On June 8th, twenty days after the murder of João Pedro Motta (14 years old, shot on the back during a police operation in his place; he was just playing with his cousins), one week after the death of Miguel Otávio Santana da Silva, just a boy (5 years old, son of a black maid working in a fancy condo, left alone in the lift by the employer to find his mother who was sent to walk with the dogs; he was crying, confused, pushed all buttons and got off in the wrong flor and felt from a balcony), and two weeks after the death of the American George Floyd, in memory of the thousands of deaths of black Brazilians, victims of violence and neglected by the state, Bishop Maurício Andrade, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Brasilia, the Very Revd. Tatiana Ribeiro, Rector of the Anglican Cathedral of the Resurrection, and a group of people who are members of the community, took part in an act in front of the cathedral in memory of all people who have been killed because of the colour of their skin [and] the features of their bodies. The community of the Anglican Cathedral of the Resurrection knelt in front of the building remembering that it is not possible to stand, as if everything is fine, and raised their arms, remembering the struggle of oppressed people to live without fear and in peace.
The racist structure of our society, a legacy from the colonial period, and the way in which the Christianity has connived with centuries of slavery demonstrate that we need to talk about racism and act against it. It is urgent that we have this conversation more directly and frankly, because not being racist is not enough: we need to struggle against every form of racism and prejudice. We need to raise our voices and our bodies to defend black lives and not allow, or resign ourselves, to the deaths of so many children, young people and adults.
The Church can no longer quietly accept that lives are taken in such a brutal and unfair way. For a long time, Christian churches accepted theologies that denied black people had souls, which were used as ideo-theologies to allow enslavement. These ideo-theologies need to be increasingly totally rejected and seen as a sinful construct that takes away the value that God gives to all people.
The Christ whom we follow and his disciples were “black”! Not only from a phenotypic perspective, but also in the sense that race marks and marked the social place of our brother, born in Bethlehem, but raised in a small village: Nazareth, “can anything good come out of Nazareth? (Jn 1.46). He was a survivor of a genocidal action perpetrated by the State (Mt 2.16) and welcomed in Africa as a refugee (Mt 2.13) and, despite struggles and pains, calls us to life and love. It is necessary to revive in our memories who our Christ is, where he came from, how he lived and with whom he would associate today.
It must be said that #BlackLIVESmatter, because black people have been unjustly murdered, as if their lives were worthless, and now we repeat: #BLACKLIVESMATTER, because every life matters and is a sign of the presence of God, because everyone is created in His image and likeness: women, men, be they black, indigenous, white, trans, lesbian, gay, straight, foreign, from the margins, bearers of disabilities. All people are loved by God and have the right to live safely and to be respected!
As a community, we are in solidarity with the pain of all families who mourn the death of their sons and daughters, victims of the brutal violence of a society that is still racist and prejudiced and of a state that should protect, but kills.
We believe in the God who became a person, a black person, a person from the margins, who suffered, was persecuted by the state, but who conquered death and brings (or offers) us life to be lived abundantly. We believe in the Living Christ who walks beside us in the daily struggle for a life of love, peace and security. “We believe in the hope of starting again, in the beauty of the gesture of solidarity, in justice for all oppression (or the oppressed?), in compassion in the face of pain, in love, divine-human gift” (Brazilian Book of Common Prayer, p.122)
“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. Our faith does not permit racism, but requires love that builds the inclusion of all people, regardless of their colour, nationality, gender, religion or sexual orientation. When we stand in front of our Cathedral, we reaffirm our commitment against all forms of racism and discrimination, because we are an inclusive Church open to welcoming all people”. – Bishop Mauricio Andrade
“We will never admit any kind of prejudice in our community. The cathedral is open to ALL people, to live their faith here and they will be respected. We fight for the church to be a safe space for people when they arrive here: respect, fraternal love, compassion, solidarity and also to find a community that lives the “love, because perfect love casts out all fear”, and in the name of this love, we are not afraid to fight against every form of racism, prejudice, injustice and violation of rights”. – Very Revd. Tati Ribeiro
“Every black woman and man lives with the hard anguish of knowing that their child is three times more likely to be hit by violence; death comes from all sides, we have no shields, even state agents are possible aggressors and murderers of our children. To be a black parent is to be resilient, to teach your children to have an honourable posture even in the face of the submission of the State police power, to be afraid of phone calls at dawn every day. But we will be champions as our ancestors were, who were enslaved and, even in the worst conditions, were still pillars in building their nations. Black people fight and cry for their children, every day during the genocide, but we will not stop fighting for equity”. – Saulo Lino