The types of racism

‘The FA has apologised to two players after new evidence showed sacked England’s women’s boss Mark Sampson made remarks which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race”.

An independent barrister ruled Sampson made unacceptable “ill-judged attempts at humour” on two occasions, to Eniola Aluko and Drew Spence.

Katharine Newton said despite this, she did not believe he is racist.

There are three types of racists.

The first is your obvious racist. This is the guy who sees you’re not white and immediate starts calling you names and telling you to go back to your own country. These types of racists don’t care about where you actually come from, they just know you shouldn’t be here. There is no conversation about you can have with them which will change their mind. These racists know they are racist and want you to know as well.

The second is your ‘nice’ racists. These are the ones who say well-meaning things but are racist. They’re the ones who put their hands in your hair and say ‘oh your hair is so lovely, wow, it’s softer than I expected. Half-Caste people always have such pretty hair.’ They are the ones who may have some ill-judged attempts at jokes. However, they are ultimately well-meaning. So when you say to them, don’t touch my hair, it’s rude, also, don’t say ‘half-caste’ also, what you just said is a lil bit racist. They are horrified and modified their behaviour. Next time they say ‘half-caste, sorry! mixed race’ and they no longer touch people’s hair without explicit permission. These racists don’t mean to be racist and will try to be less racist.

Then there are the ‘hurt’ racists. At first, they seem like a ‘nice’ racist. They’ve said something a little bit racist, a little bit ‘ill-judged’ and you’ve responded in the way that you do to every ‘nice’ racist. And this is where you realise you have encountered a ‘hurt’ racist instead. This racist responds by being hurt that you have been offended by their racism. They react as if you have done something wrong by addressing their racism and they either become passive-aggressive or just aggressive. Their ‘jokes’ become more ill-judged and they ask you repeatedly if what they are saying is racist. At this point they know they are racist and they know they are being oppressive but they are hurt and you have hurt them. This isn’t racism as such, this is using racism to hurt someone they don’t like.

Mark Sampson was either racist or he was bullying.




When I was younger, maybe 13 or 14 years old. A group of missionaries came to the church I attended to lead youth groups and services and generally talk about their missionary work.

Some of the other girls in the group immediately fell in love with one of these missionaries. He was mid-20s, tall, I was reliably informed that he was good looking but I think the thing which set him apart most was that he was French.

You can tell I was not interested in this man, I can’t even remember his name.

However, I can remember Chris. Chris was short, probably early 30s and balding. He was Irish, which meant he had an accent to rival that of the French-one. However, Chris is who I remember.

Christ had this excellent testimony. He called himself Chris the Hippie and spoke about how on his conversion to Christianity he had cut off his long hair (I’m sure he was regretting that since he was now losing his hair). It was a dramatic testimony, one of life changes.

At the end of the week, they gave us all a book and while the other girls got their books signed by the French-one, I got Chris to sign mine.

There is a Christian musician called Paul Poulton who I was (and still am a little) obsessed with as a child. He had a song called ‘Strange People’. I am able to sing it almost word perfect even now.

This song is about a guy who is minding his own business when some strange people move into the house next door to him. They did weird things like dancing, hugging and saying ‘Hallelujah’. He assumed they were on drugs. One night, he follows them and finds they go to a church. They give him a bible and he reads it and becomes one of those peculiar people.

I used to go to church and listen to people give their testimonies. ‘I was born in difficult situations and then God found me’ or ‘I was raised in a Christian family and I went away from God as a teenager and I got involved with all the things that we’re told are good by the world -the drinking, the parties, the ‘relationships’ etc but then, at my lowest, like the prodigal son I returned!’

I heard Chris talk about his dramatic conversion, I listened to Strange People, I listened to the testimonies of others and I was glad. I thought look at all the miracles the God I serve is doing for all these other people. Look at the dramatic differences God is doing for others. The God who met Saul and turned him to Paul is still meeting people in the middle of their badness. The God who forgave Moses and David -murderers – and used them for excellence is still doing that with people who the world see as beyond redemption.

And I looked at these things God was doing for others and didn’t think that my story was so dramatic. I didn’t have a road to Damascus moment. There is no real point in my life that I can point to and say ‘there, that’s when I went off the rails’.

And that’s my miracle. That is the power of God at work in my life. I was called when I was young, I followed and God has kept me and provided for me. There have been difficult times, there have been setbacks, there has been joy and success. And God has remained faithful throughout it all.

