Me, a racist!
Confrontation in Cardigan Bay!
Thursday, June 4th
It would be easy to use this page to join in the debate about the issues of George Floyd's murder and Donald Trump's inflammatory reactions to it. Well, I've done that through shares on Facebook. What I'm musing about at the moment is how racist I am - and what I do about it. It's difficult to shake off images and stereotypes that have surrounded you since birth. I grew up in a community where you were either church or chapel. So I never stepped inside an Anglican or Roman Catholic Church until I was in my late teens. French people smelled and dressed in black because the only ones I saw were the 'Johnny Onion Men' who came over from Britanny and rode around the town with strings of onions slung over their handlebars and cross bars.
One of the first students who met me when I went to college in Manchester was a Scotsman who, finding out I was Welsh, immediately recited, 'Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house and stole a lump of beef!' That made me wary of Scots for some time! More seriously, the imagery in common coinage in society and in the Bible depicts black as negative, evil, while white is positive, good and pure. The light shines in the darkness and banishes it. Black Monday. Whiter than white. Judas went out from the Upper Room - and it was night. He had a black look on his face. We come to associate black with all that is bad in the world and even refer derogatively to black people as 'darkies' and other insulting words.
Xenophobia, fear of strangers, is still there in our thinking. Especially if we can easily identify the 'foreigner' who is of a different colour or dresses differently or has a strange accent - or cannot even speak English! I would like to think that I have got rid of all the prejudice that I might have held as a boy or young man. But have I? Or have I just switched my prejudice towards orange haired Americans and political advisers with dodgy eyesight? No, I think those aren't prejudices, those are angry responses to some of the festering sores in our society.
But George Floyd's death is more than that. It is not just a festering sore, it is a symptom of a long-standing deformity in our psyche. It manifests itself in institutional racism. It calls me to ask myself, 'are you sure you are not only free of racism yourself, but are you positively anti-racist?' That is what is being called for today. For people to be more than tolerant of other races. To be anti-racist. To take a stand with our black brothers and sisters who have been exploited for centuries by white colonialism.
Jesus, a swarthy Jew by birth and upbringing, acknowledged the faith and worth of a foreign Samaritan, a Roman soldier, a Samaritan
woman, other women and men despised by the establishment and children too. His own prejudice was challenged by a Canaanite woman and he had the grace to acknowledge and correct his attitude to foreign women ( read Matthew 15: 21-28 if you don't believe me).
I hope I have the grace to acknowledge my own racism and the courage to challenge those I meet who show racist behaviour in word or deed or body language. 'Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight...' I can still sing that one, but not 'O'er heathen lands afar, thick darkness broodeth yet...' The resolution of the protests and unrest in America does not lie in restraining force, but in an honest recognition that we all have issues of racism to deal with on our own doorsteps as well as in our global community. I hope and pray that we will hear the cry of the oppressed and reach out in penitence and love.