Post Recommendation

Just finished reading this DailyKos recommended diary, Inauguration Ball 2009, and actually got goosebumps.

Update: I am as lily white as you can get. I grew up in a small town in eastern Canada (Clarenville, Newfoundland – 2200+ people) until I was 16. I never knew a black person in all the time I lived there. I moved to Fredericton, New Brunswick in 1986, and there I only ever knew one black kid. He was a member of a performing arts group I was involved with. Wonderful kid. The only reason I noticed he was black was because it was a novelty to me. I had never known a black person.

In 1998, I moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a year to do my Master’s degree. Halifax has a large black minority. Again, very little racial tension – at least none that I noticed. I studied and partied with a few black people while I was there. It never occurred to me that there was any difference between us except the color of our skin.

In 1999, I moved to Atlanta and all that changed. I could not believe how racial politcs was. I have never in my life had to walk on eggshells in conversations. It really never occurred to me that there could be such thing as racial tensions. I never knew that growing up. But moving to Atlanta really gave me an education that I did not want to get, because I never had any need for it. The politics of division was something I had never known.

I must admit, part of the reason I support Barack Obama is because he is black. But only part. I did not support Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton – not because they were black, but because I believed neither had the competence for high office. I also believed the only reason they were running was because of race.

In Barack Obama, we have pure, 100% competence. That he is black is a sidebar. But it’s a sidebar that I cannot wait to celebrate late in the evening on November 4th. We’re not only going to elect the most competent president of this decade. We’re going to make history by electing the first black president in this nation’s history.

I am tired of racial politics. Sick of it. I hope, with every fiber of my being, that Barack Obama is as competent as he seems. I want the Neanderthals to see a Black Man run this country well. I want them to eat Jim Crow. I want every decent white person in America to look at their racist friends and say “Look. He’s terrific. What were you thinking all these years you stupid fucktard?” I will be happy to have Obama in office – mostly because I think he is a smart, competent manager. But I admit, the prospect of a black man in office is the chocolate frosting on a very delicious cake.

In one of my first posts on this site (I can’t find it) I said that I didn’t have a racist bone in my body. I was mocked for that – as if to say every white person has at least a little racism running through him. Hopefully, from what I have written above, you can understand why. I just didn’t have those experiences growing up – and I am truly grateful that I did not.

Update: When I say “walk on eggshells” I don’t mean while talking with African Americans – implying that I would be saying racist things. I mean with white people who grew up here and have been subjected to racial politics all their lives.






90 replies
  1. 1
    Gemina13 says:

    I read that diary, and ended up smiling through tears. I’m just a white kid from Chicago, but damn it, many of those people were my heroes. I wanted to be like Coretta Scott King or Barbara Jordan when I grew up. They were women of great power and wisdom, and they made this country a better place.

    This has been a tough time for me lately. My brothers have both declared bankruptcy, and I took one in because he had no place to live. I’m fighting to pay bills, take care of my mother’s medical needs, and still make rent every month. The ’91 Cavalier is rattling a little harder each day. My 401K lost 50% of its value in seven weeks. I honestly don’t know if the next disaster will just bruise me, or knock me down for good.

    And yet I’ve got it good. I have a place to live. I have a job. I have medical benefits that take care of my diabetes and heart problems. I have people who love me. No one’s hanging me in effigy, or dragging me or my loved ones behind trucks, or calling me an un-American terrorist . . . oh, wait, someone did do that. Thanks a hell of a lot, Palin, Bachmann, and Hayes.

    What this boils down to is, I can’t wait for January 20, 2009.

  2. 2
    jakester says:

    Michael, did they not have All in the Family or the Jeffersons on Canadian TV when you were growing up? (Note: this is an actual question.)

  3. 3
    Face says:

    Why will Obama be attending McCain’s inauguration party?

  4. 4
    liberal says:

    Again, very little racial tension – at least none that I noticed.

    Given the number of bars in Halifax, I doubt there’s much tension of any kind.

    :-)

  5. 5
    Michael D. says:

    @jakester: Good question. Yes, they did. I am a HUGE “Jeffersons” fan. IN fact, so was my mom. She loved my impression of Geoirge doing “the walk”

    I guess I just never thought anything of it.

    And AITF was a great show. Again, it was just a show to me.

  6. 6
    Michael D. says:

    @Gemina13:

    And yet I’ve got it good

    NO you don’t. You deserve better. And this country has the resources to help you make that life better.

    Hand up. Not hand outs. That’s not socialism – that’s good economics.

  7. 7

    The only reason I noticed he was black was because it was a novelty to me. I had never known a black person.

    What?

    But moving to Atlanta really gave me an education that I did not want to get, because I never had any need for it. The politics of division was something I had never known.

    Because the history of where you grew up and where you wound up are completely different, perhaps?

    Wow.

    Anyway, what do you mean when you say ‘racial politics’?

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    didn’t the jeffersons break some kinda ground/taboo by having the 1st (or one of the 1st) interracial married couples on network TV?

  9. 9
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    I’m not Michael, but when I was growing up in Montreal and Toronto, we definitely had those shows. So we "saw" black people, but depending where we were in Canada, we may have met very few of them.

    Susan Z. was in my class from kindergarten through grade 4 in the mid to late 60s. I remember her for being smart, calm, artistic, pretty, and for her cool habit of biting into an orange as if it were an apple. But what I didn’t realize until years later that her light brown skin and tightly waved halo of hair meant that she was mixed race. I don’t remember anyone ever noticing or commenting on Susan as a biracial or black person even once.

    The first black person I ever remembered was a francophone kid who moved into the neighbourhood when I was about ten. I remember him playing with some of the other kids in the park across the road and not letting me join in. Typical boys snubbing a girl, really, but I remember going home to my mother and saying that I was so disappointed, that I thought all black people would be nice like the people I saw on shows like Julia.

    Later on, when we moved from the Montreal suburbs into Montreal proper, then Toronto, I met many more black people, including my best friend in high school. But it certainly was possible for many Canadian people my age to grow to adulthood while meeting few black people, or meeting them and not recognizing them as black.

  10. 10
    Shaggy says:

    Michael,

    I completely understand and agree with you regarding stepping lightly around native white southerners. I have lived in Georgia for 6 years and I am still a little surprised at how "nice" southern white people are in most moments but how that can switch to something completely different when the topic of race comes up.

    It is especially bad right now, during this historic election. At its worst, I have heard (more than enough) about "Black Activist Churches" and how the poor people of New Orleans deserved Katrina, etc.

    It reminds me of that Eddie Murphy sketch from SNL from years ago, the one where he disguised himself as a white man and he realized how, as soon as the last black guy left the room, everything was different.

    Surreal?

  11. 11
    Michael D. says:

    @jake 4 that 1:

    What?

