protesters holding signs which say 'Black Lives Matter'

What should our response to the Black Lives Matter movement look like?

Over the last few weeks perhaps, like me, you’ve muted yourself on social media, shared a black square, shared videos, quotes and resources in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Or perhaps you’ve queued them up but not got around to watching them yet. But what next?

What does this look like for us as we go ahead from here?

This week has probably felt uncomfortable, maybe it’s weighed heavily upon you and you’ve been overwhelmed with all you watched and read, or maybe you were so paralysed with it all you still haven’t yet figured out your response.

Now we have to keep learning. We have to keep responding. Messy, uncomfortable conversations need to be had. We have to acknowledge our white privilege (if that’s who we are) and we have to do better.

Jesus was not neutral, silent or indifferent. We cannot love Jesus and be neutral about justice, silent about racism, or indifferent about his image bearers.

Morgan Menichini

As a follower of Jesus I come back to his example. The fact we are called to love God and love our neighbour (Mark 12:30-31). The Message version says ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ 

Whether or not we believe the same as each other our responsibility as humans is the same. To love one another. To fight injustice and to seek equality. And to speak up for our brothers and sisters, whatever colour their skin is.

It can feel overwhelming knowing where to go next but we have to so much to do. In this post I have gathered together some thoughts and resources, aiming to amplify as many Black voice as possible. I hope it will be a useful start. It is a work in progress which I will keep adding to so please do comment, or get in touch, with any thing you think should be added.


SOME PRACTICAL ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE

Keep amplifying Black voices on social media. Whether or not you committed to the Instagram blackout, whatever your corner of social media looks like, we can keep sharing posts and helpful information and use our influence. Save the #blm and #blacklivesmatter hashtags and keep learning and sharing. But, don’t share without thinking, Siraad Kalila Dirshe shared some really helpful prompts for re-sharing a post responsibly here.

Support Black-owned businesses – there’s an excellent list here of business in the UK. But do your research, know who you’re buying from and make a conscious decision.

Educate yourself on terms like white fragility, white privilege and gaslighting. Read books (suggestions to follow further down this blog post) and listen to podcasts like this one with guest Dom Roberts. In fact, head to Dom’s Instagram and check out the links in her bio.

Start asking questions. Challenge yourself and others.

  • How diverse is the leadership team at my church or workplace? How inclusive are their hiring practices?
  • Are all the speakers at this event white? Why?
  • Does this brand include people of colour in their advertising? Are they paid the same as white influencers?
  • When was the last time I read a book that wasn’t by a white author?

FOR PARENTS AND CARERS

There are lots of amazing resources out there but as parents we have a responsibility look at our own hearts and think about what we’re teaching our kids first. Our initial heart response and our learning will impact what we’re teaching in our homes so we need to have those messy, uncomfortable conversations at the dinner table, whilst we watch TV and whilst our kids are bugging us in the toilet! They need to become part of our everyday.

Graphic from @ohhappydani on Instagram. Heart, home and world.
Image from the wonderful @ohhappydani on Instagram

Look through your children’s toy box and bookshelf today and ask yourself: is it diverse? This article on Huffpost by Vese Aghoghovbia-Aladewolu is a really helpful prompt for talking to your kids about diversity. More than just looking at your bookshelf (which this week made us realise nearly all our books have animals rather than people but did lead me to get rid of a kid’s Bible I’ve hated for years!), think about what you watch, how you can introduce them to different cultures and educate yourself.

There are lots of lists online now of great books to buy for your kids. Here’s just one from City Kids Magazine.

Sometimes you’re a caterpillar is a great story on Youtube to prompt a conversation about privilege with your kids. (Probably too old for our 4 year old in terms of the language but good for older ones).

The Children’s Community School have put together a list of really helpful resources (including the above infographic) for helping you to chat with your child about issues of social justice.


FOR THE CHURCH

It can be easy to feel powerless when it comes to helping your church respond – particularly during lockdown when you’re not meeting together. I say this because I did.

But there are practical steps we can take:

  • Email your Vicar/Pastor/Minister/Leadership team.
  • Start asking questions:
    – Who is represented up the front of church/on-screen?
    – Are the images on your church social media and website representative of your whole church or are they predominantly of white people?

Joseph The Dreamer put together a video asking POC to share their experiences – Dear, White Church… (The British POC Experience). It’s a great place to start.

Keysha Jordan posted 5 actions which churches can take today on her Instagram. (She also has lots of other really helpful posts on her Instagram).

  • Make a corporate statement – take a public stance with a clear and concise message posted directly to the church social media page and website.
  • Seek counsel from Black leaders – ask for guidance from Black leaders before taking action.
  • Recognise injustice against Black people as a social justice issue – create a racial justice arm under your social justice umbrella.
  • Find a racial justice organisation to partner with – search for organisations the church can financially support to help society achieve equality and racial justice for people of all races.
  • Review the diversity of your leadership – re-evaluate your leadership roles throughout the life of the church to ensure that Black people are also reflected in the leadership and decision-making process within the organisational structure of the church.

BOOKS

There are so many excellent books you can read – I haven’t yet read all of these but have had them recommended from people whose wisdom I trust (do let me know if there are others you’d add). If the thought of trying to find time to read a book fills you with dread then could you listen to it as an audiobook. I use Audible but have also found that our local library has a good range of books you can listen to as well. Lots of these are currently out of stock on Amazon, I imagine they’ll re-stock shortly but even better if you can find a smaller bookshop to purchase from!

Natelegé Whaley has put together a list of 25 Amazing Books by African-American Writers You Need to Read.

And here’s another great list entitled Books About Race In Britain To Add To Your Anti-Racist Reading List.

We Need To Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches by Ben Lindsay is also currently 99p for the ebook!


SO, WHAT NEXT?

What should our response to the Black Lives Matter movement look like?

This is a lifelong piece of work. It’s important that we engage and that we look after ourselves and others. We can learn so much online but it’s wise to take regular breaks from social media. We cannot engage if we are exhausted.

Millenial Black shared an excellent post about how we can keep up the anti-racist momentum after the news cycle. We mustn’t let this be it. We must not move on.

Each of us has a voice. Let’s start by looking at ourselves, at our own beliefs. Let’s have those messy, uncomfortable conversations, online and offline and let’s learn to be better at loving our neighbour. Our response to the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be something. And it has to be ongoing.

Do comment and do share any resources you think should be added to this list.

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