Anvil journal of theology and mission
“We Need to Talk about Race” – YouTube discussion featuring Ben Lindsay and Jeanette Burnette at St Barnabas, North London, https://youtu. be/Z45SDMm5-Tk (3 May 2020)
by Ann-Marie Wilson, London
I have always been very aware about inequality in our society, having hit a gender career glass ceiling in banking at age 17, then chosen to work in equal opportunities, advocating for equality at British Gas with STEM, BAME, WISE and other initiatives. I witnessed poor selection for redundancy (maternity and mental health) in the city in the early 1990s and chose to run my own HR and training practice to address inequalities. Having experienced racism in my anti-FGM work with 28 Too Many (28toomany.org), sexism in the church and disability discrimination in much of society, #BlackLivesMatter has been a topic close to my heart for over 40 years.
In May, I was lucky enough to watch a YouTube video co-hosted by Jeanette Burnette from my church, St Barnabas, North Finchley, and Ben Lindsay, author of We Need to Talk about Race. This covered institutional racism in the church and wider society. This was timely for our church, and in the event of George Floyd’s tragic death. In fact, I had to wait for the book to arrive following a massive reprint!
The book discusses the UK church’s complicity in the transatlantic slave trade, considers the role of white privilege, and how to address equality for those who do not have it.
In June I also attended a very moving service of lamentation and hope (https://www.london.anglican. org/articles/we-lament/) based on Psalm 30 and Matthew 11, with a very moving lament written by the Rev Sandra McCalla. I was concerned that of the approximately 250 attendees only about 15 were white. If it is our season to listen, why were white ordained and lay leaders not engaging? I subsequently wrote my own lamentation on racism, Covid-19, cancer and isolation – all close to my heart following five months of shielding.
Unlike other books or services, I have reflected on these two pieces of media as I have been rallied to action. I wrote and read my own lament to my writing group and shared with others. I have read and shared my reflections on Ben’s book and as I help plant a church led by a pastor of colour in a BAME majority area, we hope to put into practice some of the wisdom gleaned over the past 40 years. As we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, as Ben puts it, “we hope our glass or racism ceilings will be floors for the next generation.”