Note: This letter was sent in regards to Xavier's response to the petition with 1,500+ signatures. Xavier's response can be found at the bottom of this page.
Dear Sister Joan, Sister Joanie, and Sister Lynn:
We appreciate your response and hope that you will continue to work with us to make change at Xavier. However, we are disappointed to see no outlined actions or commitments, nor an invitation to dialogue with us or other current students who have been working on these issues.
Sarah and I were grateful to read Bishop Olmsted’s homily on racism and his call to fight and overcome prejudice and discrimination, and I am glad that the leadership at Xavier also recognizes this pervasive issue. However, it is not enough to pray for racism to end. We hope that Xavier’s administration, as well as Bishop Olmsted, Bishop Nevares, and the Diocese of Phoenix as a whole will seize this “kairos moment” to become leaders in the Catholic community in a faith-inspired collective struggle to end racism.
Catholic schools around the country are taking this opportunity to lead work on anti-racist education, aligning this work with the deeply ingrained doctrines of Catholic Social Teaching. Although independently managed by Jesuits, Brophy has already exhibited leadership within its Office of Equity and Inclusion, even hosting a discussion for Brophy parents on how to talk to young men about race and privilege. Moreover, across the country and even in the heart of the South, a Catholic school in Louisville, KY called Sacred Heart Academy has made the kind of concrete commitments that will combine education on racism with creating a more diverse and inclusive learning environment for its students. We encourage Xavier’s administration to look at some of these examples and make such explicit commitments to action.
In your response to us, you said that you “will not rest until our prayers and our actions in the name of healing and justice are answered.” But fighting racism takes work. This work is difficult and uncomfortable. It requires all of us, particularly leaders of institutions, to interrogate how racism has unknowingly been present in our lives, schools, and places of work. In the hundreds of responses we received to our petition, these answers are clear. Many alumnae have not felt comfortable or welcome at Xavier, due to the color of their skin, their socio-economic status, or the implicit idea of what it means to be a “Xavier girl.” Other alumnae had a wonderful experience at Xavier, but felt unprepared to address the issues of privilege, prejudice, and racial and social justice that arose in college and later in life. Those graduates want Xavier to be better for future generations, including many of their own sisters, cousins, and daughters who will be starting Xavier in the coming years.
As we stated in our petition, it is not enough to just decry racism; we have to be actively anti-racist. Over 1,600 members of the Xavier community signed our petition with this statement at its crux, and these signatories are waiting on concrete actions and commitments from our alma mater. Many alumnae have expressed disappointment and frustration that they signed onto the petition and shared their deeply personal stories, but have yet to see any concrete evidence of action or at least a plan of action.
We remain committed to raising the voices of these students and alumnae and making sure their needs are heard and met, and we hope to continue working toward that goal through whatever means necessary. Sarah and I would be happy to work with you on the steps we proposed in our petition.
We are looking forward to hearing back from Xavier on this issue in a timely manner.
Lauren D’Souza ‘14
Sarah Sakha ‘14