Tag Archive: Ferguson


One of the interesting ideas that has come up both in Americaland [with the whole #Ferguson ordeal and everything connected to that and the #BlackLivesMatter movement] and in South Africa is that black people can’t be racist. i have always argued that the hypothesis is ridiculous and given my understanding of racism, anyone can be racist against another person. However, by taking time to listen to people on both sides, as far as i understand it, the idea is that racism is state or system implemented prejudice and so while anyone can be prejudiced, historically it has only been the white people who have been in the position of power in terms of creating laws etc that affirm and carry out the prejudice. So while i am not convinced that i agree [i think some countries in Africa with black parties in power have had some discriminationary actions and prejudices laid out against white people] i do think i understand a little bit more. i do feel it is a little bit semantic because i imagine people on both sides would agree that anyone can be racially prejudiced and that is what we are suggesting.

So it was with interest that i came upon this passage in the Robert Sobuke book and this is the action following his funeral where both the author, Benjamin Pogrund, and Helen Suzman were refused the opportunity to speak at his funeral:

We returned to the hotel – the Drostdy, a gracious and luxurious place, with the main section restored to its original 1806 design when it was built as the drostdy, the seat of local government, and the rooms created out of a row of cottages which were once the homes of coloured labourers, and possibly of freed slaves. The cool and comfort of the hotel came as a bizarre contrast with the dust and heat of the ceremony – and even more so because all the guests at the hotel were whites, as required by the law. Among them was the small group of whites in the town for the funeral, including Nita and Joe, whom I met for the first time [and since then, friendship with them has been one of Sobukwe’s legacies to me]; Alan Paton, the author, and Peter Brown, who had led the former Liberal Party with him and had endured years-long banning for it. [Peter was Editor of Reality, a small magazine which provided a forum for liberal thinking after the demise of the Liberal Party, often publishing articles which could find no other home in South Africa. 

On that day, the Drostdy wasn’t a totally colour-fast world so close and yet so far away from what we had experienced in the preceding hours: Neville Alexander, who was coloured and who had been a political prisoner on Robben Island while Sobukwe was there, could not attend the funeral because he was banned and restricted to his Cape Town home; but his mother came on his behalf. Moira, who was looking after her, went into the bar to get her a drink and found a black woman there. Moira discovered the hotel had been declared ‘international’ for that day: in terms of the current laws, that meant it was open to people of all races. To press home that point, Moira took Mrs Alexander to have her drink inside the otherwise usually whites-only bar.

Suzman had this to say about her exclusion. She told the Rand Daily Mail that it was obviously regretful because Veronica [Robert’s wife]  herself had extended the invitation – ‘But I respected their decision that it should be a black people’s occasion.’ She added: ‘One had no means of knowing how representative the militants were. It would have been interesting to hear the crowd’s reaction had they heard what I had to say.’

My published comment went to the heart of my outlook: ‘I feel sad about it, of course. It was a negation of the non-racialism for which Robert Sobukwe stood. It reflects how far down the road we have gone in South Africa. White racism has inevitably spawned black racism. Both are equally abhorrent.’ 

i think the last phrase sums it up – whether it is going to be called prejudice or racism or anything else, whether it is coming from white or black or anyone else, it is equally abhorrent. We must work together, not so much to fight it, but to overcome it. i believe the best way of overcoming racism, by whatever name it goes, is through genuine relationships and friendships – getting each other around the dinner table and sharing stories and living life together. i feel like that is the kind of South Africa Robert Sobukwe would be more proud of.

[For the last part in this series looking at Economic Justice, click here]


You know, the whole, ‘Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes’ thing?

Following on from the post and conversation relating to inequality at the moment still being a race thing in South Africa, what might be a helpful activity is to take a look at how you understand the other person’s argument.

Are you able to jump into the comments and comment from the point of view of the person on the other side of the argument. So, as a white guy, can i comment as if i am a black guy [in terms of point of view] on the whole issue of reconciliation, land redistribution and equality within South Africa [and Americans, can you do this with your whole #Ferguson #BlackLivesMatter conversation]?

eg.  Because my grandparents were evicted from their land and forced to move into a less than favourable location, i feel that it is only fair for me to have the opportunity to return to where they originally lived and be given land there.

In terms of the Americaland situation it would be something more like:

eg. I am tired of explaining to my child why he should not wear his hoodie when he goes out at night.

