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.

 

Equity and Inclusion Project

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I’m Diving in… You?

girl underwater

I’m Diving in… You?

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

I sat in on a Zoom call a few weeks ago about creating a deeper conversation around race and racism in the Church. I was excited because I have a lot of ideas as to how we can create a better sense of belonging in the Church. 

Early in the conversation, the leader was asked a very important question. “Since everyone comes to the conversation of race from a different vantage point and with varying degrees of experience, will this conversation include definitions and the acceptance of the existence of things like, white supremacy, institutional racism, and white privilege?”

I liked the question because this is always a struggle when talking about race. I think it is important to at least begin on the same page. The response we received floored me.

“I’ll be honest, I will not use any of those words as part of this conversation.” The way he said it, I heard the period at the end of the sentence. He left no room for negotiations. 

I understand why someone might say something like this. There are words and phrases that can derail a conversation that already feels like it comes pre-installed with snares and pitfalls. I think the thought was that we don’t need to make the conversation any more hazardous than it needs to be.

I have been a part of many well-meaning conversations on race. The dance is the same for me each time. I come to the meeting anxious to see what their level of commitment is to dig in and do the work. I stand at the edge of the pool listening, wondering if the water is warm enough to get in. 

The method of entry has changed. I used to dive right into the deep end willing to bare my soul for the benefit of the group and ended up flailing alone in the deep end. I am more cautious nowadays. Yet, I expect more. When I am brave enough to speak up, I expect to be heard. I expect to be given the grace to share my experiences, however that may present itself. This can be shocking to some because rarely do I, or others like me, get the opportunity to express the frustration and pain that comes with racism. The purge is not always clean and orderly, but it is necessary and not personal. To be safe to share in this way is invaluable. To be able to speak about the crushing weight of white supremacy is invaluable. To hear other acknowledge it is invaluable. To simply be heard – really heard – is invaluable. 

To begin the conversation by saying that I can’t name the perpetrator who caused this pain means I won’t dip my smallest toe in that pool. We must talk about the bad, the uncomfortable, and the painful. We must give each other the space to talk about the tough things. If we don’t, I don’t see how the conversation can be productive for all involved. 

Being a true ally means you’re willing to sit in the muck with me at the bottom of the pool. You don’t get to dictate how long I stay there, how I process it, or when I am done. I don’t need you to fix me, save me, or speak for me. I simply need you to sit with me. When I’m done, and we ascend to the surface to re-oxygenate our lungs, the oxygen is treasured in a way it never was.

The Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse campus, and everywhere we touch, will be a safe place for all and diving into the deep end will be worth it. Who’s with me?

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Avatar  Esther Kennedy last monthReply

Yes Kevin, I would like to dive in with you. It is always better to dive in with others – with companions on the journey. I am reading The Question of Freedom: The Families Who challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War, by William Thomas. It records and tells of the efforts of people held in bondage in the early 1700’s and later, suing for their freedom in the courts of the early United States. Stories primarily situated in Maryland and D.C. of persons, held in bondage, though many were freedmen, then re-enslaved and working in the tobacco fields, who continued to sue in court for their freedom – for their freed status to be acknowledged and granted. (of course black women as all women at this times were treated as non-existent). The stories reveal that from the very beginning of this country, the perceptions, attitudes, and developing laws and the Constitution itself, were designed to exclude, disenfranchise all people with black skin. The book is a political and legal history of American slavery. American, is a careful distinction to be made.
I am eager for conversation...
Esther Kennedy

Avatar  SisterJoAnn Fleischaker, OP last monthReply

I want to be ready to "dive in!"



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