June 19, 2020
Dear Friends and Supporters of Franciscan Action Network,
Today is Juneteenth, a day set aside each year to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States.
Amidst the outpouring of support across the nation for Black Lives Matter in light of the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks at the hands of police, Juneteenth this year is profoundly poignant. Franciscan Action Network joins in calling for justice for these victims and in proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. We join the call for racial justice.
We must recognize that racism against people of color is baked into nearly every aspect of American life. It can be discerned in the tropes of Hollywood movies, in the statues that stand in our city parks and plazas, in the patterns of our housing and real estate, in the leadership of our corporations, in the words of everyday speech, in the canons of American literature – and, yes, in the statistics of law enforcement, imprisonment, and executions. We see it in the disparities of medical care and in the impact of the COVID-19 virus. It infects our hiring and firing, our lending practices, and is unmistakable in the shocking de facto segregation of our schools.
Even our churches and religious practices are not immune from the presence of this sin.
In that spirit, we invite Franciscan-hearted people on this Juneteenth to join us in prayerful and penitential reflection. Let us on this day seek to discern the systemic racism so deeply coiled in the institutions of our society. Let us look as well for any shadow of this structural and mortal sin in our own hearts.
Very importantly, let us pray too that such discernment moves us to act for justice. May our Juneteenth prayers and reflections lead to immediate action for racial justice.
Peace and all good,
Stephen F. Schneck, Ph.D.