Mercy students called to understand racism
As part of its senior theology course on Catholic Social Teaching, Mercy High School in Omaha is the first, and currently the only, school in the Mercy Education System of the Americas to implement a program from St. Mary’s Press called Understanding Racism.
The program was brought to Mercy by theology instructor Melissa Regele, who wanted to expand the discussion on racism with her seniors. Students engage in real-life scenarios throughout the course, responding to difficult situations to prepare them for real-life encounters.
The goals of the program include learning what race is and is not and that racism is perpetuated by prejudices that are learned and can be unlearned. In addition, students should recognize how prejudice and unconscious bias generate racism and develop empathy for populations affected by racism. Ultimately, the course aims for students to live out the Gospel in today’s world.
Regele was initially concerned there wouldn’t be enough discussion to fill class time, but, she said, her students responded with vigor. They even took content outside the classroom, discussing issues with friends and family.
“With my closer group of friends we talk about racism and immigration a lot more after taking this class,” said Mercy senior Mayela Hernandez. “We are all more educated. It’s something we all need to talk about.”