I have paused before writing anything concerning the death of George Floyd. It is only right that people who are black or from other cultures respond first and I as a white person listen to what they have to say. In fact I believe that all of us from the dominant white culture should take a step back and listen to what our brothers and sisters from other cultures have to say about their experiences in Britain as well as other nations. Therefore I recommend you read the responses of the BU President and other Baptist leaders who are black. It will be difficult reading, but we need to hear and respond by allowing God the Holy Spirit to change us and for us to change as part of the body of Christ at Emmanuel. Some have tried to say that the protests and focus on racism are a distraction from presenting the Gospel. My response to that is they fail to understand what is happening and also fail to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Kingdom of Heaven. We only need to read Luke 4:16-21 to realise this. I believe that the Kingdom of heaven is fully yet to come, but if it does not impact now in the way we live and relate to each other, then it is just pie in the sky and people will not listen. Some have sought to divert attention by portraying George Floyd as a criminal, which completely misses the point and overlooks all those who have suffered prejudice and sadly died as a result of police action.
Basil shared with us on Sunday evening his experience of growing up in Britain and how he was hassled by authority, because of his colour or suffered from thoughtless comments relating to his colour and place of origin. Many people at Emmanuel will have heard the story of Sally Sullivan who came over from the Carribean in the 1950s to work in our National Health Service – which would have collapsed many years ago but for those who came from the Carribean and other countries – and how appallingly she was treated. The lasting testimony of people such as Basil and Sally is that they stayed, they persevered and have made a positive contribution to British society, even though white people demonstrated prejudice and abused them. The fact that sixty years on from Windrush, people who have lived in this country virtually all their lives could suddenly find themselves under threat of deportation or even deported, as a result of government policy, demonstrates we as a nation still have a long way to go before we understand the legacy of black people in contributing to our success and stability since the Second World War. The fact that we designate the backbone of our NHS – cleaners and care workers – as unskilled and not worthy of entry into the country or residential status, shows we have a long way to go in recognising the valuable contribution that has been made and is being made by people of colour to the life and culture of our nation.
For the Baptist Union response: https://www.baptist.org.uk/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=579501