The Rev. Dr. Han van den Blink
St. Paul’s Church, Troy
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who assault me,
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
Looking back at my time in Indonesia the frightening experience of being discriminated against and threatened with harm, as happened to me a number of times, only because I was unmistakably a Dutch kid, a young orang belanda (white guy), makes it easy for me to identify with those who are discriminated against.
Even though my personal experience with racial discrimination was relatively brief, the horror of what it is like to have to live and survive in a racist society needed, and still needs, no explanation. It is also the reason that the behavior of those in power who refuse to do something about racism so quickly triggers a deep anger in me.
Many years later during the civil rights struggle in the 1960s in which I played a small part when my wife, children and I lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, and later during my time as a psychologist when I got to know a number of abused women who came to me for therapy, it helped me to remember, from my experience of being imprisoned on Java, what I have come to call “the four markers of oppression”.
These are, first of all, that your name is taken away and that you are identified by a label, a pejorative appellation, or a number (mine was 18438). Secondly, your personal, familial, ethnic, religious or national history is denied or erased (education is either limited or strictly forbidden). Thirdly, you are not allowed to gather in groups (thereby being deprived of community support and the opportunity to rally strength through fellowship). And finally, your freedom of movement is made difficult or impossible (you are not allowed to go and come as you will).