End the scourge of racism urges Offaly Self-Help Africa chief


Ronan Scully of Self Help Africa

Over the years, I have travelled around our world and our country quite a lot especially with work. In that time, I have seen and heard of many acts of racism committed against coloured people especially black and brown people and people of different ethnic minorities, from children right up to adults.

Now, I have to ask myself a question: As a dad of two amazing beautiful children of colour, why haven’t I done more to try to end this? We must stand up for those who are persecuted. We must listen to those who are harmed and stand with them and protect them. I am moved to hear so many speak of how they need to be more than not racist, but to be actively anti-racist. In a world battling the coronavirus, especially these last few months, we have all realised how much stronger we are, when we work together. The senseless acts of racial and ethnic violence in word and deed should have no place in our country and world! So many of us, from all around the world, have helped each other through this virus pandemic and all of us are working together to save lives, exactly as we should be.

You will all agree when we all work together, what a difference we all make for the greater good! Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are problems prevalent in all societies. But every day, each and every one of us can stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes. We should all try to be a human rights champion and together try to stamp out racism, injustice and intolerance in our society, country and world. Listening can lead to understanding. And honesty. And empathy. And action. That is how we demonstrate that we value the lives and experiences of every person of color and ethnicity. That is how we demonstrate a commitment to people and families of colour and of different ethnic minorities who have been subject to overt and passive forms of racism. That is how we create the safe space built on equity and inclusiveness that we are all committed to. I challenge everybody in our society, country and world to look inward, to reflect, to be honest, to acknowledge bias and privilege. And to truly listen to one another especially to those who have been hurt by racism in any of its forms.  

Be like Children

In a multicultural Ireland, we have many positive things to learn from one another. But, sadly, not everyone thinks that way. Racism is becoming a major issue in our society; in fact, it appears to be on the rise. Racism as we know is discrimination, pre-judgements or hostile behaviours directed at another person on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender or cultural background. Racism can come in many different forms, from harsh comments to offensive actions. In more extreme cases, racism occurs in public spaces and comes from strangers, and can escalate to violent hate crimes. Any form of racism is unacceptable, even a comment or an action that is subtle or occurs in a casual environment. It’s not on and we must end it now. Racism is more than just physical pain; racism robs people of colour of their humanity and dignity and leaves personal, psychological, and spiritual injuries.

Racism is traumatic because it is a loss of protection, safety, nurturance, and acceptance—all things children and people need to function in life. Standing up to racism isn’t easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Whether you're in school, college or the workplace, challenging accusations, assumptions and stereotypes is a good way of letting people know it’s not okay to be racist. Remember, sometimes people can unintentionally make comments that appear racist. Standing up to these comments can be a great way for people to learn about the negative impact they’re having. As long as I live, I will always champion the cause of those who experience hatred and bias because of their ethnic origins, skin colour or religious beliefs. In recent years, as right wing extremism has gained ground in our societies, we have become more aware of the overt threats to democratic principles and values. Yet, within our own societies and cultures there remain hidden prejudices and biases. Some such manifestations are often generated by poor communication, fear or ignorance and can result in public protest such as against the relocation of refugees or migrants in our own communities.

We cannot be a society that is true to the demands of a Christian way of life if we do not act justly, if we do not act to root out racism in the structures of our society.  I realise that the subject of race can be a very difficult one for all of us. Yet I am convinced that we must address it with honesty and courage. For it remains a significant and sinful reality in our midst. I am saddened to observe that racism remains a very real and powerful force among us. Despite our efforts to combat it, racism continues to mar our humanity as a deep wound in our midst. It is a destructive force to our personal lives, and to our society and I firmly believe that the struggle against racism must, first and foremost, be waged in the heart! I'm often intrigued that young children accept everyone for who they are, yet not all adults do - why is that?

Thought for the week

As your thought for the week, I ask you to join in this race for racial justice, to do our part, so that together we can create a new world. The society we live in is the result of human choices and decisions. "We", the members of humanity created racism and only "We" can defeat racism and that time has come. No longer can racism be tolerated or accepted, it needs to be stopped, and the people who have suffered because of it have the right to finally be free from its grasp. Racism has no place here, it has no place anywhere and until we stamp it out permanently, we will never truly be free. That means that humanity can change things. For what humanity breaks, divides and separates, we can—with God’s help—also heal, unite and restore. What is now, does not have to be. Therein lies our hope and our challenge.

Racism, bigotry, discrimination, sexism, inequality, anti-Semitism, anti-Christian, Islamophobia, xenophobia, should have no place in our society. So as another new week begins, may you be blessed and may others be blessed by you. 

May you be blessed with all things good. May racism be absent from your life and may beauty, order, real love and abundance be your constant companion. May every path you choose lead to that which is pure and good and caring. And when there is only darkness and storms closing in, may the light at the core of your being illuminate the world. May you always be aware you are loved beyond measure and may you be willing to love unconditionally in return. May you always feel protected and cradled in the arms of God, like the cherished child you are. And when you are tempted to judge, may you be reminded that we are all one and that every thought you think reverberates across the universe touching everyone and everything. And when you are tempted to hold back, may you remember that love flows best when it flows freely and it is in giving that we receive the greatest gift. And while we give thanks for the diversity of people— of cultures and ethnicities, of histories and life-stories, of skin colour and language and hearts that love the world;   the best way to give thanks is to disassemble the systems, the stories, the myths, that privilege of one colour over another— is to root out and unroot the insidious beliefs of those of us with privilege that “me and mine” are better than “you and yours.” It is time. It is well past time to End Racial Discrimination.  Let’s stand together to understand, confront and stop racism. God  of all creation, bless us all with what we need,   to take on this work, and live it. Today. Every day. Always. May it be. End racism now. Amen

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