Food for Thought by Marcia Dixon

What an amazing 12 weeks…

It started off with the world being overwhelmed by the destructive force of COVID-19 and, as lockdown in many nations started to come to an end, people started campaigning for an end to racism and police brutality, following the release of a video showing a member of the Minneapolis Police Force squeeze the life out of George Floyd by pushing his knee on his neck.

The common denominator of both occurrences is that Black people suffered the most.

As COVID-19 spread through communities in the UK and North America, it became apparent that Black communities were being disproportionately affected. 

Every day I logged onto my social media during lockdown, I saw posts from my friends/followers announcing the death of their loved ones.  The majority died from COVID-19. 

Things got so bad the government commissioned an enquiry to find out why Black people were more likely to die of coronavirus, and served to highlight the stark inequality, underlying health issues and life outcomes that exist in BAME communities, when compared with the wider population.

And, just as the number of people dying from COVID-19 started to go down, and the government eased the lockdown in the UK, news of the murder of George Floyd hit the media. This brought #blacklivesmatter to the fore, and caused worldwide campaigns across the globe to call for an end to racism and police brutality in America.

Of all the isms that exist in the world, racism is the most insidious.  It is rooted in the enslavement of Africans and their descendants in the Caribbean and Americas, where they were systematically brutalised, terrorised and made to work – for nothing – for 400 years. 

Following the ending of slavery, the White community have found ways to discriminate against Black people, denying them access to quality education, decent housing, good healthcare and higher paid employment.  And, whilst we live in an era where more and more Black people are accessing higher education, and achieving amazing levels of success in all sectors of society, we are still experiencing discrimination, especially in the criminal justice system and are heavily policed.

Amidst the suffering, Black people have found solace, hope, inspiration and strength from the Holy Scriptures and their churches – many formed in response to the racism they experienced. Many who have fought against racism, in the UK and abroad, have been

Christians, highlighting the important role faith has played in combatting the issue.

It’s imperative that all Christians understand that God abhors injustice; He sides with the poor and oppressed, and He loves everyone, no matter what their race or ethnicity.

With this in mind, churches must continue to lift their voice like a trumpet to call time on racism.  As our experience with COVID-19 has shown, it impacts every aspect of life.

In moving forward and taking a stand against racism, it’s important for church leaders to celebrate and affirm Blackness through the worship and liturgy.  They must also highlight the Black presence in the Bible, and promote and support activities and initiatives that address social inequality and raise the level of Black achievement.

We are at a pivotal point in our history.  Society – that means everyone – can choose to end racism or perpetuate it.  God has already let us know what path we should choose.

Revelations of Lockdown

The lockdown has been a time of revelation for me.  It kinda put my life on ‘pause’, enabling me to study – I took a short course on scriptwriting, led by Angie Le Mar – and also discover Zoom.

Learning about Zoom has been eye opening, and I used it to host some video meetings.  Some have been workshops, which taught people how to utilise PR, and others have been discussions around an issue that has been of major concern in Christian circles for ages: women, singleness and the Black Church.

One thing that is noticeable about the Black Caribbean community is the large numbers of single people, along with the large numbers of women raising their children alone.

Nothing wrong with being single, nor being a lone parent, but when you live in a racist society, a buttress against the psychological and emotional effects of racism is being part of  a loving family, where the presence of a father (or father figure) is evident. 

It’s a travesty that the Black community is filled with so many involuntary single Christian women, and that so many children are raised in families where they have no contact with their biological father or a male role model. This state of affairs has to be reversed, especially if we want to build a strong Black community, whose youth feel confident and able to take advantage of the life opportunities that are to be had, in spite of the challenges.

Strong communities are undergirded by the relationships men and women have for each other, and should be characterised by love, mutual respect and positive affirmation.  It’s alright to say that these qualities have not always been evident in our romantic and marital dealings with one another.

As we come out of lockdown, and take stock of protests against police brutality and racism and what they signify, let’s also reflect on the things we can do to ensure our intimate relationships are stable, robust and provide that strong secure foundation that everyone needs to flourish, grow and develop, as we journey through life, no matter our age.

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