Lenten Reflection on Racism

Simple, ordinary, faithful, and caring women want to assure that their recently tortured and murdered friend had a proper burial, so they go to the site in the early morning hours to anoint the body.

It is here that they ask one of the simple and profound questions found in the Scriptures. WHO WILL ROLL AWAY THE STONE?

Today, Lent begins. It is a time to examine what stones have hardened in our lives over the years, stones that need to be acknowledged and rolled away so that the fulness of the One who is buried can be liberated.

As members of the dominant culture in Notre Dame, we have inherited from our cultures, our educational experiences, our families and our church, ideas and attitudes that have taught us to believe, accept and live out superior definitions of ourselves and of our roles in society and in Notre Dame. This results in our rugged, independent spirits who always know the right way of doing things and the judgments we make of others who think, feel and believe differently from us. These are our stones that need repentance.

Communities of color, on the other hand, have been taught from these same influences of culture, religion, and education to believe, accept, and live out negative social definitions of themselves and of their roles in society. This results in never feeling competent enough or good enough. It produces a lethal blow to one’s self concept and self-esteem. These are the stones that need tending to.

The question of ‘who will roll away the stone’ of racism is one that we must do together with our sisters and brothers of color. The members of the dominant culture cannot do it alone, (though too often we think we can). We enjoy feeling safe, secure, important, good, and comfortable and do not want to lose these feelings by discussing racism. The only way that the stone can be rolled away is for all of us to be vulnerable together…to risk having the honest conversations and to marvel together at the liberation that lies behind the stone which some call resurrection.

Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN, for the US SNDdeN Anti-Racism Team