I am not a racist. I don’t alter the way that I treat someone based on their ethnicity. Growing up on the prairies of Canada, I was not exposed to many people of other colours so perhaps that accounts for the reason I don’t see colour. I had little experience with different ethnicities, good or bad, so when I moved away from the prairies I was open to those relationships.
It has never been my intention to offend someone based on the colour of their skin. I have been offended by people who do cruel and unkind things, be they any colour. And I have been treated differently, in a negative way, because of the colour of my skin or the way I look and for what I believe.
I have had complete strangers come up to touch myself or my children because of the very blonde hair, like we were an exhibit in the zoo. I have had people physically and verbally attack me because of my religious beliefs and because of my stand on things. I have been threatened in a store that I was shopping in, where I was the only white person. I have been denied service and left to the very last to be served even though I was at the front of the line. I was again, the only white person. I am sure the people who did those things based on my skin colour did so because they assumed I was racist and they were “giving back” what they felt they had been given. But I was not threatening to them, did not know them, had never done anything to offend “their people.”
When I talked about it, the advice I was given? Keep your head down, do not look at them. If I looked at them I could be considered as being “rude,” and “confronting.” But if I didn’t look at them I WAS being rude. I failed miserably . . . I can’t not see people.
I am tired of all the stupidity regarding this.
My grandfather came to Canada from Sweden. I am not Swedish Canadian. I am Canadian. I have no knowledge of what Sweden is like. I have never been there. I have seen pictures, seen it in movies. I have met relatives from there. I know some of the traditions that my grandfather continued. I have eaten some of the food – most of which I am not terribly fond of. I would never claim an allegiance to Sweden to purport to speak for them or represent them in any way. Whatever the struggles they have had as a people are not mine. I was born in Canada. I led a life of privilege with Canadian struggles that are not even representative of ALL of Canada, but that might be similar to other kids, whose religious, wealthy, grandparents raised them, on a dairy farm on the prairies of Alberta.
I have never taken it upon myself to speak for that group, of which I could be considered a part of. If someone in that group was accused of a crime, I would not feel the need to speak to it as if I had some special understanding of their guilt or innocence. I would not think I could speak to the circumstances of anything about their lives really. “My people,” picking from all the groups you could assign me to, have good and bad people that operate in all kinds of life’s arenas. There is no huge paintbrush to colour them in one solid anything. “My people,” are not always right. They are not always the victims; they are not always innocent.
I have never spoken up for any white person who has been accused of a crime just because they share my skin colour. I have not done it even when I have been aware of people who were falsely accused or killed. I have, however spoken up for people I know, situations I know, issues that are important to me …. but never based on race.
We are so hogtied with political correctness that we never seem to get to the heart of the issue of anything anymore. EVRYTHING gets swallowed up in accusations of racism or freedoms. Years ago I wrote an article where I said that individual rights have to comply also with the greater good and survival of the whole. If each of us are so busy claiming and fighting for our own individual rights, there is no other outcome except for us to all be at war with each other. My completely self serving rights are eventually going to infringe on yours. I may not want to stop at a traffic light because I have an important meeting to go to and so I drive on through, not caring that by so doing I could possibly take away from several other people’s rights. Others might need to be somewhere as well. Other people may want to live or to live free from any physical disability caused by my choice. There is NO way for human beings to survive if we approach life that way. It is only when we each take it upon ourselves to recognize and uphold the rights of everyone else, with everyone else doing the same, that the right of the individual are protected.
What we see today is the isolation of every group and of individual trying desperately to hold on to their rights, in acts of war against one another. The police and the racial targeting is a perfect example. No officer should ever racially target anyone. If people are killed or mistreated because of their race, THAT has to stop. But we don’t stop it by completely trashing all police officers.
I am not allowed to call an African American “black” or “negro.” And yet I am constantly referred to as “white” or “caucasian,” both terms that correlate with the first two. Why is it ok for me to be referred to with those two type of terms ? Why is offensive for me to use the terms when I describe them? African Americans call each other “nigger” but I am not allowed to use it because I am not African American. When you have a set of rules imposed against a group because of their colour – isn’t that racism? Only in this case the “white” person would be the victim. If I said that there was a term that African Americans were not allowed to use, I would be in real trouble.
Here in Australia, Aboriginals are Black. New Zealand has the famous “All Blacks.” There are other races that are considered “Black.” They are not Americans. “African American” is not an effective term. Most African Americans who reside in the USA are generations removed from anyone living in Africa. They are Americans. Isn’t that the point? Do we need to have separate terms? We don’t feel the need to identify a”white” person we are referring to by defining them as red-heads, blondes or brunettes, so do we have to refer to human beings as black, white or brown, etc??
As a Canadian I am frequently referred to as a “Canuck.” Americans are often called, “Yanks.” Australians are “Aussie’s.” We call each other that, we laugh about it, we embrace it . . . . I always thought of it as kind of an affectionate way of referring to one another like when your family gives you a nickname. I considered it to be a good thing, a sign of friendship. Almost every country in the world has a shortened version of their name. But if you call someone from Pakistan a “Paki,” suddenly you are being racist. How does that work?
My point is none of the names we choose make sense to use and none of the ones we do not allow make much sense not to allow. My point is we all come from different parts of the world with different experiences and I can’t possibly know or understand your struggles anymore than you can understand or know mine. You can’t expect me to, and I am not going to have you make them mine. I am not going to live my life holding everyone’s else’s struggles, sensitivities and insecurities up like a light standard to forever control my life. I am not throwing offense or racism all over the place. If you happened to find some, then IT IS NOT MINE!. It belongs to someone else.
Expecting everyone else in the world to think and act exactly like you do is arrogant. I am not “African American” so I cannot understand what their life is like, but guess what? I am not American either. The race problems in the USA are part of their history but I am willing to bet that many of the people who preach about how they are offended that I don’t live as if “slavery” was part of my history, don’t know much about the plight of the Japanese in Canada? Or the forced institutionalization of our First Nations people? What do you know of the French-English struggle in Canada? Not much? I wouldn’t expect you to.
When land has been destroyed, has been used for garbage or perhaps a house exists where people were murdered or tortured, we most often respond by removing the house, tilling the land under and building a garden, a new house, or a memorial. We “cut out” the visual reminder and replace it with one that is healthy and beautiful, one that aids in the healing. The twin towers in New York City are a perfect example. Why can’t we do that with this situation instead of staying fixated on the stinking mass of garbage that has been dumped, the building that housed mad men, the instruments of torture and the bodies of the dead?
There is no healing if we are forever going to stand around and look at the wound, picking at it, never letting it heal. Move forward. We are all human beings, period. We choose to live in love and peace. Perhaps if we start from that premise, believing in our goodness instead of seeing negative intentions everywhere, we can begin to heal.
(I found this video today, a couple of weeks after I wrote this blog post. It covers a broader scope and talks about swearing, PC talk, etc but it is pretty much the same sentiment)