Friday, June 27, 2008

Wednesday I volunteered at a refugee center in Taksim. Atatürk is famous for coining the phrase "happy is he who can say he is a Türk." The converse is that it really sucks if you are not Turkish- especially for Ghanaian, Sudanese, and Sri Lankan refugees who illegally immigrated to Istanbul. However, despite living in poverty and facing prejudice everyday, the refugee children I played with were full of joy and appreciation for what little they did have. Spending the day with them was both a joyful and heart breaking experience.

Sadly, racism extends to indigenous minorities as well, as I discovered playing Tavla with a new Kurdish friend. His people represent over 25 percent of the population of Turkey, yet relations are comparable to pre-civil rights conditions in the American South.

In my limited experience, racism is a cultural transcendent, meaning that it is present in every country amongst every ethnic group. The Bible explains the cause of such evils to be human depravity- the image of God shattered and corrupted. While human and civil right movements may alleviated the consequences of racism to varying degrees, I believe true peace and reconciliation is only possible through Jesus' death and Resurrection.

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