(If you have no time for anything else then try the last resource listed – an interview between a white and a black pastor in London)
As our schools grapple with issues of racism, illuminated by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the USA and heightened by protests on UK streets, we asked our School Chaplains and other contacts for their insight and resources.
One of our Chaplains mentioned a recent online Assembly taken by him and his Head on the passage in Galatians 3:23-29 on the Children of God. They focussed on Galatians 3:28
‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’.Galatians 3:28
The Chaplain’s main points were: ignorance is not the problem, sin is; education is not the answer, the gospel is; all are created for equality and are equally created in God’s image, equally in need of forgiveness and redemption in Christ.
An Interview with a Black British CHRISTIAN woman.
Victoria Ikwuemesi, Chaplain at Ewell Castle School, describes herself as a Black British Christian woman. She has a white English Mother and a black Nigerian Father. Here she is interviewed in a local church, Christchurch Ewell (17 minutes total):
Victoria has also shared a short statement by Louie Giglio on Twitter which touches on the whole issue of white privilege (2 minutes):
Resources from the Church Army
Hannah Ling, communications officer at the Church Army, has compiled a vast list of resources (follow the link below). She has separated them into short clips, films, books, podcasts, relevant charities (etc.). This is worth a scroll:
I had a look at a few of the resources. A really simple, short and effective film about how to combat racism (appropriate for older teens and adults) is this one. This short film from VideoRev offers five practical ways you can help combat racism and be an ally in times when people are under attack:
Some of you will be familiar with the brown eyes / blue eyes experiment carried out by a teacher on April 5th 1968 in a US primary school of white children on the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated. The teacher, Jane Elliott, is now 84 years and this is an account of what she told a group of students in 2017:
One race, the human race
“It’s 10 o’clock, and we’re going to start now,” Elliott announced. It was a Thursday morning, and she was speaking in the Memorial Union at Arizona State University.
About 25 people are there, mostly students, and a few invited guests.
Elliott would speak later that day to a full auditorium of 1,200 people at Central High School in Phoenix as part of ASU’s Project Humanities campaign to create opportunities for dialogue about issues like this.
As part of her visit, Elliott had asked to speak with a small group of students.
She got right to it.
“Anybody here who considers themselves a member of the white race, stand up,” Elliott said. A handful of people stood.
“Anybody here who considers themselves a member of the black race, stand up.” Ten or so people got up.
“Stand up if you consider yourself part of the brown race,” she said next.
“Hispanic,” one young man corrected as he stood.
People glanced at each other awkwardly as Elliott continued. “Stand up if you consider yourself part of the yellow race,” she said. “Stand up if you consider yourself part of the red race,” she said, until everyone was standing.
Elliott studied the room.
“Now everyone who considers themselves part of the human race, sit down,” she said.
Everyone sat down.
This is important to understand, she said. She paused, looking into the faces in front of her.
“There are not four or five different races. There is only one race on the face of the earth, and we are all members of that race — the human race,” Elliott said.
Yes, Elliott knows we have been taught that people can be divided into groups based on shared inherited physical characteristics.
But science has shown that human physical variations don’t fit into neat racial categories, she says. They overlap. Because, genetically, DNA analyses show, all humans are more alike than they are different. Scientists agree that biological races do not exist among humans.
“It is a lie perpetuated so some of us can see ourselves as superior to others,” Elliott said. “You’ve got to stop believing it, and you have got to stop living it.”
Judging people based on skin colour is as ridiculous as judging people based on eye colour — or gender, religion or sexual orientation, she said. “It’s indecent, it’s not fair and it’s ignorant.”