    What’s hard about that? I had never known a black person. It was novel. It’s not bad or good. It’s just a fact.

    And when you live in Atlanta, racial politics is everyday life. It really is.

  12. 12
    Michael D. says:

    @Shaggy:

    It reminds me of that Eddie Murphy sketch from SNL from years ago, the one where he disguised himself as a white man

    White Like Me. That was awesome. “Take the paper, sir. It’s free. *wink*”

  13. 13
    Fern says:

    It’s my experience that the primary target of racism in Canada is Aboriginals, not blacks.

    Given those prevalent attitutes, it can be difficult to grow up here in the Prairies, where we have a sizable First Nations and Metis population, without internalizing negative attitudes towards Aboriginals.

    My guess is that growing up in NFLD, where the Aboriginal population was exterminated in the colonial period, you have likely not run into these attitudes.

  14. 14
    Michael D. says:

    @Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse: Would you agree that Canadians aren’t as subject to racial politics or racism as we are in America? I’m not saying Canada is better on the whole. What I am saying is that, while we notice that people are “foreign” to us (i.e., don’t look or talk like us, but are every bit as Canadian as us), it doesn’t occur to as many of us that they are “lesser” people.

    It just doesn’t.

    And people that I know and love here don’t understand where I am coming from when I say that.

  15. 15
    A.Political says:

    I grew up and still live in Toronto. We had the Jeffersons, Good Times Sanford and Son etc etc….

    ….The thing is that there was no one pushing racial stereotypes, taking advantage of them or embracing them in general.

    I mean there was a small minority of people like that, but they were the ones marginalized and mocked here in Toronto. My high school my friends spanned ethnic groups such as East Indian, Pakistani, African American, Asian and others….a couple of my girlfriends in highschool and Uni were Indian and Asian. Discrimination just wasn’t part of our identity as Canadians, we are the cultural mosaic.

    Some of that equality may be due in part by our overwhelming desire to be anything but American though. I know my peers saw racial intolerance as an American trait and we as Canadians were better than that.

  16. 16
    D. Mason says:

    I’ve heard most of my life that the interplay between blacks and white in America is very different than in other countries where cultures mix. The amount of animosity is off the charts here compared to say, Britain. I would be quite curious to see a serious analysis as to why that is.

  17. 17
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    I mean with white people who grew up here and have been subjected to racial politics all their lives.

    I knew what you meant immediately. I’ve been walking on eggshells with my own family since the time I started learning the English language.

    I’ve never had any problem talking to a black person, only to white people about a black person.

    A few years ago I had a boss who used to use the N word in front of me. She thought it was cool, I had to ask her to refrain from using it and she was deeply offended when I did such. It ruined our working relationship.

  18. 18
    Michael D. says:

    Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote”

    It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics.

    You courted the vote. Period.

  19. 19
    Fern says:

    @Michael D.:

    Well, there was the time that the premier of Quebec blamed the loss of the referendum on immigrants.

    But I do agree that racial issues rarely make it into electoral politics.

  20. 20
    janefinch says:

    What Fern said…to a point. Chroniclers of the Micmac experience in Nova Scotia, and the Black experience, for that matter, paint a different picture than yours, Michael. But I understand your point because in Canada one can live for years and not have to deal with or encounter the poverty, crime, bad health, and often third world conditions of Aboriginal people. And those don’t exist because they’ve made a lifestyle choice.

    And Fern, I hope you own a watermelon helmet!

  21. 21
    Warren Terra says:

    Michael, given your background as a Newfie and that race, and African-Americans especially, is at issue: have you ever heard the This American Life episode about African-Americans shipwrecked off of Newfoundland in WWII? Description below:

    Reporter Chris Brookes had always thought the story was a joke: During World War II, a black sailor from the U.S. washed up nearly dead onshore in Newfoundland, and the white nurses — never having seen a black man — thought he was covered in oil and tried to scrub him clean. But when Brookes finally tracked the sailor down, decades later, it turned the whole thing was true. And the sailor said that sort of treatment was a lot nicer than what he’d been used to at the hands of whites down south. Brookes tells the incredible story of the sailor, Lanier Phillips, and how his experience in Newfoundland changed his life. (23 minutes)

  22. 22
    Fern says:

    @janefinch:

    Watermelon helmet???

  23. 23

    And when you live in Atlanta, racial politics is everyday life. It really is.

    Given we’re talking about the heart of Dixie, I’m not surprised. Given the history of race relations in the U.S. but especially places like Georgia, there’s no way anyone should be surprised. But what do you mean when you say "racial politics"?

  24. 24
    shera says:

    When my family left Nigeria in 1986 (I was 8), we arrived in Clarenville. They needed a doctor (my dad), and we needed to leave Nigeria, so there we went. I can truly say that I was lucky we first settled in Clarenville because the people there were extraordinarily welcoming and kind to my family. I never felt self-conscious about the color of my skin or my accent because we weren’t treated any differently, and I was heartbroken when we moved away. It’s amazing to hear from someone from Clarenville, even if it’s through the internets!

  25. 25
    Michael D. says:

    @janefinch: Hey Jane! Long time since I head from you!! :-)

    Yes, I totally get the experience of Native Canadians. My mom was a banker on a reservation in Canada (St. Mary’s Indian Reserve in Fredericton.) I know an awful lot of Maliseet natives in Fredericton. Poverty is rampant. So yes, Indian affairs play a big role in Canadian politics.

    An embarrassing role, if you ask me. Hand up. Not hand out.

    And, for what it’s worth, the proper spelling is Mi’kmaq (pronounced MIG-maw). :-)

    My brother, who worked with the Mi’kmaq in New Brunswick, would kill me if I ever spelled it improperly!! :-)

  26. 26
    ppcli says:

    "Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote”
    It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics.
    You courted the vote. Period."

    .

    Yep. So for example when the number of weeks of work needed to qualify for unemployment insurance was cut back to precisely the length of the fishing season, it had nothing to do with courting the votes specifically of Atlantic Canadians. It was a policy meant to appeal to all Canadians equally. Romeo Leblanc wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.

  27. 27
    Michael D. says:

    @Warren Terra: I had never heard of that. But it underscores my point: Growing up, race was just, well, foreign…

  28. 28
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Michael, I’d like to think that Canadians are less prone to racism than Americans, but while our history is less damning than American history in that way, this was probably not due to anything superior in our make-up or upbringing. Up until recent decades, we have had a very small black population, and even now, it tends to be concentrated in Montreal, Toronto and Nova Scotia. As Fern suggests above, where we had larger populations of non-whites, like Natives, they did suffer from racism. Wasn’t there something linked here a while back about Obama voting patterns? He seems to have done well in states with a sizable black presence, or in states with very, very few black people, but has a more difficult time in Appalachian and other areas where the whites may see blacks as threats and interlopers.

