Racism, Inequality & Inclusion
The Province Justice Event (hosted by the Justice Peace & Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) took place on 17th April 2021 (see previous page). The theme of the online gathering was: ’Racism, Equality & Inclusion’.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Kevin Hargaden, Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. Kevin spoke about racism as a form of prejudice based around ethical designation, populating his presentation with experiential examples of the reality globally and locally and historically up to the present day.
He highlighted that it is important to link religious and Catholic teachings to day-to-day actions, and to recognise how toxic dynamics arising from prejudice can play out in society. He went on to explore how we can respond to this reality by paying attention to those around us, to those actual people in our neighbourhood experiencing prejudice. This he suggests, can be the beginning of serious acts or action. He also said it was important to understand our own privilege, and that statistics alone are solely numbers on a piece of paper. We have to find ways to ensure that we engage with the people behind those numbers.
In his conclusion, Kevin stated that it is important to understand that racism is not as clear cut as many might think, much lies under the surface. While today in Ireland Protestants and Catholics no longer hold strong animosity for each other as in the past, there is religious intolerance for others such as Muslims. Racism in Ireland today can be directed towards the colour of one’s skin, but it can also exist below the surface e.g. in the way we refer to Travellers in private.
Pope Frances encourages us to think of social friendship with reference to those who experience economic, political exclusion in our day to day lives. We need to fight any appearance of social domination over the other. See Fratelli tutti … | Presentation Sisters Union North East Ireland (presentationsistersne.ie)
A few words from their input …
Precious arrived in Ireland as a young person at 17 years of age and shared the importance of services like Youth Centres and Youth Workers in closing the gap when young people experience isolation, defining racism (based on her experience) “as a killer of dreams” depriving people of their creativity and abilities. Islammiyah focused on the inclusion part of racism having been involved in the ARD FRC for the past 5 years. Islammiyah set up a project called ‘De-busting Myths About Africa’ (AMDAF) and is due to start the first ethnic minority community radio in Galway to bring together all the rich languages and accents. Frank arrived in Ireland from Ghana in 2008 and was delighted to come to Ireland because Ireland had not taken part in slavery. He volunteered at the Centre when he didn’t have anything to do. He is now Involved in the school committee, has been voted the chairperson of the PTA and is keen to ensure that he brings representation and a voice.