If you’d like to read the whole article, including the description of the brown eyes / blue eyes experiment, then try this:
Through the Lens of Justice
There’s a good 4-minute clip from South Africa about reading the Bible through the lens of justice:
Thoughts for the Day – Three articles
If you’re looking for a short ‘thought for the day’ for an assembly or chapel (especially for Prep School age children) – or just for inspiration for a podcast or blog – then do consider the following from Alex Aldous, Chaplain at Prestfelde School:
Thought for the Day – Bending the knee – 22 June
article added to the blog 25 June 2020 – ed
Over this past month it has become a familiar sight on our TV screens: bending the knee or ‘taking the knee’ at football stadia across the world as a quiet act of protest, against brutality shown towards black people. It was in the 49ers’ third pre-season football game in 2016 that during the playing of the National Anthem, Colin Keapernick knelt rather than stood. Deemed insulting to the State, Keapernick insisted he was only making a silent defence on behalf of those who hadn’t got a voice or platform to question racial injustice.
This act was itself predated by Martin Luther King in Alabama who knelt on the streets in prayer with other protestors during the early Civil Rights unrest, and in its symbolism there is a paradox, for it shows not a benign, buckling submission to a state of play, or perhaps a ‘play of the state,’ but an act of meekness which is ‘strength under control.’ It is those who have flayed about in impulsive repressive punitive action, and not those who have been merely suspected of some petty crime or other, who would seem to be the ones who have ‘no control,’ and that is worrying when that label is appended to authority.
However, it raises the question about what people, what we, will bend the knee to? All too often humans will tend to ‘follow the crowd,’ to bow to social pressure or simply take the easier route of conformity, even when it compromises integrity and lasting moral values. In the book of Daniel when there was a cult of emperor worship, all of King Nebuchadnezzar’s subjects were commanded to fall down and worship a gold statue of the king at the sound of horns, pipes and other martial music. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who were God-fearing Jews refused to cow-tow to this edict and worship anyone except their God. Thrown into a fiery furnace as their due punishment, there they met a fourth person – an angel of the Lord – who stood with them and preserved their lives to bring about a total U-turn in the King’s thinking, such that it was forbidden to say anything against their God from then on.
The challenge for us is to bow the knee to the right values, the right ideology, and may be even to God. As Robert Frost commented in his poem: The Road not Taken: ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.’ Let’s bend the knee in the right direction!
Thought for the day – ‘Bless the body’ – 15th June
The most powerful picture that has come across our screens this weekend must surely have been the picture of Black Lives Matter hero, Patrick Hutchinson, carrying to safety, across his back, the body of an injured white activist after potentially mortal injuries. Acting on instinct to protect another human being, he simply said: “I just did what I had to do.” There cannot be a more vivid example of what a Good Samaritan looks like: the despised underdog doing the totally unexpected in saving the life of someone who only minutes before was oppressing those who shared his own ethnic origin.
Jesus was always championing the downtrodden in surprising and unexpected ways – he had no regard for those who pompously stood on their moral soap boxes condemning people like the Samaritans, who had historically watered down the purity of the Jewish nation. Jesus blessed the body of such people through his parable and saw true goodness in respecting the image of God in all people, no matter what they looked like, how they behaved or how they spoke.
Yesterday, in many parts of the Christian world, ‘Corpus Christi’ was celebrated: it’s a moment in the calendar when the church especially affirms Christ’s broken body and remembers the importance of sharing in his death through Holy Communion. The act of Jesus giving his body for the world so that he could carry the weight of human wrong, was an act of pure grace which defied reason.
In this time of social distancing, it’s hard for any of us to affirm the body of others made in God’s image – through hugs, handshakes or a squeeze of a shoulder, and there’s a danger that we can become frightened by the bodies of others, seeing them as potential germ spreaders and compromising our own safety. This weekend has shown that there are occasions when risks need to be taken for the sake of love and grace, and ‘affirm the body.’
Whilst we may still not be able not to participate in the body and blood of Christ formally, there are times when we need to share his body through others and carry their weight – when a child comes up to us in chapel crying because she’s fed up with online work, or someone has fallen down and hurt themselves in the playground. Whilst we are careful to consider risks, we remember that our Lord took risks for us in the body so that we could be free in the soul. So may we walk in his footsteps even if for most of the time it’s two metres apart…until we fall over.
