We hope that you are safe and well.
Today's Meditation lifts up for our inspiration the life and words of Steve Biko, who gave his life raising the consciousness of blacks and whites together enroute to building a more inclusive, diverse society where are valued, even cherished. It continues to be our path to building the Beloved Community.
We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.
In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.
We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!
With our love and care,
Jean and Ron
MEDITATION 775: Building the Beloved Community: Steve Biko
Blessed Among Us
South African Freedom Fighter (1946–1977)
Along the road to freedom in South Africa, many did not live to see the day of victory. Steve Biko is among the most honored martyrs of the struggle. Through the Black Consciousness movement that he inspired, he worked to foster a spirit of pride and self-reliance—a refusal by Blacks to see themselves through white eyes. This included a challenge to the Church—to overcome the legacy of colonialism and discover “what the Christian faith means for our continent.”
Biko was subjected to “banning”—a unique South African punishment designed to render a person invisible. It was illegal for his picture or his words to be published in South Africa; he was required to report constantly to the police; he could not meet with more than two people at a time. Thus, most whites knew him only through the caricature drawn by his enemies. Though he struggled without weapons, the government recognized that his effort to promote a liberation of consciousness was a threat to the system of white supremacy.
Biko was arrested in August 1977. After 26 days in custody the government announced his death, supposedly from self-inflicted injuries. An inquest determined he had died of severe brain damage sustained during his incarceration. Rather than take him to a local hospital, the police had driven him, naked and in leg irons, to a prison hospital 750 miles away. Still, the inquest refused to assign responsibility to the government. His vindication came 17 years later when Nelson Mandela, the first Black president of a free South Africa, was inaugurated.
“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”
Inspiring words of Steve Biko:
“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior."
"Black man, you are on your own."
"Being black is not a matter of pigmentation - being black is a reflection of a mental attitude."
"You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you can't care anyway."
"The revolutionary sees his task as liberation not only of the oppressed but also of the oppressor. Happiness can never truly exist in a state of tension."
"Black Consciousness is an attitude of the mind and a way of life, the most positive call to emanate from the black world for a long time."
"The black man has become a shell, a shadow of man, completely defeated, drowning in his own misery, a slave, an ox bearing the yoke of oppression with sheepish timidity."
"It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realize that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality.
"A Black man should be more independent and depend on himself for his freedom and not to take it for granted that someone would lead him to it. The blacks are tired of standing at the touchlines to witness a game that they should be playing. They want to do things for themselves and all by themselves."
"The fact that apartheid has been tied up with white supremacy, capitalist exploitation, and deliberate oppression makes the problem much more complex. Material want is bad enough, but coupled with spiritual poverty, it kills.
"We know that all interracial groups in South Africa are relationships in which whites are superior, blacks inferior. So as a prelude, whites must be made to realize that they are only human, not superior. Same with blacks. They must be made to realize that they are also human, not inferior."
"The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity."