July 2020 Talking about Race on Campus and Beyond

Oct 08, 2020

In 1842, Fr. Sorin founded Notre Dame to be “one of the most powerful means for doing good in this country.” Nearly two centuries later, as we confront urgent issues in our society, we are called as members of the Notre Dame family to recommit ourselves to Fr. Sorin’s vision. Over the past few weeks, Fr. Jenkins, the ND Diversity Council, and other campus groups have issued important calls to action. The task at hand, for us as individual alumnae as well as for NDWC groups, is clear: we must be inclusive and actively combat racism. 

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On June 24th, Fr. Jenkins released a message in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed. He calls on us to act:

The current moment, while deeply tragic, is also an opportunity for reflecting on the ways we can make Notre Dame more fully the community we want it to be and to combat racism wherever we find it. We must seize that opportunity. I call on every member of the Notre Dame community to join with us in making ours an ever more inclusive community committed to combating racism. Either we all walk together in mutual support, or we do not walk at all. Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are. Let us become more fully the Notre Dame we seek to be.

Diversity Council Managing Director Avis Boyd '82 asks “will you fight for what’s best for all in your Notre Dame family? and offers guidance for what we must do next (read the Diversity Council’s entire statement here): 

The time is NOW to stand for social justice and to take actions of inclusivity toward our diverse alumni. What are you or your Club doing differently to welcome diverse alums to your local ND table?

Capitalize on the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered in our world. Use this time to virtually “learn, lament, and then lead” going forward. Make a statement of support for our Black alumni, then take action. These are hard times that merit soft hearts.

Do some or all of the following:

• Host small “Listening Sessions” to support the healing of our Black and diverse alumni, to avail in empathy.

• Use your influence as work, community, and Club leaders to speak and act against racial injustice.

• Host roundtables with your group to share immediate changes you can make toward racial inclusivity.

• Commit this next year to be “All Things Diversity,” in relationships and activities.

• Pray that God will change hearts, as needed, to be more welcoming, and then take action.

• Review ClubHub for more diversity programming ideas.

The status quo is not acceptable. Our Diversity Regional Directors are your resources. 

And if your region or Club is devoid of diverse alumni, there are diverse topics on ThinkND, in books, movies, community presentations, and organizations — all for your enrichment to “Be a Force for Good.” 

In Acts 4:20, the apostles Peter and John said, “It is impossible for us to not speak about what we have seen and heard.” And they not only spoke but acted as called and commissioned by Jesus. We too, as the Notre Dame family, are called and commissioned by Jesus to act for justice.

Want to learn more?

Visit ND’s diversity website for full coverage of campus initiatives and responses -- and find ways to make your NDWC group welcoming to all alumnae.

Read the Student Government statement, which includes a number of useful links, and view The Kroc Institute’s webinar on Race, Violence and Protest.

Find out more about the University's Prayer for Unity, Walk for Justice, which included remarks from Fr. Jenkins and other members of the Notre Dame family. For additional resources centered in faith, read the US Catholic Conference of Bishops' recent statement and Open Wide Our Hearts, a USCCB pastoral letter on racism, as well as this editorial in America Magazine.

And revisit Dr. Rhea Boyd’s article from last April’s NDWC newsletter about how to talk to kids about racism. She offers a clear framework for how parents can start conversations with their children.

Alumnae and NDWC groups, let’s heed Fr. Jenkins’s charge and become more fully the Notre Dame we seek to be: an inclusive community committed to combating racism.


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