A Bit More Freedom

When racist thoughts pop into my head I feel terrible and I wonder if they’ll ever go away.  I am not a racist but the imprinting sometimes seems indelible.  I was raised in a racist society and was “carefully taught”.  I learned and used all the racist and nationality slurs imaginable.  Once I became aware of the horrors of racism and left it behind the thoughts persisted and I felt guilt and shame.

This morning while driving to work I listened to a delightful conversation between Krista Tippett of the radio program “On Being” and Bishop Desmond Tutu recorded some years ago.  It was a great pleasure to hear him tell stories and laugh….his laugh is so genuine and deep.
He told a story which will help deliver me from the feelings of guilt and shame when racist thoughts enter my mind.  He said he boarded a plane for a flight within South Africa and was thrilled to notice that both the Pilot and Copilot were black Africans.  He said he felt so proud.  The takeoff was perfectly smooth and the flight was proceeding without a hitch when they entered some horribly turbulent air and the plane began to bounce and swerve and dip and he became frightened and wondered if these two black pilots would be capable of delivering the plane safely to its destination without a white man to help them.
He went on to talk about how a lifetime under apartheid couldn’t help but cause one to doubt the strength of its victims.  And now I can accept that growing up in a racist society will occasionally give way to racist thoughts that I know to be false.
Thank you Bishop Tutu.
Posted April 24, 2014

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