Black Lives Matter – Professor Anthony Reddie

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement emerged in order to counter the patently obvious fact that Black lives do not matter. This is not just a question of economics or materiality, it is also about seemingly ‘ephemeral matters’ like the impact on our psyche and associated questions of representation and spirituality. It has been interesting observing the concern of some white people for matters of law and order and governance and property re: the tearing down of the Colston stature in Bristol. I worked for a year in Bristol and was confronted with the sight of statues built in honour of men who enslaved my ancestors. Polite petitions to move these and other statues were ignored. Long before a so called mob tore this one down Black activists asked for it and other statues to be move to museums where those who deliberately wanted to see them could, but saving those of us who didn’t, the ignominy of having the lives our oppressed ancestors constantly insulted. White authority ignored our claims, BECAUSE OUR LIVES DON’T MATTER and in the face of White complacency and disregard, OUR FEELINGS DO NOT MATTER EITHER. In 2007, I along with many others, campaigned for a national monument to mark the epoch of the slave trade and the countless millions who died under the yoke of British slavery. We were peaceful, respectful and went through the usual peaceful channels and first the Labour government under Blair, then The Coalition and finally May’s government all summarily ignored our pleas. We were peaceful and respectful and made our entreaties in the time honoured and peaceful way. But we were ignored BECAUSE OUR LIVES AND FEELINGS AIN’T WORTH JACK! We campaigned for an apology for Britain’s involvement in the Slave Trade and Blair gave us deep sorry but no apology because the slave trade, sanctioned by greedy white mercantile interests, said it was legal at the time. So no apology and certainly no reparations. Once again, we were not hectoring or behaving like a mob. We made arguments, some of us wrote books, essays and articles and it still made no difference. So we continue to live with the psychological and spiritual damage of witnessing monuments to the people who made millions from peddling the Black flesh of our ancestors, and this is before we even get to the tangible manifestations of economic hardship and the social deprivation facing Black bodies in postcolonial Britain. So I find it interesting that following the pulling down of a statue, we have the usual concerned voices of White people sharing their concern for law and order and the dangers of mob rule. Where we their voices when all the aforementioned was happening? Where was the British academy and theologians commenting on the collusion of the Church in the slave trade and the later colonialism that enriched all the historic churches, but taught Black people to hate themselves? My friend and fellow Black theologian in Britain Dr Delroy Wesley Hall speaks of Black people living in Britain struggling with a form of existential crucifixion. We are mired in our continued ‘Holy Saturday’ following our social and collective crucifixion, but with no ‘Easter Sunday’ on the horizon. So White people can complain about our not abiding by the rules when our attempts to do so have been ignored completely and treated with contempt! So at this moment in history, I am not going to thank White people for issuing apologies and ‘taking the knee’ and writing statements and going on marches that don’t cost them anything, when we are dealing with existential crucifixion that leads to us being more likely to struggle with mental ill health issues, such as schizophrenia. I am not going to ‘educate’ White people on how to deal with their discomfort and emotions when I and countless Black people are afraid to go out of our houses lest we end up as part of the disproportionate numbers who are stopped, detained and questioned by our supposedly benign police for breaking lockdown restrictions. Some of us have simply had enough of White hypocrisy and the sudden interest in our concerns having shown scant regard for them in years gone by. Systemic racism didn’t start with George Floyd’s death nor will it end with White people ringing their hands in liberal guilt, telling us how sorry they are for the racism that blights our lives and not theirs! Some of us will continue to fight, but we are tired and more angry than you can ever imagine, so please don’t you dare tell us how we should behave, because when we played by your rules of civility, you didn’t give a damn!
Professor Anthony Reddie
Extraordinary Professor, Theological Ethics
University of South Africa
NRF ‘A Rated’ – Leading International Researcher
Director:
The Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture
Regent’s Park College,
University of Oxford
Pusey Street
Oxford
OX1 2LB
Author of Theologising Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique (London: Routledge, 2019)
1st ever Black and Postcolonial theological assessment of Brexit.
Editor:
Black Theology
An International Journal

