What does Saint Augustine have to say about Systemic Racism?
The term “systemic racism” has evoked a number of emotions and outward expressions of those emotions across our nation and many parts of the world as of late. From those seeking justice for crimes committed against minority populations, to those active seeking a more equitable society, to those who deny the existence and/or extent of racism; there is no doubt that there is significant division not only about the effects of racism but also the path forward to eliminate it.
The human tendency for groups of people to discriminate and attempt to dominate others who are different than them is recorded throughout Scripture. Notably we can see this in the enslavement of the Israelites to the Egyptians found in Exodus. We also see it in the relationship between Sarah and her servant Hagar (Genesis 16).
While disagreement exists across many groups of people about the reality and extent of racism, the statistics clearly demonstrate that there is a significant gap in the United States between the privileges enjoyed by white and non-white populations of people; especially when it comes to education, employment, wealth, housing, incarceration, the environment, and most recently COVID19.
The Rule of Augustine, which governs the Augustinian way of life today, provides a lot of insights on how to creating dialogue about the issue of systemic racism and create unity across the plethora of viewpoints and perspectives we see and hear in our national dialogue today.