Race, change & forgiveness

Yesterday I went to do some early Christmas shopping while the girls were at school; but as I was leaving, I had an unpleasant encounter. And it as all about race, & entirely blind-sided me.

Living in South Africa for most of the last 30-something years, I guess race problems are to be expected. I even noticed it as a problem when I was living in New England, USA. So why did this blind-side me?

First, what happened:
Before leaving the shopping centre, I went to park my trolley in the official trolley parking bay since there were none of the trolley men (usually immigrants from central Africa) who usually make those bays obsolete. As I headed towards it, I saw three extremely well dressed ladies standing inside the bay, but to one side so that I could still park my trolley. My eyes lingered on them to admire the precision with which each was dressed perfectly to suite their body shapes and colouring, as well as to communicate almost obscene wealth. As a designer, they were each a beautiful work of art. It made me mildly aware that I was wearing my usual cheap ‘play’ clothes in anticipation for an afternoon of crafts with the girls.

As I parked my trolley, the ladies took great offense! Apparently they thought that I had mistaken them for trolley attendants. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but the offense hey felt was clearly real & oozed out of every part of them, changing these well groomed ladies into harsh and abusive (& obviously insecure) creatures. I was completely flummoxed until I became suddenly aware that I was white.

I am sure that those ladies (who spend more on one outfit than I do on my entire wardrobe), still believe that it was an act of racism, and nothing can convince them otherwise.

This is the sad reality of post-apartheid life. But this form of racism, (where all of us leave as victims) will be here until all the parties concerned give each-other the space needed for change.

Unforgiveness and insecurity is eating away at people of all racial groups, all over the world. But this only serves to perpetuate the problem!

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

My fellow South Africans, it has been 20 years already, please can you allow those around you the space to accept and even appreciate you.


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