The Reconciliation of Peoples in Black and White

By Florence Millioud Henriques
Le Temps Plus

(this is an English translation of a French article, click here for the original article)


Caux: Integration, the topic of the day, is being discussed from the perspective of reconciliation.

One is black, the other is white…  So what?  This is no doubt what they would like to hear.  But, in day to day life, the reality is different.

Beyond the symbol, the Afro American David Wiley Campt and the white American Cricket White do the rounds to validate their model of dialogue between races, based on listening and trust.  A model they have come to present in Caux during a week of thinking on Tools for Change.

-“In Switzerland, we talk a lot about integration.  You work on reconciliation; is this the next step?”

-David Wiley Campt When you think of the USA and Europe, population trajectories are not comparable.  The Old Continent having gone through severe troubles whereas the New World, people have lived side by side while remaining emotionally detached.

This being said, integration, assimilation or reconciliation, the terminology is unimportant.  It’s moving from one to the other that is important.  Starting with everyone in their corner, then integration and finally reconciliation as the final goal.  With the difference that aiming from the beginning towards the end goal allows us to see the previous steps with a larger perspective.

-“Thus being prepared to answer the challenge of the 21st century:  integration?”

-Cricket White On top of which causes of emigration must be looked at from various angles; global warming, water scarcity and who knows what else.

-David There have always been migrations, but, whereas in the past, we spoke of small groups, it is no longer improbable to speak of entire nations.  Without forgetting about voluntary migrations.  Society is going to have to cope with these challenges of the 21st and possibly 22nd century.

-“The authorities often talk about integration, but what should they actually do?”

-Cricket Political figures come and go and laws don’t really achieve anything.  In my opinion, it is better to build integration on a network of women and men who start by speaking to each other, then, following that experience, spread the word that it is possible.  This being said, governments should be more attentive to the challenge of ‘reconciliation’.

-David I think that as a neutral country, Switzerland has its part to play.  In the same way that Switzerland has done this since the birth of international institutions.  Switzerland must serve as a model of integration.

-“In small countries, there are small problems. Despite this, when one talks of immigration in Switzerland, its small size works against it.”

-David Perhaps calculating the actual percentage of foreigners to Swiss in the country would give a sense of perspective.  That is what happened in the USA.  When randomly polling, the answers you get are up to 70% whites.  The reality is different: 30% white and 70% black. It would not surprise me that the same reversal of proportions would happen in your country.

-Cricket With the actual percentage known, an awareness develops almost subliminally, with, at its core, a return of confidence.  The fear of losing quality of life because another comes to live fades.  The other is already here and a brief look back shows that nothing has changed.

-David It comes back to the well-known example of the person who says they don’t like Whites or Blacks, but are capable of appreciating an individual who is Black or White.  I have also been told “I don’t really see you as Black.”  The whole basis for the work is there:  to make the appreciation for an individual the appreciation for a group.