It’s been a turbulent start to the year here in South Africa. Amid dreadful drought and searing heat, water shortages, a falling rand (our currency), bleak economic prospects, failing parastatals, protests, poor education, rising unemployment, rising cost of food and much else that is dismal, it seems as if racism is not about to end anytime soon. The rants of others towards others on social media have been vicious and pernicious in their name calling. We’re pulling each other apart –

When, if ever, will it end? The outpouring of hatred continues unabated and many of us wonder if these are diversions tactic used by divisive factions that are not representative of S.A. as a whole, and if there’s something afoot to hi-jack the unfolding of our beautiful country to its full potential. Is racism rearing its ugly head at a crucial time in our history with elections around the corner inter alia, in order to keep our eye off other pressing issues mentioned above? Does democracy take 50 years to stabilise? 

But, racism is real, its wound is real. We fail ourselves and our fellow human badly if we don’t uncover our blind spots which are by definition invisible. Blind spots, like deep wounds, need uncovering for them to be seen for what they are. The invisible festering wounds if not acknowledged can wreak untold damage without treatment – and continue. As Freud said regarding the repetition compulsion: history keeps on repeating itself until and if/when we learn from the lessons of the past. The underlying dynamic or theme is compelled to repeat until the lesson is learned and the pattern finally broken.

The blind spot is in my view fear: fear of the other; and here I’m speaking of the other within our own selves which we do not acknowledge and is thus projected out onto the other – so we fear the other, who ‘is not like us’.

If I look at this psychologically in terms of our past and on a wider scale, I remember when we feared the red under the bed, or the yellow peril, or the hippie era and the larger freedom of sex. Here in South Africa, during apartheid, we feared the black man. We whites mostly lived in an ‘us’ and ‘them’ cocoon enforced by the regime of the time and of which by extension, we were a part. Too many of us, the minority by 1:10, were fearful of the black majority in some defined and undifferentiated way. We were kept separate, blacks from whites; separate facilities; separate entrances and exits. It was institutionalised – though it takes two to tango –

Why this fear? Is it possible that the very qualities that we projected onto the black man, the other, was our own darkness that we vehemently denied was a part of us? Far easier for us as white South Africans to say from our position of supposed superiority, that ‘the other’ was lazy, irresponsible, superstitious, savage and brutal, irrational, envious, jealous, had unhealthy sexual drives, desired power above all, ambitious, greedy, and this projection of our own undesirable qualities was made easier by virtue of the colour of the skin of the other.

How much easier it was for we whites to put ‘out there’ our own maelstrom of darkness rather than acknowledging that it is within ourselves –

 We see ourselves in a certain way that fits in with our tribal or world view, the way we’ve been conditioned by family, religion, society and culture. We like our comfort zones and stay away from being challenged for fear of re-shaping our thinking and acknowledging and re-cognising what is sometimes unthinkable.

We, no-one, sees ourselves as cruel and inhuman. But history tells us another story. We fear the unknown stranger within ourselves and do not want to bring that unknown part of ourselves out of the shadows. That part who is very capable of hate and hateful speech and action. We know that we may have the best intentions in the world with regard to ourselves and others, yet we are very capable of being destructive. In our everyday lives we overeat, waste water, drink too much, continue with violence in one way or the other, distract ourselves with matters that have nothing to do with soul-searching. What we do to ourselves we also do to the other; what we do to the other we do to ourselves. We cannot continue to use ‘the other’ as a scapegoat for the ills that plague us. Our souls cannot continue shrinking. 

My son David put up a Facebook post yesterday morning of a song he composed on Sunday night, reflecting how he feels as a white South African. I’m excerpting his words on his post prior to the song ‘Make Amends‘ and then an excerpt from his song.

His words prior to the song excerpted:

“… I believe there is a great responsibility for white South Africans to undergo deep introspection and gain understanding of why things are the way they are in SA to avoid any further racial tension. If we can humble ourselves in order to gain understanding of each others views … that is a good starting point to making change. It may be uncomfortable, but it is necessary….”

