As a white Afrikaner woman growing up in South Africa during apartheid, Idelette McVicker was steeped in a community and a church that reinforced white supremacy and shielded her from seeing her neighbours’ oppression.
"I was born on the white side of the hospital by law," said Idelette. "For the first 16 years of my life, that was what really held my life, this separateness. Only white neighbours, only white students and only white friends in school. When you went to church on a Sunday, when I'd walk down the aisle, there were only white people. For the first 16 years of my life, that was the context."
However, a series of circumstances led her to begin questioning everything she thought was true about her identity, her country, and her faith.
"At 16 years old, I read a book that had recently been unbanned," said McVicker. "I started reading this book and it talked about the friendship between a white man and a Black man, and in a way that I hadn't heard about in apartheid because, until that time, there was only one side of the story, only one-way things were told."
She says that shattered her idea of who she was and what it meant to be human in this world. Over the next thirty years, Idelette travelled across three continents to shatter the lies of white supremacy embedded deep within her soul.
"When I stood in a ballroom in Taipei with diplomats and people who understood what was happening in the world, and I was there as an Afrikaner woman, I realized that I had not been on the right side of history. I was on the wrong side of history, and even though I was a good person and I hadn't necessarily done any personal individual acts of racism, I grew up in this context, and that was my racism too, and I needed to take responsibility for that."
Idelette said it was at that moment that she felt deeply ashamed, but she also knew God was walking alongside her on this journey.
"Jesus invited me into this abundant life, and I wasn't meant to stay in that shame," said Idelette. "There was this beautiful invitation to abundance and this deep invitation to look at the ugliness that I have been a part of."
Idelette is now sharing her story in a book, Recovering Racists: Dismantling White Supremacy and Reclaiming Our Humanity.
This book invites readers on the long, slow journey of healing the past, making things right, changing old stories, and becoming human together.
"It is for those of us who have hit rock bottom in the human story of race," said McVicker. "We must acknowledge our internalized racism, repent of our complicity, and learn new ways of being human."
Today on Connections, Idelette shares how her life has changed and how she intends to help others make things right as well.