the fire within

I confess that I am at a loss, how do we make it right, black lives do matter! Being white and privileged, how can I make a difference? The time to interfere and make a difference for George Floyd is gone, the video of him being slowly murdered, while everyone looked on, made me sick. That is the epitome of exactly what is happening in America.. right now, today! In February two white guys laid in wait for a black jogger, then outright shot him to death.. also caught on video. It took 74 days for police to arrest the white guys, but only after the video became public!

This may be a black and white issue, but murder is murder, although it is blacks being blatantly murdered.. on video yet! This is racist act, and hate is being fostered everywhere. How did we get here and why are we so complacent? We teach equal rights in schools and in public but do we really believe in equality? When was the last time you told a racist joke? When was the last time you referred to a group of immigrants as ‘those people’ or ‘they’? When was the last time you discussed first nations people in a complimentary manner?

Most of us are guilty of contributing to racism at one time or another. I was one of those people and believe me when I say I am ashamed to admit it. Let me explain, I wasn’t an outright racist, I do believe in equality for all and we are all more alike than different. My transgressions was my silence, not speaking out when these stupid jokes were being told or worse yet .. laughing along with everyone else. See, this is where it gets propagated and diluted to seem like it is alright, making jokes at ‘their’ expense.

Back in my younger days we had immigrants and we called them dp’s short for displaced persons, it was meant to be derogatory. Maybe we come by this from our parents, picking it up from their conversations. My dad fought in world war two and the only people he hated more than the Germans were the ‘Japs’, and he refused to buy anything ‘made in Japan’.. ever!

So I guess we do learn racism from our parents somewhat, but we can also learn to do better I think. My dads views were related to the atrocities inflicted on pows, in the concentration camps. His parents, my beloved baba, immigrated here from the Ukraine. I put up with Ukrainian jokes all my life even to the point of saying “yes I have on a lot of colours.. I’m Ukrainian you know.” This doesn’t mean that I condoned the jokes, fact is I was always a little humiliated by them. “She’s a uke”, my ex took particular pleasure in pointing out my Ukrainian heritage, and not in a good way. I couldn’t retaliate with Irish jokes (him being of Irish descent) because my mom was Irish. I would invariably retort back that “Ukrainian is my BEST side.”

Today I will stop someone from telling an ethnic joke, I will also correct someone from using slang words to describe races. I’ll explain, if it needs an explanation, I was called a ‘garlic snapper or a uke-a-buk and a bo-hunk, and I didn’t really like it much. This usually stops anyone from telling the ethnic joke. I also don’t like racist slurs but that one is a little harder to contain. Sometimes I will leave the room if there are too many people and it gets too nasty.. I need to pick my battles. I am only one person, but I do my part and make it clear what I won’t tolerate. Yes it is uncomfortable at times, but it is also the right thing to do.

We all possess some little prejudices and if we can’t get rid of them, then we need to keep them to ourselves. Some are harmless, like my belief that women are smarter than men. Although I firmly believe we are smarter I usually keep it to myself.. so ok, that’s a lie. My theory is with women ruling the world, we would finally have world peace. Women don’t want a world that sends children to war and lets face it, even when our kids are grown up, they are still ‘our children.’

Lord, show me how I can do better, give me strength to stand up for what is right..

“when you know better, you do better.” Maya Angelou