Fr Ben writes:
I was struck by Barack Obama using these words when he spoke to young Black people this week following the nine days of mostly peaceful nationwide protests in the USA, saying
“I want you to know that you matter, I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter, … I see limitless potential that deserves to flourish and thrive …. and you should be able to learn and make mistakes and live a life of joy without having to worry about what’s going to happen when you walk to the store, or go for a jog, or are driving down the street, or looking at some bird in a park.”
He added: “So I hope that you also feel hopeful even as you may feel angry because you have the potential to make things better and you have helped to make the entire country feel as if this is something that’s gotta change. You’ve communicated a sense of urgency that is as powerful and as transformative as anything that I’ve seen in recent years.”
We’re now feeling more of that energy here in White City, London compelling us address the racism that is experienced daily in our own society. We too need that transformative power.
President Obama said “There is a change in mindset that’s taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better. And that is not a consequence of speeches by politicians … that’s a direct result of the activities and organising and mobilisation and engagement of so many young people.”
It is important for us to say right now that “Black Lives Matter” at this particular point in history. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is much needed. The sad reality of the situation we find ourselves in is that in practice the lives of some people seem to matter more. Until such time as there is true equality regardless of the colour of a person’s skin (or for that matter their gender or sexual orientation, faith or lack thereof) some people need to be reminded that “Black Lives Matter”. Not more. Not less. Just the exact same amount as White lives and that accordingly the same opportunities should be available to each and everyone in a true meritocracy where one is judged on the contents of their character and not the colour of their skin.
People are angry today for any number of good reasons, but our African, Afro-Caribbean and Black British families, neighbours and friends have more reason than most.
We will not tolerate racism. We must finish the work the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement began decades ago as it’s painfully clear there is much work still to be done.
Here at our church in White City we stand proudly with one another, our friends and our families, in the fight against inequality and injustice.
We must continue to amplify voices of protest, voices of healing, voices of love, voices of peace but most of all, voices of change. And we pray that one day we will move beyond using such words as black or white to describe human beings, but that’s a conversation for another time.