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BPFNA Statement on Centering Black Lives in Pursuit of Racial Justice


September 21, 2016

It is with a profound sense of humility and obligation to “witness to the {lack of} peace rooted in justice” in the light of ongoing attacks on black bodies in the US, that the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America ~ Bautistas por la Paz (BPFNA) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those struggling to resist the systemic forces bearing down on black bodies at this time.

It is past time for an acknowledgment of the systemic forces at play: forces refusing to acknowledge that white lives are valued more than black lives, forces refusing to acknowledge gross inequality imbedded in a system of white supremacy, forces refusing to acknowledge the colonial theft of land and abuse of bodies over centuries, forces refusing to acknowledge systemic mass incarceration of black bodies. White supremacy blinds, divides, silences, and kills. We must raise our voices to speak out against these evils, condemn unjust disparities based on race, and demand accountability for the oppression, discrimination, and killings that disproportionally impact black lives.

That accountability must begin with our own organization and so we humbly acknowledge BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz's complicity in these structures of white supremacy and we publically commit to working to dismantle these structures in our midst. We have ignored black voices, adding hurt to hurt. We recognize and name this history and commit to move into a better future.

We pledge not to become “faint of heart”. We take on this work, rooted in radical love, committed to:

• Examine our lives, individually and corporately, through the lens of white supremacy, to see how we have supported evil and harmed those within our midst.
• Act on the understanding that it is not the job of people of color to teach white people how racism permeates our society and impacts all of us.
• Take responsibility for our own anti-racist education, connecting with other groups who prioritize transparent accountability. 
Do the work of centering black lives and decentering whiteness, following the lead of black leaders through relationships of accountability.
• Claim a stake in and a responsibility for reversing structures of racism, violence and oppression that are at the root of the systemic attack on black life and culture.
• Speak truth and break silences that harm.
• Recognize that dismantling other manifestations of white supremacy, violence, and oppression is equally urgent work, which will require a broad global unified effort that racism inherently undermines. The struggle is interconnected.
• Form meaningful, collaborative, long-term relationships with black clergy, theologians, activists, and groups who are focused on this work and committed to social justice, remaining aware that BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz must do better in hearing and creating space for black voices so that just relationships can truly thrive and we can move forward together.

Despite the persistence of systems, coordinated resistance efforts like the Movement for Black Lives herald the humanity and beauty of black and brown persons and continue to challenge us with a vision of justice born out of community in struggle. Aboriginal activist Lilla Watson said, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz stands firmly behind the conviction that, when centering the liberation of those most marginalized, every one of us will be liberated along the way. None of us is free until all of us are free.

This statement was written for BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz by members of our Working Group to Center Black Lives in Pursuit of Racial Justice. Click here for more information about the Working Group and why BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz is focusing on this work.

Click here for some actions you can take now in an effort to center black lives in your own contexts and communities.

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