Journeying Towards Antiracism and Full Inclusion
This academic year, Ridley Hall invited the Revd Nikki Mann to spend time with our community as a 'wise guide’ on our journey towards antiracism. Here she reflects on that journey so far.
The Revd Nikki Mann is Rector of the Raddesley Group of Churches (a group of six rural churches between Cambridge and Newmarket) in the Diocese of Ely. A former Inclusive Church Ambassador, Nikki is BAME Adviser to the Bishop of Ely and Minority Ethnic Vocations Adviser, Champion and Mentor.
One of my biggest concerns following the wave of interest and acknowledgement that Black lives have not mattered, and continue to not matter, as much as White lives was that the energy and desire to see racial justice and equity would pass.
I am pleased that this does not appear to be so, and am thankful for those who keep working towards this sacred goal. Indeed, part of my facilitating role working alongside staff and students here at Ridley Hall has been to emphasise the agency (perhaps surprisingly) that each of us holds to make a positive change in whichever setting or role we find ourselves.
With the staffing body, we considered awareness of our own identity and that of the College. What might Ridley Hall say to those from a MEUK/Global Majority background? Does it speak to – or the possibility of – a vibrant diverse staff, student and community engaged body?
Is this a place where all might fit in, be their true self and flourish? What are the visual, institutional and structural elements that might be inhibiting it being the full beautiful diverse body of Christ and what steps can be taken to better become this?
Similar themes of identity were reflected on with the ordinand student body (discussions with the lay student body will be held later this year). We looked briefly at White privilege, racism within the Church of England and wider society and what it can be like growing up as a person of colour today. Listening to and acknowledging the evil and hurt of racism led to a deeper conversation regarding the need for a time of repentance and lamentation, as well as change.
I have been encouraged by the openness and depth of these initial conversations. In both settings, short-term as well as longer-term goals were set – personally and professionally – which will be revisited at intervals throughout the year.
As a Chinese proverb wisely says, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’.
May God bless and multiply each one.
Shortly after the publication of this article, we heard the immensely sad news that Revd Nikki Mann passed away suddenly on March 31st 2021. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and the Raddesley Group of churches where she was Rector.