25 June 2020, The Tablet

Why racism diminishes us all


Why racism diminishes us all


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An African novelist finds the parables of Jesus can help us understand the rage that is driving so many across the world to protest against racism

We’re living through one of history’s charged moments, whose nodes of intensity have been the coronavirus pandemic and the upswelling of global support for the Black Lives Matter movement after the gruesome public killing of George Floyd in police custody in the United States, writes Mphuthumi Ntabeni (inset).

Some point out that racism is a complex reality with a complicated history; that overt racism is declining; that it affects some ethnic minority groups more than others; and that it often overlaps with social class disadvantage. So this is no time for people (black people in particular) to be loudly investing in their grievances. They tell us (imagining, perhaps, that we might not know): “All lives matter.”

I do not want to deny that racism is complicated. But I am reminded of the parable of the woman in Luke’s Gospel: “What woman having 10 silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

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