From the unjust murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis to Ahmaud Arbery of Brunswick, Georgia to Breonna Taylor of Louisville, Kentucky, to Rayshard Brooks of Atlanta, to many, many more, what happens in our nation, no matter where, affects our greater Amate community. To the members of our community of Black and Indigenous descent, I want to say what should go without saying, your lives matter. Your pain, anger, and grieving matter. Your human dignity and ability to show up authentically matter. Your futures matter. Amate House definitively stands behind you. We see you. We know you are not okay, and we are grieving.

As a predominantly white organization, I am keenly aware of my and our organization’s responsibility to move beyond performative allyship and words of support, for me and our staff to do our own self-work to learn and unlearn, and move into advocacy and action, just as we call our fellows, alumni, and wider community to do. The only way to dismantle unjust and racist systems in the United States is to first turn the critical eye upon ourselves. Our initial silence since George Floyd’s murder has caused our fellows and alumni much pain and we are sorry. For this I sincerely apologize and take responsibility on behalf of the organization. We know that Black Lives Matter to Amate House but it is not enough that we know it. Racism will never end until institutions, like our own, take steps to address areas of growth and change within.

For 36 years Amate House has focused on developing “young adult leaders into life-long social justice advocates.” Our mission is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching which calls us not only to name injustices but to work to unlearn the deep-rooted habits and actions that perpetuate injustices, including racism and white supremacy. This means confronting hard-truths and doing the necessary self-work.

It is heartening to see the work of Catholic institutions like Georgetown who have held public dialogue on systemic racism and laud its decision to pay reparations for enslaved people sold by the university. We acknowledge, though, that, for far too long, our Church has failed to understand and respond to the deeply ingrained racism in U.S. culture. May Georgetown shine as an example for all of the Church, including Amate House.

We pledge to do better for the sake of our fellows and the communities we serve. We are dedicated to working alongside our current fellows, especially our fellows of color, to continue to find ways to better live up to our mission of building “a more just and loving society through leadership development for the Church and the world.” In communion with the Amate House fellows, we would like to now focus on some actionable steps our organization will take immediately to address hidden biases and issues of inclusion: 

  1. Amate House will work to become an anti-racist organization. We will seek consulting and professional development from anti-racism organizing institutions such as Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism (CROAR); 
  2. We will provide updated resources and ongoing anti-racism training for fellows which will include participation in racial identity caucuses;
  3. Amate House will develop a social media plan that outlines how we will use our outlets responsibly and consistently to promote peace, justice, and racial equality;
  4. We commit to having ongoing conversations with fellows about systemic racism, inequality, and discrimination and how, as an organization, we can work to overcome these social injustices;
  5. We will partner with speakers, trainers, site supervisors, and spiritual and professional mentors who represent a broader background and diversity of race, gender, and experience; and, finally,
  6. Amate House will create a plan to recruit fellows of color and support them while they participate in our leadership development and service program.

Amate House stands against anti-Black behavior and strives to stand up for racial justice in all aspects of our work. But this work is never finished. We encourage our community to continue to engage in the self-work alongside us, to find space for difficult conversations, to take action in ways authentic to each of us, and to take time to center our wellness and that of those we hold dear.  

Black Lives Matter, yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever. 

Sincerely,

Jeannie Balanda
Executive Director

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism

and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend

the sacredness of every human life.”

-Pope Francis, in a statement to the General Audience on June 3rd

Some Resources for all to consider: 

A Google document of compiled resources for white people and parents looking to deepen their anti-racism work.
It looks like Amy Cooper, the white woman in the viral Central Park video, is a liberal. That’s important
A Timeline of Events That Led to the 2020 ‘Fed Up’-rising
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup
For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies
Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot
Racism in the Catholic Church James Cone and Recent Catholic Episcopal Teaching on Racism (pdf doc)

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