A Frank and Candid Conversation on Race

Race is front and center on the minds of Americans across the nation. You might think you can sit back and let everything play out with politicians, police departments, protestors, and juries, but we have an obligation as Catholics to play a part in the solution on an individual level.

Damon Owens, Catholic speaker and evangelist, joined Morning Air for a conversation about race and how each one of us can work for change.

Show host John Harper asked Owens, “Have you or any member of your family ever been stopped by police in what you believe is a case of racial profiling?”

“Yeah, actually it’s quite common. It surprises a lot of people that given my education and my prominence as a public figure here in speaking, that somehow I would be exempt from it. But no, no, no—it’s more common than people realize,” Owens explained.

He went on to speak about how dealing with these situations was part of the driver’s education he received from his parents and something he has also taught his own children.

Owens said, “It was not just about brakes and gas—it was about specifically how to handle being pulled over by the police as a young black man. So I was trained very well to be ultra-compliant and that was for a survival technique.”

Being Part of the Solution

He pointed out that speaking about race and hearing another’s point of view is an important conversation for us as Catholics. It’s an opportunity for us all to reflect on our own interactions with our brothers and sisters in Christ of all races.

“There’s nothing to really rejoice in my heart about the Chauvin verdict, but at the same time there’s a hope that says perhaps we can begin to move beyond our typical spheres of communication and media sources and our internal reactions to start asking different questions. About why we are afraid of each other, why we react in these certain situations when these encounters happen when there’s police, or whether it’s even social or within our own Church,” said Owens.

It will take a lot of work to overcome the ways that we’ve been taught to fear others who are different than us, but Owens says that Catholics have the obligation to do so.

“We are more comfortable around people who are like us; it’s predictable. And we’re afraid of other people and we have to go through a sort of level of comfort before we can engage a person as a person. But these are principles of our faith that say we have an obligation to do this—to be able to begin not with the first principle of what we’ve been taught that someone else is a threat to us because of what we’ve heard, but that this other person is fundamentally a child of God.”

It’s past due for every one of us to examine our own hearts.

Owens explained, “It’s not going to be a trial decision that’s going to change hearts and minds, it’s not just going to be admonitions from our bishops, which are necessary—this is all good. But when it comes to changing hearts and minds, this is the work of Christ and the disciples of Christ to really do that homework of our own hearts.”

To hear more of this candid conversation, listen below:

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5-8am CT only on Relevant Radio.

Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.