The awakening

Fun that it’s, by those modern measures, the most appalling and racist place on the Earth that did this:

He retrained as a priest and was ordained in 1961 when he was 30. Recognising his talent, the principal of his theological college arranged for him to study further at King’s College London. His family followed and during four years in Britain he worked as a part-time curate, first in Golders Green and then in the village of Bletchingley, Surrey.

It was in Britain that he first began to realise the intrinsic evil of apartheid. Police officers were polite. White people did not take precedence in queues. He visited Lord’s, the Royal Albert Hall and the Travellers Club in Pall Mall. He lost the sense of inferiority most black South Africans felt in the presence of whites, but that made his family’s return to racially segregated South Africa in 1967 all the more jarring.

Being better than apartheid SA is no great prize. And yet something I do keep telling folk, however much they tend not to believe me. Sure Britain’s not perfect. But on the subject of racism it is very much less so than pretty much anywhere else and has been so for a long, long, time.

25 thoughts on “The awakening”

  1. We’ve been hearing anecdotal evidence of this for much of the past century, not least from visiting black Americans. And yet… As with the Owen Joneses of the world, equal rights, acceptance, will never be enough – because they believe (rightly or wrongly) that deep down we remain indifferent, that we don’t ‘love’ them nor seek out their company.

  2. Oddly, I have become far more racist progressively over the last half-century than I was as a youngster. Perhaps it is the change from white Irish or Hun nutters to light brown-ish Paki nutters who are most likely to blow you up, or the increasing chance of being mugged or stabbed by a darker brown curly-haired hoodlum that has caused it.

    The feelings are not helped by the swarm of brown and brown-ish faces that have taken over the TV, even in remote Yorkshire villages like Emmerdale, and the adverts. Bring back the Black and White Minstrels Show, where we actually liked the idea of black men singing and dancing with white girls …

  3. @Witchie, my suspicion glands are telling me that’s evidence of The Plan working well.

    Certainly, if somebody WANTED to undo a few successful decades of a move towards racial harmony and acceptance of cultural diversity then it’s difficult to see what would be done differently.

  4. A couple of years ago I attended the funeral of a lovely gentleman in our village. One of the eulogies revealed that his father had been the training incumbent in Golders Green where Tutu had served his curacy.

  5. It’s the cogniative dissonance of the media constantly shoving down your throat “this is what Britain looks like!!11!!!!2” where you look out of the window and observe reality and think “no it isn’t”, along with the ever increasing demands that “there must be *MOAR!!!!!* of us on TV!!11!!!!”

    Err……….. there’s already 30- to 40-fold more of you on TV than actually exists in reality outside the window.

  6. I didn’t think much of the archbishop, like most of them he seemed a lot more interested in playing politics than saving souls, but I hope he rests in peace.

    Re: television. Just walk away, that’s all you have to do. Just walk away, and there will be an end to the horror.

  7. There are odd lessons you pick up in life. When I was young I spent a summer as a labourer, oops laborer, in a factory in Noo Joisey. We had two foremen; one I thought of as The Confederate – his accent was from The South – and one local chap I thought of as The Greek, because that was his descent.

    A fellow labourer was a black man – a quiet, pleasant chap. The Confederate treated him with courtesy – perhaps a rather distant courtesy, but courtesy all the same. The Greek bullied him. The Greek also bullied the women – mainly of East European descent – who manned (as we used to say) the production line.

    This was not quite US race relations as recounted in the American and British media.

  8. China is so racist it’s comical. They’ll stop tourists who have blond hair or different skin color, and ask for a selfie as if they’ve just spotted a celebrity.

    Under Xi, foreigners are not allowed to buy their own bus passes. Even if they’re married to a Chinese native.

    And when it comes to anti-semitism, many Chinese parents encourage their daughters to marry Jewish guys, because they assume all Jews are finance bros. But they only accept white, American Jews. In fact, there’s a whole genre of self-help books over there about “how to make money the Jewish way.”

    So yeah, the West isn’t quite so bad.

  9. Though he did some good stuff with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (mainly avoiding retribution) he still promoted belief in a myth all his life.

  10. Theophrastus (2066)

    Diversity is a weakness – not a strength.
    So given we have many ‘diverse’ people, then integrate or go elsewhere.

