Agency Spotlight: Margaret Peterson, Catholic Charities East Bay

October 12, 2020

Agency Spotlight

By Margaret Peterson, CEO, Catholic Charities East Bay

Our country is wounded, saddened, and numb.  This deep wound has been with us for close to 400 years.  It gets covered up by a Band-Aid, and we like to think it’s gone away, but it hasn’t.  It erupts with renewed vigor with every new and blatant act of extreme injustice.  It is fueled by fear, ignorance, entitlement, and hate.  

I come before you not as a Black woman, not as the daughter of a Black man, the sister of Black brothers, or the grandmother of a Black grandson and granddaughter.  I come before you as an American. 

It is time for all Americans of good will, conscience, and faith to stand up and say, ‘No More.’

I am angry and saddened by what we are seeing today, because in my heart and bones I know that it is a reflection of what has been going on for generations. 

George Floyd’s life ended brutally.  We literally watched a man die before our eyes, in full HDTV.  There is nothing that justifies what happened so deliberately.  He was handcuffed and utterly defenseless. But we made this situation.  This reactive, act first, ask questions later, judge by skin color culture. And sadly, I realize that injustice will keep happening until we have the will to change.  

As angry as I am by the way George Floyd’s life was taken from him, I view the Amy Cooper situation as equally dangerous evidence of how deeply racism is ingrained.  In her call to 911, she weaponized the race of Christian Cooper in an attempt to neutralize him after he asked her to put her dog on a leash, as the law required her to do.  

A riot is the language of the unheard.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The origins of this fear and blame of the Black man and woman go back generations to the myths sowed by slavery and perpetuated since then across the culture, abiding deep within the unconscious until erupting with sorrowful consequence. The first step in healing this grievous wound is to realize that denial is not a solution.

My call to action:  I ask you to join me in speaking up to injustice, even when it shows up in the words or jokes of a friend.  Pursue justice with rigor, especially after the headlines move on to the next story.  Hold conversationsabout what is happening and what we are called to do about it, whether at church, in our schools, our homes, and our families.  Listen, without defense, to the honest experiences of our Black and Brown sisters and brothers. 

As a leader and a woman of faith, my call to action is that together we must stop the violence of racism.  At Catholic Charities East Bay, we stand with people of all races, ethnicity, faith, and backgrounds.  We walk with people who are marginalized by society and harmed by violence.  We act and advocate for justice and equity.  We know this is an issue of humanity.  Honoring the dignity of every human being is crucial to a healthy, moral, and just society.

Join us now.  You know what we need:  We need everyone to commit to sustained action beyond the spin of the next news cycle. Together, with every step, we can create a new path of intention and justice.  Through this commitment, we can write a new future for our children and their children. Do this for George Floyd.

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