I have just come off the first EEA Zoom Café and it was, for me, powerful and stimulating and yet also very humbling. Thank you for all who were able to join in and I encourage all of you to “come for coffee” once a month as we learn and share together.
Several things have been on my heart and mind these last several weeks. Scattered thoughts that I’ve been working to try to put together and make some sort of sense of it all. Here are some of things that I have been processing. Have you ever heard or thought about Macroassault, Microassault, Microinsult, Microinvalidation. These terms were used in the Zoom Café. According to minority groups, this is what they feel living in Europe. Macroassault, an overtly physical or verbal attack, is fortunately not the norm but there is too much of it. But Microassault, an explicit racial derogations characterized primarily by a verbal or nonverbal attack meant to hurt the intended victim through name-calling, avoidant behaviour, or purposeful discriminatory actions, is much more common. Microinsults is characterized by communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity. And microinvalidations are characterized by communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings, or experiential reality of a person of colour *. All of these forms of assaults are just that, assaults and if they were done to many of us, we would feel angered, unjustly treated and insulted. Whether it is against people of colour, or race, nationality or religious group, assaults of all types are becoming all too commonplace in Europe, and the church needs to recognize it and stop it.
Because this is such an important topic in Europe today, and because it is a topic close to God’s heart, we wanted to start our Zoom Café by listening and learning about racism. Canon Yemi Adedeji, Director of the One People Commission of EA UK and Steve Clifford, former director of EA UK walked us through the theme of racism and showed how it is inherent in our societies, including the church. They shared some of their experience how EA UK has become a bridgebuilder in this area.
As a result of this and as the Black Live Matters movement causes big waves, Yemi Adedeji and Gavin Calver (present director of EA UK), have decided to give interviews together because they believe people need to see unity in diversity. It speaks volumes.
Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter
We are just beginning to see the results of what Covid-19 has caused and will be causing to many areas of life. Since there will most likely be high unemployment, the gaps in inequality will be greater than ever before. We can expect to see racism of all types continue to take central stage and the tensions grow. Nationalist parties, who want to build their following, will use the current climate to fire up mistrust, blame and even hatred, using “others” as the scapegoats for the current difficulties that each country is facing. They will call for tough laws and more demanding order to fight the “justified” outcries of the long “neglected and oppressed”. But Europe does not need more oppressive laws and order; Europe needs peace, the peace that comes from God – Shalom peace.
Where will all the well-meaning non-black supporters of Black Lives Matter be when this unfolds? Will they still side with their brothers and sisters who have suffered so long under racism. Or will they be among the ones who are self-absorbed with their own problems just trying to make their own ends meet?
What will be the role of the church? This is what we all must ask ourselves. Are we part of the solution or are we part of the problem? Do we have racism living within us? Do we look at “others” who may not look like us or sound like us or even worship like us as “less than us”; “not as intelligent as we are”; as people who “don’t belong here”? Are we confessing and repenting of our own racist attitudes and making sure that our churches are safe and welcoming places to be for everyone? This is what we would like to encourage you with and resource you with as the EEA.
During another EEA conversation which we call Issachar group, referring to 1 Chronicles 12:32, someone said: If you do not have hope for a future you will not make sacrifices.
So here we are: do we as Evangelicals have hope for the future? Is our hope big enough to make sacrifices? Will our churches be truly integrating? Churches standing the test of what Yemi Adedeji means when he states: “Embracing diversity is like inviting people to the party; inclusion is inviting them to dance, but integration means we host the party together.”
There is a fairly big chance that in Europe many of our trusted structures and assumed middle class privileges will be challenged and become luxury. Will we be true and integrative people of hope? Will the gospel be good news by transforming people who in turn transform society by their action of hope and love? And will Black Lives truly Matter? What about Roma lives? Asian lives? Latino lives? Change the name to fit the prejudice, all lives do indeed matter, but those of the most vulnerable are who God expects His people to watch over and protect.
We have explored the topic of Peace & Reconciliation in the past issues of the EEA News. We are now turning to The Bible. Looking at what Covid-19 could bring upon us and looking at Black Lives Matter both of these topics, Peace & Reconciliation and The Bible, are relevant and spot on.
May God give us mercy and courage to live as peacemakers; as people of his Word, and countercultural; as people of hope, hope for today and hope for the future.
This will make us also people of Macro Resistance, Micro Resistance, Micro Honouring, Micro Validation the very opposite of how I have started off this article.
What a day this will be! Let’s join to see this happen
General Secretary EEA
More of how to work towards an integrated Christian community
The [Im]possible Dream
The [Im]possible Dream explores Steve Clifford and Yemi Adedeji’s journey to integration as two friends and as leaders.
* From: RACIAL MICROAGGRESSIONS IN EVERYDAY LIFE American Psychologist, May-June 2007 D. W. Sue, C.M. Capodilupo, G.C. Torino, J.M. Bucceri, A.M.B. Holder, K. L. Nadaal, M. Esquilin (Teacher’s College, Columbia University)