In 1649, Vincent de Paul wrote: the poor are my concern and my sorrow. Today in 2020, we, the members of the Vincentian Family in the United States of America firmly state: the lives of men and women of color matter; they are our concern and our sorrow.
We have listened to our brother, George Floyd, cry out: I can’t breathe and suddenly, we all found it difficult to take our next breath. Institutional racism and violence robbed our brother of the God given gift of breath. Unfortunately, we have to admit that this was not an isolated event. Systemic racism and violence have been part of our history from the time that we became a nation. We, as Vincentians must also acknowledge our role in creating this history.
Today, however, can be different. Today, we have the opportunity to reach out to the members of the other branches of the Vincentian Family and thus, strengthen the bonds of collaboration. Today, we can share our resources, our gifts, our time, and our volunteers and thus, deepen the bonds of solidarity. Today, we can together engage in action that will change hearts and the structures of our society. Today, we can begin the process of abolishing the sin of racism and violence from our midst.
We, the Vincentian Family in the USA, as members of the international Vincentian Family of over one- hundred sixty branches with four million members and collaborators, can no longer remain silent. Now is the time to raise our voices and speak words of justice and equality. Now is the time for our action to reflect the words that we write and proclaim. Now is the time for boldness and courage as we seek to live together in new ways. Now is the time to be inventive unto infinity as we commit ourselves to create a new earth … a new earth where the voices of the voiceless are heard and affirmed; a new earth where justice and respect are guiding principles; a new earth in which no one ever again has to cry out, I can’t breathe!
We write and proclaim these words as a Family. We do so because we realize that no one individual or no one institution or no one branch can accomplish this task. Together, however, we all become stronger and can make a difference. Together, with renewed strength, we can and we will act decisively in the face of racism and violence. Finally, as we continue our journey together, we pledge to one another that our words and our actions will give witness to our reverence, dignity and respect for the lives of our brothers and sisters of color. Yes, the lives of men and women of color matter; they are our concern and our sorrow.