"As Catholics, we are obligated to follow Christ’s teachings on social justice,” said Joe Galati, principal of Holy Family School in Southeast Portland. “As a school community, we must not only support, but educate about equity in all of its forms.”  

Galati’s team of educators, motivated to do this work of supporting and educating, formed a Racial Equity Team this June.

“The volunteer group of teacher-leaders will help guide Holy Family’s prayerful, honest confrontation of their experiences with racism and discrimination,” read a press release from the school. “Holy Family aims to be a ray of light in the world today, one that actively shares compassion and respect with all peoples and a clear focus that Black lives matter.”

To begin a staff discussion about race and individual prejudices, the team participated in an seminar and suggested staff read the book “So You Want to Talk About Race,” by Ijeoma Oluo.

“As a person from Mexico who is considered a person of color, I thought it was essential to be in the group because I believe to promote change, you need to have action,” said Holy Family Spanish teacher Susana Parodi.

“In every classroom, children should be able to see themselves in the diverse books that are read to them, and should be able to choose books with a wide range of diverse characters and cultures,” added Christa Weiler, a third grade teacher. “It is imperative that we teach the truth about our history to this generation and those to come.”

Holy Family leaders said it’s clear that reading and studying alone are not an answer to the pain experienced by many in the community. “These are only the first steps to begin to change our own behaviors and then truly teach our students,” read the press release.