It is clear from some of the conversations that have been happening on the blog and on Facebook that there is a lot of fear, insecurity and mistrust around a number of these issues and i’m wondering if taking a moment to articulate the other person’s argument [you don’t have to full agree with them or believe it, but just seeing if you get it] might help each of us to see better where they are coming from and understand their point of view.

i realise this is a little risky, but i think it could be valuable. Anyone willing to give it a try? Simply take one aspect of the argument or conversation so far and articulate it as if you were bringing it from the other point of view.

Or as Jack Handey puts it, ‘Before you criticise a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.’

From Worst Christian Book covers of 2014 to how to respond to Trolls or other people online you disagree strongly with, to a whole bunch of really helpful, insightful and great articles on race-related things and some reflections on our time at Robben Island, this has been another crazy  week of much to read, watch and ingest, and i would hate for you to miss any of it and so i have compiled this Don’t-Miss-Out summary of some of the greatest and lamest and most interesting moments from the web this past week.

Catch up on some of the gems you missed and share them with your friends:


MOST UNLIKELY CHRISTMAS GIFTS: If you haven’t finalised your Christmas Shopping yet, there will most likely still be time to order any of these, which i imagine will be sticking firmly to the shelves:


Worst Christian Book covers of 2014/2015


MOST HELPFUL.INSIGHTFUL IN THE ONGOING RACE CONVERSATION: i have continued to read a LOT around this topic and keep on finding SO MANY POSTS that are just so good. i took three of the best of them and stuck them together in this blog post:


The Wisdom of Others in Talking about Race
But then immediately found this interview with Christian Rapper Propaganda which made some of the aspects of it even clearer and it is worth reading the whole thing on Relevant Magazine, but at the very least part 2:


Interview With Propaganda by Relevant Magazine, Part II


Why I run with Trolls: While a lot of people think that engagement with people who are strongly opposed to an idea you might be discussing is a waste of time, i give some ideas on why it might not be.




Journey to Robben Island series: Last weekend i was privileged to go with tbV and a group of about twenty young up and coming Christian leaders to spend the weekend at Robben Island and i posted some snapshots into that experience.




18 Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2014: Suggested by my friend Lindsay Brown, here is a remarkable list of some stories that didn’t get as much noise as they could have this last year.


CLASSIC PHOTO MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Go and order some Thai food for my wife and this is the Customer name they assign to me:




MOST EPIC USA MEETS SA VIDEO: With over 200 shares just from my Facebook blog page, i imagine you have probably seen this already, but if not then watch how Trevor Noah takes on the might of Americaland in this clip from The Daily Show:



MOST INSPIRING SONG: Absolutely love Asumbonanga by Johnny Clegg and he released a new version of it to coincide with the one year remembering of Nelson Mandela’s death:





Watching The Ellen Show where Ellen is chatting to her ‘Most amazing teacher of the year’ who is this white lady working with mostly Asian kids and the moment in the video where the teacher says, “Some of them don’t even have English names yet.”


“A movement starts when the founder really knows Jesus. You know how a movement dies? When the followers only know the founder.” Francis Chan @crazylove

“There is no point being in the right place at the right time if you are not then willing to do the right thing.” Mike Pilavachi @MikePilav

“Convictions don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously pursue and live out their convictions change the world.” Eugene Cho @EugeneCho

Analogies are like sandwiches; I’m making one right now.  @Benjamin_G_Lund

Assistant measured my feet and said “You’re an eight” I couldn’t.  @FemmeDomestique
Hashtag Game suggestions i’ve submitted:

When Harry met Slalom

Lacrosse and the Switchblade

The Good, The Badminton and the Ugly

And now for something completely discus

Brought my Celeb Tweet love up to 4 with this Retweet from Parks and Rec’s own John Ralphio:

Jean Ralphio favorited your Tweet

Dec 11@rejectedjokes Oh no. Love us some Jean-Ralphio. Well played dude. So. Much. Fun. #ParksAndRec
What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekendentertainment…



oh wow, what to leave out this week… there has been a lot of goodness and just importance flying around the internet… i don’t expect you to read all these things but at the very least, please scroll down and pick one thing you missed and then if you enjoy it please SHARE it with your social media people – some important stuff to get eyes on this week:


Abundance > Scarcity: As the procession towards Christmas picks up pace, our good friends @4CommonChange have launched The Generosity Project which calls for 25 days of generosity. With daily articles and creative ideas on how that might look for you and your family over the next couple of weeks.

#generousliving #generosityproject #GiveMoreSpendLess


Before you disagree [on matters of race etc]:Some thoughts i had after engaging with Austin Channing [black woman in Americaland whose writing i really appreciate] on a topic we disagreed on, focusing on listening and trying to hear rather than simply making my point.


