Open Wide Our Hearts

“The injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on human life.  The Church in the United States has spoken out consistently and forcefully against abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, and other forms of violence that threaten human life.   It is not a secret that these attacks on human life have severely affected people of color, who are disproportionately affected by poverty, targeted for abortion, have less access to healthcare, have the greatest numbers on death row, and are most likely to feel pressure to end their lives when facing serious illness.   As bishops, we unequivocally state that racism is a life issue.”   Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call To Love,  a pastoral letter against racism – US Catholic Bishops

Read the entire letter:

Open Wide Our Hearts:  The Enduring Call To Love

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Resources to deepen understanding of racism and why our faith calls us to respond:

Waking Up White - Debby Irving

The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander

Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption - Bryan Stevenson

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism - Robin DiAngelo

A Rap on Race - James Baldwin and Margaret Mead

Narrative of His Life - Frederick Douglas

The Souls of Black Folk - W.E.B. DuBois

The Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Letter from Birmingham Jail – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

Twelve Years A Slave – Solomon Northrup

Jesus and the Disinherited – Howard Thurman

Racial Justice and the Catholic Church - Fr. Bryan Massingale, Orbis Books, 2010

Ishi Means Man – Thomas Merton (forward by Dorothy Day)

The Debt, What America Owes to Blacks, Randall Robinson, Pume, 2001

The Measure of Our Success, A Letter to My Children & Yours - Marian Wright Edelman, Harper Perennial, 1992

Roots of Resistance, the Nonviolent Ethic of Martin Luther King, Jr. - William D. Watley, Judson Press, Valley Forge, Pa, 1985

White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack – Peggy McIntosh
This is a classic often used in undergraduate sociology and education classes. There is a lot to digest but it is presented in an exceedingly accessible way.


Films/Videos/TED Talks

  • Just Mercy - film (and a book) to help us learn and grow in our understanding of how systemic racism affects people of color. It may be available free on streaming platforms you normally would pay to rent (YouTube, iTunes, Google Play)  Film trailer:
  • Eyes on the Prize PBS Documentary (Many libraries have copies of the PBS series or check local video rental shops)
  • The Story of Emmett Till
  • Cracking the Codes – portrays interpersonal, institutional and systemic racism through storytelling and conversation which helps us explore our own unexamined racist ideas. (Good for workshops - 75 minutes.  Best to show in sections and discuss.)
  • Racism is Real, A split-screen video depicting the differential in the white and black lived experience. (3 minutes)
  • Confronting ‘intergroup anxiety’: Can you try too hard to be fair? Explores why we may get tongue tied and blunder when we encounter people from groups unfamiliar to us. (5 minutes)
  • I Didn't Tell You, Ever wonder what a day in the life of a person of color is like? Listen to this poem, written and spoken by Norma Johnson. (7 minutes)
  • CBS News Analysis: 50 states, 50 different ways of teaching America's past, Ibram X. Kendi reviews current history curriculum production and use across the U.S. (5 minutes)
  • The Disturbing History of the Suburbs, An Adam Ruins Everything episode that quickly and humorously educates how redlining came to be. (6 minutes)
  • White Bred, Excellent quick intro to how white supremacy shapes white lives and perception.  (5 minutes)
  • We Need To Talk About An Injustice   Bryan Stevenson is one of the leading racial justice advocates, working with people incarcerated on death row. If anyone can diagnose recent injustices and understand the steps forward it would be him.
  • Why Talk About Whiteness? We Can’t Talk About Racism Without It.    Mattingly, Eileen
  • This is a wonderful resource drawn from the well-respected Teaching Tolerance website:

  • Other Films
  • TED talks
  • How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race,   TEDx talk by Jay Smooth that suggests a new way to think about receiving feedback on our racial blindspots. (12 minutes)
  • How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline at a Time,   TED Talk by Baratunde Thurston that explores patterns revealing our racist framing, language, and behaviors. (10 minutes)
  • S. Conference of Catholic Bishops                                                Age-Appropriate Free On-Line Educational/Prayer resources                                                                                                                (