3 Hurdles to Reconciliation – Stereotypes

In this week’s series of posts, I want to oversimplify and highly complex reality in South Africa.  This series stems from some of my coaching conversations and experiences with various people from the University and inner-city of Pretoria.  I hope it messes you up and creates some confusion for you as it has for me.  I think God might want to teach us all how we’ve overlooked some things in our lives.

One of my coachees gave me a list of three hurdles he thought needed to be understood if reconciliation would ever be possible.  The first was in the area of stereotypes.  He explained how intrinsically, whenever someone approaches you for anything, you immediately make preconceived judgements about how you respond.  He’s right.  It’s a function of our brains I think.  Someone approaches me, I filter through questions about how they might respond, how I need to communicate, and if I think that person is intelligent or not.

Play this out: a 3 year old and a 16 year old each want the same thing.  Do you respond the same?  Never!  We do this with people of different races though too.

This isn’t always bad.  Sometimes I communicate to a black person in a certain way because I want them to understand me (language is the second hurdle we have to look at). I think the point of understanding stereotypes is more that we’re honest that we do this.  If we avoid stating this, if we ignore that in every situation there is both power and love that could be present, then we hurt the process of entering into honest relationships.


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