I am grateful to Charnelle for this powerful, personal guest blog piece, following Georgina’s earlier in the week. We must listen and learn from these experiences – and above all, we must act.
Learning to find my voice. My reflections on George Floyd’s death
Yet again another black man has been senselessly killed. But this one hit me differently, I think it hit my community differently this time too. Year after year, decade after decade and century after century we have been experiencing racial injustice. I think about my dad, an upstanding man with integrity, getting stopped by the police because he was wrongly identified because he was a black man with short hair and glasses. My mum who tells me stories of the racism she endured at school from her teachers. How half of her lesson was spent taunting her because of her hair. Her teacher calling her crude names because of the colour of her skin and was not true of who she is and her character.
My own stories of being told ‘you look like poo’ at school. Not sharing my opinion or voice in the public spaces for fear of being labelled an ‘angry black woman’. Knowing that I have to work three times as hard as my white counterparts just to get the same recognition. Finding it hard to bring my whole self to work, because in society and the media I have been told that the entirety of my identity isn’t welcomed. Family members having to deal with overt racism in university today. People I call brothers being stopped continuously by the police.
I do not share this for pity but for an awakening. As Christian people, we have been given a blueprint to radical and counter-cultural living. We are told that to love God is to love our neighbour as ourselves. We are told in Micah, what the Lord requires of us, that is to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.’ In Isaiah 1 v 17 God says, ‘learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.’ We are not perfect, and God knew this and sent his son to die for all of our sins so that we could walk in power, with no condemnation and do right.
To the black girls and boys, women and men that might read this. I want to tell you that your voice is valuable and can, and should be heard. I want to tell you that the bible is not silence on racial injustice. As Isaiah 61v1 – 4 & 8 – 9 says:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the broken hearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favour has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.
“For I, the Lord, love justice.
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be recognized
and honoured among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
the Lord has blessed.”
I’m finding my voice too, let’s find our voice together.