Careful when using the word ‘racism’

Re: “A last casualty” (Editorial, Aug. 31).

It is a huge error to mix a recitation of inner-city African-American problems with “racism.” The inner-city African-American population has the highest school drop-out rate in 48 states, therefore the highest unemployment rate; the highest out-of-wedlock birth rate, therefore a massive lack of inculcation of basic values; the highest rate of crime of any group in the country, therefore the highest incarceration rate.

I have five married children and nine grandchildren; they have all been raised to hate racial discrimination. They have accepted racial quotas in schools, jobs and promotions while watching the plight of many African-Americans worsen. I have lived a great deal of life all over this country and others, and my experience is that there is very little “racism” here. We cannot end the “racial divide” with platitudes. It will take decades to rebuild inner-city African-American families. Stop fathering multiple children with multiple women; bring more saints into inner-city Catholic schools; and stop throwing around the scapegoat, false accusation of “racism.” That false analysis has added to the ruin of the African-American family.

Thomas Fields Jr., Springfield, Virginia

No one can deny that racism persists in 21st century America and that it may be related to the recent killing of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, but your editorial about this skims very quickly past an issue that has contributed to poverty and racism for 50 years or more: not just “the lack of strong families,” but a very basic cause of this — out-of-wedlock births. While that rate among all races is now 40 percent, the rate among blacks is 75 percent — three births out of four.

Christianity has always considered extramarital sex a sin against the sixth commandment.

The First Reading on Aug. 31 from Ezekiel tells us that a prophet should be a “watchman” who speaks out to dissuade sinners. The editorial ends by calling for a new commission to study racism. America needs a prophetic voice from its Catholic newspapers — and its pulpits — not calls for “advisory commissions.”

Frederick J. Kurtz, Bronx, New York

Prayer in public

Re: “Blessing our Big Macs” (Guest column, Sept. 7).

We started making a habit of always praying before meals in January of this year. I thought it would be hard to do it in public, but not at all —a quiet sign of the cross and a murmured blessing and that is it.

The one rule I remind myself to always follow is to never, ever look around after praying. If people notice, fine. But, if they notice me looking around to see if anyone noticed, well, that’s not a good thing at all and makes the prayer worthless.

Anne Jeffries, via online comment

I totally agree that we should be brave enough to pray in public. It does get tricky, though, when you’re in a business lunch or with certain groups of people, so I don’t knock private/silent prayer either. I’ve been in Catholic groups before where if I sense some crude language might be part of the discussion, I deliberately don’t pray publicly because I don’t want to give a bad testimony to others.

The one question I’m still not sure on is whether we should be praying over fast food. Do we ask God to bless food that really isn’t healthy? And yet if we don’t, then we must ask ourselves, “Why are we eating it?”

Nick (last name withheld), via online comment

Valuable resource

Re: “‘Denzinger’ still filling void” (Feature, Sept. 7).

As an historical theologian, the great value of Denzinger, for me, is that it combines in one volume critical and definitive editions of the most important early creeds and other documents. It’s an extraordinarily handy reference tool, and one that can often be found in my footnotes as I wade through ancient texts, medieval commentaries and modern scholarship.

Nathaniel M. Campbell, via online comment
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