Best friends Megan Wright and Juienne Brown sit during a rally against racial inequality June 12 in Richmond, Va. CNS photo/Jay Paul, Reuters
Best friends Megan Wright and Juienne Brown sit during a rally against racial inequality June 12 in Richmond, Va. CNS photo/Jay Paul, Reuters
Young people have a valuable guide with which to spark conversations about anti-racism and the Catholic faith, thanks to some local social justice advocates.

“Our Catholic faith compels us to see injustice in the world and make it right,” said Stephanie Peddicord, president of the Center for FaithJustice, a Lawrenceville-based nonprofit that creates programs to serve those in need and educates youth and young adults on social justice in the Catholic tradition.

“Right now, conversations on justice are very focused on race, and young people have a lot to learn from and contribute to that dialogue,” she said.

Those with the Center for FaithJustice have created a web page of resources that can foster dialogue on racism with people of all generations. 

“We have been compiling and sharing ways a young person might find a first point of entry into the conversation,” Peddicord said. Using the resources found at faithjustice.org/antiracism-resources/, she continued, youth and young adults might engage one another or family members to “open our eyes to systemic racism, try to understand it within a larger context and talk about it.”

The web page holds links to scores of resources designed to educate, engage and inspire conversation. Books, articles, speeches, podcasts, films and artistic works offer a diverse selection of views and impressions; opportunities to advocate, support black-owned businesses, donate to organizations and volunteer on the local, state or national level are also explored.

“Many of these [resources] have helped our organization to learn more about and confront unconscious bias in our work and daily lives,” the web page reads. “Pick one or two that strike a chord with you, and then start a conversation. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be meaningful.”

Said Peddicord, “We really encourage youth and young adult groups to use these resources as a catalyst. Talking about racism and privilege is hard, but it does not have to be scary.”

Prayers, too, abound, demonstrating that racism is not simply a political issue.

“The USCCB issued its discussion on racism, ‘Open Wide Our Hearts,’ in 2018. [Talking about racism] is what our faith requires of us, to see people who live on the margins. … We are all together in this sacred work of building a beloved community,” Peddicord said, speaking of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter against racism.

Having conversations about racism is crucial, CFJ staff and volunteers say, and learning what others have already achieved can add to the conversation.

“Discuss what you are learning or know about racism,” the CFJ advises. “Discuss what makes you uncomfortable, challenge each other to see things in a more just and equitable way. … Learning from new perspectives is important. Use social media as a tool for conversation with your peers. Look up authors, teachers, speakers and other influencers that have been doing this work … elevate their voices and the anti-racist work they have done.”

Peddicord noted that racism has been a topic of discussion and advocacy for years, but that the death of George Floyd – a black man who died May 25 while being arrested by a white Minneapolis police officer – has brought it again to the forefront of public discourse.

“It hasn’t been easy, but there is an openness among people who have never spoken about racism before,” she said. “This moment feels different. Let’s embrace it.”