Equity and Inclusion


In response to the proposal from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that congregations focus on the dismantling of racism, the Adrian Dominican Sisters began by identifying resources that can assist us in raising our consciousness of white privilege and white supremacy, both personally and systematically.

Since January 2021, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters have collaborated on a project to provide information on prominent Black and Indigenous Catholics who have made significant contributions to the church and society, along with reflection questions and a prayer.

In May of 2022, Kevin D. Hofmann was named the founding Director of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion for the Congregation. With the goal of normalizing conversations about race and culture and discussing what it means to feel included and excluded, Kevin began contributing to this blog in June of 2022 and shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit.

 

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Seven Kwanzaa candles lit on a table surrounded by fresh fruit and a bronze statue of an elephant

I Was Never Taught About Kwanzaa

By Kevin Hofmann
Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion

When I think back about my own education, I get a little angry. My curriculum rarely included any mention of people who look like me. One of the only times Black people were brought up in my history classes was when we talked about the enslavement of a race of people, and that history was filtered and bleached. We would talk about a few Black individuals who made contributions to this country, but they were always the same people every year. Eli Whitney and the cotton gin often came up. George Washington Carver and the wonders he could do with peanuts was a yearly lesson. Frederick Douglass and his wild hair would make an appearance. Malcolm X would be mentioned casually, but we couldn’t dive too deep into him because he was "dangerous." Of course, Martin Luther King Jr., was mentioned, but the vitriol that was often directed towards him when he was alive was "forgotten." The poet Gwendolyn Brooks and author James Baldwin (he was dangerous too) appeared as our only literary heroes. I heard more about Black athletes and entertainers, but the pathway to those careers was narrow and treacherous. Nowhere else did I see where people like me contributed to this country’s creation, which made me mad. I felt like valuable information was kept from me, information that would have helped me create a more confident me. I felt cheated.

In the ’90s, long after my elementary school years, it happened again. A friend of mine asked me if I celebrated Kwanzaa and I replied I hadn’t because I didn’t know what it was. He was generous enough to explain it to me and I couldn’t believe this had been around since the '60s and I had never heard about it. No one had ever taught me about Kwanzaa. It has such a rich and powerful message that I wished I had been made aware of it much sooner.

Sister Joan called me a few weeks ago and asked if I was going to do anything with Kwanzaa and I shared candidly that I didn’t know much about it. I was ashamed to admit that, but it was true. Sister Joan was kind enough to share with me a summary of Kwanzaa from the Black Catholic Project, which I have linked below. I hope you will join me in learning about and celebrating such an amazing tradition. Next year I will do more around Kwanzaa, now that I know more about it.

Black Catholic Project: Kwanzaa

 


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People of African Descent on the Path to Sainthood

Printable bookmark of African Americans on their Way to Sainthood (PDF)

U.S. Black Catholic History Links

Black Catholic History page by Seattle University

Timeline from the National Black Catholic Congress

Sister Jamie T. Phelps, OP, discusses Black Catholics in America with Dr. Paul Lakeland for Fairfield University's "Voices of Others" video series

News report on one of the oldest Black Catholic parishes in the U.S., St. Elizabeth Catholic Church (formerly St. Monica) in Chicago, Illinois