Tuesday, March 10, 2009


In his gripping collection of sermons entitled The Finger of God, South African Dutch Reformed Church cleric and anti-apartheid activist Rev. Allan Boesak offers the following admonition:

Neutrality is the most reprehensible partiality there is. It means choosing for those in power, choosing for injustice, without taking responsibility for it. (p.29)

This insight resonates with my work on whiteness and the need for white individuals to re-claim both their privilege and distinct cultural heritage - to take, or more accurately embody, a space on the racial spectrum, as opposed to hovering above it or rendering themselves invisible to it. At the same time, Boesak speaks to a much larger experience of self-distancing: the desire to remove the self from partisanship, from conflict, from discord. If we don't stand up, who will? 'Those in power,' presumably. And so on issues of LGBTQ rights, American imperialism, capitalist socio-economic stratification, to name but a few, we must learn to feel Boesak's contempt towards neutrality. We must get angry.

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