Working towards a just world for all

Michael Jagessar colourful portrait pic credit Chris AndrewsOctober marks the celebration of both Black History Month and One World Week, and both provide opportunities to encourage people to build a more equal, just, peaceful and inclusive world, says the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, United Reformed Church Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries.

 

Black History Month provides us with an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the achievements and contributions of black people and black communities, and in the process to unearth the latent histories that shape our communities. The BBC documentary series Black And British: A Forgotten History, by historian David Olusoga, expertly captured how this history is often hidden and in some instances ‘whitewashed’.

Toni Morrison, the Pultizer prize winning novelist, may have had a similar thought when she described her novels as ‘a kind of literary archaeology’ of the life stories that are missing from the written records – the dominate narrative. It is easy to argue that in most written records – fact and fiction – it is a white, male, heterosexual and able-bodied voice that dominates historical narratives.

Many from the minority communities have also internalised and retold those stories from the dominant narrative. Indian writer Arundathi Roy, captures this in an excerpt from her debut novel, The God of Small Things:

‘Pointed in the wrong direction, trapped outside their own history, and unable to retrace their steps because their footprints had been swept away … [Chacko] explained to them that history was like an old house at night, with all the lamps lit, and the ancestors whispering inside. “To understand history,” Chacko said. “We have to go inside and listen to what they’re saying.”’  

Black History Month invites us to hear what ancestors have said and done, and invites us to tell their stories – their struggles of life and living and faith and faithfulness.

One World Week offers hope and inspiration and encourages people to build an inclusive and peaceful world that safeguards environmental resources for future generations. 

To those of every ethnicity who have fought for, and continue to advocate for the dignity of all human beings (especially the marginalised), Black History Month and One World Week say: ‘Your stories, sacrifices, and contributions will not be forgotten. We were all created in the image of God, and God’s offer of full life is for people from every nationality.’

Black History Month and One World Week say no to insular politics, fenced borders, xenophobia and migrant bashing, sexism, racism, the destruction of the earth, economic inequalities, and every form of discrimination and inequality that impoverish the one world we have been gifted with. Black History Month and One World Week is for all of us. Together we can make a difference towards a just, sustainable and peaceful world.

Photo: Chris Andrews