An open letter to my White Friends, in South Africa and Americaland: There are people saying a lot of these things much better than me, but this conversation i feel is SO VITAL and NECESSARY and the time for white people to be uninterested, disengaged or apathetic should be long gone.


The Big Read: 16 Days Dead on Arrival: Tom Eaton’s piece that he wrote for the Times takes a look at the “16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse” campaign and reveals where he thinks the organisers ma have missed the point.


12 Things White People Can Do Now Because Ferguson: This piece i found really helpful as a white person wanting to know how i can be a white ally with regards to the situation in Americaland in terms of racial tension and inequality.


Are we Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids: Despite not being a biological parent, i have a lot of time and respect and love for those who are and so articles like this catch my attention and for some of you this will be an important and helpful post [not by me].


This playful video of me and tbV wishing you the most merriest of Christm-asses will stay firmly lodged in your brain in the very best of ways.


Not a big fan of statistics myself, but this graph don’t lie:



‘Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.’ [Elie Wiesel]

‘Two ears. Two eyes. One mouth. [Use them in that order]’

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” [June Jordan 1970s Poem for South African Women]

Chanting “All Lives Matter” or tweeting it erases the reality that Black ppl die in greater numbers than other races.  [@grimalkinrn]

Justice won’t be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. BE OUTRAGED  [@peaceforus4ever]

Also i have been investing in a little bit of Hashtag game distraction amidst all the overbearingly serious:

The Foot and Mouth

Brawl the Presidents Men

Scratch Me If You Can

American History Solve for X

Sniffing Ryan’s Privates


What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekend reading…

This morning i was browsing Facebook and i came upon a status from my friend Nkosivumile Gola [who has written a number of posts for this blog] that read like this:

The land question is very personal, the land includes my whole being it is the very me. The land question is very emotional its not an intellectual talk. I don’t have a nice way of saying we want the land, I can’t smile when I’m talking about land.

Followed by 50 or so comments [and still going on] of which i think i was the only white person engaging. Trying to listen and really hear and understand.

Having opened my blog up somewhat to conversations about Race-related themes and issues over the last few months, and having connected with some new friends and been talking about race i have come to realise that for many black people in South Africa, land reform and restitutional justice are huge topics. I don’t know of many of my white friends that even have an opinion or understanding of this. Or how deep the hurt related to this topic lies





As far as Americaland goes, it is becoming difficult to keep up. Last week it was the news that Darren Wilson [the white police officer who was responsible for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson] was not going to be indicted. Today it is the somehow more surprising news that Daniel Pantaleo [the white police officer who allegedly put an illegal choke hold on Eric Garner which led to his subsequent death] was also not going to be indicted, despite there being quite clear video footage of the incident [that to my reckoning shows a blatant choke hold].

#Ferguson, #MikeBrown,#BlackLivesMatter, #EricGarner, how many hashtags do we need before significant change starts to happen?

As i have been following Ferguson pretty closely, and especially the Christian voices on it, I have noticed that the black voices are very vocal, where for the most part [and there are some incredible exceptions], the white voices are remaining silent.

Austin Channing, who is one of the people i have a lot of respect for in this conversation, tweeted this a couple of hours ago:

I need this to matter. What use have I for a Church that doesn’t believe I am worthy of justice, love and humility? [@austonchanning]





South Africa… Americaland… i imagine these conversations need to be had elsewhere, but these are the countries i have spend time in the last couple of years and so they are forefront in my mind and heart.

The contexts are quite different in some ways [Majority Oppression vs Minority Oppression, Restitution vs Present Day Justice] but there are some eerie similarities:

# For the most part a lack of white interest, engagement, outrage, action. There are white people who are involved and are making waves and using their platforms and showing up, but they are way too much the exception.

# A seeming lack of joining the dots of what is happening in the country politically being linked in any way to what we, as the church, believe, or should believe based on

 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

[Micah 6.8]

Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.

[Isaiah 1.17]

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
    but the wicked have no such concern.

[Proverbs 29.7]


And then Jesus aiming this at the religious ones of His day, in Matthew 23:

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides!You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.


As white people [those who in many instances hold the power for change in both situations] it is not good enough for us to sit back and be uninvolved and unengaged and let injustice go on around us.

