The killing of George Floyd last week was deeply upsetting. It reveals and exposes the continued injustice and inequality in our country and most specifically, our justice system.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic legitimate fear has been very much with us, but not just about the virus, and not amid us equally. From unacceptable disparities in health outcomes and health care, to an uncertain economy, there are plenty of reasons for us to fear for the safety of our family members and neighbors, and those fears are greater for some, unfortunately.
Last week we endured significant and unfortunate milestones: the death toll from the virus topped 100,000 in the U.S.; unemployed workers rose past 40 million; a flood devastated a Michigan community, and we witnessed yet another brutal death of an African American man by a police officer.
As I reflect on these events, I am deeply disturbed. Yet I continue to see nurses, doctors, support staff, police officers, and volunteers perform with valor, self-sacrifice, and kindness, here in metro Detroit and around the world. I see a growing sense of community, which gives us optimism and hope that must ever be keystones of our beloved country.
Injustice does not sleep. It is not banished by good deeds or fine rhetoric. It is the not the uninvited guest we can escort beyond the gates of our communities.
This is our Catholic understanding of the human condition. The people of God are called - now and across the years - to the cause of injustice. It is our belief, our cause, and our personal responsibility.
Paul wrote. “… in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” The African American brother killed in the streets of an American city is our brother, he belongs to all of us. He is as much a member of our Madonna community as any student, any member of our grounds crew, any vice-president in our administration, any professor, lab worker, residence hall counselor, coach, or alumnus.
We mourn together, we protest injustice together, and we remember. God calls us to remember, to stand firm, now and after, with our brothers and sisters on the front lines of the battle against evil in all its forms, against injustice in all its shapes.
I call on every member of our loving Madonna University family, to extend our arms to our brothers and sisters in Christ, of all shades of color, of all understandings of the Father. Each one of us needs to listen to the many voices crying out to be heard. I call on all of us to remember and to be, in great and humble ways, a healing grace to every precious member of our community.
Colleges and universities historically have been great catalysts for social change. Our college subcultures, such as residence life, athletics, and performing and visual arts, also play major roles in changing generations of minds.
Government has passed laws; people have spoken: But have we done enough?
My mother didn’t drive; one day in the summer she took my two younger brothers and me on the bus to downtown Dayton, Ohio, to go to our first, of many, Civil Rights rally. That was in 1965 and I was seven years old. And...that was 55 years ago.
She taught me to call it injustice. She never really warmed up to the term social justice, she just felt it wasn’t clear enough.
We must take it upon ourselves and our families to condemn all injustice. To listen to the voices that have too long been suppressed. Even when we cannot understand the trials of others, it falls on us to educate ourselves and stand in solidarity with all.
They say racism is America’s original sin. It cannot be washed away. It must be confessed and, through the turning of our hearts, be weakened and defeated. We must pray for humility and wisdom that we can be an agent of God’s mercy and justice in a land sorely in need of His grace and His healing.
Through our leadership and the way we treat one another, each of us can continue to make a difference.
Nancy and I are grateful that you share our Felician Sisters' mission of respecting human dignity at every opportunity. In looking forward to the work we have ahead of us, we wish you all peace and good.
No, we have not done enough. And we must do better.
Michael A. Grandillo, Ph.D.