Our Work for Justice Continues
April 21, 2021
Dear Saint Mary’s Community,
This week, life stood still as we awaited justice in the George Floyd murder trial in Minneapolis. Today, still hearing the haunting echoes of Floyd’s final words, we must be both grateful and unsatisfied. Yes, a jury delivered three verdicts that affirmed, loud and clear, “Black Lives Matter.” No, this is not an ending, for justice is a practice. Even as the arguments were being laid out in this trial, 20-year-old Daunte Wright died at the hands of law enforcement in a suburb of the same city. But this is not a Minneapolis story. It is a Minneapolis chapter in a much larger narrative of systemic racism.
As a college community, what can we do in the face of human suffering, anguish, and demands for change? We can turn to our core values—learning, community, faith/spirituality, and justice—and commit to really living them, day in and day out, when it is easy and when it is difficult. They have to be more than words on banners and in brochures: they must actually animate our lives. In particular, our core value of justice demands that we acknowledge racial injustice, its root causes, and its impact—and that we work for change—change that has been excruciatingly slow.
We need to recognize that the burden of waiting has had a particular impact on our Black students, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Racial battle fatigue is real and causes a range of emotions from anxiety, frustration, exhaustion, and emotional withdrawal. We must hold space for those who need time to process these feelings. We had already planned a “Mass on the Grass” for Earth Day today at 5 p.m. on the south side of Le Mans Circle. We will remain in that space to hold vigil for the ongoing work of justice at 5:45. Please join us in community solidarity.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops reacted to the trial verdicts, saying that George Floyd’s murder “highlighted the urgent need for racial healing and reconciliation.” And the Beatitudes remind us: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice: they shall have their fill” (Matthew 5:6). Starting on our own campus, let’s sharpen our appetites for justice. Let’s listen with empathy, learn wholeheartedly, and participate actively in building a more just community.
Katie Conboy, Ph.D.
Redgina Hill, Ph.D.
Executive Director of the Office of Inclusion & Equity