St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church - Naperville, IL

The Other Pandemic – Racism



Where Do We Go From Here?

The recent death of George Floyd once again exposed another pandemic that has plagued the world long before the corona virus … racism. We were all shocked and outraged at the manner of his death. Contrast the last words of Mr. Floyd, “I can’t breathe!” with the Pentecost Jesus who appeared to the Apostles in that closed room and “breathed on them.” Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gave them the courage to go out and change the world. That same Holy Spirit is within us and gives us the courage to go out and change the world.

Benny White is a Naperville City Councilman and a graduate of West Point. He spoke at the peaceful rally at the Carillon protesting the recent racism incidents in our country and in Naperville.

Following the recent racist events that have taken place this week, I have finally found the words to summarize my thoughts on these heartbreaking incidents. 

I’m tired of seeing stories of how the lives of African Americans have been traditionally minimized and marginalized. 

African Americans have been victims of police brutality for a long time. There are still some police departments across the country who have accepted bad leadership, rogue cops or a combination of both. These missteps have led to the deaths of countless Black men and women, victims who could easily be my wife, my sister, my son, my daughter, ME … the list goes on. Although the use of video has brought many of these injustices to light, Blacks are still being murdered at the hands of the police and the majority of these killers have not been convicted of a crime. When they have, it has often been for a lesser offense than murder.

Many police departments around the country have made great strides in this area and I would like to personally thank Chief Robert Marshall and the Naperville Police Department for the work they have done, including the implementation of de-escalation and implicit bias training. I will continue partnering with the department to ensure we are fostering a safe and inclusive environment.

The question on the table — where do we go from here? I acknowledge that we have made tremendous progress, but clearly, we have a long way to go. 

We need the non-Black members of our community to increase their understanding of the challenges faced by their Black and Brown neighbors. We are not okay. We are sick of dying. We are tired of living in fear. 

Challenge your own biases. Confront your inner circles when inappropriate things are said. Discuss and learn from one another. Read the books. Listen to the podcasts. Follow activists on social media. Do the research. Speak out when you see racism, and don’t tolerate it in our community. Get involved in organizations that are trying to make a difference in our community. Organizations like Naperville Neighbors United, Unity Partnership, Indivisible Naperville, Naper Pride, and the Naperville Interfaith Leaders Association are just a few of many organizations you can go to and check out. Come to City Council Meetings and stay abreast of what’s happening and let your voice be heard. 

To paraphrase Angela Davis, “it’s not enough to not be racist — you need to be antiracist”. To those of you in our community who have not been a part of the “uncomfortable” conversations. The time is NOW to become a part of the discussion.

Make a commitment to unpacking your own racial prejudice and bias by utilizing these resources: 

“How to Be an Antiracist” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo, PhD

Pray for justice and peace!