In a recent article, an author outlines Pope Francis opposition to income inequality which excludes racism in America. This color blind approach has proven detrimental for many minorities who continue to suffer under the cloak of classism. Pope Francis historical background does not provide him with the experiences that enable him to begin a process to understand how to eliminate racism.

According to the article, Why Pope Francis won’t tolerate income inequality in America, Pope Francis has criticized capitalism on two major fronts. The first front is exclusion. The Pope believes that capitalism is limited to only a few people. Which means that only a few people can enjoy the supposed benefits of capitalism. The second front is idolatry. According to the Holy Bible, idolatry is setting something above God. He ascertains that capitalist place money above God.

The two factors outlined by Pope Francis continue to contribute to income inequality. However, he has become insensitive to the many minorities that face income inequality that results from racism.

Why does it appear that Pope Francis is insensitive to the racism plight faced by many Blacks?

Pope Francis has a historical background that is different from many Blacks. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis) was born on 17 December 1936 in a suburb of Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires is the capital city of Argentina. Like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Uruguay, Argentina is considered a country of immigrants.

Most Argentines descended from 19th- and 20th-century European immigrants. The majority of Argentines have Italian origins, followed by Spanish. An estimated 17% of the population also have French origins and 8% descend from Germans. Argentina has a significant population of Arab and partial Arab background, mostly of Syrian and Lebanese origin.

The Argentina population is absent of Africans. The majority population is developed from a European dissent which would not provide Pope Francis the same experiences that Blacks have faced.

What are the experiences that Blacks have faced for which Pope Francis has not had to encounter?

Due to the dynamics in Argentina, Pope Francis has witnessed social problems associated with classism and not racism. Racism is the problem that Blacks continue to face in 2015. Racism in America is a product of slavery.

Slavery existed in the United States of America in both the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery of Blacks was justified as “A necessary evil” and “A positive good.”

In 1820, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, wrote on slavery that, “We have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

In 1856, Robert E. Lee wrote, “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence.

As the effort to eliminate slavery increased claims that slavery was beneficial surfaced. John C. Calhoun, in a famous speech in the Senate in 1837, stated that slavery was “instead of an evil, a good—a positive good.” James Henry Hammond and George Fitzhugh presented several arguments to defend slavery in the South. Hammond believed slavery was needed to build the rest of society. George Fitzhugh believed in racism and wrote that, “the Negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child.” In “The Universal Law of Slavery” Fitzhugh declared that slavery provides everything necessary for life and that the slave is unable to survive in a free world because he is lazy, and cannot compete with the intelligent European white race. He went on to state that “The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and in some sense, the freest people in the world.”

Slaves were punished by whipping, shackling, beating, mutilation, branding and/or imprisonment. Punishment was most often delved out due to disobedience or perceived infractions. In some cases, masters or overseers abused slaves to assert dominance. Slave masters beat pregnant women by devising ways to accomplish the beating without harming the baby. Mistreating slaves included rape and the sexual abuse of women.

How can Pope Francis begin help to eliminate racism?

In a recent trip to America, Pope Francis voiced his displeasure with income inequality. Income inequality is the experience that many Europeans and people of European dissent experience. Blacks experience racism. Pope Francis can begin his effort to eliminate racism by changing his dialogue to focus on racism instead of income inequality.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. www.positiveracialrelationships.com PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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