I've been thinking about writing this post all week and putting it off because, well, I've been trying to get my thoughts straight, and I apologise in advance if I lose track along the way.
When people start a sentence with the words, 'I'm not a racist but ...' you know that what they're going to say will be racist. So I will say, 'I hope I'm not a racist but I fear there may be times when my thoughts and actions may not be considered entirely correct.'
I'm certainly not a racist in that I would never treat a person badly because of the colour of their skin, quite the opposite in fact. I'm more likely to be extra-nice to a black person to make sure they know I'm not racist - which is probably racism in itself.
Swansea is not very ethnically diverse: I know two black women, and that's probably more than I've known in most of my life. The Mumbles of my childhood was definitely very white, and I suppose I can blame my age, my upbringing, and the times I lived in for much of my attitude - but that's no excuse now for not bothering to find out, for saying things unthinkingly, even if not intended to cause offence.
The brutal killing of George Floyd by white policemen has highlighted the race issue again, with protests and riots happening all over the world, and, of course, it's a hot topic on social media. I have one of my FaceBook friends, Mimi Peizer Michalski, to thank for adding a missing part of my education.
I've discovered this week that seeing colour is not prejudice - I was concerned that I didn't see everyone in monochrome, as the same. And I've found out what white privilege means. It's not privilege in its usual sense of having money, power, or the right schooling or background. It's simply that as a white person I have absolutely no idea of the effect the colour of skin has. The daily jibes at best, injustices - and death - at worst.
I can't do anything about that but I can try to be more aware, to think of the words I'm using, to treat the subject less lightly. I had a conversation a while ago with Elder Son me saying things like, 'But surely it can't be bad to say blah blah?' and him pointing out the racial stereotyping I was going along with, even if I didn't mean it that way.
It is a minefield and I need to tread lightly. If Paul were writing today he might well have said, 'For there is no difference between black and white – the same Lord is Lord of all ...' (Romans 10:12)