A friend of St Chrysostom’s has pointed out to us an exchange on racism in the Questions and Answers of the recent General Synod. Not many will have easy access to the paperwork of this august body and so here we reproduce the relevant question, and the insightful answer given by Fr Rogers Govender, the Dean of Manchester. The question is rather convoluted, the answer is succinct and apposite. If nothing else read the section in blue below.
Mr Bradley Smith (Chichester) to ask the Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns:
Q121 In the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s claim in his video posted on 2nd June 2020 that ‘white supremacy’ is “endemic and longstanding” in this country, will the Council prepare a briefing for the House of Bishops on:
(a) the concept of “white supremacy”;
(b) the evidence in favour of the argument that British society manifests “endemic and longstanding … white supremacy”;
(c) in the light of its conclusions on (b), and of the potentially inflammatory nature of the term, whether the Church’s vocation not only to challenge racism wherever it occurs but also to promote racial harmony will be helped or hindered by making the charge that British society manifests “endemic and longstanding … white supremacy”?
The Dean of Manchester to reply as Chair of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns:
A If the House of Bishops asks for such a briefing, we will certainly provide it.
But the answer is implicit in clause (c) of the question.
We cannot progress much further until white people start to understand the implications of being white, question attitudes they absorb as “normal”, and overturn lingering beliefs about racial hierarchies. The daily experiences of BAME people, who are labelled in many derogatory ways, reveal how they can be perceived as inferior to white people.
Racism is not a problem for BAME people to resolve so that white people’s ideas can remain comfortably untouched. Prayerful reflection on one’s own identity, and how one places oneself within a world view, is central to Christian discipleship.
If it takes a “potentially inflammatory” phrase to prompt change, maybe advancing God’s Kingdom on earth requires that. Promoting racial harmony means challenging any notion of racial superiority in Church and society.