Jesus is the hope for humanity and as a Church we all have a part to play in seeing this become a reality.
How do we as a Church make a difference when it comes to an issue like racism? As difficult as it may be to accept, we live within communities and a world where conscious and unconscious racism and prejudice towards Black people is an everyday reality. The horrific killing of George Floyd in the US was just one example that brutally highlighted this. However, the privilege and inequalities that are often so embedded in our own society mean that we can miss just how subtle racism can be.
In order to understand and play our part in changing the narrative there are voices and stories from within our church that need to be heard. We know it may be uncomfortable at times, but we need to embrace the discomfort. Let’s also remember that none of us has all of the answers, nor do we have to be able to explain every feeling or experience. We welcome everyone to play their part and take a seat at the table so that as a Church we can play a part in positively shaping society.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble
Psalm 9:9 (ESV)
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
John 13:34 (MSG)
And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, male or female—because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ with no distinction between us.
Galatians 3:28 (TPT)
As the Church, we have a clear, God-breathed position on standing against all forms of oppression including racism. It is imperative that we are humble, teachable and full of compassion, as we seek to gain insight into the lived experience of black people who experience racism
When you grow up in England, there is no special awakening that makes you conscious of your blackness. It is a reality you’re faced with from when your innocent brain forms wrong from right. When your uncles and dads are constantly being pulled over for random stops whilst driving. When your first innocent crush in primary school says, I don’t like black girls, when you are so used to seeing white people play out whimsical romances on TV that the first time you see a black love interest it makes you uncomfortable, happy, but out of place. Growing up shortening your name or picking the most western sounding name to go as so you aren’t singled out by the supply teacher in class for not knowing how to pronounce your name. Being dismissed by your GP and being told that your pain isn’t that bad whilst you’re being vulnerable. Being told that you are masculine and scary when speaking up in class that causes you to become mute for an entire term. One girl is passionate, but I am scary?
So many stories, so many microaggressions, so much trauma.
A girl in secondary school took time on our journey into school to point out and ask why my glasses didn’t fit on my nose… She found it hilarious and kept prodding and asking while I struggled to see the ‘issue’ and then struggled to explain why they don’t ‘fit properly’.
I didn’t talk about it but it ruined my day and I just remember feeling very different and very alone.
When we moved into our area in Essex my sister started nursery at a school around the corner. Shortly after she was taken out because of the blatant and severe racism toward her by a class of 4 year olds. My sister experienced it but my mum didn’t understand until she went to pick her up and saw it first hand as well as heard the stories my sister was innocently sharing after her days at nursery. She had to move to a different nursery 45 mins away
You will be loved without fight
You will be loved without fear
You will not need to find yourself in a man’s stare
Your story will not mirror your ancestors
Who slaved their way to being seen
You will be seen
Without lifting a finger
Without your lips parting
To say anything seemingly significant
You will not need to talk your way into visibility
You will be comforted when you cry
You will not need to dry your eyes
before you are ready
To show resilience, strength or that you are steady
Your anger will not be exaggerated or misconstrued
It will not be a permanent label attached to you
You will be understood
Your emotions will be viewed on a spectrum
Not be the sum of your identity
You will be valued outside of being the source of stability
You will be cradled
Not cradle snatched
You will be caught before you hit the ground
You will be covered
You will be cuddled
You will be recognised
Without a crown
Today this will be your reality
As with any book “suggestions”, we would encourage you to read these books below with a critical and interested eye. Read with your Bible next to the book. It’s ok to disagree with something that you find. These books are designed to stir healthy and constructive conversation, and some of the content is purposefully uncomfortable. Remember that not all of these suggestions are written from a Christian worldview. They are designed to open your eyes, not dictate your theology. As always, ensure your Bible remains your primary foundation. That is the solid rock upon which we stand
1. Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
Mahzarin R. Banaji
2. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a world made for whiteness
Austin Channing Brown
3. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
4. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
5. How To Be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi
6. So You Want to Talk About Race
7. An OPEN Letter to Hillsong Church
8. The World Needs A Saviour