Leadership Conference of Women Religious

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October 2018

Facing Our Histories of Racism

by Sharlet Wagner, CSC

LCWR President My first international trip as a newly-elected leadership team member was a visit to our sisters in Bangladesh. The trip was a profound experience of disorientation and displacement for me. Bangladesh, a country that is 90% Muslim, has a culture that is rich in sounds, scents, colors, and dress that were entirely foreign to my experience. I had lived and traveled internationally but had never felt quite so alien nor quite so helpless as I did in Bangladesh. Two of our sisters and I were traveling from one village to another by train one morning, and as we stood on the platform, a crowd of men formed a circle around us, several people deep, all staring at me. I knew rationally that they meant no harm. I looked very foreign and they were simply curious. Nevertheless, I felt my anxiety rising as the minutes passed and the crowd grew. Thankfully, the train soon arrived and we boarded and found seats facing an older man and two children, a boy and a girl.

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