October 18, 2019

Caucasian woman seeks to ‘give voice’ to injustice witnessed against Hispanic friend

By Sean Gallagher

Although she has not experienced racism directed against her, Leslie Lynch saw it up close when she and her husband went to help Miguel, a Hispanic friend whose car had been impounded.

Miguel was the director of a Hispanic choir at St. Mary Parish in New Albany. Lynch, a Caucasian, sings in the choir. She is a member of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville.

She and her husband went with their friend to a police station, where she witnessed “the simultaneously dismissive and belligerent attitude” of a police officer toward Miguel.

“The policeman assumed incorrectly that my husband and I were not with Miguel,” Lynch recalled. “The officer adopted a sneering expression, looking down at him … .”

“[He] led with his chin, his chest thrust out, his movements abrupt. The general sense was that Miguel was, at the minimum, an annoyance and not worth this man’s time, patience or respect.”

When the police officer realized that Lynch and her husband were there to help Miguel, his attitude changed.

“His posture softened, slightly tipping his head toward us,” Lynch said. “He pointed out the directions, slowed his speech, explained the process so that we could understand, and waited patiently while we worked out the logistics with Miguel.”

Lynch shared this story during a listening session on racism held at Marian University in Indianapolis on Sept. 30 that was attended by a diverse audience of approximately 100 people.

“Though this was a brief exchange, it opened my eyes to the challenges faced daily by my Hispanic friends and my friends of color, why they are so careful to drive below the speed limit so they won’t get pulled over,” Lynch said, “how they disappear through other doors when Mass is over when the police park in the lot across from the church.

“We have grown accustomed to and been devastated over those who are with us one week and gone the next, with no one knowing how or where. Or maybe our Hispanic friends just don’t tell us. We are humbled and inspired by the faith of our Hispanic brothers and sisters.

“As Caucasian Americans, we can never fully understand their experience or the experiences of our friends of color. But we can give voice to the injustice we witness.” †

 

Related story: Local Catholics share experiences of evils of racism at listening session

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