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  • Writer's pictureDr Shungu Hilda M’gadzah


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Whilst I’m not political And I certainly do not follow the politics in Northern Ireland, I found this interview with Naomi Long on #BBC very interesting.

Some may say that the Six Stages Framework offers us that choice/challenge of where we position our selves and how we respond and behave in the face of racism.

Naomi Long, Leader of the Alliance party speaking about how her teacher had bravely voiced her views about politics in Northern Ireland described the following: I went home and I told my dad what my teacher said and he said tell your teacher if you stand in the middle of the road you get knocked down. I went and told my teacher and she said tell your father it’s much better to be in the middle of the road then in the gutter.

She went on to say that the opportunities we have pulling together are much more powerful than the opportunities we have divided apart.

When asked how do you tolerate those who are dishing out abuse she explained how someone shortly after her father-in-law had died and she was on the campaign trail, had commented on how awful her hair looked during this time of turmoil and grief. She explained that a lot of the time you have to put yourself in the shoes of the people who are dishing out the abuse and imagine how sad and empty their lives maybe and remind yourself that your life is neither.

Whilst I think she’s right my view is that we need to view the lives and experiences of those dishing out the abuse not as “sad and empty” but just to recognise what has impacted and helped form where they are in their perspectives and journeys. That’s not to condone the actions or behaviours but just to recognise the influences there have been on their perspectives and behaviours.

We live in a complex world and complex societies and communities. We need to work at #BuildingBridgesOfEmpathy and avoid dishing out blame whenever we can.

This is by no means easy but it is something we all need to work at whether we’re talking about Northern Ireland or other parts of the world or racism and discriminations in general.

So I ask you, do you choose to be in the middle of the road or in the gutter when conversations around race are being had or when someone speaks up about the experiences of racism as described below by Jeena Cho, JD ?

Do you rush to judge others based on their appearances without knowing what’s going on in their lives?

I recently had a male “friend” who lives and works in Dubai comment on my hair and appearance and say to me that if I was to be a role model I needed to get my hair done.

Whilst I totally understand the sentiment (as sometimes I look at my hair and wish I could maintain it) we should not rush to judge others without knowing what’s going on in their lives.

So what do you choose? (Staying silent is a choice).

See my previous post below and response to a post on Linkedin about staying silent when people talk about racism.

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