An excerpt from his song:

‘I know that I’ve been quick to blame,

but it’s only because I never saw your pain.

And in the past I was quick to talk, 

Until I took the time to walk a mile in your shoes.

It’s a life I would never choose,

Now that I see your point of view

And I’ll never comprehend the cost of the

cross you’ve had to bear,

I hope we can make amends….’

He received many comments on his FB page mostly encouraging, a few damning saying this doesn’t cut it or go far enough. That’s not really the point; being responsible for his thoughts and feelings and expressing them allows for personal change which has its effects on a larger scale.

I believe we all have a healthy desire, perhaps somewhat still unconscious and not yet differentiated, to unify as a nation, between all peoples. Do we need to be torn apart and rendered still further? As much as we have an archetypal desire for union, do we also fear it its polar opposite: of being subsumed by it? It’s such a huge task, holding those opposites in the alchemical vessel that is South Africa and allowing the transformation to finally begin – by bringing the outsider and insider closer together – warts and all – shadows –

The wilderness is within – I am not madly sure of Jung’s exact quote: ‘The jungle is in us, in our unconscious’ – it is our task to encounter and bravely explore it –

This post is far longer than I initially imagined – and I know I’ve barely scratched the surface.

We’re still in Plettenberg Bay, returning to Johannesburg in a few days time. Last week when my brother was here with us, my elder son Mike, Christopher and I went for a long walk on the Keurbooms beach. It was a misty-ish sort of day, and I never wear a hat of any description any time. But the heat on my head was fierce so I wrapped my beach scarf around it. We came across this ‘totem pole’ that was on the beach – which reminded me of building – and balance – and solidity – and beauty – of which we as South Africans are capable.

totem pole

Yes, the cracks are showing in our democracy and wonderful constitution – that’s how the light gets in – 

72 Comments on Blind Spots and Racism

  1. A most excellent post which highlights the ravages of racism and how racism could be still an implicit corrosive force still alive in developed countries…
    Not only South Africa… but woefully in many other places… In the States Donald Trump is pointing charges to Muslims and mexicans, for instance…
    We have also Europe, France in particular…
    Anyhow.. I think your post explains everything in a thought-provoking and eloquent way…
    You are right when you highlight the Other as a threaten…
    These lines truly resonated with me in that sense,
    `Why this fear? Is it possible that the very qualities that we projected onto the black man, the other, was our own darkness that we vehemently denied was a part of us?´…
    I guess being able to accept the differences is the key point… It seems easy but I guess that we might not be fully ready to do so… It is hard to understand but this is how racism and stereotypes work…
    thanks for sharing… Great reading, dear Susan… All my best wishes. Aquileana ?.-

    • Thank you so much Aquileana. I like how you say a’complicit corrosive force’ – that is alive yet denied. How strong is the force I wonder that makes us feel uncomfortable with differences .. and how strong is it that we feel comfortable with sameness.
      All best to you dear Aquileana 🙂 🙂

  2. Hi Susan. Another thought-provoking post on a subject that lives on despite our efforts! We are all to blame I fear. We fail to listen when we should. We think we are better than others, pretending superiority, when walking a day in someone’s shoes could make all the difference. Here in the U.S., I keep thinking of the anger and racist words (racial and anti religious) I hear shouted over the media airwaves by one presidential candidate in particular. Is it just me, or have we lost our ability to communicate? Where is this anger coming from I keep wondering? Some I know respect this candidate, and it frightens me. I’m tempted to turn off the news, but I know I can’t. I need to listen.

    • Hi Sharon, thanks for coming by – I agree we are all complicit in one way or the other. I also cannot believe what I hear on our airwaves or TV or social media … I’d love to be an ostrich and stick my head in the sand and be apart from the bilge and hate. But, I’m a part of it all and I must be witness to it … and remember the horrors of the past and how the collective can be whipped into a frenzy putting all their hopes on a leader eg Hitler ..

