Lent blog: Day 36 – BLACK LIVES MATTER

Published Tue, 30/03/2021 by

The criminal trial began yesterday of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis policeman accused of causing George Floyd’s death ten months ago.  The arrest and restraint of Floyd was captured on camera and makes for upsetting viewing as he cries repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” – a plea that went unheeded.  George Floyd’s death following this episode provoked outrage and condemnation throughout the world at what was widely perceived as the excessive and unreasonable force employed by Chauvin, spawning the Black Lives Matter movement.  Also a reassessment in many countries, not least our own, of the Slave Trade from Africa which flourished for over four hundred years, and from which the Continent has not yet recovered.  

Today, I will attend online the final presentation in a series of lectures for Diocesan clergy by Black historian, Robin Walker.  It’s been fascinating to learn about the origins of Homo sapiens in Africa, and that originally all of our ancestors were black.  The white-skinned European only evolved later as our ancestors from Africa spread out of that continent.  As they moved into northern latitudes, the days became shorter and the sun less intense.  It was in order to process the vitamin-D needed for good health that natural selection favoured fairer-skinned individuals.  The science gives no basis whatever for the rebarbative views of White Supremacists.

There have been three black Popes in the history of the Catholic Church.  The Church in North Africa was strongly influential in the period of Saints Cyprian and Augustine before the spread of Islam out of Arabia.  Ethiopia however retained its independence against the Arabs, allowing the Coptic Church there to remain true to its apostolic origins to this day. 

Black lives matter and always have.  The shameful Slave Trade is a stain on our national conscience we are only slowly coming to terms with.  Britain eventually took a lead in the belated abolition of slavery.  But the eradication of racial prejudice has still a long way to go.

MICHAEL KIRKHAM