I wonder how you respond to this headline: with frustration, anger, approval, exasperation? You may even be cross with me for bringing this subject up. But as it has featured in my email communication with members of the parish recently, I wanted to reflect publicly about it.
Recently, a black friend of mine told me the story of how, shortly before lockdown, she was walking through a local shopping centre when she was approached by a man of approximately 20–30 who walked straight towards her. At the last moment she swerved to make way for him only to hear him mutter, ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh!’ and raise his arms in imitation of a monkey as he walked past her.
We may believe that racism is a thing of the past in a civilised society, but, sadly, my friend’s experience in 2020 shows that it is still alive and kicking, whether overtly or perhaps even more likely covertly in our unconscious biases and stereotypes.
We may want to counter by saying that, ‘All Lives Matter’. And clearly they do, for God both created and loves everyone.
‘But just at the moment, it is vital that we acknowledge how Black Lives Matter – in our words, deeds and imagining,’
as Bishop Jo, Bishop of Dorking wrote to all Guildford clergy on 18 June. I commend her whole piece to you – you can find it here.
In a tweet on 8 June, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote this:
‘The racism that people in this country experience is horrifying. The Church has failed here, and still does, and it’s clear what Jesus commands us to do: repent and take action.’
I wonder if and how racism has affected you? I do hope that if you are from a BAME background that you have been made welcome at St Andrew’s or in any of the Oxshott community activities. Perhaps we could all take the opportunity to do what the archbishop says. First, to examine ourselves (including in prayer, asking God to help) and, if necessary, repent of our attitudes or actions (or even our inaction). Secondly, we might consider what actions we as a church or as a community might need to take to be welcoming to everyone, because ‘All Lives Matter’ to God and to all of us. This is a huge subject and we will return to it but do please let me know if you have any reflections on this.