Does Empathy Have Role in Fostering Racial Justice?

Can racial injustice in America be overcome by fostering more empathy in our culture? Perhaps, but there’s a lot more to it than that, panelists said at a Fordham event on Feb. 24. 

“All of the efforts of generations of civil rights activists to transform the American conscience cannot succeed without empathy,”

said theologian Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, one of the panelists. While empathy is not sufficient by itself, he said, “empathy is not something we’ve tried hard enough. Empathy is something that needs to be nurtured over time, and it cannot be legislated.” 

The event, titled “Is Empathy Enough? Racial Justice and the Moral Imagination in the 21st Century,” posed questions about why racial injustice persists 50 years after the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act.