May 26, 2016

Is There a Link Between Black Christians Struggling in the USA and Class Struggle in the UK?

This is the second part of a longer conversation on the topic of race and class.

In this video, Mez McConnell and John Onwuchekwa talk about the relationship between the race struggle in the United States and the class struggle in the UK.

Video Transcript

Mez: I’m interested in race, cause obviously you're black, right? I'm white – just in case the camera doesn't pick that up. And, obviously race seems to be... like, my Twitter feed from America is full of discussion, debate on racial reconciliation on race and justice or 'Black Lives Matter’. So things, I'm not saying aren't pertinent here, but certainly where we are in the schemes, it's not – not that racism doesn't exist, because it obviously does, but we'll talk about that later but – it seems to have become an explosive issue in evangelicalism, is that correct?

John: Yeah, mainstream. So, race has always been a problem. Always. There's never been a time in the history of the United States where race wasn't a problem. I think what's going on is that, because the voice of the minority was silenced, it was a thing that could be quarantined, right? So if you grew up black in the States, race was always something that was at your front doorsteps. But now, in light of all of the stuff that's gone on, and the rise and the advent of social media, and just people being able to broadcast all of the woes that have gone on, now that it's news to the majority, it seems like it's this new thing, but there's those of us that have been in it and entrenched in it that have said: "You know, this has always been a thing, let's not talk about it as if it just came up here in the last few years." No, it's just started to be a big deal.

Mez: So I'm quite interested in your struggles, racially that is, and church because obviously here, as I've explained to you, class is a huge issue here – although it's denied largely by those in power because they've not had to go through or suffer what we go through here on a daily basis and so, how is, in terms of local churches... For instance in our culture here you need money to go to seminary, you need a lot of money, or you need to apply to trust funds, or lots of churches who will take on interns will take on people who are post-graduates and so, already we are just miles behind the curve.[bctt tweet="'There's never been a time in the history of the United States where #race wasn't a problem.' (@JawnO)"] Already, it's not meaningful in the sense that they're trying to be prejudiced against us, but we feel a sort of prejudice particularly when it comes to things like theological education, how we can best train our people for our context. Is that close?

John: Exact same thing here! There's barriers that you have to get past that just make it so hard, I mean, yeah money is just a huge thing. The discretionary time and the resources to be able to do that, so what'll take place is, if a guy does go to college, right, from our context, and does get a degree, but doesn't come from a family that has wealth or the means to pay for a school, then what takes place is, he's got to go oftentimes into a pretty big amount of debt to pay for that first degree. So then as soon as you get out of school, you can't think of trying to go and get to be able to take care of your family that you left behind to go off to school and to pay back all of these loans, and so in our context, what we've seen is guys that have been conservatively trained theologically have been guys that have had some relation to a predominantly white church or fund or resources that help them make that next step. So right now, there's guys like us that have jumped through hoops because we've been attached to people or places that provided the resources for us. But what goes on is that there's a bunch of folks in our context that don't have those same connections, and it makes it incredibly hard on them.