How’s your anti-racist journey going?
Since George Floyd’s murder and the black squares of 2020, where are you at?
Take a moment to consider that question and reflect on your response.
What do you need to actively keep engaging with racism?
These are some of the questions Natalia Nana Lester-Bush helped those of us who were lucky to be there, to explore together at her workshop ‘Beyond the Black Square’.
It can feel uncomfortable to say out loud the things we’re doing or not doing but we know that saying things out loud is powerful. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to me as I look back over the last couple of years that the things I committed ‘out loud’ to changing are in fact the things that have started to change. I have deliberately adjusted the voices I allow to influence me by diversifying my bookshelf, my Instagram feed, my podcasts and my theology. I have welcomed and sometimes initiated awkward conversations about racism with white family members and close friends. I am rubbish at them but it’s happening. I am becoming more aware and conscious of where and how I am spending my money.
Great. ‘Nice one babe’ I hear Natalia Nana say enthusiastically. Followed swiftly with ‘And now what?’
And now, I open myself up to that question. Now I commit ‘out loud’ to change again and in new ways. I commit to speaking out against racial injustice where and when I see it. To learning and practising and getting wrong, phrases which I actively avoid because I don’t want to get them wrong. I commit myself to leaning in and facing my biases rather than running away from them in shame.
Thank you Natalia Nana for your kick-ass workshop. (My ass felt kicked. In a good way). Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Thank you for your warmth and humour. Thank you for the way you demonstrated listening to your body and encouraged us to tune in to ours. Thank you for creating a safe space to share with one another.
So now what about you? What do you need? What would support you in your anti-racist journey?
Because whether you are still at the start or forging ahead, your young people need you to keep moving forward.
Our culture is steeped in racism. Which means we are. Which means our churches are. Which means our youth groups are.
We are beyond listening and learning and saying nothing to challenge racism.
We must face it and address it and act.
Naomi has an MA in Practical Theology. She worked with young people around Kings Cross for many years and spent ten years with urban youth work charity, XLP. She supports youth workers through mentoring, leads Ignatian meditations and is part of CONCRETE’s Anti-Discriminatory Practice working group.