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"We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they have all learned to live together in the same box!"

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Modern Racism

As promised here is a guest post from my friend Amber Mahony. Amber is a psychologist and is married with three children. Check out her website here. Amber and i belong to the same book club (and we really read!) and i love her direct, wise approach to things. Read her thoughts on modern racism:

"Since hardly anyone will admit to racial prejudice of any type, focusing on bigotry, hatred, and acts of intolerance only solidifies the belief that racism is something 'out there, ' - Tim Wise.

Like many South Africans, I have found it difficult to fully understand the extent of the unconscious conditioning I was exposed to while growing up under Apartheid. Research indicates that most of us tend to think of racism only in extremes and are largely unaware of the residual every day and subtle racism that does greater lasting damage. This lack of alertness ultimately perpetuates discrimination despite our very best intentions.

While South African society has come such a long way in unraveling the complex and tangled knot of Apartheid thinking, it is not uncommon, even now, to hear children in the playground refer to “my maid” in conversation with their peers. In all likelihood, they have heard their parents refer to the domestic worker working in their home with this designation. It is a disrespectful and precocious relational description that constitutes just one of the faces of subtle racism.

Our children's capacity to live well in a diverse world is very closely correlated to how effectively they are able to transcend difference and create connections beyond cultural and racial groupings. Children are at a unique stage in terms of their neurological development during their school-going years. Their brain structures are at their most “plastic” in these years, and their capacity to “wire” non-discriminatory connections are at their peak. After the age of 25, this neuroplasticity decreases and any “differences” that have not been transcended prior to this, become harder and harder to overcome. In other words, prejudice, discrimination and cultural rigidity have their anti-dote in exposing our children to difference and diversity in these crucial developmental years. If their environment is notably homogenous, then their capacity to connect with others who are “different” to themselves is left undeveloped. Our world is increasingly characterised by diversity and a limitation like this can preclude and restrict so many future possibilities as the only “safe “ world is narrow and characterised by “sameness”.

Awareness of subtle racism can be raised to good effect to gain insight into how we unknowingly perpetuate the problem of inequality through our denial and passivity. Insight and ownership of our own unconscious conditioning as well as into the inter-generational conditioning of our children can create change for the better. Alerting adults/parents to the “signs and sounds” of subtle (or modern) racism in their children’s environment can enable us all to gently but strategically re-position thinking. This, in turn, can bring change into our family and school systems which can eventually ripple out into the greater community.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Its ok to be (a little bit) racist...

Just a quick revisit of one of the themes i really want to tackle on my blog but has had less air time due to my obsession with my little boy, being a mom, his bodily functions, coping on too little sleep etc...

Racism... Such a big word and the word is a little over used and i think under acknowledged. i think deep down a lot (maybe all) of us have a deep fear/ uneasiness/ distrust/ dislike (pick your favourite verb or insert your own) of people that are different to ourselves. i know i sometimes find i consciously need to guard against a mindset of "those people" "them" "they". But i think one of the first fights against this racist tendency in us is to guard against it. What do you think?

been also thinking what racism looks like (Had an interesting chat with a friend Amber about modern racism and what that looks like... She will hopefully be doing a guest blog for me some time soon. WATCH THIS SPACE).

Made me remember an incident that occurred while i worked at Baragwanath Hospital. While having tea with 2 colleagues we somehow got onto the topic of race and these 2 girls i worked with quite openly and honestly stated that they believed that black people were less able, clever and basically inferior to white people. Their argument was around things like "look at Africa, look at SA,who are the criminals in SA?". i got really upset as i tried to talk to them and point out that their beliefs were wrong (Haha! doesnt work- peoples beliefs are peoples beliefs).
So that is the one end of the racist spectrum- openly admitting that you believe another race is inferior. the other end of the spectrum is less easy to define. is it the secretly believing you are better than someone else but never saying it? is it the people who speak of maids and gardenboys without realising how these words could be offensive? is it an attitude of entitlement (based on race) that you exude? is it never thinking about race because you dont have to? is it the person who says i have lots of black friends? is it guarding your heart against labelling people as different because of the colour of their skin?

