Image above of St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, London. Taken from twitter.com/smitf_london
As with everyone else, we have been shocked by the events in the US of the last few weeks and we stand with all those who believe that Black Lives Matter, that racism is a real and systemic problem both in the US and here in Ireland and who lament our broken world.
As a response we want to amplify the voices of Black people and of people of colour, both within and outside the extended ACET family. So here are some resources we have found useful over the past while:
Jemar Tisby and Tyler Burns run a wonderful podcast in the US called Pass the Mic. Here they are interviewed by RNS on the recent events. Jemar makes an excellent point when he states that:
“The problem, especially with white evangelical Christians, is that they tend to think the problem of racism is primarily how I feel and act individually towards someone else. That’s things like using a racial slur, excluding someone from your business. So if that’s the problem, then the solution is well, then I’m going to treat people nicely, and some of my best friends are black. What they fail to realize is that racism operates on a systemic level, too.”
Jemar joins activists from either side of the Atlantic on this Greenbelt Festival conversation on Black Lives Matter: Is the church complicit?
We do not do church planting in ACET and we are not a church, but we have found in the work of decolonising church planting and the exploration of what a multi-ethnic church really is that there are many resonances with our ethos and values. Dominance, equity, justice, gentrification, incarnation, colonialist practices and displacement all get highlighted by the team at the V3 Movement here.
In 2016 we had an office on O’Connell Street overlooking the GPO. Observing the centenary of the Easter Rising began a journey of exploring theology and place – that the story of the soil beneath our feet and the place we share life with others is not incidental to our present circumstances. Here is the Yale University Professor Willie Jennings, the foremost voice on the theology of race and place, with his response to recent events.
Rev. Sandra Moon from Kentucky, USA, was the guest preacher at Lucan Presbyterian Church, one of our supporting churches where some of our staff attend. Her sermon on the language of Anti-Racism begins 11:25 in.
We know from experience that ‘delocalising’ is one of the traps of responding to any justice issue. This is where one cites the voice of someone overseas who you already agree with while ignoring the voice of the person directly affected on your street or in your city or in your pew. This has been seen recently with the treatment of LGBT Christians in Ireland. So following our emphasis on the importance of race and place here are some resources from those you share the soil with:
Our Board member Dr. Ebun Joseph is a passionate advocate for black people in Ireland, not least in her field of academia. Check out her Twitter handle.
The team at VOX magazine is in the middle of a series on racism and this includes many voices we have had the privilege of working alongside in ACET. Pastor Gerard Chimbganda, our near neighbour in the North East Inner City of Dublin, begins the series.
Gerard and ACET CEO, Richard Carson, joined together to review two books on race for VOX magazine in 2018. See their discussion.
Finally, Kevin Hargaden from the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, up the road from us on Gardiner Street, reminds us that Ireland’s treatment of the Travelling Community long demonstrates that the Irish criminal justice system is already racist.
In the V3 movement webinar above, Erica Wrencher cautions against the ‘snippeting’ of ethnic minorities, that is where those of us in the majority take a tiny picture of the culture and life of the other and think that we have now become multi-ethnic as we “consume the McDonalds nugget” from a place of scarcity. We are acutely aware that a truly shared life with our neighbours will require a long and steady journey of lament, confession and repentance. A reading list is not the answer. But we hope these resources are a help and that they point us back to a new beginning.