In this episode, black liberation theologian Prof Anthony Reddie and the poet Ravelle-Sadé Fairman reflect on black experience. These searching thoughts begin with the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police officers, and from there reach into a knotted web of power and oppression: the disproportionate suffering of black people from Covid19, the enduring roots of European colonial rule, the dynamics of white fragility, the experience of black embodiment, the veneration of the statues of slave traders, and the emerging anti-racism movement.
Anthony Reddie is professor of Liberation Theology at Oxford University and the author of many books, including Is God Colour Blind? and Theologising Brexit. Ravelle-Sadé Fairman is a poet from Nottingham, UK, who performs as A Poetic Perception.
“It’s interesting that the Prime Minister is going to set up another commission, in order to tell us things that many of us have known for a long time…What we need is not more analysis, what we need is structural change. And firstly to recognise the toxic and poisonous nature of white supremacy.”
“The use of extreme violence, as in the case of George Floyd…is the extreme end of the manifestations of racism. Most original white people are not involved in that. However, what they don’t notice is the way in which society is constructed on notions of white privilege, that allows a certain level of advantage of white people over black people and people of other minority ethnic identities, that is not based on anything other than a presumption of superiority.”
“It’s interesting how the Prime Minister can promise swift justice for anti-racist protestors who pulled down a statue of what was, in the end, a racist slave trader. This, I think, is symbolic of the nature of black lives not mattering… It tells us what we’ve always known. Property matters more to white people than black people’s bodies, and our feelings, and our experiences.”
“White people will have individual black friends. But how much of your life is still codified by living in, effectively, a white domain with white norms? You may have the odd black friend, but how many of you have immersed yourself in contexts in which you are the minority? … In what ways are you living in a multicultural nation in ways that are challenging your sense of settled whiteness?”
“There is a sense in which whiteness can only function so long as it creates distance from the other and is enabled to continue to pump up false notions of superiority and normality when compared to others.”
“George Floyd’s death has enable people to see. And once you see something and you know it, you can’t unknow it. And not bring able to unknow it means that more ordinary people, who thought this had nothing to do with them, will now realise that for the cause of peace and justice and for a better equitable way of being human in the world, change needs to happen and they will be committed to that change.”