1 Year On, Where Are We Now?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13

Last week marked a year since George Floyd was calling for his mother while having a police officer’s knee on his neck for 9:28 minutes. This shook the world and was the last straw in a long succession of ‘bad eggs’ taking advantage of the power the badge gave them, to treat people however they wanted. Having his slow, traumatic death go viral sparked numerous protests across the world, that caused people to fight to have their voices heard and to be treated like human beings. It also caused many others to take a step back and look at their own privilege. But the question on everyone’s lips a year on, is: has anything really changed? Was it all worth it? The answer? Both yes and no…

If Chauvin’s conviction is anything to go by, a whole lot has changed. Since 2005, only 31% of officers charged with fatal shootings, have ever been convicted and mainly of lesser charges than murder1. The fact that it only took the jury 10 hours to deliberate and came to a unanimous verdict of guilty on all counts, illustrates the water tight evidence, including the shocking viral video.

I know from my own experience as well as those close to me, allies are everywhere. Even those who would usually stay away from discussions of race, are asking their friends to explain, to help understanding. George Floyd’s death has made it OK to ask those awkward questions and has given Black people a platform to speak openly and honestly about how the world has, thus far, largely worked against them. It’s reassuring to see, hear and feel allies’ support, to know we have not been wasting our time over all these years, to make small changes towards true liberation.

The workplace was always a minefield, and largely it still is. However, companies are really having to take a hard look at themselves; having to make the numbers of ethnic minorities in their workplaces and how high up public, how they treat their ethnic minority clientele and employees. We at Church At Barking Riverside have had numerous difficult conversations internally about how we can be mindful of our own privilege and truly serve everyone in our community.

Lastly, never has it been easier to share wrongdoings of our white counterparts. Now more than ever videos of racist actions and speech are shared on social media and actual consequences are felt; being banned from establishments for life, losing jobs and being socially vilified, should make people stop and think before behaving in such ways.

However, that isn’t always the case. A mere couple of months after George Floyd’s death, another Black man was shot in front of his poor children for trying to break up a fight. So it will continue to be, as it always has been, an upward struggle. It seems that every week since the passing of George Floyd, there are more videos of people using their white privilege to make Black people feel small. Both in America and here.

There is also a feeling of companies and brands, influencers and celebrities just jumping on the bandwagon in a performative way, without being genuine or wanting to make true change internally. But this is such a difficult thing to know about for sure and therefore so hard to call out for real, heartfelt allyship.

It’s also becoming tiring always having to be the voice in your group of friends, co workers or families with the burden of always being looked to, to educate others. 2020 and 2021 have been tiring enough, without such a weight to make others feel better about their position in society.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

Psalm 62:5-6

But that’s not to say nothing has changed. Of course progress will never consist of huge forward movements. There will always be something that hits the news or social media that sparks a discussion or reaction that will have traction for some time like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others before them. Big, horrific events like these will cause a lot of people to stop and think but ultimately people go back to their normal lives as things die down and it’s not in their face 24/7. Until the next time there’s another reminder and they are forced to think again. Even with performative actions from big brands, companies and influencers will inevitably increase awareness and get more people thinking, no matter how few the numbers. We definitely have progressed, and George Floyd’s death was definitely not in vain, but in reality we probably took 10 steps forward, to then take quite a few back… But never lose hope or faith in the fact that the movement has created a few more allies worldwide.

We understand this is a hard topic to discuss, especially as 2021 has continued on with 2020’s exhausting energy, so please join us for monthly celebrations on Sunday’s on monthly worship night’s on Mondays. You can get involved here. Alternatively, if you have anything in particular you’d like us to pray for, please don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@churchatbr.com and we will include it in our prayers for you.

Lastly, if you or anyone you know would like to get involved with us as a church, you can join in here, send us an email or check us out on our social platforms:

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