    I listen to Toronto talk radio during the day. There are a lot of people who call in, furious and convinced, that Jamaican blacks are ruining this city. Conversely, many Americans who hate and fear African-Americans seem to like Jamaicans. (Have you seen Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article on this? His comparison of the black experience in Canada and the States is fascinating.)

    Canada did have African slaves (although for a much shorter period than in the States) even though we did made up to it to some degree with the Underground Railroad (a collaboration with brave and decent Americans, of course). And racism is still present. I know that I grew up with a dad who was racist, who called the Haitian neighbours in our Montreal apartment "jungle bunnies" even while he enjoyed Sanford and Son. He didn’t, as far as I know, treat any black people harshly when he dealt with them personally, and he certainly wasn’t a cross-burner, but his racism was bad enough that he could not be even cordial to the man my younger sister would marry because he had brown skin (Indian/Chinese rather than black, but, you know, still one of Those in his eyes.)

  29. 29
    jcricket says:

    Related to this, I think this video has been passed around, but it’s definitely worth another viewing
    . I can’t think of a better depiction of the power of this campaign than the elderly African American proud to be volunteering and voting for Obama, and also united with the energy of the young voters.

    The only energizing and uniting McCain/Palin are doing is through fear, intimidation and appeals to selfishness.

    The contrast couldn’t be clearer.

  30. 30
    A.Political says:

    Michael D.

    Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote”

    It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics.

    You courted the vote. Period.

    Unfortunately Michael our new Prime Minister has inserted the phrase ‘courting the immigrant vote’, claiming the Liberals have owned it. I mean is this the beginning of the end up here?

    For so long we’ve enjoyed a kind of harmony here, yet this new incarnation of the Conservative Party is taking plays straight out of the Rove playbook, divide and conquer, wedge politics etc.

    Stephen Harper (the leader of the Cons. party) was within striking distance of a majority government with a week left until the vote recently, bolstered by a 2 yr long attack campaign on the personality of the Liberal leader he had fooled many with his Frank Luntz driven campaigning. Politics of personliaty, zero substance and lots of advertising dollars – in fact he had called this snap election some say to avoid the upcoming legal investigation in to breaking Federal Campaign finance laws in the last election.

    But then a strange and wonderful thing happened, from coast to coast individuals who had never met before all took up a common cause, it didn’t matter if you were NDP, Liberal or Green party what mattered was stopping the Conservatives from their majority. Led by a former Progressive Conservative (a predecessor to the current Conservative Party who joined with an extreme right wing Reform party to create the current Conservative party) named Danny Williams who took to the national stage to do what our cowed media wouldn’t, tell the truth about Harper.

    In the end Harper was denied his majority and kept in check, but the barbarians are at the gate and there is work to be done still to prevent the intolerance and extremism from permeating our discourse…wedge politics has been rejected this time, but for how long?

    More on Danny Williams

    More on ‘Anything But Conservative’
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....nservative

  31. 31
    Fern says:

    Still thinking out loud here – there are other reasons why the Canadian relationship with its black population is different than in the US. I know that in descendants of American slaves live in Nova Scotia and southern Ontario and have deep roots in the area. But here in Manitoba, most of the black population is of fairly recent African or island (Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti, etc) origin. There is just not the history here that there is in the US.

  32. 32
    A.Political says:

    Michael D.

    Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote”

    It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics.

    You courted the vote. Period.

    Unfortunately Michael our new Prime Minister has inserted the phrase ‘courting the immigrant vote’, claiming the Liberals have owned it. I mean is this the beginning of the end up here?

    For so long we’ve enjoyed a kind of harmony here, yet this new incarnation of the Conservative Party is taking plays straight out of the Rove playbook, divide and conquer, wedge politics etc.

    Stephen Harper (the leader of the Cons. party) was within striking distance of a majority government with a week left until the vote recently, bolstered by a 2 yr long attack campaign on the personality of the Liberal leader he had fooled many with his Frank Luntz driven campaigning. Politics of personliaty, zero substance and lots of advertising dollars – in fact he had called this snap election some say to avoid the upcoming legal investigation in to breaking Federal Campaign finance laws in the last election.

    But then a strange and wonderful thing happened, from coast to coast individuals who had never met before all took up a common cause, it didn’t matter if you were NDP, Liberal or Green party what mattered was stopping the Conservatives from their majority. Led by a former Progressive Conservative (a predecessor to the current Conservative Party who joined with an extreme right wing Reform party to create the current Conservative party) named Danny Williams who took to the national stage to do what our cowed media wouldn’t, tell the truth about Harper.

    In the end Harper was denied his majority and kept in check, but the barbarians are at the gate and there is work to be done still to prevent the intolerance and extremism from permeating our discourse…wedge politics has been rejected this time, but for how long?

    More on ‘Anything But Conservative’ and Danny Williams
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A.....nservative

  33. 33
    D. Mason says:

    I have lived in Georgia for 6 years and I am still a little surprised at how "nice" southern white people are in most moments but how that can switch to something completely different when the topic of race comes up.

    This I can explain, being a white person from the south. Within American culture we are just assumed to be racist. Through no actions on our part it is just accepted far and wide that white people from the south are Klan members from birth. So yeah we get edgy when the topic of race comes up because it’s usually an excuse for someone to call us a hater.

  34. 34
    jcricket says:

    @Michael D.: This whole "Democrats are courting the _X_ vote" or "Democrats can’t win without Group _X_ is Republican’s way of diminishing any Democrat victory and claiming the mantle of who represents "America". no matter what the election results are.

    The logical extension of this is Palin’s "pro-American parts of real America" phrase. Divide us into places that are "American" and places that "aren’t". People that "count" and people that "don’t". It’s despicable.

    Moreover, it contributes to the false narrative peddled by both sides of the aisle and the media – that America is primarily a center-right, white, Christian, small-town/rural country. Facts: 4/5th of us live in cities or surrounding suburban areas, we are almost 50% non-white, 50% non-Christian, 60% non Republican (44% Democrat, 20% independent as of this election) and so on.

    Dispelling the myth that there is any "one" true America is what we need to do before we can truly unite.

  35. 35
    Michael D. says:

    @jake 4 that 1: When I say “racial politics” I don’t mean it as an indictment of white people. It goes both ways. Atlanta is often called “The City Too Busy to Hate.” That’s true. Unfortunately, if Atlanta wasn’t so busy, it’d be a hateful place.

    The thing is, white people here get along great with black people. I would be willing to guess most white people here have close black friends and vice versa. When you take it to the political level though, it’s different. I can’t explain it. Sorry.