In terms of the land reform conversations that need to take place in South Africa, i do not even come close to knowing the answers, but i do know that i am not informed enough, and so one thing i can do is this action based on this status i stuck on to Facebook a few hours ago:

Have decided if i truly am for unity, reconciliation and justice in my beloved South Africa, that i have a bit of reading to do. There is a lot i need to hear and understand from different voices to the ones that informed me growing up. So i could use some suggestions of good books to start with and interested to know if any of my white friends would be up to journeying this journey with me and maybe we could book club it [even if we’re in different parts of the country] so that we can share the costs of a big pile of books. My first recommendation was ‘Sobukwe led the road to Robben Island’ by Dr. Motsoko Pheko – what else do you think would be helpful?
I was reminded of this great quote which sums up the work ahead.

‘Freedom is not free. The price of freedom is selfless service, suffering and sacrifice.’ [Dr. Motsoko Pheko]


Getting involved, putting your hand up, being informed and taking action are not easy or comfortable or free things. There is a cost and it will require effort and time and buy-in and some form of sacrifice along the way. It requires us to get intentional about how we do or don’t engage with this much needed conversation.

In Americaland, the church at large needs to get involved. We need to hear outrage from white people [the black people are already there and have been for so long and are dying for us to pitch up and listen and hear and feel and cry out alongside them – they are not needing you to lead this revolution, they just need you to show up!]


Here are some more tweets from Austin Channing, which i found devastating, more so because of how true they are:

Are you really okay that policing for black lives is different than policing for your life?

Is it okay that our sunday school children have to split up by race to receive different lessons on what to expect from police?

Show us. Show us that its not ok. Stand with us. Let us mourn. Hell, why aren’t you mourning? Let us be angry. You should be angry too.

The cycle of systemic racism and interpersonal racism are robbing the lives of black people and robbing the humanity of white people.

Either you believe we are all created in the Image of God and should be treated accordingly or you do not.

Don’t you see, we all lose? Don’t you see why the Church cant ignore this issue? Cant you see why being “apolitical” is not an option?

Because that’s really the point isn’t it? “Oh no, church and politics shouldn’t mix.” What verse was that from again? While there might be a place where church and politics mixing is not the heathiest of ideas, this goes beyond that.

This is about justice. This should concern all of us, but especially for people who call themselves followers of Jesus, this stuff should be in our D.N.A. This is what we’re about.


Kimberley Brusk just nailed it – this is the point – what is your response going to be?

Justice won’t be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. BE OUTRAGED  @peaceforus4ever


My white friends, my white family, white strangers who i don’t yet know, but who some reason have landed in this place, we are the unaffected ones [directly] and it is time for us to be outraged and informed and engaged.

Or may God have mercy on us.


i read this blog post by Austin Channing on Black on Black violence in which she stated,

Racism is White-on-Black violence.

In 1619, the first twenty Africans were brought over as labor for the new colonies. Within one generation the white majority had defined black people as permanent slaves and non-human property. This created a social order in which black people were only valuable for their ability to support a white dominated society that was economically prospering off of the stolen land of Native Americans and the stolen labor of African Americans. Consequently, a system of White-on-Black violence was born.

She went on to give examples and discuss her understanding of it more fully and i highly recommend you go and read the rest of her post.

i decided to challenge the idea that racism is only possible for whites [which i have seen suggested in other black-written posts i have read around the #Ferguson conversation]

“One thing i see as problematic is the definition of Racism as White-on-Black violence. That is a huge and maybe overwhelmingly huge part of the definition of it for sure. But it is not truthful or honest to suggest that that is the only way that racism occurs.”

Austin replied to my comment with her own:

I appreciate your interaction with this piece and many other pieces that Christena and I have written. I won’t speak for her, but I must say that racism as a system built on white superiority is absolutely created by white people. Blacks didn’t come here in awe and worship of whiteness and together create a system of enslavement. Now prejudice or discrimination could certainly be opened wide to tall, but racism is without question a system planned and executed by whiteness. As for internalized racism being a driving factor in black-on-black crime, you will not only find that Christena, Drew, Efram and I can make that assertion but MANY african americans. Of course, you have every right to disagree, but I say this only to broaden it beyond the writers. This is not something we sat around and dreamed up- just the four of us. There many in the black community who make this connection.

And i replied to her comment, but the internet ate it.

As i was thinking about what she said though, I had another thought which feels like a truly valuable one, especially for conversations like this.

My wife Valerie is really good at bringing it up and reminding us. Three years ago we moved to Kensington in Philadelphia to work with a non-profit called ‘The Simple Way.’ At the end of our time there one of the things we realised we could have done better was taking more time to listen and watch and just be, before coming up with any of our own ideas and ‘solutions’ and plans.

