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Racial justice: renewing our minds

Written by Tearfund | 17 Jun 2020

‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ (Romans 12:2)

At Tearfund we recently launched the Reboot Campaign calling on the UK government to ensure that on the other side of this pandemic is a society that prioritises the poorest, tackles the climate emergency and builds a better world for everyone.

But what if, along with speaking up for a more sustainable future, we also took this opportunity to reboot our own hearts, minds, and attitudes - to reflect on our beliefs about racism, its roots, and the way it has quietly infiltrated our systems and structures without question.

Renew our minds
Whether you are black or white, a citizen of the global North or the global South, the outcry regarding the racial injustice that led to the death of George Floyd on 26 May 2020 has caused pain. It has caused pain in those around you, whether you have recognised this or not. It has caused deep divisions and broken relationships as discussions about race have become impassioned and fractured. It has revealed the best of us and the worst of us all at the same time.

Millions of people from all backgrounds have spoken up, or taken to the streets to protest as the systems and structures that have upheld the racist ideologies have come into sharp focus. It’s been a time of reflection for some and a time of pain for others.

At Tearfund, we believe poverty is caused by broken relationships with God, with creation, with each other and with ourselves. Racial injustice is a clear example of our broken relationships with each other. This cannot be denied, but it has the tendency to be forgotten. And in remembering that, it is here that we find ourselves with a choice. In Romans 12:2, Paul writes: ‘Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

It’s clear that as followers of Jesus we cannot conform to the broken patterns that perpetuate inequality and injustice. We must call for a reboot of society. But not only that, we must also dig deep and invite God to renew our hearts and minds too.

What if… building a better future
What if the death of George Floyd, though despicable and an indictment on those who were in place to protect and serve him, was the catalyst we needed to cause an awakening because we had buried racial injustice so deep we’d forgotten it was there? It was easier to allow black people who have been marginalised and oppressed to just continue that way because they have developed the resilience to do so anyway. It was easier to leave it to the next generation than to have those difficult conversations and sit in the discomfort of the sin of racial injustice that our lack of awareness has so often caused.

What if collectively we took a stand against racism and bore the weight of the pain felt by our colleagues and friends, or the families of NHS Staff from BAME backgrounds who died at a disproportionate rate whilst protecting us from coronavirus? What if…

What if this was a turning point? It already feels like a seismic shift. Protests from Australia to Kenya. Social media flooded with messages of support to end this injustice. The relentless exposure of the continued pain of black people everywhere. What if…

What if the world on the other side of coronavirus is one where we see a reset for racial justice too? Where we each play our part in this fairer world in thought, word and deed.

What if we recognised where the sin of racism has infiltrated our systems and we repented, truly turned away from sin and turned towards our black brothers and sisters, listening to their stories and amplifying their cries? What if…

What if we chose to bear the burden of others and so fulfil the law of Christ and helped those who have been held back by centuries of deep discrimination to recover? To take up their rightful place with all of the skills, talents, abilities and brilliance that so often have been overlooked or undermined because of the colour of their skin.

Time for a reboot
Now is the time to recognise that both our world and our hearts need a reboot. This global outcry happened now for a reason. In the midst of this pandemic, we’ve taken time to meet and love our neighbours. We’ve started to really see people and hear their stories because we’ve had the time to listen, rather than getting caught up with the busyness of everyday life. Let’s hold onto that change and together champion the cause of the oppressed.

Titus 3:14 challenges us: ‘Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.’ There is an urgent need. It is the saving of black lives.

‘My skin was made to protect me. Please don’t let it be the thing that kills me.’

Now is a chance for us to invite God to renew our minds and transform our lives – the God who has called us to be light in the darkness. Are you your brother’s keeper – yes you are. And who is your brother? Humanity.

Let us pray

Help us to see how we have an opportunity to bring change by being bold in speaking and acting for justice.
Renew our hearts and minds.
Bring forgiveness where needed. Challenge us to change.
Comfort those who have experienced and continue to experience racism.
Heal their pain.
And shake up all of us who are too comfortable.
We long to see your kingdom come.

What can you do?
If you'd like to learn more about how we can reboot our thinking around race, we'd recommend reading:

  • We need to talk about race: Understanding the black experience in a white majority church by Ben Lindsay
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Black and British by David Olusoga
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Renni Eddo Lodge

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Written by  Tearfund

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