Whose Life Matters?
The Black Lives Matter Movement is so significant in our time that we must give it due reflection as Christians responding to the world. I wonder if the pandemic has given us the space that was needed to bring this to our attention, and if it is no coincidence that this movement has gathered so much momentum when the world was finally still, when the world would listen.
I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I am passionate about Jesus, creation and the Church and I strive to live with integrity. It is so important to me that that faith I profess when I declare the creed is the same as how I live my life behind behind closed doors, and even in my private thoughts. If the gospel does not change our whole lives, then I suspect we have missed the point. Jesus’ message is radical; being a Christian is not about being comfortable, Jesus explains that following Him means taking up our cross.
Something I notice about Black Lives Matter (BLM) is that has become polarised in some cases into a binary yes/no declaration. Where not supporting BLM is considered racist by some, and supporting BLM is akin to declaring anarchy against the police by others. Sadly, I rather feel that all this has missed the point. This is not about taking sides. As a white person, this is fundamentally and categorically not about me and not about how I feel. As a white person, this is firstly about listening; listening to the experiences of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
What I have heard so far, is that while I am not a white supremist or a conscious racist, I do live in a society where BAME people can be disadvantaged. Racism is more than facist language or the noise you might hear from the BNP. Structural racism exists because white people, like me, don’t think critically enough about the implicit biases that make my experience as a white person easier than someone who isn’t white. Black names can find it harder to get job interviews, be shortlisted for accommodation, to be promoted, the list is long – when looking at statistics it is hard to deny a disproportionate favour towards white people in certain areas of society. There is systemic racism within structures of our culture that we might not even be aware of. White individuals may never dream of wishing harm upon individuals of other races, but being disadvantaged is harm, and doing little or nothing about it, is not really good enough. It can be hard to notice the struggles of others from a bubble of comfort and privilege.
For me, BLM is about stepping out of my bubble and acknowledging the injustices that others experience daily. To recognise how much of what I have is privilege and to humbly consider where I may have benefited from the oppression of others. And then to ask the question, what am I going to do about it?
Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely. But then isn’t that part of the gospel? Making ourselves vulnerable for the sake of others. Words etched on our hearts from our liturgy: (Micah 6:8) ‘He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?’ Jesus never promised us an easy road: being a Christian means following the radical Saviour who promised justice to the oppressed.
What does it mean to act justly in light of the BLM movement? What does it mean to love kindness? And what does it mean to walk humbly? What does Jesus have to offer to those of us who have been and still experience oppression and discrimination?
Perhaps take some time today to ask God how the verse above, Micah 6:8, applies in your life today. Where are there areas that you could bring justice, mercy and humility into the world, and so bring freedom to those treated unfairly?
I pray that God opens our eyes to injustice around us and ignites a passion in the Church that we cannot ignore.