    Atlanta is a great city. I love it here. But white people vote for white people and black people vote for black people (for the most part.) It’s just that simple. I have no data to back that statement up. It’s just what I observe as a (kinda) outsider.

  36. 36
    Dave Ruddell says:

    Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote”

    It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics.

    You courted the vote. Period.

    Michael, you’ll often hear people up here talking about courting the ‘ethnic’ vote, or that the Liberals own(ed) the ‘ethnic’ vote. This may be more prevalent in Toronto-Montreal-Vancouver than the East coast though.

    And let’s not forget M Parizeau’s line about ‘Money and the Ethnic Vote’.

  37. 37
    A.Political says:

    Michael D.

    Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote” It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics. You courted the vote. Period.

    Unfortunately Michael our new Prime Minister has inserted the phrase ‘courting the immigrant vote’, claiming the Liberals have owned it. I mean is this the beginning of the end up here?

    For so long we’ve enjoyed a kind of harmony here, yet this new incarnation of the Conservative Party is taking plays straight out of the Rove playbook, divide and conquer, wedge politics etc.

    Stephen Harper (the leader of the Cons. party) was within striking distance of a majority government with a week left until the vote recently, bolstered by a 2 yr long attack campaign on the personality of the Liberal leader he had fooled many with his Frank Luntz driven campaigning. Politics of personliaty, zero substance and lots of advertising dollars – in fact he had called this snap election some say to avoid the upcoming legal investigation in to breaking Federal Campaign finance laws in the last election.

    But then a strange and wonderful thing happened, from coast to coast individuals who had never met before all took up a common cause, it didn’t matter if you were NDP, Liberal or Green party what mattered was stopping the Conservatives from their majority. Led by a former Progressive Conservative (a predecessor to the current Conservative Party who joined with an extreme right wing Reform party to create the current Conservative party) named Danny Williams who took to the national stage to do what our cowed media wouldn’t, tell the truth about Harper.

    In the end Harper was denied his majority and kept in check, but the barbarians are at the gate and there is work to be done still to prevent the intolerance and extremism from permeating our discourse…wedge politics has been rejected this time, but for how long?

  38. 38
    Jamey says:

    Really, is there a point to this posting, other than how awesomely post-racial Michael D. is? WE get it. We may not have your acute flair for the obvious, Michael, but WE get it.

  39. 39
    A.Political says:

    Michael D: Before I moved to the US, I had never heard the phrase “Courting the black vote.” It simply didn’t play in Canadian politics. You courted the vote. Period.

    Unfortunately Michael our new Prime Minister has inserted the phrase ‘courting the immigrant vote’, claiming the Liberals have owned it. I mean is this the beginning of the end up here?

    For so long we’ve enjoyed a kind of harmony here, yet this new incarnation of the Conservative Party is taking plays straight out of the Rove playbook, divide and conquer, wedge politics etc.

    Stephen Harper (the leader of the Cons. party) was within striking distance of a majority government with a week left until the vote recently, bolstered by a 2 yr long attack campaign on the personality of the Liberal leader he had fooled many with his Frank Luntz driven campaigning. Politics of personliaty, zero substance and lots of advertising dollars – in fact he had called this snap election some say to avoid the upcoming legal investigation in to breaking Federal Campaign finance laws in the last election.

    But then a strange and wonderful thing happened, from coast to coast individuals who had never met before all took up a common cause, it didn’t matter if you were NDP, Liberal or Green party what mattered was stopping the Conservatives from their majority. Led by a former Progressive Conservative (a predecessor to the current Conservative Party who joined with an extreme right wing Reform party to create the current Conservative party) named Danny Williams who took to the national stage to do what our cowed media wouldn’t, tell the truth about Harper.

    In the end Harper was denied his majority and kept in check, but the barbarians are at the gate and there is work to be done still to prevent the intolerance and extremism from permeating our discourse…wedge politics has been rejected this time, but for how long?

  40. 40
    liberal says:

    @D. Mason:

    The amount of animosity is off the charts here compared to say, Britain.

    When I was in England as a kid, there seemed to be a fair amount of animosity directed towards "the Pakies".

  41. 41
    Brachiator says:

    @jakester:

    Michael, did they not have All in the Family or the Jeffersons on Canadian TV when you were growing up? (Note: this is an actual question.)

    It is amazing — and absurd — to read someone suggest that watching actors on TV portraying a slice of black life is somehow equivalent to knowing actual black people. Imagine if some guy wrote, "I never knew any women when I was growing up, but I saw some on television."

    It’s my experience that the primary target of racism in Canada is Aboriginals, not blacks.

    I am not sure how "primary target" is all that meaningful. There were groups of blacks who came to Canada in the aftermath of the American Revolutionary War, and later groups who came to Canada via the Underground Railway many of whom ended up in Nova Scotia, marginalized and discriminated against, not counting other blacks who came to Canada independent of events in the US.

    And of course, it wasn’t that long ago that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology to the Chinese community for the racist head tax:

    The head tax, ranging from 50 Canadian dollars to 500, was assessed on Chinese immigrants from 1885 until 1923 when immigration from China was banned entirely. Canada opened its doors again to Chinese immigrants in 1947….

    About 81,000 people are believed to have paid the tax, which amounted to about two years’ wages. In many cases, Chinese immigrants were either unable to bring their families to Canada or were reduced to long-time poverty because of the heavy tax.

    This is just to say that the issue of justice with respect to many groups, including racial groups, gays, women, is complex, and not just an US issue, and that the prospect of an Obama electoral victory might indeed be an interesting global event.

  42. 42
    Zifnab says:

    When I say “walk on eggshells” I don’t mean while talking with African Americans – implying that I would be saying racist things. I mean with white people who grew up here and have been subjected to racial politics all their lives.

    Yeah. Walked on "eggshells"? Eggshells are white, Mike. And pointy. And they have yellow yokes inside. And you’re walking on them. Which clearly means you hate American Immigrants in China.

    You racist bastard.

  43. 43
    Michael D. says:

    @jcricket:

    This whole “Democrats are courting the X vote” or “Democrats can’t win without Group X is Republican’s way of diminishing any Democrat victory and claiming the mantle of who represents “America”. no matter what the election results are.

    I didn’t mean it that way. Sorry if it came off like that. Republicans are out there looking for ways to appeal to black people and Hispanic people, too. I just meant it in general.

    In Canada, we just go out and get as many people to vote as possible – hopefully on “our side of the aisle.” I would expect, in Canada, that a lot of black people vote for the conservative party – because, as repugnant as they are, they are not anti-black in any way. Granted, I have been away from Canada for 10 years, so perhaps Jane Finch can correct me if I am wrong! :-)

  44. 44
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    liberal, that was an epithet I heard WAY too often when I first moved to Toronto in the mid-70s, although much, much less these days, thanks goodness. Again, once non-whites stop being a novelty in a community, some really ugly stuff can come out.

