Catholics in Queens Are Fighting Racism With the Help of Their Church

Tags: Currents Black Catholics, Crux, Faith, Queens, NY, Racism, World News

By Emily Drooby

Matthew Campbell says the sin of racism forces him to always be on guard.

“Every time I go to the park, it’s hard knowing you might not come home that night,” he explained.

He is a long-time parishioner of St. Clare Church in Rosedale, Queens.

Matthew and his mom, Althea, are trying to stamp out the evil with the help of their community, fellow parishioners and their church.

“This church stands for peace, equality, and justice and the Church is against racism in any form, and we want to show that,” said Althea.

In order to do that, Althea, who runs the church’s women’s ministry, organized a peaceful protest outside the church on June 12. It was a safe space to stand up to racism and police brutality.

The protest was originally supposed to be silent, but there were moments of chanting.

“I want to be able to as I grow up or as I have kids of my own, I’m able to tell them how I fought and how my friends fought for equality when equality wasn’t a thing that was always present,” said teenager Ethan Jameer when explaining why it was important for him to be there.

“I’ve never experienced racism until I came to the United States,” said Norma Grannum, who is originally from Jamaica, “I’ve never seen violence like that. I’ve never seen violence, it hurts my heart to see the destruction of another human being.”

Norma has attended St. Clare for over 40 years, and was inspired to protest for racial justice after watching footage of George Floyd’s last moments.

Even the church’s pastor, Father Andrew Struzzieri, joined the group outside.

“Most of my parishioners are black and they’re beautiful and I just can’t understand racism anymore,” he explained. “It’s just illogical. It doesn’t make sense, so it’s important that I be here with my parishioners.”

It was a very emotional day. Many talked about their own experiences with racism, sharing stories about being followed while in the store shopping and being questioned for crimes they never committed.

Althea said she knows a lot of really great police officers, and even has some in her family.

She said it’s important that the police in their community know they’re appreciated, but that there needs to be more accountability.