We at Dignity Washington are saddened and outraged over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. Like so many others before him, his life ended too soon. Lying in the street with a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Mr. Floyd cried out for water, just as Jesus did in his final moments. As Pope Francis has pointed out, we cannot be outraged at the death of Jesus without being outraged at the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others. The violence and brutality that we continue to witness toward black and brown communities throughout the United States stands in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of our Catholic faith.
Catholic teaching proclaims that life is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of every person. As Pope Francis said this past week, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”
As a Catholic community, we stand in solidarity with communities of color and the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide, and we offer our unequivocal support for those who protest against police brutality everywhere. Now more than ever it is important to recognize and disrupt systems of white supremacy that have allowed social injustices to continue.
As an LGBTQ community, we recognize the fight for civil rights in our world and the need for progress, we also must recognize that until the marginalized in our community are treated with equality, none of us have equality. We are all too aware of the increased violence against trans people of color by police and civilians. We speak up for Monika Diamond, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and many more victims of violence against trans people of color this year alone. We must ensure the continuing fight for LGBTQ rights includes everyone identifying as part of our community, and we stand with our black and brown siblings to end racial injustice, dismantle systems of white supremacy, and proclaim that black lives matter.
As LGBTQ Catholics, we must root out injustice in our own communities and ensure that we continue to be a safe and welcoming space for all to come and receive the healing words of Christ. As we pray for healing, recovery, and safety for all in our community, we also have begun to take concrete steps to bring about change. Matthew 7:5 challenges us that we must first acknowledge and take out the “speck” of racism and white supremacy in our own eye before removing it from that of our friend.
As a first step, we are calling on all our white members to take a moment to read the article “The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it,” by Bryan Massingale, then to sit and examine the internalized biases we often hold in ourselves and our society. We hope this encourages discussions among our families and friends in evaluating how white supremacy shows up in our lives.
As a board we are committed to holding anti-racism training for our leadership as well as holding a series of discussions in the coming months within our community to identify, address, and reflect on our biases both as a community and individuals. We are committing to investing in partner organizations of color as part of our annual giving.
In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we must continue to pray, examine, and advocate for justice. God commands each of us to “speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Let us advocate daily against police brutality and systemic racism to ensure: Black Trans Lives Matter; Black Queer Lives Matter; Black Lives Matter!
– The President and Board of Dignity Washington