What makes a person?

What makes me, me?

For me I’ve struggled with identity for my entire Life – one of the biggest struggles I’ve had over my identity is the one over ‘race’ (now many would consider it strange for a white guy to struggle with identity over race and don’t get me wrong – I’ve never thought I am not white) the reasons being that I was brought up (My mom assisted hugely by our Domestic worker Vivian Mogotsi, who I would often be left with when my Mom was busy sorting out household business, fetching or dropping my brothers off from extramural activities etc. nearly until the end of my primary school education) in a home where though I was not taught to hate people of a different ‘race’, I observed as my parents who didn’t hate people of colour made comments that did not show a love for them either.

At primary school race was not an issue for me as my group of friends represented a large portion of the rainbow nation and would often hang out with my mates regardless of colour. My notion that colour was just that – colour- didn’t last long into High school as friends started to separate themselves into cultural and racial groups, and soon after people began to discriminate (not always openly) against those that were different (while those of the same ‘race’ who dared to venture against the norm being classed as ‘coconuts’, ‘wiggas’ etc.), for me I couldn’t fit into any one of those groups and was thrown into a friendship with three guys (one white and two black) who for a time also did not fully fit into the mould that was pressed upon us. After grade nine we started integrating into different groups and though still friends, walls started being built as the groups of friends’ views and opinions started having an impact. It was in grades 10-12 in my History class that I saw the class divided by ‘racial’ lines in discussions (sometimes more like debates) about apartheid and discrimination – and we learned of how people (across the ‘racial spectrum’) had been taught by their parents/families/elders/communities to either hate, fear, manipulate and look down upon(or up to as superior) ; or befriend, respect, take time to know, understand and view as equals those of other ‘races’.

I have throughout my life struggled within as I’ve had conflicting messages from parents, friends and society telling me who I can love, be friends with or respect; and who should be by enemy, despised and looked down upon. For a time some bad experiences with friends of different ‘races’ helped me choose the easy path (that of lumping all people of a ‘race’ into a stereotype) of being a racist (if that of a closet racist) for a time – until I realised I had been hurt by people regardless of ‘race’ and been loved by and loved regardless of race.

Now I see colour, but I do not make assumptions or judgements on a person because of ‘race’ but I also understand that there have been hurts and wrongs inflicted upon those of other ‘races’ by white people, I admit that some of my ancestors (not all – my heritage is as mixed as they come) probably had a hand in some of that, I admit to the fact that those who still suffer from the effects of Apartheid, I admit that I to some degree have been privileged by what has happened in the past (regardless of the fact that I was born toward the end of apartheid).

But I choose to stand apart and not let how others may view me (whether it is with hatred, resentment, disgust or fear) change me, I choose to love others and help where I can to right the wrongs – even if I did not have a hand in causing them (as best as I can on a personal level and with others), I choose not to fight only the injustices and hurts inflicted by my ‘race’ upon other ‘races’ but to fight against those seeking to cast down, enslave, hurt, or discriminate against anyone.

The reason I am able to choose those things is because of Vivian Mogotsi and other people who not only showed me that love has no borders but pointed me towards a love that I still struggle to comprehend at times (The love that God has for all of us) and have helped me find my identity in God, in whose image we are all made, and who loves all of us so much that He gave His only son to die so that ALL who believe in Him will have eternal life John3:16 (and that not for some or in differing levels according to race) and so that there would no longer be division Colossians 3:11

All of these things (whether good or bad), all of the choices I’ve made and will make, all of the people who have cared enough to look deeper than the skin, how God created me and continues to lead and grow me – that is what makes me.

So if there are some points I would like you to take from this here they are:

#Skin colour does not make anyone less or more of a human being

#Hurt-people, hurt people (No-one can end pain by inflicting more – things need to be spoken of and dealt with in love)

#Love knows no boundaries

#God Loves all – so should we (note God is love, but Love is not God – He is way more than love, and our definition of love can’t even begin to fit what He is – 1 corinthians 13)

#What makes a person is who they choose to be (circumstance determines your viewpoint not your choices)

[For other stories and conversations on different aspects of Race-related things, click here]