Black Catholics see Obama candidacy as a path to racial equality
Catholic News Service recently wrote of how many African American Roman Catholics are excited about the historic presidential campaign of barack Obama.
Father Bryan N. Massingale, S.J., an associate professor of theology at Jesuit-run Marquette University in Milwaukee, warned that bias is still a reality today
Shirley Harris-Slaughter, 62, a black parishioner of Presentation/Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Detroit noted that African American are thankful Obama can overcome the very real racism that exists today.
Though black Catholics from across the U.S. told Catholic News Service they believe many black voters connect with Obama in part because of the color of his skin, they stressed that most are inspired by the 47-year-old senator for the same reason millions of Americans from many ethnic groups are enamored with him.
"Exposure to more positive black role models may provide white Americans with affirmative opinions of that segment of U.S. society, said Deacon Steven C. Rubio, a black Catholic who ministers at St. Matthew and St. Ambrose parishes in Baltimore."I think when you look at the images where most of us garner our information, which is mostly what is televised on the evening news, the amount of imagery that white America sees about black Americans is about crime," Deacon Rubio said. "When you are constantly fed a diet about a group of people, you are going to form a negative image of that group."By stressing the Catholic Church's teaching that racial inequality is a sin, the church can help promote harmony among all ethnic groups, he said.In their 2007 statement, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," the U.S. Catholic bishops called for an end to racial inequality."It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity," the statement reads. "Where the effects of past discrimination persist, society has the obligation to take positive steps to overcome the legacy of injustice, including vigorous action to remove barriers to education and equal employment for women and minorities."
Beverly A. Carroll, assistant director of cultural diversity for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, and a black parishioner at St. Peter Claver in Baltimore says that "Racism has to be considered as a life issue too."
Polls are showing that over 90% of African American Catholics intend on voting for Barack Obama. Black Catholics are providing critical support in such battleground states as Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Missouri. Supporters of Senator Obama have worked to help with voter registration drives at historically Black Catholic parishes. Non-partisan efforts are also underway at many of these parishes to make sure that all of their parishioners vote on election day (or before in early voting).