Colour-coded superiority and inferiority

On 3 November 2018 at Nokhupila, the topic chosen as a door-way to the conversation was “Colour-coded superiority and inferiority”. Significant voices in the dialogue included Fear, Anger, Pride and Denial.

  

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The Peacemaker

(A poem from the book Dwelling in Dissonance)

 

I see you

moving forward

to the frontline,

labelled traitor

by those who shield

behind you,

protecting others’ bodies,

absorbing attacks in your back

that are not aimed at you.

 

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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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Graffiti

(I wrote this poem in 2016, it sadly seems just as appropriate now … )

Ugly

Stark

Hurtful

Words

Printed

On white wall

Magically

Erased

By the forgiving paintbrush

Of a required re-

painting

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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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White supremacy

On 7 July at Christ Church Midrand, the topic chosen for our dialogue was “How to kill white supremacy” with the themes of “land restitution” and “dealing with anger” influencing the conversation.

Apartheid was described as “successful in meeting its goals”, because the structures it put in place largely remain and this outside structural racism has penetrated our insides. Our inner racism, even in those who don’t want to be racist, is pervasive. Often both white and black people think that white people are superior and black people inferior. Many black women feel they are at the bottom of the oppressive systemic racism pyramid. At the same time, black women spoke from the pain of being married to black men who feel trapped in their circumstances – they want to be strong for their women but feel they have to swallow racism to keep their jobs and survive financially.

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Restful Respect

(A poem from the book Dwelling in Dissonance)

Thinking

Recognised,

Understood,

Encouraged

 

Heart

Open,

Serving,

Pausing

Introspection,

Transferring

Attention,

Listening

Intentionally

To

You

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

We often talk about offering hospitality in our homes; I believe we extend true hospitality of time and space to people when we really listen to them  in conversation with us. I have often been convicted in this area – How are my listening skills? Do I listen to understand the other person, or with a view to finding a gap to share my perceived wisdom? 

Struggling with Identity

This was a private Diversity Dialogue at Arcadia Christian Church with more than 25 people. The topic “The Struggle with Identity because of the Past” was chosen. As each voice made an opening statement it was evident that many voices expressed fear underlying their main points of view. “Shame”, “Fear”, “Stereotypes” and “Anger” were the main contributors to the conversation. Out of the voice of “History not dealt with”, a “Longing for accountability for the past” from all sides, “Disillusionment with reconciliation”, but also a strong “Hope in a new identity in Christ” emerged. “Being judged”, “Inner Brokenness”, and “Distrust” tended to observe rather than participate in the conversation.

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The Challenge of Family Relationships

Our diversity dialogue on 2 June at Nokuphila was a small group but this lent itself to a more intimate conversation – the participants chose to dialogue about the challenge of family relationships. In a small group the question I sometimes ask myself as a facilitator is “Where is the diversity?” but we had exactly the diversity needed for the topic.

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