A response to Mahlatse Mashua's Talk

It is a few hours now since your talk, but I am still in a state of trying to process all the thoughts and emotions that loosened in me. Thank you for sharing your story so graciously and courageously. It is a testimony of God’s Grace to have gone through all of that, and still to have a pure heart without any bitterness.

As I listened to you speak, I was overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, grief and joy about the circumstances of your birth and the significance of your name. When you shared the unthinkable pain of having your name - your identity - so trivially dismissed and replaced with something more ‘acceptable’, I was filled with anger, and shame. Anger about the evil that was done so lightly, and shame, as I suddenly felt the weight of the need to ask forgiveness.

You see, I am a White South African. And even though I used to firmly believe I wasn’t racist, I have come to see in my own heart how deep-seated the seeds of racism can be, and how difficult it is to get rid of them. God had to take me out of South Africa and take me on quite a journey to do that!

I do not feel qualified to speak for a large group of people, so I can only speak for myself and ask forgiveness for all the times I have dismissed a Black life as somehow inferior to a White life.
Writing these words are not easy: it is far easier to deny ever having those thoughts, or to justify and trivialise our behaviour. But that does not bring real reconciliation.
Please, forgive me.

I pray that God will continue to use you in a powerful way to bring healing and reconciliation in South Africa.

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Elizabeth,

It is admirable that you would come to such an epiphany. Recognizing our racism or any other faulty supposition is the first step towards building bridges of healing and reconciliation. I have been blessed in this crazy year to have some difficult but fruitful conversations with people that don’t look like me or agree with and most importantly don’t have my inborn experience as a black man in America that have led to unity.

I commend you for having a heart submitted to our Lord which has enabled you recognize blindspots and bring them into the light. Many more need to be as thoughtful and loving as you are.

You are truly an example of what the love of Christ looks like for ALL of us.

May God continue to bless you and bless others through you.

Alex

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