Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.- CCC 1934
"What is going on?" seems to be the critical question of people today. Some, myself included, feel like they just woke up from a long night's sleep to find a world that is spinning out of control and almost unrecognizable. This is 2017, right? What happened? When did everything change? It is almost impossible to scroll through social media without seeing a hatred-filled post or to watch the news and not hear a story permeated with violence. The media has become a constant stream of shootings, hate crimes, road rage, bombings, and a "my life matters more than yours' mentality." It's true, that racism, in all its ugly forms, is at the core of these issues and if we think it is not negatively affecting our young people we are wrong.
In 1966, Newsweek magazine surveyed American teenagers to find out their beliefs and attitudes on a multitude of topics including racism. Fifty years later, in 2016, Newsweek once again decided to survey teens and see how American teenagers had changed. Newsweek reports, "The most compelling findings show that race and discrimination are crucial issues for teens today. In 1966, 44 percent of American teens thought racial discrimination would be a problem for their generation. Now nearly twice as many—82 percent—feel the same way. The outlook is more alarming among black teens: Ninety-one percent think discrimination is here to stay, up from 33 percent in 1966."
Most dictionaries define racism as discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. The Church, according to section 34 of the USCCB's 2015 guide to voters, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, defines and condemns racism as both a sin and "intrinsically evil." Therefore, we as youth workers, are mandated to teach our young people that racism in any form is morally wrong.