February 26, 2011 in Question of the Week, What do you want to say to the community about the subject of race? by Candia Ludy
As a religious leader in Memphis, what do you want to say to the community about the subject of race?
In 1980-1981, I lived in Tanzania. My husband was the country director of Catholic Relief Services. I had lived previously in Kenya studying Kiswahili and so spoke the language well enough to be comfortable in most daily life situations.
I made Tanzanian friends, mainly women, from the office and other places. About one year into our stay I had, for me, a profound realization that changed my world view.
I was raised in the South and all I knew was black/white racism. I am old enough to remember, from my childhood, the last vestiges of complete segregation with the whites only and colored signs. Then separation of schools, churches, eating establishments, etc., was a daily way of life.
I grew up through the civil rights movement experiencing forced integration and the gradual disappearance of the segregated water fountains and public toilets, the back of the bus, and small signs in the front of businesses saying who could come in. Still I carried a burden of guilt and sadness that “white” people were so closed-minded and unkind to their “black” neighbors.
It was as my friend, Nima, over a cup of tea one afternoon in Dar Es Salaam, said the words I had heard before but till then had not really heard, “Watu Wote WaMalawi Ni Wawezi“, all Malawi are thieves, that I understood.
We, humans, are racist. It is a burden for us all to carry and the responsibility of us all to find a way to undo. We make the “other” and then we protect us and ours from “them.”
It is time to realize that we live on one place, the earth, and we all have the same big hearts and small minds vying for supremacy.