  45. 45
    Fern says:

    @A.Political:

    The term "courting the ethnic vote" is not new nor is it unique to the Harper conservatives. I remember it from way back – as far back as the years of Trudeau’s multiculturalism policy.

  46. 46
    Michael D. says:

    @Jamey:

    Really, is there a point to this posting, other than how awesomely post-racial Michael D. is? WE get it. We may not have your acute flair for the obvious, Michael, but WE get it.

    This is what I meant when I stated I was mocked for saying I don’t have a racist bone in my body.

  47. 47
    Fern says:

    @Michael D.:

    Racially-related shenanigans and resentments tend to show up more in nomination races than in national elections – at least on the surface.

    I’m sure that the "ethnic vote" figures largely in election strategy – it just doesn’t tend to come out so explicitly in campaign rhetoric.

  48. 48
    lutton says:

    chocolate frosting > vanilla ice cream

    but vanillla ice cream is still funny.

  49. 49
    D. Mason says:

    @liberal: Well I’ve never lived abroad and was just going on hearsay, albeit consistent hearsay.

  50. 50
    Throwin' Stones says:

    @Michael D.:

    Pay us back, or don’t, we don’t care! Ha Ha Ha

  51. 51
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Really, is there a point to this posting, other than how awesomely post-racial Michael D. is? WE get it. We may not have your acute flair for the obvious, Michael, but WE get it.

    Hey Jamey, if you’re uncomfortable talking about racial tensions in the US and getting the debate out in the open, there are certainly other threads you could visit.

    This is an important conversation that needs to occur if we are to move past such tensions in the future, but, of course, you don’t want that, do you?

  52. 52
    Cassidy says:

    @D. Mason: And to further this, being a white Southerner as well, the South has this habit of living multiple lives at the same time. For instance, you ask any work crew supervisor who his best workers are, you’re gonna get a mix of black and white. These guys will hang out, joke and smoke, work together, etc. Then they’ll go home and say things about the other race. It isn’t meant to be mean, just the way of life. Even the "good ol’ boys" will treat everyone nicely, because it is a bigger sin to be seen as a discourteous bastard, than it it is to be considered prejudiced.

    Not excusing the prejudice, but Southern culture is more complex than people like to think.

  53. 53
    Gus says:

    Canada doesn’t have the debilitating history of racism that the U.S. does. The Civil War has been going on for over 140 years, and I don’t see any signs of it ending. Not that racism is a Southern thing only, far from it, but much of the racism in this country is a legacy of slavery.

  54. 54
    The Other Steve says:

    I hope you don’t say periodically.

  55. 55
    schooner says:

    I’m 41 and I grew up and lived in Toronto until I was 36 (now in Ottawa) and there always was some form of racism but the degree was always very different. And I think the real difference is that growing up in such a diverse city like Toronto, many of your friends and schoolmates were of all different cultures and races and that always seemed beside the point. It wasn’t "Rickey your black friend" or "Angela your Italian friend", they were just friends.

    But going away to a small university town for a few years I did notice that those from small basically white towns would still throw out the "N" word without hesitation.

  56. 56
    Brachiator says:

    @Michael D.:

    This is what I meant when I stated I was mocked for saying I don’t have a racist bone in my body.

    I don’t think you have anything to apologize for here, especially when there are some Republicans who are shamelessly indulging their worst racist fears.

    I have never bought into the … hip? … cynical? … conventional wisdom that everyone is racist in some way.

  57. 57
    Atanarjuat says:

    It’s perfectly understandable that you never got to mingle with any minorities in Newfoundland, Michael (with the exception of that sweet chocolate lad you mentioned), as the Beothuk indians were ethnically cleansed by your perfectly egalitarian ancestors.

    Because everyone knows that only Americans are plagued with racial politics, while Canadians are the ideal role models for ethnic awareness and harmony.

    Country First.

  58. 58
    Comrade Nikolita says:

    I’m 22 and I’ve grown up in BC, Canada.

    Like many other people have mentioned, when I was younger, I don’t recall having to deal with racial tensions. And while I’m sure I probably had kids of other racial minorities in my class, I didn’t really notice it until middle school when I had a black student in my Grade 7 class. Until that point it was something I’d just taken for granted and never really noticed.

    As I’ve gotten older, I’ve heard more racism aimed towards Aboriginals (Native Americans to those in the US), East Indian people and Asians.

    With Natives, unfortunately because so many live on reservations or are reliant on income assistance for whatever reasons, there is a common attitude that all or most Aboriginals are "drunks" and "lazy". People with a knowledge of Native history in Canada know that there are reasons for both , but most people I’ve tried explaining this to don’t care.

    Thankfully I don’t see the same racism towards East Indian people in Canada that I do in the US, where the general attitude (from what I’ve seen) is that anyone with dark skin has the potential to be a terrorist. Rather, the racism seems to be founded on the career choices made by East Indian people (taxi driver, certain restaurants) or their behavior towards people (they’re supposedly "rude", "smelly", etc).

    These observations were not present in my childhood, nor do I hear these sorts of comments or attitudes from children I know today. It is only when people grow up and enter their teens or adulthood that I start to hear attitudes of racism and prejudice.

    On a positive note, I’d also like to emphasize that not all Canadians share these racist attitudes or prejudices. Most people with half a brain don’t treat other racial minorities this way. Children are taught from a young age that everyone is different and that’s ok, and that it’s important to treat everyone equally. Because Canada is such a mixing pot of racial and ethnic minorities, there isn’t the racial politics towards, for example, black people like you see in the States.

    I think I rambled a bit too much, but I hope I got my points across. While Canada is by no means perfect when it comes to equality, I like to think we’ve come a long way, and we will continue to work to eliminate racism and prejudice in our country.

  59. 59
    Calouste says:

    @liberal:

    Drop the ‘e’ from that word, but don’t use it. It is pretty much the equivalent of n!@@3r.

    But in general race relations in Britain (and Europe) are different because the history and the dynamics are different. There was never black slavery in these countries, although there was of course in the colonies. There wasn’t much of a non-white presence before immigration started in the 50s and 60s. Racism does exist, but in the political sphere the multi-party system has typically limited it to fringe parties, rather than having it take over the mainstream conservative party.

  60. 60
    CrazyNewfie says:

    lard tunder’ ‘by, I had no idea you were a newf! I’ve had similar experiences watching american politics with fascination over the years. I don’t for a minute believe Canada is free of racism (Ontario certainly has its fair share), but my experiences growing up in NFLD in through the 80s and 90s are largely similar.

