I have not considered myself a racist, but I have long been aware that the United States has a race problem. I have not seen racism as my problem. This has changed.

My husband and I have spent this year praying and learning with fellow Catholics in a Just Faith group, which aims to prepare people to answer the call of the Gospel to help heal the world and, in so doing, experience a deeper faith and a community of care and vitality.

I have been affirmed that I am not a racist as the term is commonly used; I do not call people of color names or actively harm them. But I have come to realize just how much racism shapes what I see and how I understand. We live in a world that values people based on their skin color, and people of color are continuously harmed by this. I have also become aware that either I commit to doing my part to heal the United States or I am part of the problem. Until we whites realize that America’s treatment of African Americans and other people of color meets neither our own national values nor, more importantly, Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves, we will not have a whole or healthy nation or church.

Each of our 30 Just Faith sessions opened and ended with prayer. In preparation for each session we prayed, read, and watched videos that helped us understand our own history and the consequences of our nation’s policies and practices on persons whose skin is not white. One of the most important things we learned is that until we who are white have a more complete understanding of the experience of persons of color and a desire to change ourselves and our nation, people of color will not know justice.

My love of the United States and the church has not been diminished. That love moves me to the belief that we are all wounded by racism and that our health as a nation and a church requires that we face our history and recognize how it impacts all of us. We can be a nation true to our values and a church that sees each person as a neighbor, but we have work to do to get there.

Bobbie Weber