Published by

Andrew Pratt

Andrew Pratt was born in Paignton, Devon, England in 1948. For his first degree he studied Zoology (B.Sc. Hons., London) before going to the University College of North Wales in Bangor. Andrew obtained a M.Sc. in Marine Biology which was partly dependent on a thesis on the Effects of sympathomimetic drugs on the rectum of Pleuronectes platessa (effects of drugs on the guts of the plaice). From here he went to St Luke’s College, Exeter, since absorbed into Exeter University, to study for a PGCE. Andrew taught in Essex, Wrexham, and Liverpool together with some brief spells of supply teaching since entering the ministry. Subjects have ranged through biology, chemistry, religious studies, swimming, personal and social education, and health education. During his M.Sc., he began to foster a belief in God. He became a member of the Methodist Church in Exeter. Moving to Essex he saw little of the church as both his parents died in a space of a year and he was away seeing them at weekends. In Wrexham (Gresford) he sensed a call to the ministry and in 1979 went for theological training at the Queen’s (Ecumenical) College in Birmingham. He was there for three years, partly doing a post graduate Diploma in Theology at Birmingham University and partly doing ministerial training. It was here that Andrew began to write hymns as a means of exploring theology. He had already written poems (mainly for private consumption!) one of which was published in a college magazine at St Luke’s in 1972. Since leaving Birmingham, Andrew has been stationed in Northwich, Nantwich, Leigh and Hindley, and Orrell and Lamberhead Green (near Wigan). While in Nantwich he began to achieve publication of his texts, firstly in Hymns of the City and then, under the guidance and constructive criticism of Bernard Braley, with some regularity in Hymns and Congregational Songs. Andrew was asked to be part of the groups that edited Story Song, Big Blue Planet and Sound Bytes. He has been regularly published in Worship Live and has had articles, hymns and reviews published in the The Hymn, The Bulletin of the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland(of which has been the Editor since 2004) Theological Book Review, Writers News, Writing Magazine, the Methodist Recorder, Reform and Crucible. For some time he broadcast regularly on BBC Radio Merseyside. From 2004 he was a member of the Music Resource Group appointed to compile Singing the Faith, convening the words group until its dissolution in 2009 when he resigned. Blinded by the Dazzle, his first hymn collection, was published in 1997 by Stainer & Bell. Further collections, Whatever Name or Creed, Reclaiming Praise and More than Words were subsequently produced. Over a period of three years, with Marjorie Dobson, he wrote material for the Revised Common Lectionary which was published on www.worshipcloud.com HymnQuest includes over 1400 of his hymn texts. He is a Non-Executive Director of Stainer & Bell Ltd., and was instrumental in their establishing a web site (www.hymns.uk.com) carrying contemporary hymn texts which could be downloaded for local use. He is Chair of the Pratt Green Trust. On two consecutive years Andrew entered the Pratt Green Essay Competition, achieving second and joint first prizes. This work acted as a springboard for his research in hymnody. In 1997 he gained a M.A in English from the University of Durham for his research into Frederick Faber’s Hymns on the Four Last Things. He has researched the origins of the Methodist Hymn Book (1933) for a Ph.D., at Liverpool Hope University College. A book based on this research, O for a thousand tongues – the Methodist Hymn Book (1933) in context was published by the Methodist Publishing House. In 2004 he was appointed as a tutor and then Acting Principal at Hartley Victoria College (part of the Partnership for Theological Education in Manchester) to its closure in 2015. He continued as an Honorary Research Fellow with the Partnershp. While there he wrote Net Gains (Methodist Publishing House) and Study Skills for Ministry (SCM). He has lectured and led workshops in the UK, USA, Finland, Poland, Ireland, and Germany. He has written and contributed to many books relating to hymns and worship including Charles Wesley: Life, Literature and Legacy (2011, Epworth, edit., Ted Campbell, Kenneth G.C Newport), Why Weren't We Told? (2012, Polebridge Press, USA, R.A.E. Hunt) Hymn, song, society (2014, Unigrafia Finland, edit Tapani Innanen, Veli-Matti Salminen), Methodism Abounding (2016, Church in the Market Place, edit., John Vincent), The Servant of God in Practice (2017, Deo, edit., J.W. Rogerson and John Vincent). He has written a series of reflections on selected hymns of Charles Wesley (Inextinguishable Blaze) and co-written with Marjorie Dobson two books of worship resources, Poppies and Snowdrops and Nothing too religious (both Inspire, Methodist Publishing House). In 2017 with Jan Berry he edited and contributed to Hymns for Hope and Healing (Stainer & Bell Ltd). He was one time Chair of the Methodist Peace Fellowship.

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