Thought for the Day – What really matters – 8th June
Over the past week, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people gathering across six continents to protest against racism arising from the police brutality and death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At this time of world pandemic, there have even be comments made such as: “I’d rather have Covid 19 than suffer from brutality arising from my skin colour.” This puts the matter into sharp relief: the invisible virus attacking us from outside-in is being trumped, it would seem, by the invisible germ that attacks us from inside-out. People may carry the physical symptoms of a germ which we hope will soon be vaccinated against, but can humans be inoculated against – and be protected from – the attitudes which endanger vast swathes of our world?
Jesus once said: “It is not what enters into a person’s mouth that defiles them, but it’s what comes out of their mouth that defiles them.” What we say, how we stare, how we ignore, look the other way or how we act or react when someone differs from us, in skin-colour, appearance and accent betrays what really matters – what comes from our hearts. And it’s because we’re such a visual culture where stereotyping and placing people into painful pigeon-holes is all too common, the issue over ‘black lives’ still confronts us and the problem of racism still dogs us. Even after the costly efforts of Wilberforce, Ghandi, Luther-King and Mandella, still we as a global community divide the world into them and us, and so often is it rests on things that might seem skin-deep, but belie what’s going on inside.
It’s often because we’re driven by our own beliefs about ourselves – to protect who we are at the expense of others – that we do not look at others equally. From a Christian point of view, the heart matter is topically all about slavery: as St Paul said: “you were bought at a price.” The ransom price for every human’s slavery to all that traps us within, has been paid for with the blood of Christ , so that we can then be free, but free to love as Christ has loved us, to treat others, to recognise others as unique, special and bearing that stamp of love. Black lives do matter, because they matter to God and each bears his God-given image. So it’s our challenge for each one of us to get our heart right, our thoughts and words right and then our actions will naturally follow – let’s make that a contagious germ that will affect everyone… so that all can be free!
Speaking about Race this Sunday – The Pastor’s Academy
If you are looking for something ‘meaty’ and challenging regarding whether to speak about Black Lives Matter or not, not least from a pulpit, then the link below is really good. It’s from ‘The Pastor’s Academy’ and includes the italicised section at the start of this article about the difference between Black Lives Matter as an organisation and black lives matter as an issue. It helps to challenge our thinking on why we are talking about racism (i.e. don’t just speak because ‘it’s the thing to do’ at the present)
The Bible Society has produced an excellent blog entitled, ‘Is the Bible racist?‘ This article is honest about the way the Bible has been misused in the past. For example, an edition from the 1800s produced for the slave-owning society in the West Indies removed all references to freedom and omitted the whole of the book of Exodus! The article also references a worrying survey which displays a considerable disconnect between church-goers and non church-goers and their views about the Bible and racism. Having said all this, it is clear that the Bible is definitely for racial equality – all are equal in God’s eyes. As it concludes:
Is the Bible racist? No – and Christians should be outraged that it’s been misused to justify racism in the past, and determined that it should never happen again. As Malachi 2.10 says: ‘Don’t we all have the same father? Didn’t the same God create us all?’ (GNB).
A punchy 4-minute film (from the US) and suitable for older teens / adults shows an ‘experiment’ in a running race in which competitors compete for a $100 bill – but not all start equal. This film illustrates 1 John 3: 17-18 really well:
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.1 John 3: 17-18
If you are looking for something to use with a Youth Group, then watch this 12-minute Youth for Christ film – and look out for a spoiler alert on ‘Spiderman’!
Finally, another short film (5 minutes) is of Andy, a white pastor, interviewing Jason, a young black pastor in London. This is an excellent insight into the question ‘where are you from?’ and also gives a memorable illustration of what it is to be ‘different’. If you look at nothing else here, then this is for you!
…and finally a challenging cartoon shared as part of Hannah Ling’s resources by chainsawsuit in 2014 and 2016.
Alastair Reid (General Secretary, TISCA)