By Valery Nodem | Presbyterian Hunger Program
The whole world has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic over the past few months. Almost 7 million people have been infected globally, and more than 400,000 have died. People have been confined in their homes for months, millions of jobs have been lost, and the world economy came to a pause.
In the United States, one thing that the Coronavirus has revealed is that people of color, particularly African Americans, have been contracting the illness and dying from it at disproportionate rates when compared with whites. Because of systemic racism, people of color often live in crowded housing conditions, work in essential fields, have inconsistent access to health care, suffer from chronic health conditions, and are burdened with a lot of stress, which reduces their immunity.
As the Coronavirus pandemic is still heavy in the hearts and minds of people, police brutality in the U.S. continues to cost many black people their lives: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade and David Mc Atee. These killings are a stain on the conscience of this nation and a testament to the prevalence of police violence against black people.
The whole nation has been shocked and in turmoil for the last few weeks. Protests have been taking place across all 50 states, demanding that police brutality be stopped, that officers committing these crimes be prosecuted, and that police funding be reduced and that funds be redirected to support communities of color instead.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, France, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Spain, China, Switzerland, Belgium, and many other countries took to the streets in solidarity to add their voices and ask for an end to racism in the U.S. and in their own countries.
As we do our work of Joining Hands in the United States and with partners around the world to fight systemic injustices, we have seen time and time again that injustices never stop unless people work tirelessly to demand change. Racism has no place in our society, and we are called to put an end to it.
“We are called to act with justice,
we are called to love tenderly,
we are called to serve one another,
to walk humbly with God!”
Every time our country makes decisions that hurt people and the planet, we must speak up. Every time our corporations place profit before people, we must speak up. Every time we see injustices in our neighborhoods or in the world, we must speak up. African Ubuntu philosophy teaches us that our existence only matters as it relates to the existence of others.
This is the time to come together and do the work that is required of us. Individually and collectively, we can do a lot to work towards change within ourselves and society. Some suggestions:
- Be courageous and humble and acknowledge our racist and colonial past in the U.S. and how it places white people in a situation of privilege.
- Educate ourselves on how racism and white supremacy are deep-rooted in our institutions, policies and laws, benefiting white people to the detriment of people of color.
- Start or continue to have conversations about racism in our families, friend circles, workplaces and churches.
- Do the work to dismantle racism in our lives. Listen, speak out, show up, and do our own work.
20 years ago, Joining Hands was launched by the Presbyterian Hunger Program with the recognition that we are all connected through global systems. Many decisions made here in the United States have a global impact, and those decisions and practices often disproportionately impact poor people and people of color across the world. As PHP supports peoples’ struggles for water, food, land and resources, this work benefits us all in ways that we can’t even imagine.
As Nelson Mandela once said: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
For Racial Justice Resources visit https://www.pcusa.org/racial-justice-resources/
The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.
 Hymn by David Haas