2020 has been a tumultuous year. It’s a year that has revealed the stark contrast between rich and poor, black and white.
Like many others, I watched, dumbstruck, on television the slow murder of a black man in the United States. It was very sad. I was distraught. I cried.
The murder brought to vivid focus the innumerable accounts of cruelty by white people to black people. I have wondered how my many relatives living in America would explain to their younger children the cruelty unfolding on their TV screens. I questioned the whereabouts of God when Mr Floyd got out the words “I can’t breathe” and called out for his mother.
Yes, I did ask myself the question ‘where is God?’ But my thought was immediately redirected to the truth that God is with us and his love endures forever. It is the inhumanity of people to one another that makes countless thousands mourn. Ahmaud Arbery was out jogging when he was shot by a white man. It took more than two months for an arrest, and only after a video was leaked to the public. Christian Cooper, a man of good character and standing in his community, was falsely accused of attacking a white woman in a park because he asked her to put a leash on a dog. There are many examples where black people, especially black men, have unjustifiably suffered and been discriminated against because of the colour of their skin.
I was once a regular visitor to Brixton prison to give talks to inmates about the role and achievements of black people in Britain. There you can see grave inequities of the justice system. When she became Prime Minister, Teresa May said she would reform the justice system that sends so many black men to prison relative to other social groups. She never had the time. Brexit came along.
Yet God is with us. It is the indwelling of God’s Spirit in our hearts that, in the wake of Mr Floyd’s murder, exposed the inequalities that have been around since enslavement. Reverend Dr Martin Luther King once said: “The arc of the known universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I can see God’s Spirit in those fighting racism and social policies that impact more negatively on the poor and marginalised. God is with us and will bring us together to love God and our neighbours as ourselves. I do have this faith and hope for the future, for faith sees best in the dark.
Sam is a local preacher at Hinde Street Methodist Church in West London. The church is a member of the Inclusive Church organisation and welcomes everybody. To find out more about Hinde Street Methodist Church, its services and community, click here.