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.