When I was in my first year at university, I went out with a student from Nigeria, Debo was his name. He was a nice guy, I enjoyed his company but I was well aware that, when we had a coffee in Bradford, we were looked at askance as a white girl with a black bloke. My mum went off her rocker when she found out I was going out with a Nigerian, but my dad intervened and told me to go out with whom I liked as long as the guy was a nice person. Colour, he said, didn’t come into it and that’s been my mantra ever since. It’s not your colour, creed, sexuality, height, weight or whatever – it’s what’s in your heart that counts.
As it happened, I ditched Debo shortly afterwards, not because of his colour but because he started talking about marriage and that frightened the life out of me. I’d dumped another very nice guy just before I went to university because he too started banging on about marriage which sent me haring in the opposite direction. I regret not telling my Nigerian boyfriend why I dumped him without explanation but I was a naive kid who was a virgin, had no idea about contraception, worried about his invitation back to his flat and likely sex, so I just fled the scene, so to speak.
Knowing myself through astrology now, I realise it’s because I have a lot of Aquarian in me and I don’t like being tied down or doing conventional things. In fact, it took 27 years living with my partner before I finally felt comfortable getting to the altar!
But looking back, it’s made me very glad about the luck of the draw when I was came into this world: I was born white (conventional colour) in England (safe country) and had parents who supported me in my schooling and encouraged me to go to university. I didn’t – and don’t – face discrimination because of my colour, I don’t face persecution because of my religious choices (none, by the way, if you’re interested) and I don’t get hate mail because I’m happily heterosexually married. I don’t get the heck bombed out of my home and country because I – luckily – don’t happen to live in a Middle Eastern country with oil and other resources.
Which is a roundabout way of returning to my previous post about “Make Britain/America Great/Safe Again”. Because the unspoken call behind this phrase is also for far too many “Make Britain/America white again.” Oh, and don’t let’s forget – make it okay for us to wage more Vietnam and Iraq wars so we can live in comfort with the resources we’re ripped out of other countries and turn a blind eye to the carnage we left behind.
It’s the elephant in the room, the racism (and imperialist hankerings) which all too often is the underlying message of those who want their country to go back to times past when men were white men, women were white women, the picket fence ruled supreme, kids behaved and everything was wonderful in a past viewed with rose-coloured glasses. You didn’t have social media so you didn’t have to view the godawful scenes of bombing people overseas, seeing kids shredded, buildings flattened, lives shattered by foreign (US/British & European) invasions and interventions. I am, by the way, referring only to the US, Britain and Europe because I’m focusing on white societies hankering for the past.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a President of the US treated with us much contempt and disrespect as Barack Obama. The Republicans – who use dog-whistling on racism at the drop of a hat – made the decision to undermine Obama at every opportunity. Too many claim they don’t like the current president’s policies when the fundamental problem is racism – a black man is in the White House and we (white people) want our (White) House back.
It was actually brought home to me just how much society has changed – for my mind, for the better – when I was watching the British police series, George Gently. Set in the 1960s, it tackles the discrimination that used to exist against homosexuals, black people, single mothers and other social mores of the time. It’s always excellent but it’s a reminder that things in the past were okay if you were white, but not if you were black, Irish, Jewish, single mother, poor, unemployed and so on.
Same in the US. What is going to make America great again? Lynchings of black people? Separate facilities for black and white people? Jim Crow? Discrimination against Native Americans? Sexual harassment unchecked? No protection for rape victims? Women dying from backyard abortions due to limited abortion services? Date rape? No problems. Domestic violence? Ladies, just grin and bear it. Bashing and trying to smash unions and undermine workers’ collective solidarity? And so on and so on.
In Australia, when women married they had to quit public service jobs. The treatment of Aboriginal people was appalling (not much better now). Single mums were in deep doggy-doo. Domestic violence was a taboo subject and too many women had to grin and bear the abuse. Paedophilia in the Catholic Church (and elsewhere) was swept under the carpet. So yes, it was okay for white men and less so for white women. But definitely not too crash-hot if you were black, Asian, a new migrant, and so on and so on.
Quite frankly I get fed up with the Love the Past Tribes. Society is about change and you can’t go back, nor should we want to go back to a white-washed path. It smacks of fear and cowardice.
Cowering behind the white picket line is playing little.
Get on your feet.
Face the future with courage. Accept that the rest of the world is fed up with the interference of white Western nations. Let’s sort out our own backyards – stop wasting money on wars and armaments, feed the poor, provide decent housing, education and health, pay living wages so people can live with dignity, build good quality infrastructure, stand up for legal rights and respectful treatment of all people but particularly those facing discrimination – black, LGBT people, Jewish people, Asian people, Hispanic people, Islamic people.
Have the guts to open your heart to people who aren’t like you if you’re white and heterosexual – because mixing with people of different colour, race, sexuality or religion enriches your life, widens your horizons and opens you to the power of loving humanity as a whole not just one tiny part which happens to be white.