Last Thursday I attempted to sit down and work from home, as has been the norm for the last few months. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t make it more than ten minutes without stopping to hold back tears. I struggled to focus while anger, despair and grief ran laps between my heart and mind. I had been here before. In fact I live here – in a world where at any given moment I might see the murder of a Black person, like myself, filmed but rarely held to account.
George Floyd is one of many who have fallen victim to systemic racism – a long history of white supremacy that underpins our global society and continues to reinforce poverty and injustice today. His murder and countless others aren’t so much the result of a broken system, but are better described as the result of a system built to benefit whiteness. This dehumanisation of others based on race, predicates many of the injustices we see across the world today. As those who are called to justice and love others as we love ourselves, this is impossible to ignore. So what should you do now?
Listen and learn
Perhaps this is the first time you’ve really engaged with the message of Black Lives Matter or maybe you’ve been following it for years. Either way I’m sure the noise surrounding it, whether in headlines, news reports or social media, has managed to reach you. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the swirl of public commentary, it’s crucial to explore what is actually being said and why. Listen to the voices that are crying out for justice and you will begin to find your answers. But in your eagerness to learn, remember not to burden those who are affected by racism to also be your teachers.
One conversation, tweet or article, isn’t enough to unpack the complexities of racist power structures. That is not the intention of this article. However there is a rich history of activists and liberationists who have been doing just that for decades. If you want to learn from them, all you have to do is open a new tab and press search. The works of people like Martin Luther King Jr, Maya Angelou, Malcom X and Toni Morrison are quite easy to find and will deepen your understanding of the issues at hand. Even closer to home on the Together Podcast, conversations with people like Rene August, Micah Bournes and Thandi Gamedze, to name a few, have been invaluable to me personally.
Stand with us
So you’ve been moved by what you’ve seen and started to educate yourself on the issues. What’s next? It’s time to share what you’ve learnt in your spheres of influence. Whether it be your family, friends, church, social media or anything else, use your voice to challenge racism. Like all structures of injustice, if we do not actively work against them, we are complicit in them. While no one is asking for you to become an expert on race overnight, a statement of solidarity is a good first step.
This may be uncomfortable at times. You may need to have difficult conversations with people you love and respect. But it’s crucial that you don’t allow justice to be something you compartmentalise outside of your immediate life. In Romans 12:1-2, we are challenged to place our entire lives before God as a continual act of worship. So let’s join in Jesus’ work to ‘liberate the oppressed’ by calling out unjust power structures and advocating for change via protests, petitions, prayer, donations, our daily conversations and our whole lives.