We want to bring you a different sort of blog this week from those that we usually put out. The news over the last week or so has been filled with simply horrific scenes from the United States of America. On the 25th May 2020, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed by a police officer following his arrest. As a Kid’s team, we have been really struck by what we have seen on the news and social media over the last few days, as this incident caused protests and riots to happen across the USA and the world.
We were thinking about how we respond to this situation. We are very aware that the three of us, Emily, Will and Sam, are all white British, that we have never experienced racism directly towards us and probably, never will. In many ways, whatever we say will never be enough, but we couldn’t stay silent on this issue. We were doing a bit of research around this and thinking about what to say because it is hard to know what to say when everyone is saying different things. We noticed that there is very little online about the subject of racism that is aimed towards children. So that’s what we want to do, to try and talk a little bit about more about this and to help explain what is going on, in child-friendly terms, to help your children to understand more what racism is, what has been going on, but also what we believe as a team.
What is racism?
Racism is the opinion or belief that some people are not as good as others because of the colour of their skin. Because of this this, someone’s actions towards a person whose skin is a different colour, is often negative. For example, someone with white skin might not allow someone with black skin to do something such as play with them, have a certain job, go to a specific place and so on, because of the colour of their skin. There is a decision being made that because someone looks different, they aren’t as good and therefore can’t do something.
What is happening in America and around the world?
46-year-old George Floyd was killed by a police officer following his arrest. He had been reported to the police for trying to pay for some cigarettes using a fake $20 bill. George Floyd was in his car around the corner from the store when the police showed up. He wasn’t happy about being arrested but did what the police said. A ‘struggle’ was reported though as the police tried to get him into the car, with George Floyd refusing to go in. The police officers pushed him to the ground and tried to keep him there so he couldn’t move. One police officer placed his knee between Floyd’s neck and head cutting off his oxygen supply. George Floyd tried telling the police that he couldn’t breathe but they wouldn’t listen. And after a little while, George Floyd died, because of the police officer’s actions.
George Floyd’s death was not the first at the hands of the police in the US, he was not even the first black man to be killed by a police officer in 2020. What happened that night caused anger across the country and around the world, but not because it was an isolated incident; it was a catalyst for years of universal oppression against the black community.
Of course, an act which is clearly seen to be a white police officer deliberately killing a black man for no reason, would cause a reaction. Men and women, both black and white, have witnessed first-hand a real sense of the injustice, the fact that it’s not fair, that a black man would be killed by a white person who could potentially get away with it. This isn’t just a new problem either, it’s been happening for hundreds of years.
In Kid’s Church a few months ago we talked about William Wilberforce and the role he played in stopping the slave trade where black people were sold and forced to work for white men. Then we talked about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and how they fought in America for equality for all races (people of different skin colours and nationalities). They made a massive difference, but the problem was never solved fully, and it is still happening today.
Racism is a very real issue around the world, not just in America but this country too. Riots and protests for anti-racism and justice are happening across the world right now as you read this because people care so much about everyone being treated equally. Images have spread of the large protests around the world as people demand change from politicians and country leaders. A lot of the protests have turned violent as emotions come out, but even the most peaceful protests are being met with resistance. And in this country, we saw the reaction when some English footballers were racially abused by Bulgarian fans during a match in October 2019, people were outraged. But racism and racist behaviour is also happening in this country too. We, Britain, can’t pretend that we are perfect because we’re not.
What do we believe?
Firstly, we believe that we are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), male and female, black and white. God made us all, knows us all and loves us all. He loves me just as much as He loves you. That also means He loves George Floyd just as much as the man who killed Him. God doesn’t love the bad things that we do, but He does love who we are as people. God is love (1 John 4:16) and loves every person exactly the same way (Romans 10:12). In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile [Jews and non-Jews], neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are all equal to God. It doesn’t matter who we are, we are all equal and all loved by Him because we are all made in His image. John 3:16 says how God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only son. It is not God loved white people so much that He gave His son. God’s love is available to all people, not just some.
Secondly, we believe that Jesus longs for us to be in unity, all working together. In John 17:20-23 we read how Jesus prays that we would be together so that we could tell the world about him. In Revelation 7:9, we read about John’s vision of people of all races, nations and languages, all different types of people, worshipping God together, in unity. Also, every person on Earth is part of the same ‘human family’. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). God longs for us to be one loving family, no matter what our differences are. Jesus demonstrated this in his life as he taught all different types of people, not just some. And he died for everyone, not just some. (2 Corinthians 5:15). And he sends the Holy Spirit to fill us so we can share the good news about him in ‘Jerusalem, and in all Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). No one is left out, but every race is to do it together.
Thirdly, we believe God calls us all to love each other as He loves us. One time, Jesus is asked by the teachers of the law what the greatest commandment is and he gives them this answer: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Mark 12:30-31). Our neighbour is absolutely everyone that we meet, not ruling out people who are different to us. And we should show them the same love that God shows us, be willing to give up everything for them (John 15:13). God wants us to love all people, black and white, male and female, in exactly the same way that He loves us.
So, let’s finish with a prayer!
God, I pray for peace in this world, I pray for equality and I pray that everyone would love one another. I’m sorry for the times when I haven’t been nice to other people, deliberately or by accident and I ask that You forgive me. I pray that there would be justice where justice is needed, but that Your Spirit would come and fill this world with Your love and Your presence. And God I pray that You would help me to love every person I meet, just like how You love me.