  3. This is fantastic post Susan, and so necessary at the moment. It’s the kind of thing we all need to read and think about.

    I loved your son’s song, by the way. Both the lyrics and the music – he’s very talented. You must be very proud!

  4. A powerful post, Susan. I would think witnessing all you describe in SA, living it, is difficult on so many levels when the issue of race and inequality has been fought for so long. Race is a big issue, as others have noted, here in the U.S. People being shot on the streets, and a very vocal and angry group willing to put a billionaire with so many issues in the White House in order to reclaim their shaken domination. As an immigrant — a U.S. citizen now, but also first-generation immigrant — I can see how polarized and divided we continue to be, how both sides are deaf to the plight of the other side. We’ve become a ‘my way or no way’ society. People screaming for inclusion when they refuse to assimilate. Remaining on the dole when capable of earning their keep. It’s a complex issue, and at the same time there is no excuse or reason for so much hate in this fragile world.
    Thank you for such an introspective post and for sharing your son’s wonderful song.

    • Thanks Silvia for coming by. I keep up to date on what’s happening in the US and see some parallels to our country. I sometimes wonder whether governments themselves are in part the cause of the foment due to their own lack of agreement or lack of fulfilling stated promises for a better life for all. When we see the failure of governments this increases ill-ease among the population… And that domination submission issue is so real.. On so many levels! But before I go off on a rant here thank you so much for coming by. I so appreciate this! Hope the weather is ok your side ☀️

  5. Well stated,Susan. You and your son may have only scratched the surface, but conversation needs to start somewhere.

  6. I’m so sorry, Susan. It’s been a sad New Year for the world in general – so much pain, anger, and violence in so many places.

    I hope South Africa can heal and become stronger. The apartheid system was truly horrible, and it will take some time (probably a long time) to recover from that, but if enough people are willing, it is always possible.

    Sending you love and hope.

    • Thank you J.H. for your sympathy and empathy. There’s a lot of healing to be done around the world. Here, we’re looking even more deeply at the roots of racism these days. We truly want to get on with the business of living more harmoniously with benefit to all.

    • Thanks for noting the totem pole Mary! Even if it be on shifting sands and rather precarious! Though still looking solid! Build up rather than tearing down – a lovely hopeful thought thank you again!

  7. Excellent essay, Susan. I read the whole thing while drinking my coffee this morning. And, look at all the thoughtful responses. Racism exists in many places. We are still having problems in the US, and it seems so ridiculous because people are here from all over the world. There is not a certain way or cultural background that defines a typical American. Prayers for peace in your home country, and mine, and in all the world.

    • Thanks so much for coming by Mary, lovely to see you here. Yes, prayers for peace and acceptance of all – let’s all maintain our dignity, integrity and humanity in these trying times.

  8. And thank you for your son’s lyrics. Because of my hearing, I haven’t listened to the music, but I’m grateful for his generous conscious heart. I’m sure you are, too.

  9. Thank you for this powerful teaching about the shadow, Susan. When I saw the perfect for this post yin-yang at the top, I understood why you were surprised to see the bottom image shared on social media.

    When I read your list of what’s happening in South Africa, I think how much it is like the list in the US and how we’re all responding by trying to blame someone else–someone with darker skin when possible. As I child in the 1950s, I lived in a small town in Missouri where the black population lived on the other side of the railroad tracks. The children went to separate, and definitely not equal, schools. My parents were unusual in that they crossed the railroad tracks to visit my dad’s employees when a new baby was born or someone was sick. My dad also loved the southern cooking he found on the other side of town. But, at night, we tucked into our all white neighborhood and forgot about the other side of town.

    Things are better here some places, but not everywhere. That’s obvious. It’s embarrassing to watch the proud display of American racism and shadow values in the media. How could we stoop so low and be proud of it? Many here cannot believe it and never believed this was possible, but it is happening and in some way we’re all responsible. That shadow-trickster is dangerous.

