By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

On Friday, Sept. 15, the city of St. Louis erupted in protests after a judge acquitted a white, former St. Louis police officer of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a black man in 2011.

While most of the protests were peaceful by day, once darkness fell, some demonstrators resorted to violence and destruction of property in some city and inner-ring suburban neighborhoods. On Saturday, the city block where I live had its annual block party, and it was a scene of calm, neighborliness, and fun on a warm September evening.

The party was a pocket of peace in an otherwise tense city. The gathering consisted of many generations, cultures and races. Neighbors enjoyed each other’s company, discussed the protests, shared the joys and tribulations of living in old brick homes, and listened to our irrepressible block captain regale us with his stories.

This one small pocket of peace can be woven into a garment of peace, enveloping the city, if we find inner peace and share it with others. Racism and white privilege rip holes into the fabric of society. Our country’s long, ugly history of racism is grounded in fear of the other, who is different from the majority’s standard. Each of us can consider how I am the other for anyone who looks, speaks, and acts differently from what I might consider as the norm.

While our city makes national news, and as protests unmask our deep racial divide, I hope and believe that peace-filled, selfless people can make a difference and begin to change unjust systems. Many protesters tried to dissuade those who resorted to violence. Protest is a constitutional right in our country. Violence isn’t.

Our block party was a microcosm of people of radically different backgrounds, shades of skin tones, and diverse opinions simply having a good time together.

  • Where do you find your pocket of peace?
  • How do you expand it?
  • What do you do to admit to racism?
  • How do you work to change it?