A taste of FAITH, a touch of LAUGHTER.
Racism is rearing it’s ugly head everywhere right now it seems, and is creating havoc in the U.S. I think the fact is that it is being used as a vehicle for other kinds of political hatred, but that is not the point of this post.
I see racism coming to a head here in Canada also. It’s easy to see that what happens in the States, with the help and accessibility of mainstream news and social media, flows over into and influences this country, despite our many differences. That is not really the point of this post either.
The topic of racism raises many different feelings and thoughts for me and I believe it is time to try to address that within myself. Not an easy task. However, it is no doubt useful and good for me to try to do this as honestly as I can. The following is some background information about my life.
I was born in 1949 in Scotland. I grew up living in and aware of a class system that excluded me from some opportunities but also provided me with some benefits. I was granted school lunches and college tuition amongst other things. I was almost denied a high school education, except that my Dad fought for it for me and succeeded. I was denied learning Latin at High School (I wanted to be a doctor/surgeon and was highly interested in languages) but I could be free to do Art, Home Economics and Needlework, and I could possibly become a teacher…..which I did.
My Dad was a working class man, a Labour Party man, a prejudiced man in a variety of ways. He divided people into rich/poor, black/white, and used derogatory terms such as Chink/Jap/Wop to describe other races. He was very vocal in his prejudice. He treated it all as a funny joke.
My Mum was different. She loved and respected all kinds of people and taught me accordingly, so it really was a bit of a conundrum in which I grew up. I adopted my Mum’s softer outlook on people, however.
I came to Canada in 1972 and married a (Canadian) First Nations man from the west coast of British Columbia in 1981. I lived within his culture for many years, amongst his (and now my own) brown skinned First Nations relatives. I taught in the community and became involved in local First Nations politics.
I am white, of course, but in marrying my husband in 1981, the government made me into a status Indian person listed at the time as a registered Indian under DIA (the Department of Indian Affairs) because of the law in those days. It was OK with me. I had no choice and it did not matter.
I bore a child who was part of both cultures. I adopted a second child with a similar mixed cultured background. Our family was part of both worlds. Our children were both considered to be full status registered Indians under DIA.
I did not really think through all of the ramifications of my own actions in marriage and child rearing until I encountered them. Race was not that significant a deal to me, but it obviously was to others, even in the small community where I now lived with my family.
My husband suffered indignities at the hands of white culture growing up and into adulthood. He attended residential school. It is likely that he was abused though he never spoke of it. I remember he told me once about someone in the white community who strung a line over a pathway to trip him and then spat upon him. I’m sure there were many other instances.
I encountered some prejudice myself as the wife of an “Indian” man and mother to two “half breed” children, despite the status designation. I encountered hurtful instances of prejudice from both directions, as did my husband and my children. I encountered these both inside the community and outside of it.
The ugliness of prejudice even raised its head in our tiny church as my husband and myself both ministered there. We both believed that church ought to be a meeting place of both cultures, in reflection of our family life. It was sometimes not so.
In considering the current problems in Canada and the U.S, it raises complex questions and feelings internally, probably due to prejudice encountered. I wonder whether it is the same for my children. We have not talked much about what they have had to endure, or what they go through currently. I wonder….
In Canada, the Native/white issues are the current problem, arising out of the black/white issues in the States. I can see why, because it was the first thing I thought when I first saw what happened in the States. I thought, well, what about the First Nations people in that country? And in ours. Haven’t they had a raw deal? I leapt to their defense because I am part of them.
Is that prejudice? I wonder.
I hear the words “White Privilege” and I wonder about that. Was I “privileged” to have the upbringing I had in Scotland? I didn’t feel privileged and in fact I was discriminated against inside that society. Am I “privileged” here in Canada? I consider it a privilege to have been conferred Indian status. I’ve been discriminated against for that. Both ways, from both sides, as I have shared.
I don’t wish to be incendiary in writing about these things. I just am driven to explore them.
I recall one scripture that helps me considerably and is my “go to” in trying to understand the difficulties in the issues raised.
“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands and territories.
This was so that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grasp for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being], as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”
Acts 17:26-28 AMP
Perhaps all of this after all is to lead us to the Creator. Will we seek Him and let Him direct our thoughts and actions in the midst of the turmoil and strife?
My questions remain. I welcome your thoughts and comments.