WITNESS FOR JUSTICE # 1090 The Ugly Face of Racism

John Dorhauer

It has been heartbreaking watching war erupt in Ukraine.

Russia’s despotic leader, Vladimir Putin, acted in defiance of global outrage, protest, and resistance and authored an attack on Ukraine.

His own country is in shambles, and people all over it are suffering great loss as sanctions mount and deepen the pain.

In Ukraine, the suffering is mounting and utterly intolerable. Now over a million refugees are leaving their homeland and fleeing to wherever safety can be found. More than 2,000 civilians have reportedly been killed by Russian attacks. In spite of what is a most noble defense of their homeland, Ukrainian resistance is slowly giving ground to the Russian forces, which remain relentless in their cruelty.

The whole world round is holding Ukraine in their hearts, offering them prayer, sending them love, food, money, and medical supplies. The attention of all is squarely focused on this nation and the suffering of its people.

And yet, as much as our hearts go out to them and as much as we will all do what we can to thwart Russian aggression—we can’t turn our eyes away from another injustice occurring at the borders of Ukraine. Black refugees are being stopped at border checkpoints, at train stations, at bus stops and are being prevented from continuing their own flights to safer grounds.

African natives are running in fear for their lives, like every other refugee fleeing the violence of war in Ukraine. But unlike their white counterparts, they are being denied safe portal to another land simply because of the color of their skin.

This is an utter outrage.

I understand the deep sympathy and concern for the people of Ukraine. Their plight is fraught with the worst kinds of fear and anxiety, and they need and deserve our love, our prayers, our support, our alliance, our calls for peace and reconciliation.

But our sympathy for them cannot ignore nor rationalize the blatant racism unfolding at their border.

While we send our love and support, we must also lift up our voices and speak with clarity and outrage when any person of African descent is denied safe passageway simply because of the color of their skin.

Join me in this call for justice.

Let us not turn an unknowing eye away from this racism.

Share the stories of the plight of African refugees at the borders of Ukraine. Lift up your own voice, writing to your congressional representatives and to the State Department asking them to apply pressure to end this racist practice.

Let peace come to Earth—peace that does not discriminate, and that does not see color as the means by which peace will be given to some and withheld from others.

John Dorhauer is the General Minister and President for the United Church of Christ.

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