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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Curiosity Makes Better Friends

two black muslim boys riding their bikes side by side down a street

The new family was moving in and the neighborhood was buzzing. They were moving into the house on the corner of Outer Drive and Byrne in our Northwest Detroit neighborhood. Most of the neighbors were white and Catholic. To this point, I was the anomaly, I was a Black kid living with white Lutheran parents. The new family would change that. They were Black and Muslim, and we were told they were scary. I remember the rumors moving through the neighborhood like a cool breeze whispering, “Black Muslims hate white people you know.” Several adults warned us to stay away from them. 

The warning to stay away made the family seem more appealing. My best friend and I jumped on our bikes and slowly pedaled past their house as they unloaded furniture and knick-knacks. Their furniture looked a lot like ours, just a better quality. The children dressed the same as kids our age. I was expecting them to look different, but my eyes saw no difference. We passed by, coasting on our bikes, and we noticed there were several boys in the family and one small girl. They smiled at us. It wasn’t the sinister smile I was expecting. It was the “can you come play with us,” kind of smile. I was encouraged because I didn’t want to be the only one in the neighborhood with more melanin than most. But I was cautious because of the warnings, and I was cautious because I wasn’t sure how they would see me, a Black kid living with a white family. I wondered if their hate for white would extend to me.

A few days later, Omar and Hassan came walking around the corner as we played baseball in the street. We all tensed up as they approached. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but the assumption was they would be mean, angry, and hard to talk to. Hassan was the oldest, tall, skinny, friendly, and calm. He spoke first and introduced himself to our group and we didn’t know how to respond. He wasn’t anything like we were told he would be. Omar spoke softly and had a bigger personality and still humble and kind. They were just kids like us. I wanted to pull off their Detroit Tigers caps to unveil their horns because I was convinced genetically Muslims had to be different. There was nothing there. 

Finally, one of the older kids in our group asked if they wanted to play baseball with us. They said they had never played baseball before, but they were willing to learn. We were shocked that children our age had never played baseball, and we were excited to teach them. Hassan was on my team and Omar was on the other team and it was obvious by the way Hassan stood at home plate with a bat that this was new to him. The group was patient, and he was coachable and soon he caught on.  

While sitting on the porch waiting to bat, Hassan sat next to me and asked me all about myself. I told him I liked to collect comic books and said he did too. I told him I liked to build with my Erector set and he too liked to build things. Hassan turned out to be a nerd like me and I was so confused. I kept waiting for the scary Muslim to appear and scream, “All whites are the devil,” and he never did.  

A few days later Hassan returned and walked straight up to me and said, “I have something to show you.” He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled up a small figurine that he made. He had saved several green bread-ties and twisted them together to create The Hulk, one of my favorite comic book characters. He wanted me to have it. Someone who hates white people can’t be this creative.  

Hassan’s parents were strict, so I didn’t see him a lot. They spent a lot of time doing chores and working around the house. When Hassan would come around, he always had a new comic book character made out of bread ties. His Spiderman made from red and blue ties was my favorite.

Hassan had two younger brothers, Kareem and Abdul who were about 7 and 8 years old. They were just learning to ride bikes so they would often ride together down our street. On one of their first trips, Kareem started teasing us as he rode by calling us, “do do heads,” and my friend and I gave chase as we played along. Kareem and Abdul sped away on their bikes laughing. Their laugh was a deep, genuine, belly laugh that was simply pure joy. A sound that could drown out the loudest city sounds. From that day on Kareem and Adul would ride down our street looking for us, hoping we would chase them. We always did with no intention of ever catching them. We did it just to hear them laugh and scream. People who hate white people don’t laugh like that.

The family never lived up to the stereotype of what we thought a Muslim family should be. They were respectful, kind, gracious, and polite. They were much more kind than most of the kids in the neighborhood. What I realized was that they weren’t like that despite being Muslim. They were like that because they were Muslim and brought up that way. 

One of my heroes is the bumbling genius Ted Lasso from the TV series of the same name. He has a great quote, “Be Curious, not judgmental.” I think we lean more on judgmental as we grow up and become adults. But I have to tell you: curiosity helps make better friends.

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