The bible says that Jesus came to give us life, life in all its fullness. This is for everyone and this is dramatic and wonderful.

The numbers Labour did NOT want you to see on TV this morning – and why


This morning I had the privilege to be at the special conference for the announcement of the result of the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

As you will know by now, the result was emphatic, with Corbyn gaining a decisive 61.8% share (313,209/506,438/654,006) of the votes in spite of the efforts to weed out around 250,000 mostly Corbyn supporters by suspensions, expulsions and simply not sending them a ballot.

But there was a significant little passage of events that you will have missed. I was seated directly behind deputy leader Tom Watson and party General Secretary Iain McNicol, within easy touching distance (if I had wished:

wp_20160924_001Iain McNicol looking positively underwhelmed at Labour’s overwhelming democratic choice

As he prepared to read the results, NEC Chair Paddy Lillis said he would read out the overall result but would also show the results by voting constituency (full members, supporters…

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Child’s Talk

I had a conversation with a child recently. It started during a group conversation about favourite foods.
One of the children said: my family are becoming vegans actually.
And I said: awesome
(Because when talking to children it’s important to take an interest and to be enthusiastic about what they are sharing.)
Then I said: that means you won’t eat certain foods doesn’t it?
(Because when talking to children it’s important to be curious. To understand what that child understands.)
And the child said: yes, I won’t eat chicken or bacon
So I said: will you eat eggs or drink milk?
He shook his head. Then he said: did you know…
(Because children will continue a conversation once you have shown interest until they run out of things to say… Sometimes they will repeat the things they want to say because they just want to keep that conversation going. Sometimes you wonder if they are talking to you because you’re the first adult in a long time who has shown some sort of interest in what they are saying.)
He said: did you know that the eggs you get at a supermarket… You can hatch them into a chick.
And I said: no you can’t
(Because you can’t and it annoys me that people think they can. It also worries me that people base life choices on incorrect information.)
He said: yes you can. If you get a supermarket egg and crack it and put it in a warm place then it will become a chick.
I said: no you can’t
(Because that’s just not how eggs work.)
I said: if you get the right sort of eggs and keep it warm it might hatch but you don’t crack it and the eggs you get at the supermarket aren’t the right sort
And he said: that’s how you do it. Crack it and it will hatch. I’ve done it.
So why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because when you’re working with children they already know. Whatever it is, they already know and don’t need you to tell them. In fact they will need to teach you because you are old and don’t know anything.
I could have argued with that child for ages and never changed his mind. I would have needed to take him to meet some chickens. I would have needed to get some eggs and hatched them or watch them not hatch. Through experiment and experience that child would have learnt more about eggs than he could have wanted to know.
Maybe with diagrams and explanations about chicken reproduction (that I doubt his parents would have been happy about) I may have been able to explain why cracking supermarket eggs would not lead to the production of a chick.
Maybe a pokemon walk would have helped him to understand that pokemon stay in the egg until you walk them long enough for them to hatch and that’s the same with chickens….apart from the walking bit.
But this isn’t really about eggs. Google is your friend if you want to learn about eggs. Because learning, changing your mind about things, is about your experiences. If you have experience of one thing, if you have always believed something and it’s never failed you, why would someone else coming along telling you something different change your mind?

