On the second day of our our conference I interviewed Lawrence Oduro-Sarpong. We talked about slavery and white people's reasons for racism.
Lawrence Oduro-Sarpong is a freelance Trainer, Coach, Mediator, Supervisor and Process Moderator who works in the fields of Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Intersectionality, Post Colonial studies, Critical whiteness and Empowerment.
Lawrence delivered a workshop on the past and present of racism against black people and enslavement with regard to colonial mindsets and behavioral patterns amongst the citizens of the world today.
Why do you think it is important to talk about slavery today?
It is important to talk about slavery today because people are being enslaved not in the same way as it happened 400 hundreds years ago. Today people are being enslaved in different forms. Every form of slavery is inhumane and should not be accepted. I don´t see why we should not talk about slavery in 2019 if ít is still happening.There is a direct connection with what happened then and now. I have a problem with the word “slavery” itself because the issue is not slavery. It is enslavement. Every human being is born free and someone comes and takes their birthright and enslaves them, makes them feel less worthy. That is enslavement. Slavery sounds like a mobile state of being. If you talk about slavery, you can talk about slave trade. That is the worst thing. For example, You can talk about trade in arms, in tomatoes and in digital appliances. These are goods that are sold. If you say ‘slave trade’, you make slaves objects in doing so you make them passive. Enslaving people is not proactive. That’s ́why I choose to talk about enslavement and trade in enslaved Africans. That is clear that somebody took their rights and sold them.
How can we make subconscious people conscious?
The problem is that white people who profit from racism have a problem with being white. Of course, in their subconscious mind they know that they have been the benefactors from this racist system for four hundred years. If you talk about racism you have to give up some power and privileges. That is why white people will often change the topic and make themselves a victim so you don't have to talk about the fact that they benefit from racism. So black people, other people who have been affected by racism, talk about this all the time because they are alive. But the problem is that benefactors, the white people, have a problem with accepting that. They always counter that. If they stop countering, they will be very decent and sincere. We will have overcome racism.
What is the benefit of having a confrontational discussion like we had during the keynote over the statements about black people and racism?
There the subconscious mind came to the conscious mind. People were really charged. I have just read statements. I said you should position yourselves by thinking about it and hearing each other’s opinions. I only asked them to explain what they meant but people were so charged. All those things were there before I came here. I only did the means to trigger them. As long as they are not triggered and we do not talk about it we cannot have peace on this planet.
You talked about having a problem regarding your skin colour while travelling even though you have a German passport. We all know that many things have been done in Europe and other countries regarding anti-racism. What is the reason of still having racism against black people?
This is the system. Racism is what an individual chooses to do. White people that I know they have no intention to discriminate against me in any way. They actually love me and want me to progress in life. The only problem is that they do not know what is in their hard drive in terms of images communicated to them from their childhood. They have images of me as a black person that they do not consciously see but exist. So even though we are friends in some moments these images come up, because this is not conscious and they don't notice their actions and that they are being influenced by those images. But I see it and I am affected by it. The problem is that if I mention it, they think I am being mean to them. I am not saying they are bad people but they are not conscious of it. That is my job to make them conscious. If they become conscious they will stop denying it and stop becoming thankful for it. They will understand that me telling this itself is an act of kindness. If I dont tell it, they would never come out of their racist upbringing. That's why I talk about this and point things out. I am not doing it with any anger. I know that what I am doing and I know that if I do that it will be agitated and charged and I am ready for that.
What are the reasons of being racist against black people?
There are many reasons. I will talk about the reasons that are not being discussed. There are two things we don't talk about. White people make 10% of the world's population which makes them a numerical minority which can be scary. Other people make 90%. It is not a nice place to be in. The second one is worse than numerical, in fact that it is genetical. In terms of reproduction, white people could not reproduce themselves to anybody in any member of the human family. If they make kids with anybody else, the kids probably won’t be white. And then the child be not be seen as german or italian or spanisch. It will be seen as non-white. White people are losing again. When they mix with other people, the kids that come are not white but everybody else. It is another place which is not to be comfortable. You are genetically subdued. In numbers you are little and in genetics you are subdued, that is a problem. I think these are the two things that nobody talks about and we should start looking at it. This explains the fear why people think they should control everybody and oppress everybody to have a standard. As they are less in numbers and genetically subdued.
now interested in critical whiteness