Am I racist? (The reason I ask the question is Trump’s fault.)

kindred

story-hour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the surface, I don’t think so. I grew up on an isolated farm. The first time I saw a black man was the porter on the train. I remember my little sister saying, “Mom, that man forgot to wash his face.”

I didn’t see another black person until moved to the city and I met the one boy in my junior high school who was a black from the US. I wasn’t a friend of his so I don’t know what prejudice he faced, but I do know he was a member of the “in group.”

Then I went to Mali as a CUSO volunteer. We were a group of twenty Canadians in the capital, Bamako. The neighborhood children ran up to touch us and then looked at their hands to see if the white came off. We often felt the gentle touch of a hand on our hair as we worked with our high school students. We were taken to the front of the line to see the doctor, not because we were white, but because we were respected for having left the safety of our homes to come to work in Mali.

In these limited experiences, I felt no racism except perhaps a reverse one in Mali that worked in my favor.

Recently, I read two novels with an African American female as the protagonist. As I read, I was jolted each time something in the story reminded me of her color. Obviously, I was subconsciously seeing her in mind as white like me.

Why?

  1. Because, as a reader we all tend to identify with the hero or heroine and automatically see them as we see ourselves?
  2. Because, color isn’t an issue for me and I wasn’t consciously thinking of that as I read?
  3. Because I am racist and I couldn’t possibly see the heroine as a woman of color?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that a year or two ago these questions likely wouldn’t have entered my head. I’d have read the story, pondered what I liked about it, what I’d learned from it, likely recommended the book to friends, and then picked up the next on my “to read” list.

What changed?

Trump came on the scene and the media coverage that allowed him to build and grow his attacks on decency obviously impacted my mindset. Even though I’m not American and can’t vote in the election, I’m seeing much too much of him in the media here in Canada and on Facebook. His statements are abhorrent. I feel sick watching him, yet I’m obsessed and can’t turn the computer off.

I cringe when I see the picture of black manikins hanging in trees as Halloween “decorations.” I cry when I see African Americans attacked at his rallies. I fume when I see him stalk Hillary at the debates. And, I am enraged when I learn of his sexual attacks on so many women. His abuses of his position and his power are staggering—almost beyond belief.

The more I watch and read, the more afraid I am of his virulent actions and the actions of some of his followers. How far will this go? I pray he loses the election, but even then, I expect we’ll see an ugly, violent backlash.

Does any of this answer my original question? Am I racist? I don’t think so. What I do know is that somewhere in all of this mess, we all need to find ways to move to genuine goodwill in our treatment of others.

 

Advertisements

8 comments on “Am I racist? (The reason I ask the question is Trump’s fault.)

  1. Living on the prairies, we didn´t see many black people either but I read books that featured black folks and decided at a very young age to treat all people the same. My prejudices are against evil people of any colour or race. Donald Trump falls in that category. Let´s all pray the good folks of the US do not elect him.

  2. I think we’re all nervous for Tuesday and the election results. I had a very limited number of books when I was little on the farm. One that I loved was Little Black Sambo. I had no idea it was racist, I just loved how he outsmarted the tigers.

  3. The day has arrived, and I find I can’t focus. I’ll leave for the polls to cast my vote along with my husband in a few hours. And then I will come home and pray. I’ve never felt this way about the outcome of any election before. I simply don’t know what I’ll do if someone other than Hillary is elected to the highest office in my country. It’s an office that was held by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, Barrack Obama–all men of character and a deep love of their country–men who put the country and its Constitution above themselves. Pray for us all.

    • Here in Canada, we are all scared and nervous. I feel so bad for Hillary. She has worked so hard for so many years, and whatever her flaws, she didn’t deserve this campaign farce.

      • I’ve been crying and emotionally a mess since the results came in. I have to convince myself that there’s a reason for this ridiculous charade, but I’m not there yet. Can’t listen to the news or hear his voice. It will be a long four years.

  4. P.C. I went to my granddaughter’s school this morning for their Remembrance Day ceremony. The principal told me that all the students are scared and can’t stop talking about the election — a reflection of the conversations going on in their homes here in Canada. THEN One man whipped a populace into a frenzy and we got WWII. NOW One man whipped a populace into a frenzy and we’ll get ____?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s