    I always found the Irish situation odd, considering that catholics and protestants managed to live side by side so comfortably in Newfoundland, despite there being a strong Irish component to newf culture

    As for knowing black people, I only ever really met one growing up, a guy a year older than me who I took cross-country skii lessons with. I don’t think anybody really thought of him or treated him particularly differently, though I never asked him directly about his experiences being of a visible minority.

    Our perspective of african-american culture was primarily shaped by music videos, sports, and the cosby show, since the vast majority of Newfoundlanders only ever saw black people through the lens of the television or movie screen.

    Michael, given your background as a Newfie and that race, and African-Americans especially, is at issue: have you ever heard the This American Life episode about African-Americans shipwrecked off of Newfoundland in WWII?

    I was about to start looking for that story, thanks! I remember that story told to us in elementary school by someone who had been there during it. Fascinating stuff.

  61. 61
    Sarcastro says:

    It’s my experience that the primary target of racism in Canada is Aboriginals, not blacks.

    Proximity breeds contempt.

    I noticed this when I went to work for a summer up in Montana.

    Just being from the south many people would condemn me for my area’s anti-black racism asking how we could hate just because of skin color. And then they’d turn around and say the nastiest things about Native Americans you could think of. Which was really odd to me because for many white southerners a bit of Indian blood is considered a bragging point. And of course their hate was based on the actions of the Rez dwellers not their skin color… funny, ignorant crackers in Chattanooga say the exact same thing about those living in the ‘hood.

    Note that Montana has about as many black folk in it (per capita) as Tennessee has Native Americans (the reverse is not true, Tennessee has a 16% black population compared to Montana’s 6% Native population).

  62. 62

    There is very little genetic difference between traditional whites in Nova Scotia, or Wisconsin, or Minnesota, and whites in the deep south. Perhaps they came from different parts of Europe, but for the most part they are homogeneous genetically.

    But the behavior and attitudes of the two groups are very different with respect to people descended from Africa. Leading to the conclusion that these attitudinal differences are a product of environment. People in general shy away from conflict, leading to the projection sheltered whites tend to extend to others. Whites are generally hopeful people.

  63. 63
    jakester says:

    @Brachiator: I wasn’t implying that watching the Jeffersons was equivalent to knowing black people or understanding the black experience in the U.S. I was suggesting that those two shows explored issues of racial tension in America. There’s no way you could watch the shows and not have an inkling of how race and racism informed our national consciousness, at least to some degree.

    But I watched those shows through my lens. Michael probably watched the Jeffersons the same way U.S. kids can watch You Can’t Do That On Television and not get a sense of the Francophobic implications of dumping a bucket of green slime onto Alanis Morisette’s head.

  64. 64
    Gus says:

    Sorry, I meant debilitating history of slavery.

  65. 65
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    @Atanarjuat:

    Why do you hate the troops?

  66. 66
    CIRCVS MAXIMVS MMVIII says:

    Canada doesn’t have the debilitating history of racism that the U.S. does. The Civil War has been going on for over 140 years, and I don’t see any signs of it ending. Not that racism is a Southern thing only, far from it, but much of the racism in this country is a legacy of slavery.

    I grew up in an area which was just inside the safe zone on the Underground Railroad. The racism I experienced in that area wasn’t so much slave related as it was just a deathly fear of scary black people.

  67. 67
    The Moar You Know says:

    I must admit, part of the reason I support Barack Obama is because he is black

    Not me. I could give a shit less. He could be a revolting shade of metallic green for all I care. He is not a raving batshit fundie Taliban Republican and has a record of competence, and that is all I care about in this or any other election.

    I’m not voting for him to change minds. I’m not voting for him to "teach Neanderthals a lesson". I’m not voting for him to set a historic precedent. I’m voting for him in what I suspect may be a futile hope that perhaps he can stop the precipitous downward slide of our formerly great nation, or at least slow it down a little bit.

    If he isn’t able to I’m not going to hold that against him; I understand he’s a hell of a poker player but he has been handed the mother of all stacked decks, and I’m not sure that Jesus Christ Himself could fix this country after what Bush and his Republican congressional enablers have done to this nation.

  68. 68
    Atanarjuat says:

    Notorious P.A.T. said:

    Why do you hate the troops?

    It would be helpful if you’d indicate just where I was critical of any troops, past or present.

    Meanwhile, Iran has recently threatened the United States with suicide attacks. That’s where the real, homicidal hatred against America is coming from (aided and abetted by surrender-first, surrender-always liberals, no doubt).

    Country First.

  69. 69
    Janefinch says:

    @Fern: Watermelon helmets are a favourite of Roughrider fans. That is, unless you’re dressed like Sister Saskatchewan, or Gainer the Gopher, or…are one of those #(&$ Winnipeg or Calgary supporters!

  70. 70
    KRK says:

    O/T – but Michael brought it up.

    Newfoundland is an amazing place. I spent a week there on my own tooling around for a vacation and just LOVED it. Highly recommend it to anyone (and they could use the tourism income). Only downside is that the accent, particularly among older Newfs, can be nigh on unintelligible.

  71. 71
    Janefinch says:

    @Michael D: I voted Conservative in the last election…minority government status keeps Harper in line, and he really is the best to deal with the economy while slimy Jack slimes and the Liberals in-fight about who is the most entitled to be party leader. Aboriginal people mostly vote Liberal federally, and are split provincially…in Saskatchewan, they’re either Sask Party (Conservative) or NDP.

    BTW, the proper term was never "reservation" in Canada, but was "reserve" and now is "First Nation".

    @fern: Watermelon helmets are the gear of Saskatchewan Roughrider fans everywhere!

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    @jakester:

    I wasn’t implying that watching the Jeffersons was equivalent to knowing black people or understanding the black experience in the U.S. I was suggesting that those two shows explored issues of racial tension in America. There’s no way you could watch the shows and not have an inkling of how race and racism informed our national consciousness, at least to some degree.

    Hmm. Interesting point. I don’t know how people who did not live in the US might view a show like this. They might not know how much was truthful vs how much might be exaggeration for comic effect. And for anyone outside or even within the US, watching a show like this without knowing real black people still makes the experience somewhat abstract and theoretical.

    Canada doesn’t have the debilitating history of racism that the U.S. does.

    Huh? I think someone has already noted Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples. Apart from this, much of Canada’s racism was directed at Asian peoples. But there is also stuff like this (hat tip to Wikipedia):

    In the late nineteenth century, there was an unofficial policy of restricting blacks from immigration…. This was formalised in 1911 by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier: "His excellency in Council, in virtue of the provisions of Sub-section (c) of Section 38 of the Immigration Act, is pleased to Order and it is hereby Ordered as follows: For a period of one year from and after the date hereof the landing in Canada shall be and the same is prohibited of any immigrants belonging to the Negro race, which race is deemed unsuitable to the climate and requirements of Canada."

