Sensitive

You’re such a sensitive girl, he tells me, as I recount yet another radio programme that I have listened to that has moved me. But it’s not about me, I want to say, and sometimes do, it’s about those whose lives have been shared with me, and what they have had to endure, such as the woman yesterday, that child of a liaison between a married white British woman and a black GI during the Second World War. Her tale was harrowing from her ‘father’s’ (he thought she was his till her skin changed colour) and then her mother’s rejection of her, the children’s home, her adoptive parents and, what I found most shocking, the blatant racism she encountered from one particular primary school teacher. She would be just a little older than he is and yet her voice still breaks when she recounts it. Such cruelty. Why did we do it, still do, this abusing of those who appear different to us?

We’ve been watching Sanditon and this too is attempting to ‘deal’ with racism, namely the slave trade that made so many of the British landowners wealthy. Otis, the lover of Miss Lambe, talks to Charlotte of the man who gave him his ‘freedom’ and an education. And of course, there is Miss Lambe herself, the daughter of a black female slave and a white plantation owner in Antigua. It is only her 100 thousand pounds that makes her acceptable in white society. Though when she is apart from those who know her wealth, as she was when she tried to get a coach to London, she is seen as just a mulatto.

We spend too long concentrating on our seeming ‘differences’ and not enough on that which binds us, joins and entwines us. Give us grace to learn this, and just be kind. It is enough.