thoughts on racism et al

Dear friends

The first time I became aware of a potentially racist action towards me – at least that’s the way I perceived it and still recall it – it was my first day at full time school. I was nearly 5 years and with a summer birthday it meant I started in the summer term – the older children would have started at the beginning of the school year,  the previous September.   I went to the toilets; someone else let off gas (to put it politely) and I heard all the other children blame it on me. I sat in that cubicle and cried.

At secondary school I faced it again – the older children (boys & girls) called me Kissi – Alex Haley’s Roots was on TV and I wore my hair in plaits.  This time I faced up to them –

My name is not Kissi

They stopped the name calling and, even as they hung around the school gates smoking, they greeted me by name, Vanessa.

The events of the last several weeks – Sousse, Charleston et al – have led me to think, maybe there are more people who are racist out there than we think?  Why do they feel that way?  Maybe I work with someone who would not ever speak with a black person given a choice?  Maybe, seeing me, in my role as a woman, a black woman, really winds them up? Should I trust anyone?

I personally feel that ignorance lies behind any type of discrimination – I’m sure many people feel the same.  When I dwell on questions like those above,  I don’t feel right.  1. I’m not going to live my life in fear – that doesn’t mean I’m going out looking for trouble.  And 2. I want to love my fellow beings  – we are all part of the human race and that’s enough for me.

I really don’t know how people feel the way they do. I’ve heard and read things like: “the only good white man is a dead one.” And I’ve no doubt there are equally hurtful phrases about negroes.

“Show me your tail” is what my mother heard when she came here in the 1960’s – and that was from work colleagues genuinely asking her and her friends. How ridiculous!  How awful!  How stupid and ignorant!!

Where’s the love?  It’s largely gone.  It’s the 21st century,  we have incredible communication technology. So is there really an excuse for ignorance?  

There is no doubt in my mind that these are the last days spoken of long ago by prophets of old, even Jesus (see Matthew 24 verse 12):

the love of many shall wax cold

And so we do live in a time where guns and ammunition exist, where they can be obtained, and where innocent people can be killed while worshipping or while lying on a beach,  simply because of the colour of their skin.

I do have a hope – it will come to an end one day. Not through military strikes, but through a Man who will return to Earth.  Meanwhile,  I will continue to treat every as my fellow brothers and sisters and not be bothered if they can’t see past my beautiful brown skin and black curly hair 😉

he made it!

Dear friends, he made it!! another half term and our youngest son has made it with his behaviour to earn an invitation to film afternoon at school 🙂 I’ll call our youngest Cam.
The first half term he did not earn this reward – Cam was distraught at being left out but he knew what he had done = deliberately tripping other children in the playground!! The second half term Cam made every effort – parents evening came and nothing was raised concerning behaviour; no warnings were given. But Cam did not receive an invite.  I knew how hard he’d been trying and how quickly his behaviour sticker chart filled up. It didn’t make sense. Why had our son been over looked? was the teacher unconsciously (or consciously) racist? Cam kept insisting he’d not done anything really bad; so I spoke with the deputy head (for whose own son I’d arranged work experience for a few years ago) – I simply said that if you want behaviour to change then the school needs to explain what Cam’s doing wrong to Cam, because right now he has no idea what he’s meant to be improving – in order to get the reward which Cam really wants!
So, third half term, one warning and he was invited!  Fourth half term, this one, a couple of warnings and Cam was very anxious all this week, waiting for today when they gave the invitations.  We’ve not pursued what happened previously – Cam’s older siblings thought it entirely possible that there was some discrimination going on!
I feel the school/ education system can be such a struggle for boys, especially black boys. Our girls have received model reports throughout primary school – despite being very different characters – extrovert and introvert.  Our boys started well but around 7 years things become, let’s say, challenging.  Our local school has now got more male teachers and I think that helps.  Cam has only had female teachers in his first few years – I’m hoping that will change over the next few before secondary school.  
I pray for our children that they may not be adversely affected by the ignorance, foolishness and mistakes of others. That they may grow to be wise, to know that we control our actions, no one else. And when things are not fair, pray for that other person – remember, they have the problem, not you!

Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.

Matthew 5 verse 44