On June 22, 2015, Karen Fleshman posted on LinkedIn,
â€œWhite People, If Youâ€™re Not Part of the Solution, Youâ€™re Part of the Problem”
A direct plea for white folks to examine how their everyday actions contribute to institutionalized racism. Karen Fleshman Â suggested ways to change their behavior to improve race relations. The post quickly went viral, with 20,000 views and over 400 comments, 85% of which were not only merely negative but outright cruel as follows. Â â€œbereft of any connection to reality,” appalling, asinine, delusional, divisive, garbage, hateful, inflammatory, insane, preposterous, puerile, rubbish, stupid and other terms we would not repeat.”
While Karen knew white people maybe ultra-sensitive about the topic of race, she believed that many white people would be Â saddened by the state of race relations around the world and strive to improve. It was in that spirit that Karen Fleshman wrote the post.
“American nationals Â are not at all on the same page when it comes to race, and from what I can observe, at a time when it is crucial we come together, we are drifting even further apart.” – Â Karen Fleshman
The root of the structural racism problem is said to be about millions of people with the same biases who make up the Â organizations, both public and private sector and act accordingly. Â
Unfortunately, many People of Color are reeling from a series of events that they interpret as evidence that British and American society finds them of no value. Hence the slogan:
â€œBlack Lives Matter.”
ENOUGH WITH RACIAL ‘RECONCILIATION
There is no precedent for racial harmony in British or American history; we have to begin to create a world that is not predicated on white privilege but on a common humanity. Before any talk of reconciliation, we need to begin with conciliation, the process to â€œovercome the distrust and hostility.
“Talking about reconciliation simply avoids the painful process of confronting the brutality of white privilege that continues to wreak havoc on black lives.”
RACISM, WHITE SUPREMACY IS A CHRISTIAN PROBLEM TOO
The racism of many personal interactions and microaggressions is real. This exists in the Church too. Racism is a social matter, not just Â a personal matter. It is cultural and intimately woven into our communities, our symbols and our formation of identityâ€“even in places like London where crime rose sharply after the EU referendum, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
“Non-racism is a popular third option where politeness and courtesy in behaviour or speech are paramount. It recognizes the evil of white supremacy but, like Pontius Pilate, washes its hands of responsibility.”
As Christians, we must recognize that there is no such thing as a non-racist. There isn’t a third option. Non-racism is merely a passive rejection of racism, but it is also a rejection of human dignity, solidarity, and the common good.
A NEW APPROACH TO HEAL THE RACIAL DIVIDE IS NEEDED Â
When people deny and dismiss the problem, it only makes it worse.
“Non-racism allows white people to acknowledge racism is a sin while continuing to reap the benefits of white supremacy.”
When the author of The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander speaks at churches, she says, â€œWeâ€™re all sinners and weâ€™re all criminals.”
Today is the day for pastors and preachers and Christian university presidents and faculty and denominational leaders to loudly take a stand against racism in all forms. Denouncing it and categorically condemning it.
CONFESS YOUR ROLE
Michelle Alexander says Â “Confronting a system that benefits us might feel like a loss. We have to listen to hard stories, let go of some power, face discomfort and change our ways.”
“A group of Christians in Nazi Germany signed their names to the “Barmen Declaration,” in 1934 Â opposing Nazi ideology as antithetical to the Gospel. Christians feel the need to do the same thing almost Â Eighty years later.”
Confession creates all kinds of shameful feelings. We resist admitting our wrongs.
Confess your apathy and silence. Too few of us have said, enough. Too few have defended the cause of the marginalized and intervened in the face of blatant injustice.
The people of God can do better.
Christianity teaches that everyone is equal in the eyes of God.
“More than 400 Christian ethicists and other theologians have signed “A Statement from Christian Ethicists Without Borders on White Supremacy and Racism.”
The only question that remains is, will you remain on the sidelines – silent about the blatant racism all around – or will you join in leading the charge to end all the prejudice, and instead support all of Godâ€™s people?
This is your day to shine.
- A state of racism exists between some of the citizens of the United Kingdom. Studies taken by the BBC in 2014 and 2015 claim racism is on the rise in the UK, with more than one third actually admitting they are racially prejudiced
- In 2003, the Community Service Society published reports that 50% of the black men in New York City didnâ€™t have a job, and in 2005, another report demonstrating that there are 170,000 young adults ages 16-24 who are not in school and not working, largely black and Latino.
- Black Caribbean pupils are permanently excluded from school three times as often as white British classmates
- Unemployment among black, Asian and minority ethnic people is nearly double that of white Britons
- Theresa May, UK Prime Minister Â recently admitted Britain has a long way to go to achieve racial equality after a major review laid bare significant divisions in the way black and ethnic minority people are treated. Â The race audit is welcomed because the data it provides cuts through easy stereotypes about race and class and shows the limits of a â€œgood education” Black and Asian students do well at school, but lose out in the jobs market. Â
Much like the statistics, the reasons for this disparity are not new. The time for talking is now over, we must now move to debating solutions.