In the late summer of 2020, the Sisters of the Presentation posted a sign on our fence facing Carter Road in Dubuque. It stated: “Racism is a sin — Black Lives Matter.”

A small number of persons called or wrote the convent to express their disagreement with the sign, saying that the message disregarded the value of all lives. In addition, the messages called the sisters “racist” for posting the sign. But until recently, the sign has remained undisturbed. Then, a few weeks ago black spray paint was used to deface the message. We repaired the sign and placed it back on the fence. Unfortunately, within a few days, the sign was stolen.

Naming racism as a sin follows the teaching of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their 1979 document “Brothers and Sisters to Us.” Because racism violates human dignity and communicates the belief that some humans are more valuable than others, the statement holds that racism opposes Jesus’ gospel message of love.

To honor Black lives is not to ignore the value of all lives. Rather, it is an acknowledgment that throughout our U.S. history, Black women and men have been repeatedly treated with cruelty and discrimination. A sign declaring that Black Lives Matter expresses a commitment to becoming anti-racist by seeking justice and equitable opportunities for those who have experienced so many injustices.

We are saddened that some choose to misunderstand that perspective.

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