I think that it is NOT ok to be even a little bit racist... it is something we need to fight in ourselves (wherever we sit on that spectrum)!

Let me know what you think!

Monday, 15 July 2013

On being a (over the top, in your face) christian

i have just finished reading The Red House by Mark Haddon. He wrote the curious incident of the dog in the niht time which is still one of my all time favourite books... but the reason for todays post is about the red house...

one of the charcters in this book is a teenage girl who has become a "born again christian". this character has really got me thinking about being a christian and what that looks like and the culture of christianity and why it can be so offensive to people. (And the book isn't really about this but rather about the complex relationships families have). i guess it also got me thinking because the church the character belongs to is similar to the church i attend. (charismatic/ happy- clappy).

firstly is how bullied this girl is... she is teased and nasty things are posted on her locker and rumors are spread about her because she is christian. it may be because of how she interacts with people as a christian...very over bearing, bible bashy and right all the time but i found the descriptions of her being bullied quite disturbing. i have been a christian since i was 6 (Thank you SU!) and i have never been bullied about my faith. i am not sure if we live in a more religiously tolerant society in SA?

and the second thing that has been swimming circles around my head is the reason that christianity can be so offensive to people. Jesus certainly offended people. He challenged norms and he broke (unspoken and some spoken) rules and traditions. i do think that uncomfortable truths can be offensive... Jesus did that well. Think woman at the well.
But i think also there is a sense of superiority that has crept into our theology that doesn't just offend but hurts and distances us from people. i think that is what people dislike about Christianity. and i dont think that is biblical. Jesus called a spade a shovel at times but i dont remember him ever hitting anyone with it.

i know this is a bit more theological than i normally do but i would love to hear your thoughts...

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Thankful in all situations

I was inspired by another blog about being thankful in all situations... Read it here

So here is a list of thankfulness IN ALL SITUATIONS for this Saturday morning

1. Being woken up in the night... Those special moments i share of just me and my sweet boy
2. Luc bruises and bashes... The wonder of him exploring and working out how his body works
3. Feeling sick and not getting a chance to rest... The world (definitely, absolutely) does not  (and never has or will) revolve around me
4. Exhausted at the end of the day... Busy, full days filled with running after Luc, pushing him on his motor bike and meeting friends
5. Having to work at night and on weekends... The absolute blessing of my job that allows me to be with my boy during the day and work when i can
6. The horror of hearing of someone losing their child. So thankful for my boy but also aware that he is not really mine and to try and parent with open arms
7. Fighting about sleep times. I am learning boundaries and trying to keep them in place
8. Frustration about my old laptop that is slow and realising i have so much and am blessed to overflowing
9. Missing my parents (who are in Luxembourg at the moment) but really thankful i have parents who are still alive and also thankful for the wonder of technology (skype, sms and email makes the world much smaller)
10. Feeling like i am not quite on top of things and realising i need to pray and ask for help

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, 8 July 2013


I heard Gareth Cliff (I waver in my opinion of him... I think he is pretty intelligent but he is also nasty and opinionated... So some days i listen to him in the mornings and other days i don't!) say he has no regrets. None. Nada. Nothing...

Been thinking about that and i also know that " live without regrets" is a platitude people love to throw around... But i know i have regrets. Quite a lot. And i am also quite sure that i would prefer to live a life where i know i have regrets. For me to have regrets is to admit i have made mistakes, i recognise them and i want to change.

My regrets are mostly around relationships and how i have interacted with people. I dont really regret things i have done, even the stupid, crazy things! I dont regret jumping off a bridge into the hartebeesport dam or dancing like a silly person or singing loudly or going for a walk in the rain or having a bit too much to drink, or meeting new people, or putting my heart out ( i realise these are pretty tame...)
What i do regret though is how i have treated people or things i have said to people. I have not always been kind or generous or honest. I regret those times. I regret how i treated people in those situations.

And that's why i think regret isn't a bad thing cos... I hope that it means that next time i am faced with a similar relationship quandary I am kind, generous, honest...