Call me

 The ability to see colours is socially defined. As children we are taught that the grass is green, that leaves are green, that frogs are green and so we learn that whatever colour we see grass, leaves and frogs is green. It is very likely that what I see when I see green is not the same as what others see when they see green.
When children draw pictures they will use the same colour for trees and grass and frogs because all of them are the same colour. All of them are the single colour green. However, that will not be true for all children in all cultures. Some children will be taught different words for different greens and they will know there is a green of a ripe apple and the green of an unripe banana. They won’t necessarily be the same colour.
The understanding of colour has changed. Blue is said to be the newest colour and an article I read this week suggested that before the word for blue was invented people probably didn’t see it. In Homer’s Odyssey, the sea is described as ‘Wine -dark’. And wine has never been described as blue. It is likely that blue and stormy waters reminded the author was red wine because it was dark. The article I read this week described an experiment where people from a tribe with no word for blue were showed squares of green and one square of blue and asked to pick out the different one – which they found difficult or impossible to do. However, when the blue was replaced with a slightly different shade of green they were able to pick it out whereas people from a western culture were more less likely to be able to differentiate between them.
There is a thought study about a child brought up in a black and white environment. What would she see when showed a rose? It is possible that she wouldn’t even understand the concept. Having no words for colours she may describe it as black, as dark in contrast to the white. There wouldn’t be any way of truly knowing what it was that she saw. Until someone told her it was red and then showed her other things that were red then she would have no idea that it was anything different.
People argue about colours often. I was recently involved in a discussion over the colour of someone’s bedroom walls. Was it cream? Yellow? Biscuit? Could it be described as all three? Six of us saw the same colour and six of us saw it differently.
If that is debate can be caused by something as simple as colour than how much more debate can there be over other things that we can call facts?
We may all see the same thing and we may all perceive it differently. Why? Is it all because of socialisation? Are the colour blind those who weren’t taught early enough to differentiate between colours? Is it genetic? Are there inherent differences which mean colours are seen differently or not seen as all?
What does that mean for faith? Are some people socialised to receive faith in someway? Are people genetically predisposed to be more accepting of faith? What about those people who grow up in a faith family but leave it when they are older? Wouldn’t they have the faith genetics and faith socialisation?
Do all within a faith see the faith in the same way? Do we all read the same texts and get the same meaning? When we say ‘amen’ are we all agreeing to the same thing?
Does faith mean conformity? Does divisions mean that God isn’t with one group? Is God big enough to cover fractions?

Star Trek, Faith and the EU

After freeing themselves from the Cardassian occupation, the Bajoran’s asked for support from the Federation so that they were able to rebuild their economy and move forward in their development. Although they had broken free by themselves they recognised that there was safety within a union of other societies. However, Bajor did not join the Federation. They applied, they were accepted but they delayed their joining because of the possible damage to their planet if they became an enemy of the Dominion. Instead, they remained neutral. This led to an occupation by the Dominion, except they called ‘allies’. For a planet who had just escaped occupation, they could see an occupation by another name was still an occupation.
They refused to join the Federation because they didn’t want to lose their identity but they ended up losing it without a choice.
For years, there has been talk about ‘Britishness’ and ‘British Values’. There is concern that too many people who live here do not conform to what it means to be British. There is a fear that Britishness could be lost. That there are too many of thems coming over here and destroying this way of life which we love.
I’ll be honest, I still haven’t fully worked out what British Values are….apart from queuing and tea….and we don’t grow tea here. Maybe British Values are the ones that led us to defend other countries against inequalities which led us to war. Maybe British Values are the greed which led us to swap people for sugar. What would I prefer?
But my identity isn’t rooted in the country I was born in. It is rooted in kingdom I was born again into. My identity is rooted in the ideas of defending the weak and the poor, of setting captives free, of going to all peoples and declaring good news of a God who saves. My identity is about a world where all are equal, all are priests of the Most High God.
My identity is in being called to put my neighbour first. So who is my neighbour and how they can best be helped?
My neighbours include those in the UK who suffer at the hands of austerity. They also include those in other countries. Those who my British grandfather’s went to war to protect. My neighbours include those who enter Europe daily, leaving the countries they love because they have been destroyed by wars. My neighbours include all of those in need. And I don’t think that isolating myself away from their problems is the best way to react to their problems. It may be easier for me. It might be best for me. But is it best for my neighbour?

Trans Feminism

There has been a lot of discussion about the place of trans people in feminism and in some ways I can understand it. Cis women experience discrimination because society identifies them as women while trans women experience discrimination because society refuses to identify them as women. On the face of this it seems like two very opposite forms of discrimination. How can one group support people who are experiencing such opposites of discrimination?
However, in many ways both forms of discrimination are a response to the question what is a woman. When a trans woman is asked to live ‘as a woman’ can she work in construction or science? Can she wear trousers? Must she wear make-up?
Women’s bodies and women’s roles are under constant scrutiny. When boys are looking up girl’s skirts at a school in Milton Keynes, it is the girls who are sent home to change into more appropriate clothes. When women are fully covered they are being oppressed. When women wear make up they are lying to men. When women don’t wear make up they have let themselves go.
In my view, the actual discrimination faced by both cis and trans women is that neither are living up to societal standards of what a woman should be. When trans women are told that they are not female enough, cis women need to be challenging the notion of ‘female enough’ because it applies to them as well. Feminism needs the voice of trans women to remind us of how far we have to go. To remind us where the challenges remain. To remind us that femaleness is still being judged on the clothes being worn, on the jobs being held and on reproductive ability.