Can Catholics Support Black Lives Matter? Part Ten: So What?

Can Catholics Support Black Lives Matter? Part Ten: So What? September 14, 2020

Previous posts in this series: Intro to BLM, Marxism, Is BLM Marxist?, Violence, Reporting on Violence, Is BLM Violent?, Is BLM Anti-Family?, Does BLM Support the Gay Agenda?, and Does BLM Support Abortion?

So, what was the point of all that? I’m trying to establish that Catholics should support BLM, right? Probably not supporting it would be racist or something?

No. I sincerely don’t care if people donate to BLM or join a local chapter. (I think they should endorse the statement “Black lives matter”—denying it is indeed racist—but that’s different from the group, as I noted in the intro post.) I’ve never donated to them myself, and I don’t plan to; like, I might, but it’s not a priority. And there are other organizations that are working to fight racism, some of them older and better established than BLM, that I’d probably endorse first. The Movement for Black Lives seems to be bigger, for instance, and the NAACP is a notable anti-racist organization. If you want something specifically Catholic, you might consider the National Black Catholic Congress, or follow someone like Gloria Purvis for articles and ideas. Support BLM, or criticize their (actually fairly small, but real) inconsistency with Catholic teaching, or ignore them entirely. I do not care.*

Just say “no,” do not include context

Why spend all this time defending BLM, then? A few reasons.

    1. Most of the accusations against BLM that I know of just aren’t true. This alone makes them worth rebutting. Making untrue and damaging statements about a political movement is what the Catechism calls “slander.” It’s also dangerous, since people can and do use falsehoods as an excuse to incite violence—and we’ve already got plenty of that.
    2. People very easily confuse BLM the group with the much more general slogan “Black lives matter.” I honestly feel like this one’s sort of on BLM? A different name would’ve been better, I think. Regardless, what makes this a problem is, people then go on to assume that whatever BLM the group says and does, the whole antiracist movement says and does. And when they’re hearing distortions or outright lies about BLM in the first place, that has negative consequences for the whole antiracist movement, and even for people of color in general who have nothing to do with BLM.
    3. Catholics should be better than this. Fixing our reaction to BLM could be a great first step in fixing a much bigger problem: we, i.e. Catholics, don’t have a great track record on racism in this country. Of course there were exceptions. But, once the Italians and the Irish were accepted as white, a lot of them took kind of a “fuck you, got mine” attitude toward other American minorities. Catholics owned slaves; Catholics supported Jim Crow laws. We were a major instrument in destroying the cultures of indigenous Americans. Hell, Catholics were the first Europeans to colonize the Americas and set up the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In theological language, we have a lot of penance to do.

No, most of us didn’t personally colonize or enslave or segregate anybody, let alone kill them. But that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do penance for these things. Because remember, the whole problem of racism comes from the root of denying our common humanity. And that common humanity is something we share not only among races, but through time. We are involved in the sins of our fathers. Practically, because we’re still living in a social and political world that stands on the consequences of those sins. (Can anyone really argue that Aristotle or Jesus or Constantine are still influential, when they all lived over a thousand years ago, but that Jim Crow, which some living people can still remember, has disappeared without a trace?)

But we’re also interconnected on a spiritual level. That’s why we can apply indulgences to the dead, why we can draw on the merits of the saints—it’s why the atonement works at all. This is not just another crusade of the woke. It’s the gospel.

The Church is Catholike, universall, so are all her Actions; All that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concernes mee; for that child is thereby connected to that Head which is my Head too, and engraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a Man, that action concernes me … No Man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

—John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, Meditation XVII


*EDIT: Since writing this, I have found out that BLM leadership does have some connections to pro-choice groups. I’m not quite clear what the connections are, but I’d probably avoid donating to them myself for that reason. However, I feel my point stands.

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