Last Sunday morning we were all looking forward to the Euros final, most but not all wanting England to win. The after math was not just disappointment with the result but disgust with the racist abuse directed at some of the young black England players.
I feel it is important to comment on this as the impact on some people has been significant. This is from someone in the congregation – the social media racism towards Rashford and Saka has been appalling. My heart feels a bit broken at the levels of racism shown by some of the English. I feel it personally, as it screams that unless you are white you don’t belong and aren’t welcome here.
I know not everyone feels like this, but the fact that some people do should concern us all. I have resisted saying anything myself on social media, however I am pleased that many people have demonstrated a solidarity with those who are victims of racism. I believe we need to move beyond words to actions. Which is what we have been trying to do as a church. Celebrating and emphasising the fact that we are all members of the human race, each made in the image of God and made to reflect his glory.
On your behalf I have been working with leaders of predominantly African and Caribbean churches in the town looking at how we can together bring racial reconciliation within are churches and into wider society.
We all need to move beyond mere words to actions to combat the evil sin of racism in its various forms. Whether personal or institutional. Remembering our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of principalities and powers.
We can start by lament, crying out to God that things are not how he intended them to be. Expressing to God our deep distress for the racism that exists in our society and the damage that it causes.
We can then each move on to confession, confessing to God and one another our part in this. This can include feelings of alienation towards white people because of the hurt they have inflicted or feelings of superiority over people of other ethnicities or cultures. It can be confessing a failure to stand up for the rights and dignity of those who are negatively impacted by racism.
Then we need to ask for and offer forgiveness. We need to forgive ourselves and others before God, we also need to ask for forgiveness from individuals where appropriate. If your brother has sinned against you, you have to forgive them, or it will fester and cause you hurt and pain as the anger eats away in you.
The only way, in my opinion, to start to deal with racism is by lament, confession and forgiveness. Not just once, but continually. This is the foundation on which we can then look at other ways that we can seek to deal with the evil of racism and prejudice, but it must start here.
Tony Thompson 18 July 2021