability and PCART’s leadership in guiding us forward. As I formatted this PSA, I was reviewing, for instance, this PSA e-bulletin from the archives, written by PCART on the opening of the MLK Memorial in 2011. I’ll leave you with words from PCART members in that PSA which still challenge us now, a decade a later:
“Our anti-racism work is not simply about the issue of racism. Our work is understanding how racism infects and sabotages our peacemaking efforts. Dismantling racism in Pax Christi is a priority because racism is a sinful disease that distorts our vision and analysis, weakens our Gospel integrity and authenticity, and relegates us to the periphery of God’s dream of an all-inclusive discipleship community working together to heal a broken world.
“This work is difficult and at times it may seem that for every step forward, we take two steps backward. It is much easier to focus on the sinfulness that exists in the world around us than it is to confront [what is] within. It is often easier for us to look beyond our borders–to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Sudan–than to look at the institutional and systemic racism within our borders that perpetuates social injustice and inflicts violence on many [of us who are] sisters and brothers of color. It is often easier to claim ‘I am not prejudiced’ than to work, pray, and befriend people outside our cultural, economic, linguistic, or racial community. The good news is that God ‘makes a way out of no way…’ The road may be long but Dr. King and many other holy women and men have gone before us to show us the way.”