    • Thanks so much for coming by Elaine. The shadow-trickster is a world wide phenomenon it seems and because it manifests on the microlevel will also manifest on the macro-level i.e. between tribes, groups and nations.You’d think we’d have learned something by now – maybe we’re conditioned to danger and drama and are wary of peace ..

  10. This post really spoke to me, especially the lyrics that your son wrote. Thank you for sharing. I think more people need to read this.

    • Thanks Midimike for coming by. I can imagine that because you are a songwriter yourself, that this would speak to you on that level also –

  11. Wowee – what a post, and what an interesting discussion it has brought about. I will have to listen to Davey’s song separate to this. Thank you Sis for this – However, I am feeling the “white shaming” has become over the top at this juncture of our history. It is spreading, or has spread – across the world. I have always treated people the same, regardless of colour of skin – I hope in a kind and respectful manner. In the 70’s I was not afraid to give an old black man walking in the rain at 11pm one night, a lift to a suburban house as I was on my way home. He was reluctant to get into my car – but I think he realised I wasn’t intending to do him any harm.
    We live in turbulent times, and as you point out, difficult in terms of drought, rising food prices, electricity, water, and political.

    Thank you Sis, and for the constructive conversation.

    • Thanks Sis – there is a danger I also feel of ‘white shaming’ when it is unwarranted and just plain unkind. I know you’ve been to Rina’s township and have extended all that you can at great cost to yourself. We can be thankful that we are the children of our parents I suppose, in spite of other pains in other areas.

      Well, you know what we South Africans always say when faced with our backs up against the wall … ‘n boere kan altyd ‘n plan maak né. So we blow with the breeze, the wind and storms and hope that the bough and the trunk doesn’t splinter and shatter – well, I am saying that. thank you for coming by dear Sis.

  12. Hi Susan and David … what an important post and song – love the music … as well as the words of both. Your highlighting the ‘we’ and ‘I’ is important … we should all use our own experiences.

    I’m going to do (try) this here – I lived in SA for 14 years and experienced life in Zimbabwe briefly at that time – and saw life however briefly in the higher echelons, as well as working as a ‘normal’ person in Jhb.

    I didn’t like what I saw happening and always treated all peoples as I would treat myself … yes I used the white’s entrance – it was there .. but in my dealings everyone was my equal, as best in my naïve days of 80s SA. Interestingly I got criticized for it by someone in Management at Edgars HO .. I was surprised.

    However I knew nothing about Apartheid, or about the peoples of South Africa, or tribal cultures specific or in general … ie the Afrikaner and the Cape Mulattos who formed significant numbers … the Afrikaner being white as such.

    Coming back to England … and to put this in another context … here on the ward when my mother was in intensive care at the Acute Brain Injury Unit – we had two (ex) west Africans, and a young American (whom I am still in touch with), a French girl, who sadly died, a Jewish lady, a Greek lady – who couldn’t speak English, even though she lived here, and a Cornish lady – my mother was Cornish.

    My mother was bedridden for over 5 years (in London and down here on the south coast) … and I got to think about how we don’t know what’s going on behind our eyes – ie what is happening to others … I knew I was suffering, but I knew I had to be strong for my mother, as too the others …

    I equally didn’t know her … I asked for the West Africans to turn their music down … on my next visit – I was told my mother had asked them to turn it back on!!!

    So getting back to your blind-spots and racism … I try and think what is happening to the people I see around me … what are they coping with, how can I adjust my take on life …

    … and most importantly perhaps – am I treating them, talking to them in the most empathetic way I can, in the circumstances I am given … and giving them what positiveness and help I can.

    Sadly politics hasn’t helped SA in recent years … Mandela certainly gave everyone so much hope – why people (in other countries too) have to dictate and grab for themselves and be corrupted is difficult to comprehend, when their people are suffering so much: Mandela led by example … you’d think others would too.

