My dream is that i will one day live in a nation where people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Sound familiar? i am busy reading ‘The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.’ and so that has been influencing me quite a bit.
But that really is my heart. And to that end i don’t want white people to feel guilty or unincluded or less than in any kind of way. i would love to see white people, along with black, coloured and indian people, choosing to pursue depth of relationships with each other that move us all towards the kind of country we hopefully all dream about. One where race doesn’t matter, like it does now, and must, until we do the necessary work.
My day job
To that end it is such a privilege for me to be involved officially in work with an organisation called Heartlines that seeks to bring people together through a beautiful programme called ‘What’s Your Story?’ which has the tag line, ‘You know my name, but do you know my story?’
i facilitate training, particularly via churches but also through other organisations, that helps people to do the work of active-story-telling with each other. i also facilitate story-telling experiences and help create safe spaces with focused activities that give people some tools to be able to do the work.
My night job
Apart from that, i have started doing some work with my incredibly gifted friend Megan Furniss with white people in particular, to help get them ready for the conversations that need to take place with black, coloured and indian people.
We need to be aware that racism has affected us all. Apartheid did a number on us all in different ways and one of those was in creating different realities for us. We have been hurt differently and so we need to do different work to get to the place where we can work well together to start building.
You can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have an invitation for us to come and do some of that work with your staff or organisation or company.
Those who are willing
i think it’s helpful to realise that i am not seeking to work with racist people. Rather my focus is on those who have recognised some racism in themselves and been able to acknowledge it without defence and are now seeking to do the work.
Both the Heartlines work i do and the Megan work i do requires an openness from people to change. Which is where the ’40 Tips for White people who are asking ‘But what can i do?’ was so successful. People who genuinely wanted to change and to understand where they might be getting it wrong and to learn new ways of doing things right now had some tools and resources to help them. The 40 tips won’t move you from racist to not racist, but they may help you in your learning/understanding of some of the history of racism, they will give you some ideas to try that you may not have thought of yet that will help you interrogate the spaces you occupy and the way you relate to other people, and they may contain some ways that you can deepen friendships you already have with people who do not look like you.
This work is invitational, and it has to be.
Which doesn’t mean i will be letting go of my #NotOnOurWatch commitment which says i am going to continue to challenge racism and prejudice where i see it in front of me and not let it pass by uninterrupted. Those who are overtly [and even more subtly] racist must never be allowed to think that what they are doing is okay.
But i do believe there is a growing number of people in South Africa who, instead of asking, “Can we stop making everything about race?” are tuning in to the fact that there is still much work needing to be done and asking us to, “Please help me become more aware of the racism and prejudice inside of me.”
That excites me and we very much look forward to working with you.