Black and White; common and competing issues and needs – Guest blog by Bruce Warren

I’m told many white poor & working classes are angry these days with all the talk of white privilege and black lives matter when they feel no white privilege and no favours done by the systems. “White privilege” means a cruel joke to them, and probably is more appropriate among the middle class. While the white poor & working classes may have marginally less headwind than black people, they still experience significant headwinds at every turn. Only the indomitable survive and thrive.

Does this mean that racism is not a valid thing? No. It means that we have systemic injustices that are pervasive, some of which cross race boundaries and some of which are specific to race. Since much of the western world is listening right now, maybe if we tackle the fact that black lives matter, any systems reformed through this movement will help other vulnerable groups too.

These groups should be allies, not adversaries. But that is hurt also by the history of those with power or influence telling lies to one group that the other group are their competitor and therefore enemy. So many poor white people have been told that black and Asian people were taking their jobs, when actually we needed the labour in the 50’s-70’s because we couldn’t fill the jobs in the UK and Europe. Then when industry started failing across the western world in the 70’s and 80’s, thousands of jobs disappeared and the working class of all races had to scramble to find something. We need to expose the lies that have been told, which have stoked racism. “Divide and conquer” is a generational sin we must root out from the powerful.

But I am noticing is that this is about more than racism. It is about treating the vulnerable as though it’s all their own fault and making it very hard for them to move out of that place of vulnerability. So, this affects the vulnerable: those are black and other ethnic minorities. It also includes those who grew up in poverty and those who are “in the system” because of significant mental health issues or because of crime or other reasons. There is a way that society have come to see them as less valuable, less deserving humans.

This is witnessed by the way police treat them. It is witnessed by the way some social or mental health workers treat them. It is witnessed by the legal, financial, transportation, and other legal requirements that these public and private systems place in front of them as though they have the same capabilities as white middle class do, and penalise them when they don’t.

Maybe if we educate ourselves, hear people’s own stories, hear the stories of those who work with the vulnerable, then we will learn about and be able to advocate for the changes that need to occur in our society. Tackling systemic racism will likely sweep up issues of systemic prejudice and unfairness of other kinds too.

Micah 6.8 He has told you what is good
and what it is the LORD requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God.