After feeling encouraged by God and by my own convictions to share my experience of racism in churches. I have discovered some interesting and challenging thoughts which seem to prevail amongst the white majority Christian community, of which I belong
Firstly, discovering I was not alone has been one of the greatest joys of this week. Speaking to friends, acquaintances and strangers who are shocked but interested about my experiences.
For those people I am truly grateful. God has assigned me with some wonderful allies as we all muddle through this challenging season.
I am also delighted by the number of prayer warriors across Merseyside. Pressing their knees into the ground, but soaring above it all with their spiritual eyes open.
They see a time of repentance and change for our church. A time of making holy the bride of Christ during what seems like a long season of turmoil.
For these people, I owe a deep thanks and the saving of my sanity! For those of us who are afforded a glimpse of both the natural and the spiritual – connecting with others who see it too is confirmation in and of itself.
In short – Things are being shaken but not everyone is ready.
When Christian communities talk about shaking. We imagine God going before us to shake up all our enemies, giving us some great victory here on Earth.
But what if we’re the ones being shaken up? Brexit, racial tension, covid-19, lockdown, spiraling deaths, economic down turn, closed churches, Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Anti-lockdown protests, gun-toting Christians, roiting & looting, job losses..
You get the picture!
The resounding message from our battle weary intercessors….. Is that the church must repent.
We hear the messages, nod our heads, pray for soft hearts that are willing. We all believe that we have repented and this must be for the ‘bad apples’ still sitting in church pews (or sofa’s!). Not really walking by faith, not really seeking God, perhaps drifting through church out of habit.
Maybe that’s true.
But there is also another truth that I have seen this past week. Its breaks my heart, despite knowing that this is Gods way. Having to remind myself that this isn’t personal to me as Dionne. But that its personal to me and every person who calls themselves a follower of Jesus Christ.
Christians are being challenged from every side and its hard not to believe its the work of the enemy. It easy to blame the difficulties we experience as coming from our unseen enemy the devil. Whilst that may be true, it is not always the whole truth.
Another truth is that we are all reaping the consequences of past actions. We have inherited the consequences of sins committed perhaps generations ago. And this is something I have heard a lot over the past few weeks. Especially in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and racism in the UK.
Those people are not wrong, yet they still miss a vital link in their perception. If our parents, grandparents and great grandparents got it wrong all those years ago…. Isn’t it fair to assume that some of the things they taught us are also wrong?
I have had to dig deep to examine some of the things I have been taught covertly by family, friends and communities that on first glimpse are not noticeable.
After disengaging from contentious debates on various social media platforms, I began to wonder why some people were so quiet?
I know what you are thinking! And no its not what you think. I am talking about the older generations in my family. The parents grandparents, aunties, uncles, second cousins and black communities who came here from the Caribbean.
There have been no posts, comments or rhetoric at all about BLM or racism in the UK. At first I couldn’t fathom why?
Didn’t they care? Fon’t they want a better future for minorities in the UK? Is their silence, also violence?
After meditating and praying about this, God let me in on a few things.
1. Their silence is rooted in trauma.
2. Trauma responses are not healthy
3. I had been taught to respond the same way
Everyone understands that trauma responses are the brains way of coping with unimaginable pain, attrocity and violation. No one expects victims to just ‘get over’ their trauma.
The problems come, when people choose not to deal with their trauma. What should be a temporary response followed by a process healing; becomes our normal response.
This is what I have inherited from previous generations. An inability to properly process pain and instead respond as someone who is emotionally traumatized.
The way of enslaved, emancipated and racially abused Caribbeans.. Was to never talk about or refer to the trauma, pretend like it never happened and bury it.
We know that burying trauma is not the same as being healed from trauma.
So how has this affected the situation we now find ourselves in as Christians?
1. Many of my white Christian friends don’t believe that racism happens in churches
2. Many of my white Christian friends don’t believe my accounts of racism experienced in churches
3. Many of my white friends won’t accept that asking me to prove racism exists in churches – is an act of racism, gaslighting, discrimination and victimisation
4. Because issues around race are never discussed, cultures within church don’t priorities the sharing of biblical or legal responsibility around the subject
When I reflect on my contribution to this situation…. It causes me to grieve for all the lost time, the delayed restoration and the spiritual limping of the church that should be marching in valour.
My only saving grace is acknowledging that God’s timing is perfect. So if He is showing me this now and guiding me into change. Then this is the right time.
So to all my brothers and sisters in Christ;
For my silence… I am sorry
For allowing my fear about your response to my experiences, prevent from sharing the truth… I am sorry
For allowing you to believe that racism in church has never affected me…. I am sorry
For valuing my earhtly friendships above the spiritual health of the body of Christ… I am sorry
For choosing to keep the peace, rather than challenge discrimination… I sorry
For accepting casual racism…. I am sorry
Saying sorry is the easy part. Recognizing my own contribution to this situation gives me a sickly feeling in my stomach and an uncomfortable sense that I could have done this sooner. I could have changed sooner. I could have helped sooner.
Repentance is an action of heart and mind. So how do I show you I am sorry?
This is how I will pit my words into action:
Every time I experience racism…. I will tell you
Every time I experience discrimination in church….. I will speak up
Every time someone attempts to gaslight or victimize me for raising issues around race…. I will call you out
God has shown me the error of my ways. Allowed me to shed the inherited attitudes of my ancestors and given me a voice to repair and restore the wrongs of me and my people.
So to every white person I say sorry. Sorry for hiding the truth, sorry for misrepresenting my life experiences and sorry for not repenting of my silence sooner.
I know my path to restoration will be a hard one. Not just for me, but to everyone who receives the words from my heart and everyone who listens to the truth when it feels like a stone in your heart.
But trust me when I say… Our God is a God of truth…. And it shall set us all free.