    Thanks this is way too long .. Hilary

    • Thanks Hilary for your response. We too lived in Zimbabwe for many years a very long time ago during our peripatetic childhood. We – family, I and those of our acquaintance – were simply just plain ordinary people who treated others equally and still do. No need to be otherwise.

      And, being empathetic and aware is a quality we could all benefit from, exercising and enlarging it to ourselves and by extension to others. You’re right, we don’t know the others’ story and we’re alert to the moment and circumstance. I see my sister has commented and shared her experience of giving a man a lift in the middle of the night in the 1970’s. Not so sure that any of us would do that now – but maybe we would. I often give lifts to women.

      Thank you for sharing about your mother and the music! She clearly enjoyed i!

      Cheers to you! Susan

  13. That was simply extraordinary Susan! Your compassion and loving-kindness creates a deeply reflective heart-song for me … one I long, long to hear! Fine writing, deep music for the Soul.

    For encountering the ‘Shadow’ (individually & collectively) is not only the deepest but the greatest work I know. Every day that I live, it’s becoming more and more obvious to me that I MUST, MUST learn to hold ‘the tension of the opposites’ within myself, in order to help to heal our beautiful world. Surely, this is one of the ultimate reasons why we are here, is it not ‘all’ of humanity’s work?

    Although the wound is deep, I truly believe it can and is being healed. It begins with each of us taking responsibility of ourselves. One by one by one by one we are walking this world back to wholeness, and love. A profoundly, insightful article. Thank you so much for we need to face the truth, face our blind spots. We need to get ‘up close’ and ‘personal’ until we feel ‘truth’ breathing on our skin. That is when real change happens, that is when ‘blind spots’ are seen.

    I loved listening to David’s beautiful, healing song and reading his, and others inspiring, heartfelt replies. Blessings always, Deborah.

    • Thank you Deborah very much. And for emhasising the importance of the Shadow and the work that can be done, is being done, and needs to be done in order to expose it, instead of it festering away, ‘untreated’. Band Aids don’t cut it – the blood seeps through. Hard work for sure – facing ourselves and our hurts and pain and working through them step by step. You’re right, the greatest work …

      Yes, up close and personal …:)

      I hope David reads your comment, and others read yours and the others’ too … and, if you could do with a smile and a laugh today, check out David’s “Broccoli Song” – from quite a few years ago on youtube. The Kiffness, or thekiffness.

      Now, I’m hopping over to your powerful poem and various other posts so far not attended to.

      Blessings to you dear Deborah.

  14. very interesting post Susan. Its not an easy process to look within and expose the blind spots; as there always be fear and it takes a lot of courage from within, that will put us in situations of discomfort and challenging us to change our mindsets, of what we have always believed. I am glad to listen to your son David’s song, very meaningful and inspiring. thanks for sharing !

    • Thanks Genevive … it’s the hardest thing to look within and track the blind spots in all areas of living – expose that shadows that have keep us blind – and find the gold in amongst the dross. I hope David reads your comment.

  15. It’s all very sad and I hardly know what to do about it. We Americans thought electing a Black president would make a world of change. It did, but not to bring us together. Sigh.

    • Sad it is Jacqui – change is often very bleak in the beginning and I wonder if/when positive change will occur. Do we have to blow ourselves up first of all? We need another MLK … or revive and remind ourselves of the Mandelas, MLK’s, Gandhi’s, Mother Teresa’s of the world …

      • I was re-reading some of MLK’s quotes (January had MLK Day) in preparing a lesson for my students. This one is truer than ever: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stpidity.” The man was pretty darn smart.

        • “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” That’s pretty darn smart and on the button. He’s one of my heroes. I do not know why your comment is not coming up on my blog post – I received your whole comment via email and did the usual as I always do to respond, but yours is not coming up. Also, I am responding to you via the dashboard (which I seldom do but there’s always the exception as in now). I had to get fancy and copy the quote from your email comment. Jacqui, please do me a favour and let me know if you receive this/my response back to you? Thank you for coming by to the post …I so appreciate it!

