Very Liberal Workplace

I recently have a new job in education. It is with the government at a rather local level. I don’t want to give too many details online.

Anyway, my supervisor is a full-time administrator as well as a university professor. He is very interested in social justice and destroying racism. He often talks of white privilege and other similar en vogue ideas. He wants me to help lead a book study on one of said topics soon and I fear if I do, he will assume I support these ideas and will ask me to lead more events around them.

I took this job to help children, but I’m nervous about the already apparent conflict of values I have with my boss. He seems to think I share these same values, but I’m quite conservative actually.

What is the best way to ease in to this position? I feel like I have to hide who I am/my beliefs for fear of retribution.

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How are “helping children” and “destroying racism” mutually exclusive?

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Social justice and destroying racism are all part and parcel of orthodox Catholic social doctrine…going back to the core messages of the Gospel. Perhaps you could elaborate on what exactly the concerns are… is he asking you to advocate for gender fluidity or gay marriage or abortion or something else that directly contradicts Catholic teaching?

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Do you even want to lead the book study? If you don’t have to, then don’t. Your real thoughts can leak through even if you try your hardest to avoid giving your honest opinion and can lead to tension between you and your boss.

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What’s the book? Do you know yet?

Lead a book study on “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

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Perhaps it’s been my experience at a local Jesuit University as a student and then working, that ending racism and social justice are much more about helping friends and promoting self than any real justice. For example, there’s great concern for children at the border but none at all for their country of origin or on our own streets in Baltimore. They talk a good game but…it’s not really true. They’d much rather have a conference on homelessness than helping in a soup kitchen bc getting hands dirty and all of that. Georgetown U just had a conference on Dorothy Day. They decry the lack of concern for others. They sit on an endowment of $1.6 billion. Talk is cheap after all. Do what I say and not what I do as a religious trope.

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As Catholics, we are bound to seeking social justice and to destroy racism.

I fail to see how being quite conservative means that one is not opposed to racism, nor that a conservative can be unaware of certain societal privileges.

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Excellent novel. One of my favorites.

I think you should absolutely participate in the book studies of social justice, racism, and white privilege. Perhaps you will learn something. Racism is not a Catholic value, and it shouldn’t be considered a conservative one either.

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I noticed that too. It’s comforting to feel virtuous but to actually get into the trenches is tough work. Not saying none of them do but all too many are all talk and no action.

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When I taught at a state university, a big part of the curriculum was about racism. I never led students to come up with a “right” answer. I presented the issues and encouraged discussion. My job was not to turn my students into Catholics. My job was to enhance their critical thinking.

You should lead and direct – not control.

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@Maelstrom1

I am a mixed-race person who grew up a blue-collar, white neighborhood. My father is dark-skinned. And someone on the playground called my father the N word. Racism is not about class. Knowing that my ancestors came to the New World chained in slave ships gives me a different perspective.

It’s in my DNA. That being said, we’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. And that’s what’s most important to me.

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@4gospels: As I mentioned above, I am a mixed raced person with black ancestry. If you look above, I mentioned that my dark-skinned father was called the N word. Because I have light skin, people consider me white. I hear all sorts of things that would make you ill. One of my black friends calls me “under cover.”

White people still have the upper hand in this society. Skin color makes a difference. That may be uncomfortable to think about, but it’s true. The church does teach all people have inherent dignity. That’s what we should work toward.

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@Tis_Bearself The church, by its very nature, teaches we are all one in Christ Jesus.

And African priests have come to the U.S. because of the shortage of vocations among Americans.

Yes, racism pervades our society. But the teachings of Christ can and should bring us together.

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@Servant31

I’m happy to share my thoughts. When I was teaching college students, my goal was to provoke thought. That’s the only way to teach adults.

No one who teaches adults can steer opinion. They can provoke discussion with additional material, but that’s it.

If a teacher can’t divorce a him/herself from the material, it’s best not to teach the topic.

Ultimately, the class is about the students, not the teacher.

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@OurLadyofSorrows

That being said, having the wonderful experience of being refused service due to race identity perceptions, I see it good for educators to put this on the map. I see it as educating in a broad way because racism is about those who look or act, or whose customs are different.

I’m glad you included your story. Thanks so much.

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Could you elaborate on the differences in values your struggling with?

Other posters have talked about racism, I agree it’s a catholic value to fight racism. But what I think the OP may be eluding to is that the fight against racism is often lumped in with things that aren’t in line with catholic values.

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Exactly. I would start a discussion by asking who and how did you interact with someone, anyone, this morning. From there the bias will show. And many times it’s not as much racist as classist. We all are kind and respectful of those who we think have power and/ or money. Not so much anyone else. IMHO the narrative should be much more on class than on race.

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The book he selected for us to lead on is “White Fragility.” This is a book and concept that says white people are conditioned to avoid talking about racism to protect our feelings and protect a racist society that we’re all complicit in, regardless of our personal views on race. It is directly opposed to Catholic teaching as it posits that individualism (and thus the inherent dignity of every human) is a myth created by racist white-lead systems to keep non-white people lower. The author claims that American culture promotes the myth of individuality so whites can say “Success is based on personal effort and skill.” The author claims that “Success is based on the fact of you being white.” It reduces all white and non-white people to groups of have and have-nots based only on race. It is Marxist in its reduction of humans with value to groups holding guilt (whites) based merely on our skin color.

This makes me very uncomfortable not only because of the message itself, but because of the fact that I am one of the only white people in the department.

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That’s not been my experience. Jesuits at my college worked with the local housing project to do stuff for the families and kids there, with the college students doing a lot of it.

You also have to remember that Jesuits traditionally do mission work in areas where the Church hasn’t made a lot of inroads yet. Charity work with people in their home country is often done by lay ministry adjunct to the Jesuits or by other orders who specialize more in that charism. We used to have tons of Jesuits in Maryland when there were few Catholics and lots of uncharted territory and danger. As Catholicism became established, the Jesuits pulled out and went elsewhere. Those who stayed are usually focusing on higher education.

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There are good arguments that this book is not against Catholic teaching.

However, it’s fine for you to disagree with the book and not want to teach the book and not be comfortable teaching the book.

There are many books and ideas and practices out there that I am personally uncomfortable with, although I don’t think they go against Catholic teaching. I wouldn’t want to be promulgating them.

Just remove yourself from the situation. Find another way to help kids.

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Ok so it sounds as if your uncomfortable with the book itself, as well as being moved in a direction in the future by this person which might nit coincide with your perspectives?

My initial thought is that ( without giving away anything to preserve your privacy) is the job description such that your required to promote or teach anything your supervisor wants? Ie is this part of the job?

So this person wants to discuss racism by using a racist book. Any concept that lumps together a whole race is the very definition of racism.

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Nothing in my job description about that. Although my official description does have that pesky catch-all clause “and any other duties deemed appropriate by superiors.” :smile:

I suspect he wants my help in this because I am the only white subordinate in a position that could assist in the study. The book group is for school district social workers, most of whom are white. My superior is not white.

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