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Minnesota Catholics Confront Racism After Floyd, Wright

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Sister Susan Hames is trying to change her church. "We're aware of how White we are," she says. It could be the start of meaningful change.

Video Transcript

JAMES PACKARD: Four miles from the street corner where George Floyd died and just 30 minutes from Brooklyn Center.

- The meeting is the 14th I think.

JAMES PACKARD: Sister Susan Hames is trying to start a racial reckoning in the Catholic Church.

SUSAN HAMES: We're aware of how quiet we are.

JAMES PACKARD: On the other side of the screen, Lisa Tabor--

LISA TABOR: People don't know what they don't know.

JAMES PACKARD: A woman who makes a living taking racist systems apart.

I think, a lot of people hear that explanation and they go, OK, you know, this sounds like diversity training effectively. Something that I've known for years and years. Is that a fair way to think about what you do?

LISA TABOR: Oh, great question. It is not. Diversity training tends to focus on fixing people or improving people. Our work is on improving the organization.

JAMES PACKARD: Organizations hire her to examine their policies dismantling racist ones. Business is booming. Since George Floyd's death, Tabor has noticed an uptick. Monthly business is up more than three-fold from 2019.

Is that momentum sticking?

LISA TABOR: So far, it's been a year.

JAMES PACKARD: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Paul is the company's first religious organization.

SUSAN HAMES: The church's record has been supporting slavery, supporting racism.

JAMES PACKARD: Pew Research says only 3% of Catholics in America are Black. The public religion Research Institute finds 17% of people in the Minneapolis St. Paul Metro are White Catholics. Among the highest in the country. Fixing things here could set an example for Catholic organizations all over the US.

A lot of White people will look around for someone to tell them what's wrong. And I think there has been a response from some communities of color to say, it's not my job to tell you. I've been living in this oppression. You got to figure it out. Your whole job is telling people what's wrong.

LISA TABOR: You're right. And that is because I get change. I often counsel some folks-- you know, my peers and colleagues and people I run into people of color, you know, don't give free advice ou. Your advices is valuable.

JAMES PACKARD: It's especially valuable here.

SUSAN HAMES: I think change happens as people's consciousness changes.

JAMES PACKARD: And people's consciousness is only going to start to change if we talk about it.

SUSAN HAMES: It's part of our mission. And this is what loving God and loving our neighbor means.

JAMES PACKARD: James Packard, Newsy, St. Paul, Minnesota.