A STATEMENT IN SOLIDARITY WITH #BLACK LIVES MATTER
You are all aware that while we were hit by the Coronavirus and we – apart from key or essential workers – were in lockdown, then came the murder by Derek Chauvin, a White policeman of George Floyd, an African-American man of 46 years and father. The death sparked protests in almost 400 cities in USA and provoked protests all over the world, including in the UK under the banner Black Lives Matter (BLM). It is an indication of the gravity of the situation that people should join the protests in their hundreds of thousands.
Save for right wing protests the UK, BLM protesters were diverse and they included black, white, and brown people and were of different religious beliefs and none. Children as young as thirteen took part in the protests. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have condemned the manner of George Floyd’s death and so have other Bishops and clergy. We add our voice to theirs in support of BLM.
BLACK LIVES MATTER is not an exclusive hashtag. It does not say that there are not other people who suffer or that all suffering is racial. Rather, it is an expression of solidarity and support for Black and Brown people, given the oppression they have suffered over centuries and which they still suffer at the hands of the police as through institutional or systemic racism. It’s also a commitment to see a stop to that oppression, to racial profiling, and to addressing historical injustices affecting Black people.
In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus told the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. At the judgment day, people ask the King, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you”. He replies, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me”. That is a statement that Jesus is with and in those who suffer and in need of justice and compassion. We do not just worship Jesus who is up in the sky, but Jesus who is in our midst, often as one who thirsts, suffers exclusion or stigma on account of their race, colour, gender or class.