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Responding to Recent Acts of Racial Violence

Dear Members of the Loyola Community,

As we see protests unfolding in cities across our nation in response to recent acts of racial violence, I encourage you to consider the importance of giving voice and taking action in a proactive way that works to bring about justice.

The news around the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor is horrifying, and it can be particularly difficult to process at a time when we are isolated from one another. It is in these moments, however, when we need to lean more fully into our Jesuit mission and consider what it means to stand in solidarity with others. We need to ask ourselves how our educational tradition urges us to stand with these issues in a different, bolder way.

Five years ago, the death of Freddie Gray led to the uprising in Baltimore. The conversations that we have had as a university since that time have called us to name, examine, and combat the evil of racism that plagues and oppresses African-American people. We must also consider that an act of racism is not just an individual action, but that we must be aware of social sin—the concept that members of our society suffer from oppression and exploitation because of social structures that are in place. As individuals and as a community, we must identify and address the ways in which we are complicit in the structures that enable and empower racism. Whatever our individual choices and acts, we are also involved in structures that are inherently oppressive. We need to consider not just one-to-one action—which is important—but also how we can organize the power of our community to change structures that have racism and oppression at their centers. “Racism is a sin that constitutes a serious offense against God,” said St. John Paul II. We must take seriously that we have a moral obligation to speak against and work against racism in every form.

In this moment, I also invite you to embrace the concept of allyship—not just in our words, but in genuinely and courageously caring for and supporting one another. As members of a Jesuit, Catholic university community, we have the opportunity—and, in fact, the obligation—to stand together in meaningful ways that will lead to greater justice in our world. Each of us will have to discern what that means for us as individuals, but we can be certain that being silent is not an option.

We will hold a virtual university prayer service in solidarity against racial violence and systemic racism at noon on Thursday, June 4. Additional details will be forthcoming in an email to the Loyola community from Campus Ministry.

Meanwhile, I invite you to reach out to ALANA Services or Dr. Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Loyola’s chief equity and inclusion officer, to share your thoughts and ideas as she plans future programming and training on allyship to enhance our sense of belonging at Loyola. Please also consider attending the next Alumni Reading Group, where Rev. Tim Brown, S.J., will lead a discussion on Ibram X. Kendi’s bestselling memoir How to Be an Antiracist on June 30 at 7 p.m.

Yesterday Fr. Brown, Rev. Jack Dennis, S.J., and I offered the 5 p.m. Mass for George Floyd and all victims of racial violence. We also celebrated Pentecost, reflecting on how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ apostles and kindled a fire within their hearts to serve and speak in tongues to all people. May we recognize in this moment how our Jesuit education ignites a fire within us to step forward in word and action to bring truth, light, and justice to our world.


Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.