  73. 73
    Canadian Tar Heel says:

    I am as lily white as you can get. I grew up in a small town in eastern Canada …

    I’m not sure what Canada has to do with it. Canadian history has its own racial baggage – e.g., Africville, Oakville KKK, Komagata Maru, Indian Residential Schools, interment camps, etc. We’re not lily white.

  74. 74
    Betsy says:

    I was talking to a very sweet smart young black man working at Cingular Wireless. He had been a paid worker for Hilary Clinton and was happy about her candidacy (although he had tried to get a job with Obama first- He’s a democrat first). What he said was that he wasn’t voting for Obama because he was black. That is just a bonus. Agreed!

  75. 75
    Gemina13 says:

    @liberal:

    A friend in the UK lives with his best friend and BF’s girlfriend, a woman who, while born in England, comes from a South-Asian background. BF and girlfriend went out recently to a club, where two girls accosted her boyfriend and urged him, in front of her, to "dump the Paki."

    Then there’s that contestant in Britain’s answer to "Big Brother" who insulted her Indian co-boarder and was outed for it . . .

  76. 76
    evap says:

    I live in Atlanta and have lived here for 21 years. I spent most of my childhood in New Jersey, 4 years of college in Chicago, 5 years of grad school in upstate NY, and two years in Honolulu before moving to Atlanta. I have also lived for a year at a time in Germany and Madrid. All of which is to say that I’ve lived in many different places.

    Having said all of that, I think Atlanta is the most integrated place I have ever lived. If you go to a restaurant, the symphony, the theater, a concert… there are always plenty of people of all possible hues. I’m an academic and live in a very diverse "in-town" neighborhood, so maybe I’m a bit sheltered from what goes on outside my bubble, but I just don’t see the racial divide here that I think exists in places like Chicago, Boston, and other big northern cities. At the U. of Chicago (admitedly, in the late 70s, maybe things have changed) the black students were always getting hassled by the police who could never believe that a black person had any legitimate reason for being on campus. I don’t think stuff like that happens on college campuses in Atlanta.

  77. 77
    dave says:

    I’m late to the discussion, but I’ve lately come to think that racism in the U.S. is not the result of the history of African-Americans as slaves, it’s that slavery was ended by a horrendously destructive war, followed by a horrendous "Reconstruction", that shattered the Old South for decades, the repercussions and resentments of which are felt to this day. For decades leading up to the Civil War, the North, in the name of preserving the union, made one shameful compromise after another with the South, who played the secession card every time anyone in the North even THOUGHT about taking measures to end slavery. The Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and the truly odious Fugitive Slave Act were examples of the gutlessness of Northern politicians. What the North should have done at the first threat of secession was say to the South: "Guys, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Oh, and by the way, any fugitive slave who makes it to a free state will NOT be returned, but will be granted their freedom." Slavery would have eventually died of its own immoral weight as it did in every other "civilized" country, without fighting the worst war this country ever fought, and without fomenting the resentment and hatred the losers of wars always feel toward the winners.

  78. 78
    Michael D. says:

    @evap:

    I live in Atlanta and have lived here for 21 years

    Ooooooh! Beer date sometime??

  79. 79
    A.Poltical says:

    Fern

    @A.Political:

    The term "courting the ethnic vote" is not new nor is it unique to the Harper conservatives. I remember it from way back – as far back as the years of Trudeau’s multiculturalism policy.

    I was only like 2 yrs old then, I don’t remember it ever being uttered as a main strategy like that during the years of ‘The Chin’ or thereafter….

  80. 80
    Cassidy says:

    What the North should have done at the first threat of secession was say to the South: "Guys, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Oh, and by the way, any fugitive slave who makes it to a free state will NOT be returned, but will be granted their freedom." Slavery would have eventually died of its own immoral weight as it did in every other "civilized" country, without fighting the worst war this country ever fought, and without fomenting the resentment and hatred the losers of wars always feel toward the winners.

    The Civil war was never about slavery. That particular issue was the catalyst which led to the various bad decisions, but the war itself was about preserving the Union and enforcing federal power over state power.

  81. 81
    dww44 says:

    It is late and has been hours since anyone posted a comment, but wanted to point out how largely unangry this discussion of race has been in this thread and how I appreciated that. I believed Michael D when he said he didn’t have a racist bone. If one were raised as he was, then one wouldn’t. Too bad that most of the rest of us weren’t.

    Since I live in a small city south of Atlanta, and was raised in an even more southern and much smaller place, I can attest that Southern culture is complex. Will the stain and remnants of slavery ever truly be washed away? Do most New Englanders know that they were a leg of that infamous slave trade triangle? I believe the Brits had a hand, too. They got the money and we in the South, many generations later, still have the pain, both the black and white ones of us.

    One of the benefits of being a working part of the Obama campaign locally and canvassing primarily black and low-income neighborhoods is to bear witness to the palpable pride and joy that Blacks feel in Obama’s candidacy. If all those friends and relatives of mine who have drunk the fear of the Republican campaign could just come with me through those poor and crime infested neighborhoods ( in one group of derelict project duplexes, every door had a sticker that said "Stop the Killing"), their eyes might be opened to the real possibilities for change that might just await us. It is all too easy to be cynical about the possibility of change if Obama is elected. From where I sit, I see that we in the South have a real opportunity to "bind up our wounds", if the haters and the hate don’t carry the day.

  82. 82
    Brachiator says:

    @Cassidy:

    The Civil war was never about slavery. That particular issue was the catalyst which led to the various bad decisions, but the war itself was about preserving the Union and enforcing federal power over state power.

    Nonsense. This is one of the lies that largely surfaced after the Civl War, part of an odd "gentleman’s agreement" between the North and the South to try to appease Southern sensibilities. If you look at any Southern newspaper at the time leading up to the war, you will see a defense of slavery as one of the Confederacy’s major justifications of the war. The Constitution of the Confederacy spoke of slavery in the same language as the federal Constitution’s right to keep and bear arms (hat tip to Wikipedia).

    The constitution forbade the practice of importing slaves from outside the Confederacy, but disallowed the national government from outlawing slavery in the following key provision:

    No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed [by Congress]

    The constitution likewise prohibited the Confederate Congress from abolishing or limiting slavery in Confederate territories (unlike the United States, where, prior to the Dred Scott decision, Congress had prohibited slavery in some territories). The legal basis for slavery in the Confederacy is largely presented as an extension of property rights.

    The Confederacy even had delusions of invading Mexico or Cuban and making them slave states.

    Slavery would have eventually died of its own immoral weight as it did in every other "civilized" country, without fighting the worst war this country ever fought, and without fomenting the resentment and hatred the losers of wars always feel toward the winners.

