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What I Need from White People Right Now
4 FALL 2020
 It’s Way Past Time to Confront Anti-Black Racism
articles about anti-Black racism. I’m tired of living with it. And I don’t get to opt out of the reality of racial injus- tice. To support me, and other people in the Black community, do not opt out of action either.
Some have wondered what role churches play. I need you to please Pray. Preach. Protest. (And repeat). I heard a few people say that the only thing we can do about racial injustice is pray. Don’t get me wrong, I am a praying person, and deeply believe in the transformative power of prayer. So, while I may get down on my knees and pray to God, I also then need to get up and preach. I need to protest. I need our churches to not only pray on Sundays, but to also of- fer a prayer through a lifetime com- mitment to systemic change.
When you protest and preach and pray, please focus on racism. Too often, I’ve found that conversations about racism by white people quickly devolve into conversations about patriarchy or poverty or other inequi- ties. I am deeply committed to work- ing towards equity in all its forms—it is my life’s work and passion. But, sometimes, we need to get specific about racism without adding other forms of discrimination and oppres-
sion that people may feel more com- fortable addressing.
And remember that this is long- term work. Please keep doing this work long after the current display of anti-Black racism has faded from the news cycle and our social media feeds.
Some have asked where God is in the midst of this. Of course God is present, and I believe that Jesus would be among those who are ral- lying and calling for change. Jesus often aligned himself with people on the margins and those experiencing oppression. Plus, in the spring, we celebrated Pentecost, when God’s Spirit is poured out to the church. I believe that God’s Spirit is moving among the privileged and comfort- able and is prompting, disrupting, prodding and urging. I believe that God’s Spirit is moving among us who are wounded, and is soothing, comforting and encouraging.
The work of racial justice is ours to do along with God’s. I need you to partner with God in actively doing this work. Don’t leave it for God only to do.
Please. Do something, for God’s sake. For all our sakes.
It’s a matter of life and death.
 By Adele Halliday, a lifelong Presbyterian and member of the Session at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Humber Heights, Toronto, Ont. She works at the national office of The United Church of Canada. This article originally appeared in Broadview magazine.
Some of you may know me—as keynote speaker, an anti-racist edu- cator, a writer, a parent, a theologi- cally-trained layperson, or a lifelong Christian. I am all of these things, and more.
But today I write as a Black Cana- dian.
The events of the past few months have been deeply traumatizing. I have been cycling through three main emotions—intense anger, immense exhaustion and deep pain. These emotions are not new to me—they are part of what it means to live in a Black body with the reality of racial injustice.
Some of you already know that I’ve been angry and weary. And now, I’m beyond fed up. Some of us have been demanding action for a very long time. The time for subtle chang- es is over. It’s time for a revolution against relentless racial oppression.
Let me also be clear that I am not writing this letter to my Black col- leagues. Many among us who are Black are experiencing a collective and vicarious trauma—an emotional shock that does not just go back a few days, but generations. And we have been finding our own ways to cope and act in the midst of a lifetime of oppression. No, this is directed towards those among you who are white—those who have white privi- lege and who have benefited from systemic racism.
I would first implore you—please stop saying that you are not a racist. Please stop only pointing to the overt and outrageous actions of a few indi- viduals and demonize them, and say
that you are nothing like them, with- out challenging systems of privilege. Instead, please acknowledge that you have benefited from a system of white supremacy in this country, and then do something to change the system. Some of us began naming white supremacy and calling out ra- cial injustice long before it was popu- lar. Please also be proactive and do your own work to dismantle racial injustice. It’s time to be actively anti- racist.
Some among you have asked what you can do, and what I might need from you at this time.
I can’t speak for the whole Black community in Canada, or even Black leaders in the church, but I can name what I need.
Some of you have asked how I’m doing. Here, I need you to be pas- toral. I have been re-traumatized by the video of a modern-day lynch- ing. I am terrified that I will be one of the Black women shot by police in their own homes. I am full of grief for parents who have had to bury their Black children. I am infuriated that the police were weaponized against a peaceful park walker through a dis- honest emergency phone call.
I’ve been reminded yet again that just having Black skin may be my cause of death. I have already had extensive conversations with my four-year-old about racism, and yet I struggle with how much to share with this child, who senses my anger. I am filled with the pain of what my children will experience in life simply because of having Black bodies.
Many among us in the Black com- munity are carrying a range of emo- tions these days. But we still need to be present to do our work, to parent, or whatever else goes on in our regu- lar daily lives. The everyday reality of anti-Black racism takes a toll on us and our mental health. So, please be pastoral if we are not always emo- tionally present these days.
Some have wondered what you can do to support me. I need you to be prophetic. I need you to acknowl- edge and name the realities of anti- Black racism and white supremacy in Canada, and stop falsely postulat- ing that we are better than the United States. I don’t want your sympathies, your guilt, or your attempts to mollify my emotions. I also don’t want you to make this about me, as an individual. Instead, don’t be silent. Name that Black Lives Matter! Interrogate the disproportionate inequities faced by Black peoples in Canada and around the world. We are part of a faith tradi- tion where prophets name truths—I need you to do that too.
Maybe you’re tired of seeing news
 Justice opposes prejudice in every form.
It rejects discrimination on such grounds as race, sex, age, status or handicap. Justice stands with our neighbours in the struggle for dignity and respect And demands the exercise of power for good.
—Living Faith, 8.4.6
Racism and Hate in Canada Study Guide
The PCC has developed a guide and conversation starter to enable churches and groups to have discussions and pursue responses regarding systemic racism and hate.
The Racism and Hate in Canada Study Guide is available as a free download at
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