  11. “White people did not take precedence in queues.”

    Queues and queue-jumping are funny matters. I was in Moscow in 1980 on business, and my Intourist guide tried to make me simply walk to the front of the queue to see Stalin. I declined, saying that I did not approve of such behaviour, and indeed (forgetting to moderate my language) told her that there’d be a revolution in London if it was tried on there. Unfortunately, the poor bloody woman misunderstood me, thinking that I’d predicted Red Revolution in London. (She later had a bloke beaten up and arrested for talking to me, but that’s another story). And if you wanted to see anti-black racism in action, Moscow would have been a good place to start.

    It’s also difficult to believe that in apartheid South Africa wipipo wanted anything that blakpipo were queuing for.

    @Witchie, +1.

    PS. I didn’t want to see the corpse, anyway. I wanted to get out of the cold and drink Crimean Chanmpanski. I wanted to buy the guide a new coat, because they cost her 3 month’s salary, but even then, only a half-day’s consultancy for me. Unfortunately, the GUM store was out of stock.

  12. Dennis: Oppressor, Warmonger, Capitalist and Consumer of Petroleum Products

    Did the Times also mention that Saint Desmond was quite the antisemite?

    Or isn’t that sort of thing considered news these days?

  13. @Dennis As a proper RC high-up in the RC church should be.

    Don’t forget that in the early days of christianity their biggest lethal enemies were the Jews.
    The Romans didn’t even bother with christianity until the movement became large enough to threaten the Pax Romana.
    The Jews had, and still have in the more fundamental flavours of Judaism, absolutely no tolerance for Apostates and Heretics. Their Holy Script ( and “our” OT..) is pretty specific at what should be done to those Not Of The Faith. And whenever they managed to be Top Dog for a bit they certainly did their best to put that into practice, with proper religious fervor and some zealous creativity.

    Of course, that’s not the bits you get taught in Sunday School, isn’t it?

  14. From now on, Universities are going to be stuck for a nickname for those whose degrees are better than a 3rd, but not as good as a 2:1 !

  15. One should always be a little wary of judging people based on their media image. I met and spoke to him on a few occasions during the 80s and 90s and on the basis of those conversations had an endearing affection for the man.

    He had a rather wicked sense of human and could not resist feeding the media something it could take out of context and report on. When he had his farewell as Bishop of Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Tennis Arena, he observed that the journalists seemed bored, a few comments about injustice and discrimination had them happily scribbling away. He was not perfect, as no one is, but on balance, he was a lovely, caring man. He spoke out against violence during the final years of Apartheid and was highly critical of ANC governments.

  16. Grikath – “For fear of the Jews” is mentioned three times in John, and the Talmud (uniquely among religious texts, so far as I know) contains very graphic and hateful descriptions of the scatological humiliations and torments the rabbis hope will be inflicted on Jesus and his mother for all eternity.

    Also, might be worth pointing out that there’s absolutely nothing in the Bible in general or anything Jesus said in particular condemning racism, or implying it’s a sin (because it isn’t one). Nor is apartheid a sin. Nor does the Bible endorse “majority rule”. So Padre Tutu’s main interests lay outside Christianity.

    Irregardless, the late archbishop was an Anglican.

  17. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    Stalin was taken off display and buried in 1961.

    “…wicked sense of human…”

    I’m stealing that.

  18. “I think “love your brother” is a pretty strong injunction against racism.”

    I suppose that you could interpret it that way. It depends how you define the word brother.

  19. Grikath said:
    “@Dennis As a proper RC high-up in the RC church should be.”

    Not sure I agree with your comment, but in any case it doesn’t apply to Tutu – he was an Anglican.

  20. I think “love your brother” is a pretty strong injunction against racism.

    What Stonyground said, but also what Jesus said and what Haddaway said. Who is doing the will of Jesus’ father in heaven and what is love? The answers may surprise you.

    Btw Jesus also described Caananites as “dogs”, which would probably be a hate crime today.

    NN – Jesus didn’t condemn slavery, either

    True, which is one of the reasons why I don’t give a shit about slavery.

  21. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

    Though Bishop Boris did his own translation from the Greek and came up with:

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a syringe.

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