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This week’s illustration

Breaking Down Barriers

There’s a story out of South Africa, from the last days of apartheid, about standing tall in spirit. Lindiwe Macozoma is a Christian. Like many black women of that country, she worked as a domestic in the homes of white South Africans. On her first day of work at a new job, her employer took her into the kitchen and gave her a little tour. She showed her the dishes and fine china for the family, and then she opened a cupboard way down below the sink and showed Lindiwe a set of old dishes, chipped and scratched from years of use. She said to her, “These are the dishes you are to use when you eat your meals.”

The next day, as she got ready to leave for work, Lindiwe took a place setting of the most beautiful china from her own house, wrapped it up and carried it to work with her. When she got to work, she set a place for herself at the kitchen table. Her new boss came down the stairs. As Lindiwe describes it:

I could feel her eyes right in my back. And she was so surprised, she asked where these beautiful dishes came from. And I told her they were from my house. I told her that in my community, we don’t eat off old, broken dishes. We buy the nicest things because we don’t have much money and things must last for a long time. Then, she told me that I did not have to bring my own dishes from home. I could use the dishes her family used.

A small victory, but a victory nonetheless. It is often in the tiny, incremental victories that the process of healing — the journey from a bent–over to a straight–and–tall existence — takes place.

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