The past couple of weeks have brought the issue of systemic racism into the news in a very big way, following the death of George Floyd in the USA. However systemic racism is not just an issue in the US, it is here in the UK too.
The Lammy Review (2017) found that while only 3% of the overall population of England and Wales are Black, they make up 12% of the prison population. And when looking at young offenders, over 40% of under-18s in custody are from Black or other Ethnic Minority backgrounds.
A report by MBRRACEUK (2018) found that, “in comparison to white women, black women were almost five times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes, and Asian women were nearly twice as likely.” (quotation from this article).
And an official report recently published by the UK government found that BAME groups faced an increased risk of death from Covid-19 as high as 50% when compared to White people.
There are many other areas in which racism is an issue in the UK, including the many microaggressions that Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people experience every single day. Microaggressions include things like being overlooked for a promotion despite being more qualified for the role than White colleagues, and being followed around a store by security guards for no reason other than skin colour.
Clearly there are huge disparities in the lives of White and BAME people, not only in the USA where many reports are coming from but also here in the UK. The recent Black Lives Matter protests across the globe are calling for an end to systemic racism, and people have been taking to both the streets and social media in order to raise awareness of the realities of life for our BAME citizens.
Our calling as Christians
As Christians, we follow Jesus who repeatedly stood with the oppressed and held the systems of his day to account. In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”.
And in James 2:14-17 we are asked, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
So we thought it would be helpful to bring you a list of ways in which you can get involved, particularly here in the UK.
Email Your MP
There are several templates that have been written to make writing to your MP on a variety of issues incredibly easy. You can find your MP’s contact details here. In Lincoln our current MP is Karl McCartney, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember to include both your name and your postal address with any correspondence you send to your MP, as they will only respond if they can see that you are a member of their consituency.
UK action against police brutality and racism – use this template to email your MP about this.
Suspension of UK exports of crowd control weapons to the US – use this template to email your MP about this.
Update the UK curriculum to include Black History – use this template to email your MP about this.
Signing petitions couldn’t be easier, all you have to do is enter your details onto those you wish to support. However you can also go one step further and share the details of these petitions with friends and family via social media too.
Please note that for petitions on the UK Government and Parliament website you have to verify your signature by clicking the link in an email they send to you, otherwise your signature will not be counted.
Teach British children about the realities of British Imperialism and Colonialism – click here to sign this petition.
Make Black History Month compulsory to the educational curriculum in the UK – click here to sign this petition.
Battle racism by updating GCSE reading lists – click here to sign this petition.
Suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot shields to USA – click here to sign this petition.
Replace all flammable cladding on buildings in the UK – click here to sign this petition.
Improve maternal mortality rates and health care for Black Women in the UK – click here to sign this petition.
Introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting – click here to sign this petition.
There are so many antiracism charities and organisations within the UK, and you can help support their work financially. There is quite an extensive list on this post, however for ease of reference here are some of the major UK charities and organisations doing antiracism work.
Black Lives Matter (UK Fund) – Black Lives Matter UK (BLMUK) is a coalition of black activists and organisers across the UK, who have been organising since 2016 for justice in our communities.
Runnymede Trust – The Runnymede Trust is the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank.
Stand Up To Racism – Stand Up To Racism has groups around the country that aim to build solidarity with refugees and confront racism, islamophobia and antisemitism. You can donate to them on a monthly basis for as little as £2 per month (or £1 for concessions).
Donate without even spending a penny!
We know times are tight for many people, but there is a way you can support the cause without even spending a single penny. Head over to YouTube and watch this video. You can leave it playing in the background whilst you go about your day-to-day business, you don’t even have to sit and watch it. But by letting it play the video will gain Ad Revenue from YouTube because of the advertisements placed within it. 100% of the money raised will be donated to associations that offer bail funds for protestors, support family funeral costs, and advocacy.
Many of us have grown up in a society that has afforded us many privileges purely based on the fact that we are White. It is now our responsibility to both listen to the voices of the BAME people in our communities, and to educate ourselves on systemic racism, white privilege, and how to become antiracist allies. As Angela Davis famously said, “in a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist”. And as Rev Dr Barbara Glasson, the current President of the Methodist Conference said this week, “I hope we can listen more carefully to the voices of BAME members, especially younger people, who face racism, discrimination and violence on a daily basis. Then our Church must be brave, speak out, speak up and challenge racism wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves.”
With that in mind, here are just a few of the many resources you may find helpful right now.
Books specifically for a UK audience
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by Akala
We Need to Talk About Race: Understanding the Black Experience in White Majority Churches by Ben Lindsay (The eBook version of this is currently only 99p).
Black British History: Black Influences on British Culture (1948-2016) by Walker, Marshall, Perry, and Vaughan
Other books about race and racism
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism, and Change the World by Layla Saad
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Race by Robin DiAngelo
Films and Documentaries
13th and 13th, a Conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay (on Netflix)
Black Lives Matter (on Amazon)
When They See Us (on Netflix)
Want to do more?
There are so many resources available to help you get involved, far too many to list here. But thankfully other people have created extensive lists to help you. Here are just a few of them.
Practical Ways to Support Black Lives Matter from the UK – a spreadsheet with tickboxes so that you can save a copy to your computer and mark off the things you have done.
Black Lives Matter Resource Directory – an extensive spreadsheet with separate tabs (at the bottom of the screen) to help you navigate things to read, watch, listen to, follow on social media, donate to, practically do, and support from afar.
Antiracism Resources – this is a very easy to read list of resources you may find useful.
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young To Talk About Race – a list of resources for parents, teachers, and anyone else wanting to discuss race with children of all ages.
Share other resources with us
This is far from an exhaustive list, so if we have missed something you know about please do let us know in the comments.