This is a kairos moment, when Pope Francis and the #BlackLivesMatter movement call us to personal and cultural transformation.
If we are going to take up the cultural transformation the pope invites, it will mean confronting how white supremacy is a form of “tyrannical anthropocentrism” that divides us from one another and the Earth. By “tyrannical anthropocentrism,” Francis means every “irresponsible domination of human beings over other creatures.”
The Atlantic slave trade initiated a tyrannical anthropocentrism, in which whiteness equates with innocence and blackness with savagery. The slave trade deified ownership of both people and land. W.E.B. Du Bois captured that deification when he wrote: “Whiteness is the ownership of the earth forever and ever, Amen!”
In 1946, Du Bois wrote articles giving his assessment of the Soviet Union; he did not embrace communism and he criticized its dictatorship. However, he felt that capitalism was responsible for poverty and racism, and felt that socialism was an alternative that might ameliorate those problems. The Soviets explicitly rejected racial distinctions and class distinctions, leading Du Bois to conclude that the USSR was the "most hopeful country on earth."
“I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” he told the Italian press.
Pope Francis grew up in socialist Argentina, an experience that left a deep impression on his thinking. He told the Latin American journalists Javier Camara and Sebastian Pfaffen that as a young man he “read books of the Communist Party that my boss in the laboratory gave me” and that “there was a period where I would wait anxiously for the newspaper La Vanguardia, which was not allowed to be sold with the other newspapers and was brought to us by the socialist militants.”