What is Racism? And what is our responsibility?

A report on the Racial Justice webinar of 12 February 2021 by Siobhan Canham, NBCW member

In a thought-provoking webinar hosted by NBCW, a panel from the Catholic Association
for Racial Justice
gave us the chance to begin to tackle some challenging questions. Each
of the three presentations was followed by break-out rooms, where NBCW members and
guests shared experiences and discussed some difficult issues.

Yemisi Corinalidi asked “What is Racism?” and reminded us that it is never a simple
question of skin colour, but comes in myriad forms. The complexity of racism must be
understood before there can be change. Her challenging question “Should we be colour
blind?” provoked great discussion. Answers ranged from “Young children are colour blind

we should be like them” to “We should never be colour blind. We need to appreciate
how racism can affect people’s life experiences”.

Margaret Ann Fisken reminded us of the Christian Imperative for Racial Justice. In the
words of Bishop Paul McAleenan (Lead Bishop for Racial Justice) “Racism is a sin and a
violation of human dignity in which we are all complicit.” These are hard words to hear,
but it is not enough for us to simply be “not racist”. If we are going to bring the Gospel
into our lives, we have a responsibility to actively practice anti-racism. She asked: “What
can we do to bring about sustainable, structural changes within our Churches?” – a
question that again provoked much discussion.

The third speaker, Josephine Namusisi-Riley reinforced this point. It is not enough to be
non-racist. A new approach is needed. Since most power is in the hands of white people,
they should use that power for good. She challenged us to think about when we had
witnessed or experienced racism, “white privilege” (receiving preferential treatment
because of skin colour). The story-sharing following her presentation was rich.
If you, too, would like to share your story, or become more active in fighting racism, you
can do so here:

Submit a story: Stories from White Allies

Get in touch: info@whiteallies.org.uk

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