News flash


Knowing Our

October 7 or
October 8

September 17-23

A Call to White Sisters

Sandra Bland1 was a courageous woman in refusing to be subdued and silenced. Tragically, she died as a result of defending herself and her right to be treated with the dignity and humanity she deserved.

I have many questions about how to talk about this to my workmates and friends and on social media. What questions could we pose to people about this? How do we comment on it without switching people off into numbness or distancing? I know my tone of voice shouldn’t reflect my old personal tragedies. (I will get to discharge on them in my next session.)

During slavery, explicitly written “slave codes” carefully spelled out reprisals for Black people’s resistance. Among other barbaric acts, a brutal iron tongue restraint was clamped around the mouth of those who protested against their mistreatment. We need to face how barbaric it was. The current ruthless criminal “justice” system has its roots in these slave-owner codes.

It took a long time to abolish slavery because forty-six thousand slave owners all over the world (almost fifty percent of them in Britain) were hardwired into it2 due to the massive financial gains. Many white women were bystanders to the brutality of slavery, and many became slave owners themselves by way of inheritance when their husbands died. Many of the latter wrote letters begging for compensation when they had to set their enforced labourers free.

White sisters, let’s discharge our bystander distress. We have turned away from our Black sisters’ cries in pursuing our own material gain. How can we reclaim our voices and integrity and not hide behind Black women’s protests but have some of our own?

Belinda French

Bristol, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of women

1 Sandra Bland was a twenty-eight-year-old African American woman who was found dead in her jail cell in Waller County, Texas, USA, on July 13, 2015, after being arrested for a minor traffic violation. Videos recorded on the arresting officer's dashboard camera and a bystander's cell phone revealed the violent, mean-spirited way the officer had treated her, and how she had spoken out against it. 
2 "Hardwired into it" means firmly and deeply attached to it.


Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00