I once was a racist.

I grew up in a system where one group of people were led to believe that they are superior to all other groups in their country. The thing that set my group apart from others were based on one characteristic, the colour of your skin. By no choice or influence of your own you were either born into or out of this state of privilege.

Growing up as a privileged white child, the indoctrination had an effect on how I dealt with people from a young age. I was taught to have respect for older people, to call anyone ten years my senior “oom” or “tannie”. I had no problem, however, to call the lady that worked in our house on her first name, and if that was too difficult, on a name that we decided was easier.

The system in which I lived, did well in establishing the idea that people who were different from me, were unintelligent and uneducated, that it was “better” for them to be governed in this manner. Black youths burning their school in protest being educated in Afrikaans, that they deemed the oppressor’s language, was used as an example that they didn’t want to improve their situation and could only do certain type of work.

I was wrong.

Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement freed not only his own people, it also freed me.
My superiority is being replaced by appreciation, love and respect of all people.

Today I know that God created all people, and that our difference is a celebration of God’s creativity. At our core we share longings – to love and to be loved, for meaning, for connection and for transcendence.

I still have a long walk to travel to freedom, but I walk it willingly.

{Written for Day 1 of the 30 day Writers Bootcamp project @writersbootcmp]

Image from Flickr under Creative Commons License

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