My friend Robin travelled to see some charitable projects he was fundraising for in Northern Tanzanian last year. Robin is not a man of faith by any means, but one of the projects he visited was run by a local pastor and was connected to a small church, which was not a problem at all.
But something interesting happened on this trip. As fate would have it, Robin happened to be in the pastor’s village on a weekend and quickly learnt that the pastor had slotted him in to preach that Sunday and had told his entire congregation that they would have a guest preacher from England.
Robin told the pastor that he wasn’t exactly a man of faith, but went ahead to accept the challenge. In his on words…”as a white man, those people expected me to be all knowing and I was not going to let them down”. In my own words…”really”?
So after spending Saturday night trolling the internet on how to preach a sermon to an African audience, Robin was ready. He preached, (or rather read disjointed notes downloaded hastily from the internet), to a congregation of about 50 people, about The 5 Talents story from the Bible.
I would later tell Robin that he committed religious fraud, and if that ever becomes a recognizable crime, I will turn him in.
This simplistic story made me realise how difficult it can be for someone who finds themselves in a position of privilege to turn down opportunities and instead use that opportunity to educate the system and perhaps pass that privilege to someone more deserving.
As soon as privilege is served, people draw into a sense of patriotism and entitlements which they did not even know they had.
It seems as though asking people to turn down privilege is asking for a bit too much. but owing to the number of white privileged folk who wonder what they can do to make a difference against everyday racism : I have some suggestions:
- STOP denying racism exists
- Have you just heard or witnessed something that looks or sounds like racial prejudice, STOP, challenge it.
- Challenge a system at your work place that passes a hard working employee for promotion when you suspect is has to do with their ethnicity;
- Help people of colour strengthen their voices by adding yours instead of your silence, speaking for them or over them.
- Teach your children that all human beings are equal
- Do your children have dolls of different ethnicities? Have you checked their attitude towards each doll of a different colour?
- Feel free to add your won ideas to this list….