For the first of EEA’s monthly online coffee lounges, we invited Yemi Adedeji & Steve Clifford to share. Pastor Yemi is the director of the One People Commission of Evangelical Alliance (EA) UK. Steve Clifford is the former general director of EA UK.
Yemi shared his personal experiences of racism, the constant micro-assaults, the invalidation, the acts which exclude, things that white people may not even be conscious of.
He has a nice car. So the police are always stopping him to ask where he got it from.
When he walks along the street, he sees people clutching their bag a bit tighter, afraid that this black man will rob them.
“Where are you from?” So you think he doesn’t belong in the UK?
“I don’t see colour.” So are you denying his different identity?
“You’re a credit to your race,” or “You’re so articulate.” So you think he is stupid?
Yemi’s testimony was challenging. What racism are white people not noticing? What attitudes do we have that we haven’t noticed cause hurt to our friends of black and minority ethnicity?
Steve Clifford then shared how the Lord challenged him 10 years ago. He was leading EA UK but the 20-25% of Christians in Britain of different ethnicities and cultures were poorly represented. It was time to take time to change that. A hugely important development was meeting Pastor Yemi and then working together to build the One People Commission.
Steve and Yemi challenged us that, to build unity between all God’s people takes time. We need to go and look, listen and learn. We need to visit each other’s homes in order to build genuine relationships and respect. Only then can we see the richness and strength of what unity without uniformity can bring. Only then can we help and stand up for one another.
Yemi shared an analogy to help us understand that success means fully working together.
Diversity means that you invite someone of colour to the party but don’t allow them to dance.
Inclusion means that you invite them to the party, allow them to dance but you don’t give them any chance to learn the dance you want. You’re setting them up to fail, resulting in frustration on both sides.
Integration means that we plan the party together. From the start.
But this work to build unity between all God’s people is God’s will. And it is worth the effort.