  16. Interesting read ma. I like what you said about how racism is a blind spot that needs to be uncovered. The process of uncovering those blind spots has been painful and uncomfortable for me, especially when most of the time I’m unaware of the inherent racism within until it is pointed out and exposed. The natural reaction for me would be to defend myself, because I don’t want to be labelled a racist, but the more I learn about it the more I have come to accept that there are things that are wrong with the way I think and I’m ok with that. I hope you don’t mind me saying this but since you kindly asked me to comment I will go ahead. Firstly, I believe blanketing a problem is one of the roots of racism – saying things like “during Apartheid ‘we’ feared the black man” is a generalisation that can perpetuate racism, although given the context I understood what you were saying. Secondly, and leading from my first point, I would’ve liked to have read more ‘I’ rather than ‘we’ i.e. more personal accounts of what you were saying, rather than generalising. I only say this because this is something I’ve been deliberate about doing in anything I share and I’ve found that the more I talk from personal experience as opposed to talking about ‘us’ or ‘we’, people have been able to relate and connect on a much more intimate & personal level. I believe that when you talk about ‘us whites’ rather than ‘me’ there’s a sense of shared responsibility & so it’s easier to talk about racism or darkness, but when you talk about personal accounts about how you have eg) been racist, there’s a much greater sense of vulnerability, but the impact is far greater. I hope this is constructive. Thanks for sharing my song & thank you to everyone who has listened to it.

    • Thank you Davey for your comment. All your points are valid … we do use ‘we’ instead of the ‘I’; or I used we instead of me or I. I do know that many of us, myself included, do what we or I can to extend goodwill and/or acknowledge our or my privileged past. I sometimes think of giving away all that I own but I know that does not address the issue. And, many thoughtful leaders are saying in letters to newspapers, on the media etc don’t give us your charity; that is condescending. Well, I do know that NGO’s are doing much of the work that our govt is tasked to do, and many of us not only now but in times long past, were against the Nationalist Govt of the time and worked hard, risked life and limb to eradicate the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mindset. My parents included …

      Well, here’s to vulnerability in which there’s strength – I’m raising my cappuccino to that.

  17. Thank you for your very thoughtful post, and David’s equally thoughtful and lovely song.
    Like Marian, I, also felt that here in the U.S. we achieved an important milestone when Barack Obama was elected president. Sadly, it seems the country is even more divided now.
    I don’t have any answers. Like Marian, I think fear is, if not a cause, then a catalyst. When there is fear, it is easy to blame “the other,” whether it is a people of another color, religion, sex, or those from a different country. Perhaps access to books, education, and real knowledge about “the other” is what helps. Those who trample rights, also tend to limit these these things.

    • Thanks Merril for coming by. Yes, no answers yet – maybe the questions have to change if we hope to bridge the divide. What do we really really want? I wonder sometimes if the media feeds our fears and we become numbed. That word ‘catalyst’ is very appropriate. Good luck with your elections even though they’re a way away .. yet the frenzy has begun. Will we feel the Bern?

  18. This is a profoundly insightful post with the yin/yang emblem spot on.

    Somehow I thought that when Obama was elected President almost 8 years ago racism would diminish in America. Of course that is not true. I was both short-sighted and naive to believe such a thing. I am convinced now that fear underlies hatred, which may account for what we see in the world now, including your country. The most potent antidote to fear is spreading love.

    It is uncanny to think that while you are sweltering in South Africa, we are bundling up in cold weather – even in Florida!

    • Thank you Marian, very much. It’s hard to have hopes dashed and illusions shattered but perhaps that’s where the real work begins. Being dis-illusioned brings us closer to reality and makes us/me wonder about hatred and whether its underlying ’cause’ is fear. And, love and hate are often said to be opposite to each other but I wonder if it isn’t love and fear rather. Self-love with a capital S facilitates love for others. ‘Self’ as in that deep reverence for what is within as well as without.

