Racism

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - REV BOB SCOTT Birken­head LEILA BOYLE Mt Welling­ton

Con­grat­u­la­tions on your De­cem­ber 0 is­sue on racism it was a help­ful ed­u­ca­tional tool.

From my work fa­cil­i­tat­ing an­tiracism work­shops I am fa­mil­iar with the “but” word re­ferred to.

Ev­ery time we heard it we had to re­mind our­selves that ev­ery­thing be­fore the but was non­sense be­cause so of­ten what fol­lowed was a com­plete de­nial of the words be­fore it, like: “I am not a racist BUT...”

You men­tion in­sti­tu­tional racism the racist as­sump­tions and prac­tices em­bed­ded in our in­sti­tu­tions that mean they go on de­liv­er­ing pref­er­ence to one par­tic­u­lar group, in this coun­try mainly Pakeha, while in­di­vid­u­als can ab­solve them­selves from any re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Those in­sti­tu­tions in­clude gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, churches, com­mu­nity groups, courts, and our po­lice and pe­nal sys­tem.

Things have im­proved over the past two decades but there is still a long way to go.

My pref­er­ence is to never ac­cuse a per­son of be­ing racist be­cause it usu­ally gets the re­sponse that I do not know them well enough to make that judge­ment, or out­rage, block­ing fur­ther di­a­logue.

I pre­fer to com­ment a per­son’s ac­tions might not be re­garded as ac­tively racist but have the im­pact of “re­in­forc­ing racism”, and that is the fo­cus of the dis­cus­sion. I well re­mem­ber meet­ing a woman who told me of her loathing for all black peo­ple. “Have you ever met any ” I asked.

“Of course not,” she said. “I told you I hate them ” gen­der, age or any other char­ac­ter­is­tic.

Every­one else seems to make the oc­ca­sional re­mark about oth­ers and I in­clude my­self in that, al­though I have been try­ing to learn from this man.

My fi­nal com­ment is one of slight dis­ap­point­ment at the tim­ing. A lot of peo­ple will have been away and will not ben­e­fit from this in­sight­ful and in­spir­ing edi­tion of our lo­cal pa­per. That is a shame. I hope you will con­tinue to dis­cuss this and maybe 2010 can be Auck­land’s best yet for race re­la­tions.

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