Exploring the Empathy Gap

Thought on racism and the war in Ukraine

Hello friends,

There’s often a temptation to make ourselves feel better by thinking about how far we’ve come when it comes to racism. But the truth is that we’re mostly fooling ourselves. That’s because many of us still haven’t got to the point where we acknowledge the humanity and right to exist of Black and Brown people in ALL circumstances.

What’s happened in Ukraine is a case in point. There are a few things that trouble me about both the reporting and many of the social media posts on this issue. Before I start, let me make it clear that I am firmly AGAINST the Russian invasion of Ukraine and FOR supporting Ukrainians. I just wish we could see similar open-heartedness for asylum-seekers and refugees who look more like me. Here are some of the issues that bothered me.

That’s Racism, Folx

First, there were the stories of Black and Brown people being stopped from escaping at all or, if they were allowed to board trains, having to wait until “Ukrainians” had boarded first. Back of the bus, much? The people making those calls decided, consciously or unconsciously, that Black and Brown people couldn’t be Ukrainian.

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