  19. Dear Susan;
    You remind about the cracks letting in the light and the value of the imperfectly composed…creating growth and even beauty…

    • Dear Susan, thank you – we can hope that from the disorder, order will follow as day follows night. From the winters of our discontent, spring will follow –

  20. Susan this is such an excellent post! Much of what is taking place there in South Africa has taken place here in the states. Remember, the black Africans were brought as slaves to our country. The treatment of the Africans was horrendous. Thanks to several events over hundreds of years racism is not AS bad, but sadly it still exists. Plus, now we are dealing with prejudice concerning people of other religions. When will we accept people for our differences. If we were clones, life would be so boring. Here the Native Americans have a saying, “Do not judge one, until you have walked a mile in their shoes.”

    I SOOOO Hope people start accepting and caring for one another. Hate will only make the world worse. Thank you for your excellent and wise post. Plus, I loved the words in your son’s song. He is a wise man!

    • Thank you Gwynn for coming by. Yes, now religions and faiths are getting the brunt of it as well. Although they always have I think but now it’s more upfront and in your face. No holds barred …

      Thank you for the reminder of the Native American saying: “Do not judge one, until you have walked a mile in their shoes.” If I could put this in bold red I would. Another saying that comes to mind; take the log out of your own eye.

        • I don’t know Gwynn … maybe go back to the post and re-enter yr email address to receive by email? The one before this one was a while back – 31st december.

          Thank you for alerting me, I’ll ask Mike to have a look …

  21. Honestly I thought the divide was healed in South Africa when Mandela was president. But I guess if we, in the states still struggle with racism the whole world must too. This wound is so deep. Any negative action is a trigger to scream racial in justice. You know my feelings I continually ask why we can’t find harmony in this world. I’m in dr. Office no headphones so I will listen to your son’s song later.

    • We also hoped that the divide would heal with Mr Mandela as our president Kimberly but it was not to be. Many, both black and white, think he sold the country down the river. And you’re spot on that any negative anything brings on the screams of racial injustice – and destructive action, burning of schools, libraries you name it. Why can’t we find harmony in the world you ask? Why indeed? Maybe it begins with each of us .. Thank you so much for coming by.

      • Sadly we see more racism in the States since President Obama’s been in office. What was quiet is now out in the open. But maybe that needs to be so we can heal. You know like a fever that spike so it can break and the virus heals.

        • That’s extraordinary Kimberly. I wonder if it has to do with his being a man of colour. And you’re right, let it be in the open so that the wound can be seen for what it really is – as you say like a fever spike and then slowly back to recovery. Lovely analogy …

  22. I recently had not a black/white issue, but a male/female issue at the Iasd conference I am helping to organize. No matter how much and how hard we try, it seems like the discrepancies still are valid after all these years of emancipation of all sexes and races. But that is such a depressing thought. I was able to turn things around (a little bit) by negotiating funds for a female speaker. We are indeed quick to blame. We all need a bit of compassion, for ourselves and for others.

    • Thank you Susanne. Those ingrained issues remain and are so evident as well in the male/female scenarios. Well done for achieving a fee for the female speaker in the face of opposition. It would be so much more normal I suppose were there no question about this, but often this is not so.

  23. Hi,
    As a Black American, who was born in the Deep South, I can very much relate to the anger among the Black population, but I can also relate to the fear in the White population. It is something about leaving our comfort zone, as you would say, or breaking the traditions that destroy us as I call it. Looking deep within ourselves can only be done when we are prepared to face our weaknesses, and today humanity sees traits such as humbling yourself as a definite weakness. We only need to look at the commercials on television or the television shows. Humility is not wanted and the one who humbles himself stands out.

    Yet if there is a chance for mankind, if there is a chance for us to co-exist on this planet, then all of us will have to humble ourselves and recognize that whatever we do to others we are doing to ourselves because we are our brothers and sisters keepers regardless of the colour of their skin or their nationality.