How this relates to this conversation with Austen is that my starting place is that i don’t believe racism can only be something that white people can be afflicted with. But Austin does. And i have been reading that same thought in a number of other black writers i have been reading. So maybe there is something for me to learn. And instead of jumping in to defend and argue and make my view heard, let me just take a moment to try and hear and understand what they mean when they say that racism is a whites-only problem. Maybe there is something for me to learn here.

i tend to be someone that rushes into battle mouth first. Always great for getting a point across, but not often helpful for learning anything…


i came upon this saying while i was looking for a graphic to illustrate this idea and i really like it:

TWO EARS. TWO EYES. ONE MOUTH. [Use in that order]

Do i listen with the intent to understand? i find that as i have gotten older, that is something i have been working on and do a lot better. The three years we spent in Americaland were very tough years in a number of ways but i do believe they helped me become a better person in this area. One thing that helped was hanging around people who asked really good questions. i can see that in tbV – i think she has really grown in that area and asks phenomenal questions – the difference between a superficial conversation and a meaningful one. So great to watch and hopefully be learning from.

One thing we hoped for when we returned to South Africa, and prayed for, and have seen happen [but desire so much more of] is to host conversations that are transformative or dig deep into really meaningful and significant issues. We want to see people challenged and changed [and for us to be those people too] by some of the conversations we have around our dinner table or in our living room. Conversations about money and poverty and racial reconciliation and what church looks like outside the building and more.


i believe that one of the ways to move forward in this area is to have people sitting around your dinner table who don’t look like you. But possibly an even harder step is to invite people to meals who don’t sound like you – who think differently about areas you have strong opinions about. That is what will provide good challenge to the ideas you hold firmly to. You are likely to learn less from those who think exactly the same way you do, right?

So that is one thing we are looking forward to when we finally have our own place. To host meals and conversations. To listen. To look. And maybe then, sometime after, to speak.

[For a number of conversations happening around Race and Reconciliation issues, click here]

[For a glimpse at some Taboo Topics we rarely speak about, click here]

After last week’s fairly quiet week on the internet, this week seems to be right back up there with issues or race and transformation taking centre stage, with a sweet injection of Christmas in between. Here are the blog posts, links and stories that have been catching my attention this week – which one was yours?


My friend Dalene Reyburn finally launched her book, ‘Dragons and Dirt: The Truth about changing the world and the courage it requires’ which i was privileged to read in advance so that i could write a review for Amazon – please check this out and consider buying a copy, especially if you know moms with young children who i think will appreciate it more than most, although there is something for everyone!



This Teacher Taught His Class a Powerful Lesson on White Privilege – the White Privilege for Dummies in one sense as a teacher comes up with a simple but clear way 0f demonstrating Privilege



NFL player Benjamin Watson’s Ferguson post on Facebook goes viral – the absolute best post i have read on the Ferguson and race conversation simply because it seeks to look at the issues from a number of different perspectives – READ THIS ONE!!!



Inching closer towards a truly changed South Africa – Michael Talbot gives us a brief but insightful view into the process of engaging with crucial ideas and conversations



When the Norm is Twisted – my friend Linda Martindale challenges the so-called norms by looking at the effect they can have on other people



Black is the new Black: White Privilege and White Fragility – another challenging piece from out of the #Ferguson story but with some vita truths worth paying attention to which have relevance to us here in South Africa as well



What My Married Friends Would Like their Single Friends to Know – Meet Lisa van Deventer – this really popular post shares some thoughts from a married woman to her single friends



When Violence Stares You in the Face, and you Turn and Walk Away – what do you do when there is a potentially abusive or violent situation happening in your space? This is a huge thing i am wrestling with and am looking for answers and ideas and creativity.



Inching closer towards Reconciliation, one post at a time – my friend Michael Talbot shares some of the story of his engagement with the race conversation we’ve been having.



Two True Meanings of Christmas – Guest post by Graham Heslop – one of the most exciting ideas in Christianity for me is that of the Incarnation – God coming near – and Graham gives two short but excellent reflections on this and other Christmas vibes



@BobGoff Our worst day isn’t bad enough and our best day isn’t good enough; we’re invited because we’re loved, not because we measure up.

@shaelb: Complaining won’t change the complaint. @JabuMTS

@meganshead: The thing that gets me is that it is real. There is a puppet in court.  #puppetcase

@ozchrisrock: Just found a new app that that tells you which one of your friends are racist. It’s called Facebook. #FergusonDecision

@DemetriMartin: Today could have easily been called Givethanksing instead.





What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekend reading…


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