Identity

On 16 February at the dialogue at Martin’s house, we had a diverse group of participants with the majority being men. After listening to and engaging with a talk about the Gospel and Blackness, the topic chosen was an “Appropriate sense of my own identity within my culture”.

During the dialogue it was apparent that our primary identifyer seems to be gender. It emerged that there is a lot of confusion around gender roles, dealing with stereotypes, how to adapt our roles so that it works within a partnership and our economic setting, how to still be accepted within our larger culture and not be othered as we experiment with our roles.

There were so many profound statements made – perhaps you will identify with one of the following …

  • With the changes in technology and male-female roles there have been seismic shifts in our identity. We are trying to figure these things out. 50 years ago the idea of a man staying at home with the kids was not accepted in any culture. Now we have to adapt, but there is a lot of fear of the unknown. Why should I let go of what I know even if it is bad? I don’t think we should be pulling each other down but empower women upwards. We do not want to perpetuate the system of alternating the person that is on top, but we want to create a new system.
  • I am beyond frustrated – they bunched us up here together, the angry black girls, and that is what happens in the world. Just put them there – I feel othered.
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Who owns the land?

On Saturday 26 January, the topic chosen for our Diversity Dialogue was “Who owns the land?”

The dialogue began on an intellectual level with much reference to facts and articles written about the land issue. It became apparent that the facts were interpreted differently according to the framework people were coming from. People tend to expose themselves to the information that confirms their bias. As we continued, the underlying optimism or pessimism of people became apparent, with the majority sounding more pessimistic.

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How do we manage inconsideration in community and how do we improve?

Inconsideration was the topic chosen by the group on 8 December 2018.

Here are some comments made at the end of the dialogue – perhaps not always answers to the question, but certainly food for thought …

  • “I believe that bullies get supported, no-one wants to escalate the situation and to avoid conflict, so we support the bully. If that’s the way we do things interpersonally, we are not going to change the broader picture in our country.”
  • “Most fear is coming from men. If men are secure in their position, they will be more considerate to women.”
  • “We need to change selfishness, where people are concerned with themselves and don’t do anything even when they hear screaming.”
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God with us

It starts with a genealogy going back right to the beginning, to the first man, fallen.

The fallenness is evident in the list of real people

God has chosen to be part of his son’s very human ancestry:

The venerated patriarchs – who paved the way for those behind

but stumbled over their own lies, cowardice and cheating.

The kings – some men after God’s own heart but also adulterers, murderers and idolaters …

even upright leaders of society had their hidden sins exposed by God’s Word.

Women are mentioned – a prostitute who saved Jewish spies,

a gentile widow who followed her forlorn mother-in-law wherever she went,

a multiple widow who tricked her father-in-law into donating his sperm.

All are mentioned by name, known completely in their complexity by their creator,

who majestically stands outside and beyond.

 

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Finding Hope

During our October Diversity Dialogue with the topic of “Finding Hope”, two strong voices emerged – the “trapped” and the “free”.

 

At one point the trapped voice explained “It feels like we tell them our struggle and they bombard us with this hope thing. They say, here is a wall, climb it and everything will be okay. We come from a background where no-one climbed the wall. Hope and motivation itself are a leg-up we did not have.”

Later, the free voice said, “At some point, I have to ask, how can I help you with the skills I have learnt coming from my background? I take the time to sit down and try to help you. How do I show you that I am trying to empower you and not belittle you? I am trying to pass on skills down a chain.”

During this dialogue, there was movement towards each other and a greater understanding of each other’s point of view. We left with the will to apply what we had learnt into our contexts, trying to pass more hope on to others in love.

Love and Trust

At the Diversity Dialogue at the beginning of September, the topic chosen was Love and Trust. When we asked ourselves, what was standing in the way of building love and trust, many voices emerged, including: masks, anger, selfishness, poor self-esteem, lack of respect, fear and patriarchy.

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What blocks progress?

This topic drew the most votes at our Diversity Dialogue on 4 August 2018 – “We have such potential as a country. Why are we stuck?” A long list of reasons was identified: Inequality & poverty, Labelling & discrimination, Poor leadership with no integrity, Broken people, families & communities, Fear, A culture of destruction & rage, Greed, Denialism, Right wingers, White supremacy, Patriarchy, Despondent & desperate youth … it seemed overwhelming – there was a general feeling of paralysis and fear in the room.

Anger moved the system out of this trapped overwhelming feeling at the beginning of our time together and it became a lively dialogue. This was illustrated by the movement of the person in the “Despondency” voice to join the new voice of “Young black (disadvantaged) women” that emerged. Other changes included that the voice of “Patriarchy” was heard speaking from “Poor Leadership” and the individual in “A culture of destruction” became a “Fix it” voice.

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