    This brings me back to what I began to say. I am a Black American Woman. Brought up in the Deep South where racism was the rule of the day. I was also the first Black Child to go to White school in my city. That left scars, but they have healed. How did they heal? By my coming to Europe. It was here that I felt the need to forgive, the need to humble myself and accept that regardless of what had happened my future would change if I learned to forgive.

    As David songs says, “we are all quick to blame,” and that is among both Blacks and Whites. The need to feel superior is in all of us. When we recognize that that is one of the chief evils that is wrecking our society. then maybe we will see change and began to walk a mile in each others shoes.

    Please tell David, I appreciate the song. It has deep meaning and reflects the heart of a young man that has experienced a change in his own life.


    • Thank you dear Pat for your heartfelt comment from your own lived experience. ‘Looking deep within ourselves can only be done when we are prepared to face our weaknesses, and today humanity sees traits such as humbling yourself as a definite weakness.’ Your words are powerful and a humbling reminder of the necessity to face our weakness and our fear. In our vulnerability is our strength.

      Many times it takes a separation from the land of our birth and living elsewhere, in your instance in Germany, for a person to gain a broader view that includes forgiveness for the hurts.

      And you’ve said so well the instinct within us all of wishing to be superior to the other. Recognising it would go a way to re-cognising it.

      I will tell Davey what you said, I know he will be be extremely pleased to know that his song touched you.

      Shalom to you Pat, thank you again, Susan.

    • “The need to feel superior is in all of us.” This sums it up perfectly. We are ego controlled creatures far too often. When we suspend our identification with our ego, with our mind, we are able to move into a place of oneness where color, gender, difference no longer matters. Our difference holds our beauty.

      • I hope Pat Garcia comes by to read your comment Dorothy, thank you for coming by. When ANYthing is overly controlling this restricts our ability to move beyond into our different and real beauty.

  24. Great song from David, very somnolent and reflective. While ‘making amends, ( and recognising the need to accept responsibility) guilt is not always the answer. Discernment needs to be there too, so that right thought and action does not set up new cycles! In SA that must be critical right now, and maybe democracy does need fifty years to stabilise. I have always thought it would. There was too much mud in the water and too much bitterness.

  25. Terrific post, Susan, and oh so necessary. I hope many read and digest and transform, if they need to. David is wonderful, with a mother like you….I will share this on FB. Much love and thanks. Mira (PS: have you read Theroux on S. Africa? Can’t remember the name of the novel.)

    • Thank you Mira – and for sharing. I’ve read many books on our history (probably not enough) from the viewpoint of many travellers both local and international past and present.. The Paul Theroux I think I have. Love from my country to yours. And from me to you…

  26. Interesting to read this on the morning when the big news here in L.A. is that blacks are complaining about the Academy Award nominees lacking any black candidates.

    I don’t know the easy answer and there probably isn’t one. But I think it would help if sides wouldn’t keep pointing out the differences, then maybe we’d stop noticing the differences. Simplistic I know, but I’m becoming indifferent to a lot of issues of race in the U.S. because though the roots of the problem are very serious, the actions being taken to create and even force solutions are becoming illogical and absurd.

    Now there’s a trending towards “white shaming” and collective white guilt. I feel neither. Whatever happened in the past had nothing to do with me. I’m just trying to struggle through life like most other people and I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes as far as I know. I’m not ashamed and I’m not guilty so trying to force such things on me and others just continues to widen the gap.

    I’ve certainly oversimplified the situation, but I prefer to keep things simple.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out
    Wrote By Rote

    • Thanks Arlee for your thoughtful reply. I’m aware of the race issues in the US – there are some parallels to what’s happening here in SA. And yes ‘white shaming’ is something to be concerned about on a few levels. Shame is not necessarily a bad thing. There are so many stories happening here – eg Rhodes scholars from SA who’ve been granted this great privilege of being at Oxford are demanding that the Rhodes statue be taken down there … the gap is indeed in danger of being widened. There is no simple solution.

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