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

rss

Click here to return to the latest update


Impact Versus Intentions

car crash between red and yellow sedans

Impact Versus Intentions

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

“I’m pregnant,” she said. I could sense the shame in her voice. “Yes, I know,” was my response.

I was 11 years old, and my sister was 16. She had a relationship with a high school classmate and was now pregnant. Because she was pregnant, she could no longer stay at our Catholic high school. My parents shipped her off to a “home for unwed mothers” (that’s a whole separate blog). My sister called me from her new home to break the news. I had heard my parents talking about it a few days prior, so I knew before she told me. I was eavesdropping on my parent’s conversation because suddenly my sister was gone from the house, and no one was telling me why.

My sister had a little girl who was immediately placed for adoption. She returned to high school as if nothing happened and graduated on time. It would be 30 years before anyone would talk about this again.

In 2009 when I was searching for my biological family (I am adopted), I shared the search details with my sister. She was excited to hear I had found my biological mother. During our conversation my sister got quiet. I was so excited about my search, and it didn’t occur to me this may be a very painful conversation for a birth mother to hear. Softly my sister asked me, “Do you think my daughter thinks about me?” This shot to the gut dropped me to my knees. “Of course, she does,” I stated plainly.

It was the first time after her daughter was born that we spoke about it. This was our family dynamic. We did not talk about the tough stuff. I think part of that was a result of the era we grew up in. This was pre-Dr. Phil and pre-Oprah. In the 1970s and 1980s we were taught to avoid the tough conversations and they will go away. Unfortunately, that was not true. The subject of those tough conversations, in many ways, grew bigger in each of our minds and we were left to reconcile that on our own. It is easy to see this was not the best way to handle it. 

In Robin Diangelo’s book, White Fragility, she talks about intent versus impact. So often we concentrate on intent. My parent’s intentions were to give my sister and the new baby the best shot at being successful in life. My sister will admit that at 16 she was not ready to be a mother. So logically, our parent’s decision made sense. More importantly though was the impact this experience would have on a 16-year-old. The impact of not feeling safe enough to talk about this for more than 30 years would seem to far outweigh my parent’s intentions. We should have focused more on impact.

In the conversation – and delicate dance that comes with carving out space for everyone – intentions versus impact comes up a lot. It usually shows up when someone says the wrong thing out of ignorance or carelessness and another person gets offended by what was said. The one offended points it out and the casual offender explains their intentions. The impact is ignored.

When I first got married 29 years ago, in the first 5-10 years (I’m a slow learner), I would often say something to my wife that offended her. She would tell me how what I said hurt her, and she gave detailed points as to what I did and how I made her feel. Before she could finish her thoughts, I would jump in and plead my case. “No, no, no, that’s not what I intended,” I would enthusiastically say to her. She would then go quiet. I thought it was because I was great at proving my point. I was not. She fell quiet because she didn’t feel heard, and she didn’t think I was ever going to understand. I ignored the impact it had on her. Me latching on to my intentions compared to the impact it had on her, only made her feel worse.

As we begin this equity and inclusion work, be mindful that we all have the power to impact people in ways we don’t realize. We need to speak to the impact and take responsibility when we hurt someone by something we have done. We simply need to back up, and not try to explain our way out. Instead, we need to own up to our role in it, apologize, and learn from it.

My sister and I talk about her being pregnant and having her daughter occasionally. She has shared with me how painful it was to give her daughter away. The disruption between a mother and her child takes a lifetime to heal. As an adoptee, I know that firsthand. I have found that sitting still, listening to my sister, helping her process, and supporting her have brought us to a healthier place. Let us make it a practice to look outside ourselves, see the world from a different perspective, and consider the impact of our well-intended actions.

your Comment will be showing after administrator's approval







b i u quote


Save Comment
Showing 0 Comment


Subscribe to receive these blog posts directly to your email inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and we do not use your information for any other purpose.

  • Equity and Inclusion Blog

Search Equity and Inclusion Blog

Recent Posts

  • Black History Month | Week One Posted 6 days ago
    Black History Month | Week One By Kevin Hofmann Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion The theme for this year's Black History Month is “Black Resistance.” I thought there would be no better ...
  • Tyre Nichols, Our Ancestor Posted 5 days ago
    Tyre Nichols loved photographing sunsets. We share this photo in his memory. Tyre Nichols, Our Ancestor By Kevin Hofmann Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion I didn’t plan on writing a blog this week. ...
  • 28 Days Posted last week
    28 Days By Kevin Hofmann Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion In less than a week, we will launch Black History Month. I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me is upset ...
  • I’m So Glad He Didn’t Sneeze Posted 2 weeks ago
    I’m So Glad He Didn’t Sneeze By Kevin Hofmann Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion “I’ve written a play and I was hoping you would consider playing a part in the play,” Sister ...
  • Black Catholic Project: Summary of Survey Results Posted 3 weeks ago
    Black Catholic Project: Summary of Survey Results Thank you to all who completed our survey inviting your feedback on the 25 profiles and contributions of Black Catholics. We value your opinions. Here is a summary ...
  • I Was Never Taught About Kwanzaa Posted last month
    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 ...
  • All Dad Wanted for Christmas Was a Snake Posted last month
    All Dad Wanted for Christmas Was a Snake By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion The downtown Detroit air was cold and every time the wind blew it reminded you that ...
  • Black Catholic Project: Kwanzaa Posted last month
    Black Catholic Project: Kwanzaa Kwanzaa, celebrated from December 26 to January 1, is a time for families and communities to come together to remember the past and to celebrate African American culture. Created in 1966 ...
  • One Awkward Uncomfortable Step Posted last month
    One Awkward Uncomfortable Step By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion During the pandemic, after we realized we would be sheltered in place for the summer of 2020, my wife and ...
  • Christmas from a Different Angle Posted 2 months ago
    Photo: St. Anthony Padua Parish Church in the Philippines decorated for Simbang Gabi, by Patpat nava, CC BY-SA 4.0.   Christmas from a Different Angle By Kevin Hofmann  Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Cultural Inclusion As ...
Read More »

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