Saturday, January 20, 2007

Much accomplished, much to do in race relations

Brian T. Olszewski reports in our Catholic Herald on Fr. Bryan Massingale's presentation on "A Realistic Look at Race Relations – Then and Now." Shorter Fr. Massingale:
Noting that "racial realists" were comprised of optimists and pessimists, the priest said the former would say,

"We've come a long, long way," while the pessimists would say, "We have a long, long way to go," citing the minister's "Realistic Look" speech.

That is, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech A Realistic Look at the Question of Progress in the Area of Race Relations, delivered April 10, 1957 at a Freedom Rally in Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri.

Fr. Massingale gave three answers to "why race still matters": first, callousness from racial isolation; second, the financial cost of social progress; third, white ambivalence about loss of a relatively privileged position. As evidence of the problem, he said you could drive across the north side of Milwaukee and tell when you cross from the white to the black neighborhoods and vice versa. One difference he doesn't note is the dearth of Catholic churches in black neighborhoods. In fact, the 1990s closings of most Catholic parishes went unmentioned.

I've suggested this disinvestment might be ameliorated if the Archdiocean offices were moved to the inner city. Maryangela Layman Roman reports in our Catholic Herald that Archdiocese’s moving plans evolve, evolving so far to locations on the south side of Milwaukee.

In a comment to this post, Karen Marie Knapp asserts that the Archdiocese locates its offices based on assumed suburban and rural misperceptions of conditions in central Milwaukee. In practical effect, that's indistinguishable from the Archdiocesan leadership and staff sharing those misperceptions, if misperceptions they be.

Today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has this report by Tom Heinen, Compassion grew congregation.
With 70% of its people 70 or older, Risen Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church was an all-white congregation facing a crossroads in what had become a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

That was eight years ago.

Not long after the closings of the Catholic parishes in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Closings which I heard Bishop Sklba, at a Peter Favre Forum meeting, assert could not be avoided. So what's Risen Savior been doing?
On Sunday, the now-racially diverse congregation at 9550 W. Brown Deer Road will dedicate a $1.75 million project that has expanded the church nave and added offices and eight school classrooms. In 2003-'04, it built and opened a $1.5 million, four-classroom school and gym.

Risen Savior's outreach has been so effective in attracting African-Americans, Anglos and Hispanics that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod holds it up to 1,260 congregations in the United States and Canada as a model for adapting to change and using local resources, said Pastor Harold Hagedorn, home missions administrator of the Wauwatosa-based denomination.

If it had been ELCA instead of WELS, Bishop Sklba would have had a chance to explain why this would be impossible.

What's the Archdiocese's plan? Here's what Archbishop Weakland told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also eight years ago.
"I feel very concerned right now that somehow the Catholic Church in Milwaukee is not doing enough in terms of social problems," said Weakland, who cited issues such as family stability, drug use and a lack of role models.

"If I could found a religious order today, I'd found a religious order to live in the central city, just to be there. ..."



Blogger Dad29 said...

Of course, there's also a failure to note the money recouped by the Archdiocese in the sale of St. Boniface' grounds to MPS for what is now North Division (new.)

WELS and Bp. Sklba have far too little in common; they most likely don't converse at all.

Finally, the "perceptions" did have an impact on MasterLock, which was forced to move its HQ out of the core when they found it impossible to hire pink-collar workers.


4:08 PM  

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