Seminary says goodbye to Dr Johnston
July 21, 2020
July 21st: My Family
July 21, 2020

Black Lives Matter: Caribbean Theological Perspectives: Structural Racism

Rev Hinds stated: “Growing up Anglican while Black in Barbados was and continues to be a condition to which I have to navigate in search of my destiny as a Christian and as a Black Caribbean or a Barbadian female.”

Hinds said the term “institutionalised racism” was first used in Stokely Carmichael and Charles’ Hamilton’s “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation” for the institutional racism that was less overt and more subtle. Codrington College, named after Christopher Codrington a planter and governor who left an endowment to the Anglican Church in his will 1702, for the training of planter’s children, was slow in providing education for blacks. Rev Hinds noted elevation of Black West Indians to the leadership of the Anglican Church in the West Indies was also slow.

She said the primary challenges of the Anglican Church in the West Indies and Caribbean in relation to racism arose “from the fact that the English model was riddled with racism and classism and it was treated as the only model and deemed to be the only legitimate one”.  Barbados’ being called “little England” is a testimony to the acceptance of things English becoming the yardstick against which non-English i.e. local things were measured and treated as illegitimate.

“Being Barbadian was overwhelmingly understood in terms of colour, class and race, at once race became a determining factor in one’s progress in Church and State” Rev Hinds said.  She acknowledged there has been tremendous affirmation of Black persons in Barbados seen in the church with the consecration of the first Black Bishop in 1972, and all clergy being of African descent by 2000.  Members of Synod and Church councils are primarily black.

Rev Hinds however, said there was more to be done for further progress to be achieved.

“Within the context of slavery and colonialism where a society was constructed on the premise of superiority of persons of English extract, those of us who choose to remain in the Anglican Church must speak and act towards a more just Church and society”.

She listed “hard questions” related to how much race is embedded in the Anglican Church. Such as:  what does the presence and control of the racial majority-blacks in an institution that was rooted in racism tell about the almost absence of the racial minority-whites in terms of race relations in the contemporary church? What has the term Caribbean theology legitimised in a post-Colonial setting?

Rev Hinds said, “No-one can deny the Anglican Church in the West Indies was for many years the handmaid of British colonialism, as such it reflected the racism that was present in the wider society however in its teachings it proclaims an understanding of God that is reflected for example in His theology of baptism”. She said the challenge is using this theology as motivation to emphasise that racism is an assault on the status conferred on those initiated into the Body of Christ in Baptism.

“It is a heresy that every Christian is called to reject”.

Read part one of this piece for Caribbean Theological Perspectives on this issue here.