Many of us have watched with alarm the situation unfolding in the United States. And it is understandable that we look with horror- transfixed by the events “over there”. But there is a danger in doing that. We must not look at the USA, shaking our heads sympathetically at the plight of racial minority communities there, and then carry on here with “Business as usual”.
The UK has a problem with the sin of racism too. “Black lives matter”- and not only if they are the lives of young black men stopped by the police-
If you are a black woman in the UK a study published last September shows that you are five times more likely to die in childbirth than if you are a white woman.
A report from Public Health England published this week shows that if you are of Bangladeshi extraction you are twice as likely to die of COVID19 than if you are white.
Here in Worcester, we have a relatively low proportion of ethnic minorities living in our city and the surrounding communities. It is easy to assume that there are no racist attitudes in one’s heart because we just may not come across people of other ethnicities very often.
We may not (and God knows I hope and pray we do not)- actively harbour unkind or discriminatory thoughts. We may not deliberately cause harm. Yet, as a society we are the sum of our parts- and the society we are part of simply is- as a matter of fact- a harder place to remain alive in if your skin is brown.
As our Archbishops made plain in their statement on Tuesday “ Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity”.
So- if we all bear this responsibility, what should we do? The very first thing is to accept that this is “our” problem not “their” problem. If I am guilty of the sin of discrimination against another person and am failing to treat them as my equal; if I am turning a blind eye to injustices which harm them, it is not THEIR job to change my attitudes.
As a Christian, it is MY responsibility to repent and to seek God’s mercy.
That is something I am going to do. I am going to start reading and praying specifically with the intent of rooting prejudice out of my attitudes. A one minute internet search will produce a reading list for you on this subject that will keep you going all year…
There may be other things you want to do- charities you wish to donate to, for example.
I don’t want to say too much about this- because I feel the weight of my own ignorance here – but I do hope and pray we are all going to take this seriously. Right now. As part of the “new normal” we are hoping to move into after lockdown, a “normal” where there is more room for compassion and community, let’s resolve to place everyone, of every background, on an equal footing. All children of God. All made in God’s image.