WE CAN’T BREATHE…

In recent weeks, it’s been impossible to avoid the escalating events in North America and around the world, and for good reason. The horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and serve is the latest in a long line of racist killings of black Americans.

This has led to a global outcry against racism, demanding fairness and equality in interpersonal relationships. But more than this, justice requires us to root out and re-order any system, structure, or narrative which privileges white people over people of colour and their cultures, norms, and perspectives.

And this isn’t just an issue for the USA. In the UK, recent research demonstrates that black children are twice as likely to live in poverty than white children. Black people face discrimination in employment and health care. They are more likely to be stopped and searched by police, to get sentenced to prison time and to be given longer sentences than white people.

While many of us would publicly denounce overtly racist behaviour, we have all been subjected to and acquired elements of prejudices in our lives and we may act upon these, without even realising. Equally a lot of our systems are inherently racist. We want to be clear that this is unacceptable to us.

Our faith teaches us that each person is created in the image of God and has intrinsic worth and value. We are equal but diverse, and are better because of the diversity that exists amongst us. Black lives matter. This is an obvious truth in light of God’s love for all. And when black lives are systemically devalued by society, our attention must be focused here.

Naturally, events like this can raise political issues but as a Church it is our responsibility to make a stand against injustice and evil, and what happened to George Floyd is exactly that.  Racism is a gross injustice; it is evil, and it is an affront to God. In proclaiming unequivocally that ‘Black Lives Matter’ at this moment, we are choosing to show up intentionally against white supremacy, systemic racism and/or complacency.

Jesus models for us how God loves justly and how we as His disciples can live and love well in a world of inequality. So we affirm our commitment to walking humbly before God, to listening and learning what it means to be proactively anti-racist and to practice solidarity, and to continue prayerfully considering what next steps we will take as a Church in response to local, national and world affairs.

If you, like many of us, are new to this conversation, here’s a few resources that have been recommended that you might find helpful.

Introduction

By way of introduction, here is a short UK-centric video in which Hamilton’s Obioma Ugoala has some suggestions as to how we in the UK can show solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Please do have a listen – probably one of the best use of 5 minutes today.

How to become a true ally

If you want to be a true ally to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, please watch this.

Thank you to Hamilton’s wonderful Obioma Ugoala.

Posted by JOE.co.uk on Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Resources

Film & TV

Just Mercy (based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4916630/

Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nationhttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt8290222/

Selmahttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020072/

Books

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo.
Me and White Supremacy – Layla Saad

For the UK context specifically:

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala
Black and British: A Forgotten History – David Olusoga
Is God Colour Blind? Anthony Reddie

Iconic/Important work from the US:

I’m Still Here – Austin Channing Brown
Disunity in Christ – Christena Cleveland
The Cross and the Lynching Tree – James Cone

Listen and Watch Online

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice | TED Talk
https://www.ted.com/talks/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice?language=en

Roy Todd:
https://www.facebook.com/JunctionChurchUK/videos/258472885217718/

How to fight White Supremacy with Layla Saeed:
https://soundcloud.com/howtoacademy/how-to-fight-white-supremacy#c=276

A discussion on racism (Hillsong East Coast) – Carl Lentz and Bishop TD Jakes:

Blogs

‘Resources on Diversity’ by Andrew Wilson https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/resources_on_diversity

Thabiti Anyabwile, one of the outstanding voices on this subject worldwide, has written Top Ten Tips for Talking About Race.

and finally…

Finally, the one irreplaceable thing we can all do is to reach out, to listen and to build good friendships with people from all different backgrounds, both inside and outside the Church. The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Church at Corinth:

If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. (1 Cor 12.26 MSG).

These words are a reminder to us of the gift that we have as a local Church to ‘bear with one another in love’ (Eph 4.2). Indeed, the beauty of being part of a Church family like ours is that we are given the opportunity to see the world from new perspectives as we open ourselves to really hearing one another, and become part of one another’s healing.  We must each be the change we want to see, and create the change in the world we want to live in.