Joint statement issued by Bishops Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Joseph N. Perry, Father Claudio Diaz, Director, Office for Hispanic Ministry, Sister Anita Baird, DHM, Director, Office for Racial Justice, and Mrs. Sheila Adams, Director, Office for Black Catholics
AFRICAN AMERICANS AND HISPANICS SEEK TO BUILD BRIDGES OF UNDERSTANDING
JUNE 13, 2005
At a time when understanding and cultural sensitivity go a long way to coalesce diverse ethnic and racial groups, we are concerned that such statements as issued by Vincente Fox, the president of Mexico, on May 13 th that “Mexican immigrants take jobs in the U.S. that even Black people don’t want,” could create a greater chasm between these two groups. Such statements do not help in dealing with apparent racial fears and could foster and maintain racial and ethnic stereotypes about the plight of poor and immigrant peoples in the public consciousness.
Historically, a major focus of the civil rights struggle of African Americans has been for decent working conditions, just wages and benefits. The plight of Mexican immigrants is also played out in the labor arena, where exploitation is prevalent. Even a rudimentary knowledge of history would permit one to see the commonality that should be a source of unity for African Americans and Mexican immigrants in this country.
We believe political, civic and religious leaders should use their considerable influence to encourage acceptance and cooperation among diverse groups that can reduce prejudice and we call upon our leaders to use their public forums to build understanding and to earnestly encourage dialogue that builds up rather than tears down people.
We are resolute in our belief that a country’s greatest asset is its people and that prejudicial statements about any group dismisses too easily the true and positive contribution they make to their communities.
To this end the Office for Racial Justice is committed to working closely with the Offices for Black Ministry and Hispanic Ministry and all those whose ministries support these two communities to facilitate continuing dialogue and understanding between African Americans and Hispanics by creating opportunities for the sharing of faith and culture, while emphasizing the positive forces of their cultural and racial diversity in what we hope will continue as a common struggle for racial and economic justice.