Dismantling Racism in Our Systems and In Ourselves

By Frank Miley, President - Reprinted from Traditions
August 5, 2020

 Hope springs eternal, the saying goes, and we all need hope this year. From a global pandemic that closed our country, to global civil unrest resulting from the murder of George Floyd — we need hope.

Hope and grace allow tragedy to give birth to renewal and change. The tragic events of this summer, punctuated by protesters of all races, faiths, and politics, have highlighted the enormous impact that systematic racism has on our world. This is not at all intended to be a political statement. This is not taking sides. This truth presents a challenge to each and every one of us.

We have the power and responsibility to dismantle racism in our systems and within ourselves. This work will take time, but it can no longer be ignored or delayed.

Some of you may know that my wife Kathy and I have a family of seven children, five biological and two adopted. Our adopted children, Monica ’14 and Caleb ’17, are from India and Ethiopia respectively. They both have dark brown skin and experience America in a way that I never can. I love them more than words can express. Among the many things I hoped to teach them, I have tried to prepare them for the racism they encounter in our society. They are wonderful young adults despite my limitations and I continue to learn from them. Particularly now, seeing the world through their eyes is both challenging and enlightening in the most unsettling way.

Personally, growing up and living in a racist society certainly influenced who I am, what I think, and how I act. I know I have a lot to learn and must continue to intentionally dismantle the racism within me. This is the work of a lifetime. I publicly commit to working on myself for the betterment of my family, Church, and community.

Professionally, I am blessed to lead a wonderful Catholic high school with a 162-year history. For the majority of that history, we have served a nearly exclusively white clientele. Recent history has seen a change in the composition of our student body. Our work with students and families of color has been well-intentioned but needs to be more than that. We must courageously lead our community of learners in an examination of individual and systemic racism in all aspects of our school and our society.

Accomplishing such critical work will take time. We won’t fix this overnight. We must start today, work to make immediate progress, and commit to making change happen over the long term. The passions of this summer cannot fizzle just because we get distracted or simply comfortable again. Imagine if we, the community of Cretin-Derham Hall, made this a priority and a commitment for the next decade. The reality is that we will not completely change our world in those 10 years, but we will make a dent, perhaps even a big, impactful dent. Believe me, there is nothing magical about ten years — it is symbolically a long time. If we hope to see any lasting change, we need to be in this for the long haul.

I publicly commit, on behalf of Cretin-Derham Hall, to make the dismantling of racism our goal, working within our diverse community of learners. I hope that we can grow with the grace of God, and go forth and lead in a world desperate for a more just society. Racism impacts and dehumanizes all of us regardless of color. Preparing our students for a diverse world is part of our mission.

How do we begin? I believe our Cretin-Derham Hall values (Catholic – Academic – Leadership – Community – Service – Diversity – Equity) will be a source of challenge and inspiration. We will establish a steering committee to take the lead once we return from summer break. Please keep Cretin-Derham Hall in your prayers as we begin this important work.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.

Francis M. Miley, J.D.

Cretin-Derham Hall President

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