Dr Lynn Revell, Reader of Religion and Education at Canterbury Christ Church University, reflects on her encounter with the new Bishop of Dover at a Protest March. (Photo by L Revell)
The last couple of weeks have seen thousands of people in the UK gathering to show their outrage over the death of George Floyd. This Saturday in Canterbury, a demonstration of mostly young people marched through the high street and ended at the Dane John Park to listen to speeches against racism and hear music. On the way the protest stopped outside the main gates of Canterbury Cathedral. Not all the marchers could fit into the space before the gates but those who did were able to hear the Bishop of Dover, Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin speak about her anger at the continued existence of racism in society and her own experiences ‘of being made to feel unwelcome’. Standing on a wobbly chair and clutching a megaphone Bishop Rose was passionate about the need for people to take action where ever they could. ‘I’m not talking about throwing statues into rivers’ she added ‘that’s a distraction’ but doing something ‘that will really make a difference to the way people live their lives’.
In her speech she spoke movingly about her belief that people who had been treated with disrespect and as ‘though they were nothing’ would behave as though they were nothing. She advocated a principled but challenging approach to fighting inequality. ‘Where ever you hear racism – even if it’s from the people you think are your friends or who are nice – call it out’. The crowd cheered and waved their placards and when she broke into song – a few bars of Respect and then some Bob Marley, the crowd cheered even more. But for me it was her demand, that she made over and over again in her speech that, ‘we call out racism’ where ever we find it, that was the most provoking. I thought of the times at work, in meetings or in conversations with colleagues where I had not ‘called it out’ as clearly and as loudly as I should have done. Calling it out, always and in every situation will be difficult, especially with people who think that racism is something that happens else where, but as a plan for action it can’t be beaten.
Dr Lynn Revell is Director of Research in the Faculty of Education at CCCU.
Co author of Fundamental British values in education: radicalisation, national identity and Britishness with Hazel Bryan, Bingley, Emerald Publishing Limited, 2018, 135pp., £40.00 (pbk) Available as e-book, ISBN: 978-1-78714-508-5
Co-editor of Education and extremisms: rethinking liberal pedagogies in the contemporary world with Farid Panjwani, Reza Gholami and Mike Diboll, Abingdon and New York, Routledge, 2018, 260 pp, £105 (hbk), ISBN 9781138236110