verna

i know not everyone has the time or internet capacity to watch video clips online, but if you do then i encourage you to watch this one.

It speaks directly into the Americaland conversation at the moment in terms of violence from police offers on black young men but also just a greater focus on the bias of society, and particularly white society when it comes to black young men.

i believe it has a lot to say to our present conversation in South Africa as well, so please give it a watch:

Three points that jumped out at me, which are deeply relevant to our country were these:

[1] “Biases are the stories we make up about people before we know who they are.” – this is so relevant to South Africa at the moment – if you don’t have friends from other race groups and cultures, then before commenting on them, intentionally seek to build bridges and pursue friendships with people that are different from you so that the stories you tell and feel can be more truthful and realistic.

[2]  “You’re not going to get comfortable before you get uncomfortable.” – this is perhaps one of the lessons the majority of white folks in this country need to hear. It is incredible to me, how knowing and understanding just a little of the broadest strokes history of our past and how people who were not white were treated, we can expect everyone to just quickly get over it, or that transition would ever be easy. Conversations are going to be awkward and uncomfortable and some actions that probably need to be done are likely to need to be uncomfortable as well. We are trying to fix something that was really really broken and to expect it to come at the wave of a wand or an election, or even twenty years time [in which we have all largely avoided the uncomfortable] is a little bit ridiculous.

[3] “When we see something we have to have the courage to say something, even to the people we love.” – this is huge. The example that Verna gives is the gran or the uncle at the dinner table calling someone something [“We don’t call them that any more.”] or using some kind of racist slur [“We don’t use that kind of language.”] and being bold and brave enough to call them on it. You can still love someone and not find the words or names they use acceptable and this is something we need to do more work on – at the family dinner table, at the water cooler at work, with our mates watching sport. Sitting by and allowing racist speech to happen unchallenged is tantamount to producing it ourselves.

Engage, engage, engage. This is key for me. If you are not intentionally building relationships with people from other races and cultures then i really don’t know that you have the right to comment or that your comments need to be taken seriously. We need to be building friendships which in turn will make building bridges so much easier for everyone concerned.

[For some other thoughts and posts shared on South Africa with particular focus on race conversations, click here]

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