From Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 1 (with minor adjustment for topicality):
“I am a Man of Colour. Hath not a Man of Colour eyes? Hath not a Man of Colour hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a White Man is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”
“And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that….”
“If a White Man wrong a Man of Colour, what should his sufferance be by White Man’s example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute…”
We have not deserved the forbearance of our Brothers and Sisters of Colour. Despite our example of centuries of oppression, torture, rape, slavery and theft, they have not returned to us our just deserts. Our arrogant, stiff-necked Christianity has not shown them the example of loving kindness towards our fellow men they have deserved of us, despite our cramming it down the necks of people we have oppressed. What they ask is not mercy, but justice. Mercy is shown by the strong to the weak. Justice is for equals.
I ask forgiveness for my assumptions, my arrogance, my ignorance, my unintended blindness to the suffering of my fellow man. I don’t feel prejudice against any colour and I try not to make assumptions; we are all the same under the skin, but I am ashamed because I have not seen, I have not called out and I have not fought for your rights – because they are just as important as mine…
I am a privileged white woman, and I am sorry for it.