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.

From January 2021 through June of 2023, our Toward Communion: Undoing Racism and Embracing Diversity Committee and our Justice Promoters 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. He shares his unique experience of growing up Black in a white family in Detroit and educates on topics of equity and inclusion.

Equity and Inclusion Project

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Black Catholic Project: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

Graphic with quote and an image of Toni Morrison from 1970

Black Catholic Project: Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

Our Black Catholic of interest this month is Toni Morrison. She is one of the great American authors whose novels are overflowing with spiritual overtones and an exploration into the richness of gender and race. Toni Morrison was a Princeton professor and an American author. Her literary awards were numerous. She was a Pulitzer Prize Winner and author of 11 deeply significant novels. Although her novels were not of religious content, her books reflect her spiritual depths. She is considered one of our great Catholic authors.

Toni was born Chloe Wofford in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. During the first few years of her life, she was raised in her mother’s African Methodist Episcopal Church. This experience, especially the music, had influence on her as a person and as an author. Toni had Catholic relatives and became especially close to a cousin. This relationship, in part, led her to Catholic baptism in 1943, at the age of 12, at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Lorain, Ohio. In confirmation she took the name Anthony after the patron of her church. During college she changed her name to Toni (after St. Anthony) because many people had difficulty pronouncing “Chloe.”

Toni had difficulty with Vatican II. She suffered greatly when the Latin Mass was replaced. She felt that much “structure” was removed as a result of the Council and this was difficult. For her, Latin was the unifying and universal language of the Church. By 2007 Toni identified herself as a lapsed Catholic, but her admiration and respect for Pope Francis remained strong.

As a Black woman, Toni knew and professed the value of Black stories. She grew up in the Midwest in a family that possessed an intense appreciation and love for Black culture. Storytelling, songs and folk tales were a deep part of her childhood. The central theme of her novels is the Black American experience, particularly the Black female experience within the Black Community. Her novels talk about an unjust society and her characters struggle to find themselves and their cultural identity. She blatantly exposes racism, violence, and sexism.

 

Reflection Questions

1) If you have read any of Toni Morrison’s novels, which one(s) inspired you the most?

2) In what ways do fictional stories/novels teach us about real-life experiences?

 

Prayer

Gracious, generous God, inspire Black authors to deepen our awareness of the evil of racism in our own personal world through their writings.
May their stories enlighten and inspire us to act to combat racism.
Amen.

 

Resources

Black Catholic Messenger “Reflection: Too Few People Recognized the Contributions of Black Catholics-From Toni Morrison to Homer Plessy” - November 11, 2021, by Nadra Nittle
https://www.blackcatholicmessenger.com/nadra-nittle-toni-morrison-book

Literary Hub “On the Paradoxes of Toni Morrison’s Catholicism” March 2, 2020 by Nick Ripatrazone
https://lithub.com/on-the-paradoxes-of-toni-morrisons-catholicism

MSNBC Black History, Uncensored: Toni Morrison Knew of “Unspeakable Things” - February 7, 2023 by Ja’han Jones
https://www.msnbc.com/the-reidout/reidout-blog/toni-morrison-black-history-uncensored-rcna69520

Toni Morrison Remembered by Writers - August 10, 2019, by The New Yorker
https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/toni-morrison-remembered-by-writers

 

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