Black Lives Matter: one father’s fear

By Iain Stewart, Executive Director of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association (From Seeds Issue 96 – July 2020)

The tragic killing of George Floyd has shaken me personally and, I know, members of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association. As a father of a mixed-race child and a person of faith I identify strongly with the cause of Black Lives Matter.

Racism is antithetical to the main Faith traditions, sacred texts and historic teachings. Many of the main world religions talk about how the human race is a special creation. For some there is the notion that all life is interconnected and that there is no separation between us. There is no faith that teaches the superiority of one race over another. Across all traditions there is a strong emphasis on welcoming, showing hospitality to the stranger, to the other, recognising that we ourselves were once strangers.

My hero Martin Luther King had a dream that he would one day live in a nation where people were not judged by the colour of their skin but the content of their character. My fear for my daughter growing up is that no matter how smart she might be, she will not be judged for her talent or character, as Martin Luther King said, but for her skin colour.

I fear that, like many black people, she might forever feel that knee on her neck. That it might start with name calling and racism in schools to her adult life when she feels her skin colour is holding her back from attaining the job her hard work and talent deserve.

If we are not examining our hearts and consciences and how we might contribute to or break down racial divisions, intolerance and discrimination then our silence makes us complicit. Don’t be silent if you believe children like my daughter Iona deserve a better future. Her life matters. All Black Lives Matter.

To conclude with the words of Desmond Tutu:

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

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