No room for racism
A second webinar exploring the implications of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement for the Australian context will take place with Uniting Church members this Sunday 25 October. Register here.
More than 100 people participated in the first webinar with UCA members from across the country taking time to reflect meaningfully on the challenges of racism and how the Church can respond.
One of the organisers Rev. Dr Katalina Tahaafe-Williams from Nightcliff Uniting Church in Darwin said the webinar conversations created space for First Peoples to share their story and experiences of racism and to share their perspective on the BLM movement for First Peoples in Australia and Australia as a whole.
In the first webinar, a recorded message was shared from Hayden Charles, Youth Committee Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
Hayden shared his experience of being racially profiled while out shopping 12 months ago. He was followed by a worker in a supermarket for 20 minutes and after being surrounded by shop staff, was asked to have his bag searched. When he later met with management to address the issue, he was given a $100 gift card.
He said there was no follow up or information provided on how the issue would be addressed.
“My headspace wasn’t good. I felt like I was worthless. It was the same year I was voted Young Citizen of the Year for Sutherland Shire. Six months later I was racially profiled at the shopping centre.”
Hayden said he was grateful for the support received from members of the Church at the time including those who made complaints to the supermarket.
However, Hayden said the experience was not an isolated incident.
“It still happens, even in 2020. There’s no room for racism.”
After Hayden’s input, the panel delved into the issues of systemic and structural racism, racial representations, cultural literacy and changing perspectives.
In this Sunday’s webinar, Nathan Tyson, NSW/ACT Synod’s Covenanting Relationship and Service Manager, will join the panel.
The BLM conversations are jointly hosted by Uniting Church Chaplaincy at Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie and Social Justice-Pilgrim Presbytery in the Northern Synod.
The organisers knew the enormity and complexity of the issues and decided to make the webinars a series so they could continue to invite more voices into the conversation.
“From the responses we received it is obvious to us that these conversations are not only necessary but urgent, not just here in Australia but globally given the protest marches we witnessed this year and the current socio-economic and political climate under the shadow of a global pandemic,” said Katalina.
“We look forward to continuing these critically important conversations this coming Sunday and we can hope that folks who join in will feel comfortable to share their insights and ask questions and also leave the conversation with better understanding of the issues discussed.”
The global church is also responding to the issue of racism. The World Council of Churches this week hosted five webinars on overcoming racism, examining two overarching themes which were identified as key areas for ongoing theological reflection: hate speech and whiteness. Recordings of all the sessions are available.
See the flyer below for details of the BLM Webinar on Sunday 25 October. Register here