Joining the movement in Ferguson

Over the past decade we’ve had a rise of movements. The Tea Party, of course, says the government spends too much money and provides too many services: “throw the services overboard and cut taxes,” they say. Occupy, on the other hand, started a national discourse on the growing gap between the rich and the poor. “Where’s the leadership?” we asked. “What’s the action plan?” Meanwhile, an anti-immigration action plan is being carried out by volunteer border militia, local sheriffs and state legislators. And the gun control movement can be characterized by continual starts and stops, fizzles and flashes.

Now #Ferguson has birthed a movement that identifies white privilege and the wrongful deaths of too many blacks. I’ve been going to meetings here in St. Louis to prioritize goals and develop strategies. We’ve been putting dots on newsprint to vote for goals. The goal on top is to end the criminalization of poverty. So at our last meeting we talked about legal loan sharks, that writing a bad check is a felony in Missouri and the system of warrants and arrests for non-payment of petty traffic fines.

My sister and I wondered during a phone conversation whether Ferguson can have success where gun control efforts fail. The block to gun control is the National Rifle Association while the block to Ferguson is white privilege. We may not be able to limit the NRA’s influence for years to come, but all of us whites can examine our white privilege. In the spirit of Pope Francis’s naming the sins of the Curia, I invite all of us white Catholics to examine our white privilege. This is a movement where we all have a role to play. 

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