    Huh? Slavery didn’t just fade away. It had to be abolished, often with bloodshed. And even where there was not outright bloodshed, resentments festered and sometimes still live on. As an aside, Brazil was the last country in this hemisphere to abolish slavery, which greatly outraged the colony of Southerners who had moved there after the US Civil War, in part because they could not see themselves as living in a country without slavery.

    Given the entire history of slavery, if Obama wins next Tuesday, it will be a hell of an exclamation point on the history of African slavery. And more than this, it will say something to every country which has oppressed or enslaved people.

  83. 83
    Shade Tail says:

    "We’re not only going to elect the most competent president of this decade."

    Talk about damning with faint priase… 8)

  84. 84
    dave says:

    Brachiator: Yes, I believe slavery would have died out in the South eventually. One of the things that brought down the South during the war was a lack of hard currency. Despite the fact that there was a depression going on in Britain, British linen workers refused to process Southern cotton brought into their factories as a protest against slavery, denying the South the money they were counting on. The Northern naval blockade of the South took care of the rest. Regardless of the South’s deep devotion to the practice, the anti slavery tide was rising in the rest of the world.

  85. 85

    The Civil war was never about slavery.

    No, sorry and that assertion is straight bullshit.

    Sure there were other issues than just slavery but to say that the Civil War was never about slavery is so obviously false that it is almost laughable if it didn’t demonstrate such a vast ignorance of the past.

  86. 86
    Greg D says:

    Hmmm…having lived and worked in a First Nation community for 3 years with my then-fiancee, a native woman, I can tell you that the hatred that I witnessed directed towards the people in that community was pretty wretched. Walking through a mall and having security guards follow us around every store was always fun. Of course, we lived in the asshole of New Brunswick, the Miramichi, easily comparable to any southern state.

    My wife is a 3rd generation Japanese Canadian, whose parents were both incarcerated in internment camps during WW2, after having every possession, including any monetary savings, taken away and never returned. My mother-in-law is an author and has written a lot about the plight of Japanese people in Canada. So I am not an expert in Canadian racism, but I have been pretty close to it.

    Michael and I were lucky to have grown up in Nfld, but we were sheltered from a lot. Canada has been pretty cruel to its Native and Asian communities in the past. I tutored Native kids in Eel Ground that had been kicked out of school for fighting and the irony of a whitey on the Rez volunteering to teach them was not lost on them. It was pretty disturbing to know, however, that the white guys they were fighting were still allowed to stay in school.

    But not as disturbing to hear my Native fiancee’s mother, a very honest and hard-working woman, tell me about the government officials coming to her home at 3am to rummage through her cupboards to see if they had any molasses (Native parents were forbidden to give their kids molasses because it contained lots of iron, which whitey claimed made the kids too had to handle in school!) and wrecking the house in the process, or the trips she made downtown to get groceries and then being picked up by Miramichi police and subjected to a weekend of being raped in jail!

    So forgive me if I don’t feel as different from America as some other Canadians. The biggest difference, I think, is that the media in Canada hasn’t prolonged or salted the wounds as much as has been done in the US. Now that I live in Japan, I get to be the minority and experience some of the minor inconveniences of racial discrimination, such as not being allowed to go to some local sentos (public baths). Terrible…lol!

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    @dave:

    Brachiator: Yes, I believe slavery would have died out in the South eventually.

    I’m not sure what your belief is based on. As I noted earlier, slavery did not just "die out" anywhere; the practice had to be abolished. And sadly, slavery and human trafficing still exists in parts of the world. It is still an evil that people must confront and combat.

    And although it is true that British linen workers refused to process British cotton, it is also true that the British government considered recognizing the Confederacy (the Emancipation Proclamation helped make this political gambit impossible).

    But today, right now, one of the most endearing aspects of the Obama campaign is how volunteers reacted when confronted with the open expression of racist sentiments. The majority did not fall back or lose their enthusiasm. I don’t know how the final vote will turn out, but no matter how you slice it, millions of people have turned their backs on the last vestiges of racial animosity in this country. expressed.

    It would be horribly ironic if the party of Lincoln were to be taken over by a small-minded coterie of fearful nativists and racists. On the other hand, it was not a neutral and impassive tide which abolished slavery, but rather the active decisions of people of good will who decided that slavery had to end. Similarly, it is the active decision of millons of voters who may firmly declare to a diminishing number of wingnuts that there can be a new era of inclusion in America that is entirely consistent with the most optimistic vision of what we can be as a people.

  88. 88
    Lesley says:

    Just to keep it real, although I believe and respect your story, racism has been alive and well in Halifax in the past. I’m a canuck and somewhat acquainted with a few horror stories that have come out of Halifax.

    Canadians are, for the most part (or at least I’d like to think and we used to have a reputation for being), tolerant, decent, educated, open-minded, welcoming folk, but we’re not as nice as some might think. The proof is in the current federal administration: neocons who are racist, bible-thumping, environment-hating, war-mongering shit bags. A minority of Canadians voted them in. The rest didn’t bother voting, apparently.

    Just this week Quebec announced it was forcing new immigrants to sign oaths of allegiance to "Quebec values." The sum total of the message? Assimilate until we can’t tell where you’re from.

    Canada is travelling a road I don’t want to be on. I can hardly recognize my country anymore.

  89. 89
    dave says:

    Brachiator: True, millions have turned their backs on racial animosity. I hope it’s enough.

  90. 90
    toujoursdan says:

    I live in Gatineau, Québec in a predominately francophone neighbourhood.

    Racist speech is more common in Québec than the rest of Canada. I am often shocked to hear Quebeckers make statements or ask rather ignorant racial questions that you wouldn’t hear English Canadians or Americans ever ask.

    But this isn’t due as much to racism per se, as an expression of xenophobia. Quebeckers see themselves as an ethnic and linguistic minority in a sea of English speakers who are trying to assimilate them and take their language and identity away. That identity traditionally tended to be white, northern French and Catholic.

    While English Canadians have always been a mix of all kinds of ethnic groups – English, Scot, Irish, German, Scandinavian, etc. French Canadians were historically ethnically pure until fairly recently. The migration from Haiti, Africa and the Middle East is a recent phenomenon and incorporating these new groups into Québécois society represents a change in what it means to be a Quebecker. People are struggling with this.

    The Québec nationalists also have a good reason to dislike immigrants as they tend to be federalists. People choose to move to Canada and then choose to settle in Québec. They generally don’t see a need to break the country up. So as the number of immigrants grow, the prospects of Québec independence fade and that has to be very frustrating for separatists.

    None of this justifies the attitudes here or the statement that Parizeau made, but may add a bit more context to it.

Comments are closed.