Cover Image: A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege

A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege

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Member Reviews

There are better books about anti-racism out there, and written by people of color, too. I think that as an entry point, however, this serves a useful purpose of situating anti-racist work as something that Catholics should be concerned about. This book is, perhaps intentionally, fairly surface level, going over topics of white privilege, reverse-racism, institutional racism, and so on from the standpoint of showing what the church teaches about race and how the church has failed to act on those teachings. Doran does a decent job of positioning himself and the topic within the very specific context of his task. I would have liked more specific examples from time to time, for example when talking about white privilege in the liturgy. I think that people in the American church tend to forget that the church is global and our experience is not the end-all of Catholicism writ large and more acknowledgment of that would have further helped situate things. As a starting point, this book does a fine job, but it shouldn't be an endpoint and I appreciate the substantial further reading sections in which Horan guides readers to other sources. Thanks to Ave Maria Press for the advanced copy of this book.
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It is an evil which tears families, communities, and schools apart, an insidious scourge which leads to great suffering, even death. Racial injustice is an issue which cries out to heaven to be overcome. 

And so it is altogether fitting that Ave Maria Press has decided to take on this critical topic in A White Catholic's Guide to Racism and Privilege. In this candid and powerful work, Father Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. offers a research-rich analysis of racial injustice in both society at large and in the Catholic Church. 

As Horan points out, ongoing conversion, otherwise known as metanoia, is needed to address racism in both the human heart and our nation as a whole. The author invokes the words of Pope Francis in discussing the urgency of the task ahead:

"Racism is a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting."

Thought-provoking and comprehensive, Horan's work challenges us to overcome apathy and discomfort in order to work for meaningful, lasting change.
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As someone raised in a Catholic home and attended a Jesuit college, I thought this book would be a thoughtful analysis of unconscious bias and ways for people to not only identify, but make meaningful changes to their lives. Unfortunately, this is more along the lines of a college thesis about the state of racism in our world. 

The first thing that struck me about this book is that it reads a lot like a college thesis. The author states his intentions and his desired audience multiple times before starting with any actual material. The author also asks questions and clearly outlines he’s arguments for his answers. 

The author does dive deep into the places where our subconscious is leaning us toward ingrained racist tendencies without realizing it. As the author talks about the importance of understanding your own level of bias, he is sure to balance the empathy required to see how your actions or beliefs can impact others. He also brings in current events in a way that helps to illustrate what is happening every single day in the world around us. One other really great thing the author does is list additional reading ideas at the end of each chapter, promoting further education on specific topics. 

The one place I think this book truly lacks is the inclusion in exploring racism against more communities than just Blacks. I think there was an oversight through a lot of the writing in not also discussing the experiences of the Latino or Asian groups. 

Until the very end (last ~30 pages) he also does not offer any suggestions on solutions or ways to address the institutionalized racism in our daily lives. I was really looking for this book to have a call to action to help people make meaningful changes in their lives. 

While I didn’t love how the book was written like a dissertation or a collection of standardized test essays, in times like today, it is so important that more people try to spark conversations about meaningful topics, like these.
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